By Swami Harshananda
Asmitā literally means ‘sense of “I exist”,’ ‘egoism’.
The Yogasutras of Patañjali (200 B.C.) defines yoga as the suppression of the citta-vṛttis or the modifications of the mind. Among these modifications one group is called ‘kliṣta’ (‘the afflicted’). These ‘kleśas’ or afflictions are again listed as five, of which ‘asmitā’ or egoism is the second. It has been defined as the false identification of the seer or the Self, called dṛkśakti or puruṣa, with the instrument of seeing viz., the buddhi (intellect or mind). When the puruṣa who is really asañga or unattached and free, thus gets identified with the mind, he experiences happiness and misery resulting in bondage. Due to this reason asmitā is called a kleśa, an affliction, which is an obstacle to yoga.
- Patañjali 2.3
- Patañjali 2.6
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore