What Are Raga and Dvesha?
Last Updated on February 1, 2023
You must have heard your pandits or parents saying a word Raga and Devsha.
But do you know what are Raga and Dvesha?
The Raga and Dvesha (craving and hating) of our past only make up this Samsara or this world of things. They both are one of the five obstacles that hinder a yogi’s advancement toward attaining inner peace.
The second and third branches of the tree of ignorance, respectively, that cause pain and suffering in our lives are Raga (attachment to pleasurable things) and Dvesha (aversion to unpleasant things).
Raga is the attraction we feel for things that bring satisfaction to ourselves creating a sense of meaninglessness.
Also Read: What Do Happiness and Anger Have in Common?
As Raga is the love of things that produce pleasant experiences and Dvesha is the opposite – aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. If we cannot avoid things we do not like, it will cause us distress and even thinking about unpleasant experiences can produce suffering. So as you have understood what Raga and Dvesha is, let’s find out how one can destroy them and get free for their clutches.
How to Get Free from Raga and Dvesha?
Illusory samsara is created by Ragas and Dveshas, which means attractions and aversions. They are one of the five Kleshas, popularly known as Panch Klesha (five root causes of suffering) that cause trouble and agony.
The longing for those pleasurable objects or experiences from the past is what causes us to get attached to that object or experience. Similarly, an aversion for a particular object, person, or experience can create a similar impression on the mind and cause us to dislike it.
However, one must understand that raga and dvesha are interwoven. As liking of one thing causes disliking of other. You like certain people and dislike others. You like certain fruits but hate others.
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Another example of this interconnectedness is, when we have attachment to a loved one, at the time of their death we are faced with separation, and the mind craves for their presence. Not having our loved one around ends up causing us so much suffering- this in trun cause more sadness and anger.
So, avidya, or a lack of knowledge, is what causes Ragas and Dveshas. However, there is a way to destroy them. The knowledge that destroys Ragas and Dveshas is self-knowledge and the wisdom of the supreme also called as Brahma-Jnana (a state of higher knowledge). Otherwise, these habits bind us and produce misery. One can atain this knowledge through the practice of Dhyan or meditation.
In Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells Arjuna that, “Thus, with a serene, fearless, and unwavering mind, and staunch in the vow of celibacy, the vigilant yogi should meditate on Me, having Me alone as the supreme goal.” (Bhagavad Gita 6.14)
It’s been said that the two things to let go of in order to be transformed are our “likes” (ragas) or preferences and our “dislikes” (dislikes).
When we do, we move into a state of equilibrium. We are no longer as reactive and can instead focus on being creative with whatever we have in life.
What Bhagavad Gita Says About Raga And Dvesha
In Bhagavad Gita Krishna indirectly talks about both raga and dvesha. The 64th Shloka of Bhagavad Gita says:
raga-dvesa-vimuktais tu visayan indriyais caran atma-vasyair vidheyatma prasadam adhigacchati
Translation: One who can control his senses by practising the regulated principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord and thus become free from all Ragas and Dvesha’s (attachment and aversion).
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One must understand that this shloka talks about giving up and controlling the materialistic desires and not the spiritual ones. I am saying this because in the 14th chapter of the Gita Krishna says, “Those who attach their minds to me with unadulterated devotion rise above the three modes of material nature and attain the level of the supreme Brahman.”
In Hinduism, Raga and Dvesha are also seen as representing the two sides of human nature – the positive and the negative. Raga is associated with positive emotions and feelings, such as love, joy, and happiness, while Dvesha is associated with negative emotions and feelings, such as anger, fear, and hatred.
According to Hindu philosophy, the ultimate goal of human existence is to transcend these emotions and attain a state of spiritual enlightenment, in which one is free from the cycle of Raga and Dvesha and is able to experience true peace and contentment.
It is not possible to find peace and Samadhi if we are knowledgeable and devoted to external things only. In order for us to enter into deep meditation, we need to remove these two current foes of peace that exist inside our minds; Raga and Dvesha. Once these two enemies have been vanquished, it is possible for one to find peace and Samadhi.