The Five Kleshas – A Deeper Dive into the Cause of Misery

Take charge of your own healing and find the wisdom and compassion needed to overcome the Five Kleshas and find inner peace.

The term “klesha” originates from Sanskrit, the classical language of India. In Sanskrit, “klesha” translates to “poison.” Found in Buddhism and Hinduism, klesha refers to the detrimental emotions or mental states that cloud the mind and pave the way for suffering to emerge.

According to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, five primary kleshas obscure our true nature of goodness and truth.

  • Avidya (Ignorance) – Spiritual unawareness or lack of understanding of our true nature.
  • Asmita (Ego) – False identification with our ego, causing a distorted view of ourselves.
  • Raga (Attachment) – Deep-rooted desire for pleasurable experiences, leading to a strong bond with the material world.
  • Dvesha (Aversion) – Intense dislike or repulsion towards certain experiences, objects, or people.
  • Abhinivesha (Fear of death) – Innate attachment to life and the dread of losing it, affecting our choices and actions.

Let’s delve into the five afflictions that cause so much suffering for humanity.

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Delusion, Ignorance, Lack of Spiritual Knowledge

According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, avidya, or ignorance, is the root cause of suffering and bondage in the world. It is a spiritual oblivion that prevents individuals from connecting with their true selves and the source of being.

This ignorance can manifest as an attachment to material things, particularly the body and the mind. It can cause us to forget that we are not just our physical bodies and thoughts but the consciousness that inhabits them.

As a consequence of this ignorance, we may feel a false sense of separation from others and the world around us. We may feel alone, disconnected, lost, confused, and unhappy. Avidya can create a sense of isolation that can lead to anxiety, depression, and even nihilism.


Egoism, Preoccupied with “I” and “Me”

Unaware of our spiritual selves, we falsely identify with our ego. Asmita causes us to cling to our ideas and opinions, leading to a false belief that our ego is our true self. This belief can create an undue sense of superiority or inferiority in relation to others.

Asmita distorts our perception of ourselves, resulting in feelings of pride and arrogance or inferiority and discontent. It also causes us to become overly attached to our accomplishments or failures, leading to a constant need for validation and recognition from others.

Regardless of our sense of superiority or inferiority, Asmita makes us selfish. We become overly focused on our own needs and desires, causing us to overlook the needs and desires of others.

Ultimately, Asmita leads to unempathetic behavior. We lose our connection and unity with others and the world, resulting in self-centeredness, selfishness, and a lack of compassion. These traits contribute to feelings of isolation and unhappiness.



Raga, or attachment, is characterized by a deep-rooted desire or craving for pleasurable experiences and objects. We become attached to outcomes that favor us, insisting that everything turns out exactly as we want. Additionally, we develop attachments to relationships and people.

The affliction of Raga creates a never-ending cycle of longing and dissatisfaction. This craving forges a strong bond with the transient aspects of the material world. Consequently, the relentless pursuit of material possessions and experiences keeps individuals trapped in a continuous state of desire and disappointment.

Furthermore, Raga creates a false sense of identity, as individuals define themselves by their possessions and attachment to them. They lose touch with their inner divinity and connection to others. They become disconnected from the universe.

As Raga’s grip tightens, it creates fear and insecurity in people, arising from the ongoing fear of losing their treasured possessions, experiences, or relationships. This fear further intensifies the cycle of desire and suffering as individuals become more entwined in the web of attachments.

Ultimately, Raga obstructs spiritual growth and self-realization and promotes a life of chaos and unhappiness – a far cry from the ancient wisdom of inner harmony and tranquility.


Aversion, Repulsion, Avoidance of Pain or Dislikes

Dvesha, often translated as aversion or hatred, represents a strong negative emotion that arises from an individual’s dislike or repulsion towards certain experiences, objects, or people. Dvesha is a powerful force influencing the mind and behavior, shaping how we perceive and interact with the world.

Dvesha can give rise to harmful behaviors and actions driven by the desire to avoid or eliminate the sources of aversion. This paranoia can lead to conflicts, misunderstandings, and even acts of aggression or violence. 

The impact of Dvesha on a person can be damaging, as it fuels a cycle of negativity and emotional turmoil. When someone is affected by Dvesha, they tend to obsess with the unpleasant aspects of life. This negativity can lead to an overall sense of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. 

Dvesha is a powerful and destructive force that creates a life filled with gloom and distress. Victims of Dvesha are often ungrateful and ever-complaining, causing discontent in most of their interactions. Such people have a potent but toxic and harmful energy about them.


Fear of Death, Clinging to Life

The combined effect of kleshas, including the lack of spiritual knowledge, ego, and attachment, leads to an innate desire to cling to life. As we become overly attached to our body, mind, and sense of identity, the fear of losing this temporary identity overwhelms us, giving rise to Abhinivesha.

This deep-rooted fear of death causes us to resist letting go of our existence, even when life brings great unhappiness and misery. Abhinivesha drives our will to survive and persevere, even when faced with difficulty.

However, this lust for life can sometimes turn very harmful. When we become too attached to life, we may fear anything threatening our existence. Consequently, we might miss out on opportunities for growth and transformation, as we are too afraid to let go of our current situation, even if it’s miserable. Abhinivesha influences not only our thoughts about death but also how we go through life. It controls our life choices.

Our fear of impermanence and the unknown can prevent us from fully living in the present moment. We might become so preoccupied with avoiding death or discomfort that we overlook the beauty and joy around us. As a result, we may miss the chance to fully enjoy and appreciate the present moment as we constantly worry about the future.


The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism teach us that suffering exists, has a cause, can cease, and liberation is possible. However, the Five Kleshas can hinder our spiritual growth and journey toward liberation.

To overcome suffering, we must first recognize the causes within ourselves and take responsibility for our own healing. Only then can we begin to navigate life’s challenges with wisdom and compassion, leading to a more fulfilling and peaceful existence.

Let us embrace the journey of self-discovery, recognizing the obstacles that hold us back and finding the courage to overcome them. With each step forward, we move closer to liberation and a life of true happiness and fulfillment.

Are negative thought patterns and emotions holding you back? Discover the kleshas, the mental poisons that prevent you from living your best life.
A dynamic personality with years of experience in the software industry and professional mainstream broadcasting. Now, he is dedicated to sharing his experiences about life, faith, and relationships to help others enable themselves to live a better life.


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