Definition - What does Adhara mean?

Adhara is a Sanskrit term used in yoga philosophy to refer to the vehicle, or support, of consciousness. It can be thought of as everything in a being which is not the intrinsic or higher nature of that being. It encompasses all the elements of a yogi that creates the illusion that they are distinct and separate from universal Consciousness.

In Vedanta philosophy, adhara means "container" because it refers to the sheaths, or koshas, in which consciousness is carried and manifest. Thus, adhara includes the physical body; the subtle bodies, such as the emotional and mental bodies; the subconscious mind; the ego; and samskaras from past lives.

Yogapedia explains Adhara

One of the purposes of yoga is to help the yogi distinguish between their true nature and adhara. Their true nature does exist on a temporary basis within adhara, but it is not the same as the sheaths.

Unlike the yogi’s true divine nature, the adhara is inclined to possess qualities which are imperfect, selfish and fearful. This is suitable and even useful for daily life, but it needs to be recognized that this is not the whole nature of consciousness if the yogi is to progress spiritually. The adhara can be developed and transformed as part of the yogi’s spiritual journey.

Some say that it is important that the adhara is strengthened and purified before a yogi has a spiritual experience and glimpses the subtle world. Otherwise there is a danger that the ego may lose equilibrium, leading to a narcissistic identification with this greater reality. The intention, instead, is to ensure that the adhara is stable and grounded, so that such an experience brings only spiritual progress and greater understanding.

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