Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Nivritti Mean?

Nivritti is a Sanskrit term derived from the root words, ni, meaning “in” or “inward,” and vritti, representing citta vritti, or the mind’s thoughts. The term refers to one of two possible life paths as defined in yoga and Hinduism, with the other possible path being pravritti.

Nivritti is the path of turning inward and is, therefore, the path that yogis follow when they focus on spiritual development, prioritizing meditation and contemplation, for example. On this path, attention is directed inward, often with a focus on acceptance and finding connection with God or the Divine. In contrast, pravritti is the path of taking action and living with a focus on the external world.


Yogapedia Explains Nivritti

One difference that is described between pravritti and nivritti is that when yogis are in a state of pravritti they are constantly seeking perfection in the details of actions. They may always try to improve what they are doing and the situation they are in. In nivrtti, there is an acceptance that all is already perfect. In this way, pravritti is acting and nivritti is being.

Some yogis describe nirvritti as the more positive and beneficial of the two paths, as it ultimately leads upward or to heaven, allowing the yogi to find peace and fulfillment. To follow a nivritti path is to become free from desires.

Others, however, see a balance between both pravritti and nivritti as necessary in life. They suggest that pravritti is the social action, while nivritti is the inward contemplation, and that this dual dharma is necessary to enable the spiritual development and welfare of all beings. They suggest that once a yogi has taken a path of nivritti and has established themselves in peace and contentment, then they can return to the action of pravritti with greater awareness and enthusiasm. In this sense, nivritti can support the acts of pravritti, although nivritti is considered the true path to liberation, which is the ultimate goal of yoga.

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