Definition - What does Pravritti mean?

Pravritti is a Sanskrit term derived from the root word, pra, meaning “different,” and vrtti 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 nivritti. Sometimes these are seen as the path of action (pravritti) versus the path of knowledge (nivritti).

Pravritti is the path of directing action and focus toward the external world and, therefore, is the path that yogis follow most of the time when they are living in the material world. On this path, attention is directed toward worldly things such as possessions, career and income. In contrast, nivritti is the path of turning inward to more spiritual contemplation, perhaps with more focus on God or the Divine.

Yogapedia explains Pravritti

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 pravritti in a negative way, seeing it as an experience of constant suffering, misunderstanding and pain, as opposed to nirvritti, which brings peace and fulfillment. Others, however, see a balance between both pravritti and nivritti as being 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 him/herself in peace and contentment, then he/she can return to the action of pravritti with greater awareness and enthusiasm.

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