Definition - What does Pasu-Svabhava mean?

Pasu-svabhava is a Sanskrit term that refers to a person's animal or bestial nature. It is the primal nature found in all living beings -- particularly the violent or cruel nature thought to be naturally possessed. One of the goals of various schools of yoga is eliminating (or at least mediating) pasu-svabhava.

The term comes from the Sanskrit pasu, meaning “cattle,” “cow” or “embodied soul,” and svabhava, meaning “own being” or “own-becoming.” Altogether, pasu-svabhava translates to mean “intrinsic nature" in English.

Yogapedia explains Pasu-Svabhava

The pasu-svabhava aspect of human nature is brutal, cruel and bestial, with a propensity for violence, hatred and anger. With it comes the desire to harm and destroy. This ill-treatment of others can be physical or mental/emotional.

One way to eliminate pasu-svabhava is through the yogic practice of ahimsa (non-violence), which is the yama (vow of restraint) that emphasizes not harming or injuring any living creature. Ahimsa develops universal love and truth. In yoga asanas, the practitioner learns to not harm themselves by attempting to go beyond what the body is capable of doing. By honoring the body through asanas, meditation and conscious effort, this non-harming ahimsa will spread to the inner Self, and eventually subdue the pasu-svabhava within.

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