MALA, VIKSHEPA AND AAVARANA
(from ‘Aaryaabhivinaya’ written by Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati and translated in English by Pt. Satyananda Shastri.)

Dhoomenaavriyate vahniryathaadarsho malena ca.
Yatholvenaavrito garbhastathaa tenedamaavritam

~ Bhagavadgita 3.38.

Meaning- Just like the fire is enveloped with the smoke, the mirror is covered with the dirt and the embryo is covered by the womb so is this knowledge covered with the passion.

Explanation- According to the Shastras there are three things that disturb the soul. They are Mala, Vikshepa and Aavarana. The dirt or dust covers the glass of a mirror. When a person wants to see his face in the mirror the dust covering it does not allow him to see his face clearly. The dust on the glass blinds the eyes and the person is unable to see his face. Likewise, when a person is working under the influence of passion or anger he is unable to realize others correctly. The soul is the doer. While doing any kind of work it most take the help of the senses that become active only with the support of the mind. If the mind is not connected with the particular sense the soul is unable to get the correct information about the object.

For example, when a person is full of anger, he is unable to realize the person he is speaking with. That is why an angered person forgets to see that he is talking to his own father who has given him birth, brought him up in all these years to reach this young age and helped him with money and other things to achieve the knowledge that has enabled him to get a good job bringing him a good sum of money. And the son flares up with such a father even on the smallest matters. When he gets married and develops great affection for his wife, he is unable to see the goodness of the advice given by his parents regarding his wife and asks them to keep mum. Instead of improving and changing the conduct of his own wife he asks his parents to stop giving any kind of good advice either to him or his wife. So much so that when he has children and the parents advise them to learn good things so they grow as cultured and civilized young men and women he feels humiliated by his own parents and haughtily chides them to keep away from his wife and children.

All these examples clearly show that the passions blind the people. That is why we see a lot of conflicts going on in the families regarding the matters of the marriage and other things concerned with education etc. The main reason behind these clashes is nothing but the passion and feelings like desires, anger, hatred and jealousy etc. If the members of a family are more careful in the mutual dealings and try to avoid this passion the families will be happy and ever pleased.

The second kind of disturbance is called Vikshepa. Let us have an example for this. We see the moon reflecting in the waves of a river. The moon is stable in the sky. It is not shaking. But we see the reflecting moon shaking in the river water. Why is it so? Certainly, it is so due to the shaking waves of the water. Similarly, we have shaking thoughts and ideas in our mind. It is because of the waves of knowledge or information that raise the waves in our mind. We will not have such shaking waves if our mind is stable. This state of mind we can achieve through Yoga or meditation. With the help of this we are able to concentrate our mind on a book or subject that stops the shaking mood of the mind. When we are able to stabilize the mind whatever information we have will be stable too. We shall have no doubts or suspicions in our minds. The third thing is Aavarana. When we cover the mirror with a piece of cloth, we are unable to see anything reflecting in it. We are totally blind. A number of times we do not see the mistakes in our children or wife though our parents do find them out in them. It is so because our mind is covered with the cloth of Moham. Similarly, we are so many times covered with the cloth of ego and we are unable to see our own mistakes. Sometimes our knowledge is sharpened with the extreme light of Ahankaara and we are unable to see anything just like the too sharp sunlight blinds us and we step on a big snake lying on the road. All these things are due to Aavarana.

Shri Krishna here gives a very good answer to the question asked by Arjuna. Kaama or passion is the darkness created by ignorance while Krodha or Ahankaara are the products of too sharp light. Just like the darkness of ignorance makes a man blind even so too much of the light of superiority or Ahankar makes a person blind and both of such persons fall down in the pits of Kama and Krodha and lose their senses. As, Shri Krishna says, the fire covered with the smoke or ashes loses its spirit and is trampled even by children a person covered with Kaama gets humiliated by anyone. Therefore, one should try to avoid Kaama and Krodha. He should also see that his mind is never covered with the dust or dirt that blinds him. This can be achieved with the help of Yoga and Svaadhyaaya. This is how the mind of a person is made stable and intelligent.