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Kasaya (attachment)

Attachment to worldly objects or Kasaya is an obstacle in the path leading to Nirvikalpa Samadhi, which obstacle is required to be overcome through discrimination.


Kasaya or Kashāya (Sanskrit: कषाय) means, 'astringent', 'decay', 'smearing', 'juice', 'degeneracy', 'anointing', 'gum', 'resin', 'red-brown', 'stupidity', 'defect', 'fragrant'.[1] It also means 'attachment to worldly objects' or to 'the yellowish-red garments worn by monks'.[2]


Sadananda defines Kasaya as attachment to worldly objects, he explains that attachment is the failure of the mental state to rest on the Absolute, owing to the numbness brought on by impressions due to attachment even when there is no torpidity or distraction (Vedantasara) (Sl.212).[3] In Vedanta, the word Kasaya denotes metaphorically a rigid state of mind hardened by own inclinations and passions.[4]


Rishi Gautama Nodha (Rig Veda I.58.3) describes the Jiva in the following words:-

क्राणा रुद्रेभिर्वसुभिः पुरोहितो होता निषत्तो रयिषाळमर्त्यः|
रथो न विक्ष्वृञ्जसान आयुषु वयानुषग्वार्या देव ऋण्वति ||
"That is the Jiva (क्राणा – the spotless accomplisher of good deeds) who should be known as the one who moves about (निसत्तः) in the bodily form (होता) utilising and enjoying all substances and thoughts (the gross and the fine) all the while attached to this earth or world (वसुभिः) guided and impelled by the Pranas (रुद्रेभिः) experiencing the varying stages of birth, growth, maturity etc., (आयुषु) and all attendant consequences (ॠञ्ज्सानः) with a view to enjoying the desired happiness and comfort though in reality by itself it is pure and undying. "

And, Rishi Kumaro Yamayana (Rig Veda X.135.6) in the following mantra explains

यथाभवदनुदेयी ततो अग्रमजायत |
पुरस्ताद् बुध्न आततः पश्चान्निरयणं कृतम् ||

that the ('Universal') Atman is different from the ('individual') Atman that dons the body made ready for it which (false) difference has caused difference (wrong perception of duality) to arise in the mind of the Jivatman, even though prior to the manifestation of these worlds the primordial matter originated from the single source had remained spread far and wide in its un-manifested state. [5]

It is the Jiva, who by its actions, attracts to itself the pudgalas (the tendencies that keep an individual re-incarnating), which results in its bondage; all that one enjoys or suffers from are the products of karmas, good or bad.[6]

Gaudapada’s exposition

Gaudapada (Gaudapada Karika III.44-45) warns that the seeker after truth should not linger on the bliss of Savikalpa Samadhi because that enjoyment (rasavada), after Laya, Vikshepa and Kasaya, is the fourth kind of obstacle in the path to Nirvikalpa Samadhi; one should be unattached through discrimination. Attachment is a weakness of the mind because it is difficult to withdraw the mind, which cannot be easily disciplined, from the enjoyment arising out of desire. He explains that as in dreams the mind vibrates having dual aspects so also in the waking state when it appears to have two aspects; all this that there is, is perceived by the mind but when the mind ceases to be the mind, duality is no longer perceived. The behaviour of the mind in deep sleep (when it loses itself) is not like its behaviour in the controlled state (when it does not lose itself), and

ग्रहो न तत्र नोत्सर्गश्चिन्ता यत्र न विद्यते |
आत्मसंस्थं तदा ज्ञानमजाति समतां गतम् ||
"there can be no acceptance or rejection where all mentation stops, then knowledge (the birthless non-conceptual non-different from the knowable Brahman) becomes established in the Self unborn and poised in equality" (Gaudapada Karika III.38).

Torpidity or Laya (लय) is the lapse of the mental state into sleep because of the failure to rest on the Absolute; and distraction or Vikshepa (विक्षेप) is the resting of the mental state on things other than the Absolute, because of the failure to rest on it.[7]


Patanjali (Yoga Sutras II.2) – समाधि – भवनार्थः क्लेश – तनूकरनार्थश्च – assures that by cultivating the power of concentration the obstacles to enlightenment which cause all sufferings can be removed. The obstacles he refers to are the negative effects of ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and the desire to cling to life.[8] And, as regards the enjoyment of bliss attained coinciding the gain of non-conceptual knowledge Sankara advocating the understanding of the depth-meaning (lakshyatha) of the Mahavakya Tat Twam Asi, states

प्रत्यग्बोधो या आभाति द्वयानन्दलक्षणः |
अद्वयानन्दरूपश्च प्रत्यग्बोधैकलक्षणः ||
"What appears (as the Witness Consciousness within – the individual Self), is of the nature of Bliss One-without- a- second; and the one that is the Bliss within is none other than the individualized self the Witnessing Consciousness within"

– which statement means that owing to the conditioning (vikshepa) in the Jiva, the individual can experience only the "awareness" and not the "bliss" aspect of Brahman.[9]


  1. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary". 
  2. ^ Vaman Shivaram Apte. The Practical Sanskrit-English dictionary. Digital Dictionaries of South Asia. 
  3. ^ Sadananda. Vedantasara Ed.1931 (PDF). Advaita Ashrama. p. 120. 
  4. ^ Chinese Culture. Chinese Cultural Research Institute. p. 69. 
  5. ^ Ravinder Kumar Soni. The Illumination of Knowledge. GBD Books. pp. 285,236. 
  6. ^ Amiya Kumar Mazumdar. The Bases of Indian Culture. Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. p. 324. 
  7. ^ Eight Upanishads. Advaita Ashrama. pp. 305–322. 
  8. ^ Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Sri Ramakrishna Math. pp. 67–68. 
  9. ^ Vakya Vritti of Adi Sankara. Central Chinmaya Mission Trust. p. 79.