The subtle, imperceptible residue that persists in the mind is called a vasana.
Every action leaves an impression on the mind. This imprint is deepened by repetition of the same action that creates a channel through which thoughts of a particular pattern flow. The subtle, imperceptible residue that persists in the mind is called a vasana.
For instance, the habit for the proverbial morning cup of tea begins with the first sip. The uninitiated succumbs to it; relishes the taste, develops a sense of joy and before long has joined the tea lovers club! This is the birth of a desire, which gives rise to an action. Gradually, the repeated action manifests into a habit — a vasana!
In today’s age of consumerism, hordes of advertisements assail the senses. We find them plastered on billboards at airports, railway stations and other frequented public places. This relentless bombardment of the senses soon captivates the gullible and the “demon” of desire takes birth. In time, this leads to action and a vasana is born!
Vasanas are of three kinds: loka vasana, deha vasana and shastra vasana.
Lok vasana is the need to be accepted. Most desire to conform to the strong pull of “peer pressure”. Bound by it, we are forced to live lifestyles that sometimes border on extravagance. A glaring example is the flamboyant marriage ceremonies we witness, often with scant regard for financial constraints.
Deha vasana is the obsession with the body. Living in the constant fear of ageing, we subject the body to facelifts and other age-defying techniques. Prone to comfort, we indiscriminately pamper the body.
Shastra vasana is the desire for knowledge and learning. Though a pure vasana, a study of the scriptures, without imbibing its essence, leaves us entangled in a forest of words. Mere logic leads to a never-ending web of endless discussions. The seeker has no time to either contemplate or practice the learning of meditation, leading to establishment in the self.
In actual fact, vasanas are due to ignorance — ignorance of our divine nature. This non-apprehension of reality creates a sense of incompleteness. We feel that name, fame, wealth or pandering to the body will bridge this gap and bring us fulfilment. However, despite all that we have or achieve, we remain unfulfilled.
These strong impressions can be purged by either of two methods. Through the substitution route, we can opt for better or less harmful habits or via the “knowledge route”, by the conscious destruction of the desire.
The vasana “seed” can be destroyed by diligently working on oneself. Through repeated practice, our divine fragrance will emerge and eventually the dust of unhealthy habits created by desires is brushed off.