Parikarmas in Yoga

Parikarmas are techniques for purifying the mind. Four means have been prescribed they are Maitri (Friendliness), Karuna (Compassion), Mudita (Goodwill) and Upeksa (Indifference to evil).

“This situation of having friends and enemies seems to be there all the time. In yoga, we talk of a neutral attitude – neither trying to love nor trying to dislike – an even, balanced approach which we, unfortunately, cannot do. We admire someone and immediately want to show it.

Yoga talks of keeping the mind balanced and not going overboard because that is dangerous. If you like something, dislike will come. To carry through life in a balanced manner is a very difficult task because we want to enjoy life and we don’t mind getting excited or angry sometimes. But you should remember that these will also bring in the contrary qualities also, and if you have recognised that getting angry or annoyed is not a very desirable thing, you will have to check yourself and try not to explode in these trying situations.

Then you shall be able to accept and maintain a stable mind, a balanced mind. Parikarmas is the Yogic solution.


We do normal Karmas in day-to-day life. We do our duties; work for earning, work for pleasure, and even help others now and again. Then why bring in Parikarmas in yoga?

Maharshi Patanjali was very clear on how the human mind works. He saw that many times we go overboard in normal activities and get overpowered by emotions. Suddenly we get angry, and it takes a long time for us to calm down.

Example – There is the famous story of Rishi Durvassa. He was a great Tapasvi and used to do penance. He had great strength, but the Parikarmas were not there. If something small displeased him, he used to put a curse on the person. Afterwards, he would realise what he’d done and go back to the forest for penance and purification. If he had the feelings of Parikarma, he would not have cursed Shakuntala.

Yoga Shashtra says that even though we may be very wise, these kinds of mistakes will happen. So that these also don’t occur, this path of Parikarmas is suggested. The mind itself should be full of these feelings.

There should be friendliness towards those who are successful, Karuna (Compassion) towards those who are in pain, Mudita – feeling joy in the joy of others and Upeksa (Indifference) towards evil.

Maitri, friendliness – do not get disturbed by ordinary things. If a friend came late, understand that he was probably justified in his action; he might have got caught up in some work. Do not blame or get angry.

Karuna, compassion – if you see pictures of all saints and sages, their eyes are full of compassion. Every human suffers. Suffering brings compassion. So no matter what someone says, do not get affected, because their action is caused due to suffering. There is a famous story of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa who felt compassion for a drowning scorpion and saved it even though it is poisonous.

Mudita is feeling joy in other’s joy. If your friend is more successful than you, why feel jealous? Be happy for him.

Upeksa is indifferent to evil things. Sant Namdev was returning after a bath, and someone spits on him. He did not even look who it was. He went back for another bath. On returning, again someone spits on him. He still did not react and returned for another bath.

These feelings are difficult to develop, and so they say that this path is for the best students of yoga, because once you are filled with these feelings, nothing will bother you. But I feel that even if we are not the best students, we should keep these feelings in mind. We should bring these into our day to day management. They will help us live life a little more level-headed and make the yogic journey worthwhile.

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