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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Vāsanā literally means ‘a strong impression that lives in the mind’.

The word vāsanā is generally interpreted as saṅskāra, a strong impression in the mind, carried over from previous lives. It is so strong that, when it arises in the mind, a person is forced to act without thinking of the consequences. It is classified into two kinds:

  1. Malinā - It is impure. It leads to bondage of transmigration.
  2. Śuddhā - It is pure. It leads liberation.


The malinavāsanā is of three kinds:

  1. Lokavāsanā - It is the desire to please others.
  2. Śāstravāsanā - It is the desire for dry intellectual knowledge.
  3. Dehavāsanā - It is the desire to keep the body healthy and beautiful.


Śuddhavāsanās as per Yogasutras[edit]

All these three vāsanās have to be eschewed. There is no particular way of classification. Some of the disciplines or qualities listed under these, which help to eradicate the evil vāsanās, are:[1]

  1. Maitrī - friendship
  2. Karuṇā - compassion
  3. Mudita - feeling happy in the happiness of others
  4. Upeksā - indifference towards the sinners[2]

Śuddhavāsanās as per Bhagavadgitā[edit]

The twenty-six qualities described in Bhagavadgitā are:

  1. Abhaya - fearlessness
  2. Dama - self-control
  3. Svādhyāya - study of the holy scriptures
  4. Tapas - austerities
  5. Ahimsā - non-violence
  6. Ārjava - straightforwardness

The natural qualities of greatness of a perfect being described in the second, twelfth and fourteenth chapters of the Bhagavadgitā, if practiced as modes of sādhana, will lead to the production of pure vāsanās that ultimately leads to liberation.


  1. Yogasutras 1.33
  2. Yogasutras 1.33
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore