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This article is about the Hindu concept of impressions on the mind. For other uses, see Samskara (disambiguation).

In Hinduism sanskaras or samskaras (Sanskrit संस्कार meaning impression; under the impulse of previous impressions) are the imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives, which then color all of life, one's nature, responses, states of mind, etc.[1] The Dictionary of Common Sanskrit Spiritual Words says, "Whenever an action is performed with the desire for a specific result (whether for oneself or another), sanskara is created for that person. These accumulate and determine the situations with which we will be presented in the future and will influence the scope of future actions."[2]


Sanskaras are impressions derived from past experiences that form desires and fears that influence future responses and behavior (karma). Extensive writing on the impressional sanskara has been done by the Indian author Meher Baba, who discusses the concept in depth in his books Discourses and God Speaks. According to Meher Baba sanskaras are imprints left on the subconscious by experiences in past lives, or the present life, which determine and condition one’s desires and actions.[3] They are not entities with substance or shape, nor are they energy, but are understood in psychological terms only. In Discourses Meher Baba writes:

The mental processes are partly dependent upon the immediately given objective situation, and partly dependent upon the functioning of accumulated sanskaras or impressions of previous experience... From the psychogenetic point of view, human actions are based upon the operation of the impressions stored in the mind through previous experience.[4]

Sanskaras, once acquired and accumulated, form what can be compared to a lens through which the subjective aspects of our experience such as judgment arise.[5] Thus when we perceive (either thoughts or external objects) we apperceive those objects through the lens of past experience. We perceive through the imprint or conditioning of past impressions or sanskaras.

According to Meher Baba, in the course of evolution sanskaras play a vital role in that they aid in the formation of conscious experience, and thus eventually bring about self-awareness in the human form, but then serve no further purpose. According to Baba they are actually a hindrance once full consciousness is achieved in the human form because they slant our experience of things as they are. The goal for the human being then is to be rid of them by "unwinding" them or through "shakings" caused by progressive variously opposite life experiences over many human lives in reincarnation, thereby eventually unveiling and revealing the true nature of reality and the true identity of the self. According to Meher Baba the ridding of sanskaras can be quickened by the help or guidance of a perfected master or satguru.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hinduism Dictionary – Samskara
  2. ^ Dictionary of Common Sanskrit Spiritual Words
  3. ^ The Master's Glossary
  4. ^ Discourses, 1967, 6th edition, Volume I Page 54, The Formation and Function of Sanskaras, Meher Baba [1]
  5. ^ Infinite Intelligence, Meher Baba, Sheriar Press, 2005
  6. ^ Discourses, 1967, 6th edition, Volume I Page 70, Meher Baba

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