by Jayaram V
Abhyaas means practice or practicing or doing the same thing repeatedly,
memorizing, with an intention to master something or gain control over
something. In ancient India, abhyaas was the means of practicing dharma, achieving
artha (wealth) (ordained karmas) and attaining moksha or self-realization. The
first one was accomplished by memorizing all the important scriptures
such as the Vedas and Shastras. The second one was
accomplished by performing ones obligatory
duties such as household duties and familial duties. The third one was
accomplished by training the body and mind under the watchful eyes of an
The word abhyaas is a combination of two root words: 'abhi' and
'aayas'. "Abhi" means "over" or
"above" or "greatly" or "excessively" and
"aayaas" means "effort" or "action".
Thus literally speaking, "abhyaas" means over-action, excessive action, or deep exertion. The word is usually
used in a positive sense to denote a virtue rather than a vice.
In education, abhyaas means reading, studying and doing exercises. In
mathematics it refers to the practice of multiplications.
We come across many references to abhyaas in Hindu scriptures. In the
Bhagavadgita, Lord Krishna informs Arjuna
that it is by abhays one develops vairagya (detachment) from worldly
Whether it was in arts, education, military training,
household matters, spiritual practices or worldly affairs, abhyaas is
the key to learning, developing insight, and memorizing a scripture.
Especially in times when there were no written scripts, abhyaas was the
only way to retain the whole scriptures in memory and pass on to others.
Abhyaas was therefore at the core of ancient Indian thought and was an
important factor in the preservation of sanatana dharma and ancient
Suggested Further Reading
* Bhagavadgita Chapter 6:36