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Kriyā (Sanskrit क्रिया, "action, deed, effort") most commonly refers to a "completed action", technique or practice within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2.1 defines three types of kriya, namely asceticism, study, and devotion. Such yoga is called kriya yoga.


Kriyā is a Sanskrit term, derived from the Sanskrit root, kri, meaning "to do". Kriyā means "action, deed, effort". The word karma is also derived from the Sanskrit root √kṛ (kri) कृ, meaning "to do, make, perform, accomplish, cause, effect, prepare, undertake".[1][2] Karma is related to verbal proto-Indo-European root *kwer- "to make, form".[3]

The root kṛ (kri) is common in ancient Sanskrit literature, and it is relied upon to explain ideas in Rigveda, other Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, the Epics of Hinduism.[1][4]

Awareness practices[edit]

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2.1 defines three types of kriya, namely tapas (ascetic devotion), svadhyaya (study of the self or the scriptures),and Isvara pranidhana (devotion or surrender to higher consciousness).

The yogic purifications or shatkarmas are sometimes called the Shatkriyas ("the six actions").[5]


  1. ^ a b see:
    • kṛ, कृ Monier Monier-Williams, Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (2008 revision), pp 300-301;
    • Carl Cappeller (1999), Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Etymological and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-8120603691
  2. ^ Mulla & Krishnan (2009), Do Karma-Yogis Make Better Leaders? Exploring the Relationship between the Leader's Karma-Yoga and Transformational Leadership, Journal of Human Values, 15(2), pp 167-183
  3. ^ John Algeo and Thomas Pyles (2010), The Origins and Development of the English Language, 6th Edition, ISBN 978-1428231450, pp 54-55
  4. ^ See Rigveda 9.69.5, 10.159.4, 10.95.2, Svetâsvatara Upanishad 2.7.v.1, Mahabharata 1.5141, etc.
  5. ^ Shatkarmas - Cleansing Techniques, in Yoga Magazine, a publication of Bihar School of Yoga