Ahankara

Definition - What does Ahankara mean?

Ahankara is a Sanskrit word that describes the ego, the image a person has of him/herself or the conscious mind as he/she perceives it.

The term comes from the root, aham, which translates as “I am"; and kara, which means “doing” or “making.” A related term, asmita, is sometimes used as a synonym for ahankara, but whereas the latter describes the ego, the former describes egoism or attachment to what the ego desires.

Ahankara can also be thought of as the yogi's sense of who he or she is. It can be either positive or negative and include self-worth, desires, thoughts and personality.

Yogapedia explains Ahankara

In Hindu and yogic philosophy, ahankara is one of the four aspects of antahkarana, or the “inner organ” through which thinking, reasoning, sensing and perception take place. In addition to ahankara, antahkarana includes buddhi (the discriminative mind), chitta (consciousness) and manas (the finite mind).

The attachment to ahankara is one of the five kleshas (obstacles) described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. To reach a state of samadhi or enlightenment, the kleshas must be removed. Because it is illusion colored by the yogi's perceptions, ahankara prevents the yogi from achieving union with the higher Self.

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