Measuring Spiritual Progress by Pravritti and Nivritti

Here are two Sanskrit words. The one is Pravritti, which means revolving towards, and the other is Nivritti, which means revolving away. The ‘revolving towards’ is what we call the world, the ‘I and mine’; it includes all those things which are always enriching that ‘me’ by wealth and power, and name and fame which always tend to accumulate everything in one centre, that centre being ‘myself’. That is the Pravritti, the natural tendency of every human being; taking everything from everywhere and heaping it around the centre, that centre being man`s own sweet self. When this tendency begins to break, when it is Nivritti or ‘going away from’, then begin morality and spirituality. This Nivritti is the fundamental basis of spirituality comprising all morality and all religion, and the very perfection of it is readiness to sacrifice mind and body and everything for another being.

Hence what is generally called worldliness, in this sense, is pravritti (‘revolving towards’ the lower self) and all attempts to go nearer to God or to grow in spirituality is nivritti (‘revolving away’ from the lower self). The focal point of both pravritti and nivritti is the self. The farther one moves away from the lower self he develops willingness to sacrifice everything for the higher Self.

Willingness to sacrifice everything for the higher Self or for other human beings is Unselfishness. Being unselfish, thus, is what determines how much spiritual one is. This is the best way to know one`s spiritual progress.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda


About drmcpanda

Dr. Mahesh Chandra Panda, M.B.B.S.,M.D. Date of Birth:29.02.1948 Retd. (29.02.2008) Chief District Medical Officer Bargarh Orissa India
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15 Responses to Measuring Spiritual Progress by Pravritti and Nivritti

  1. I have referred the topic ‘Unselfishness is God’ published in the monthly journal ‘The Vedanta Kesari’ in its Vol. 100, No. 11 in drafting the article ‘Measuring Spiritual Progress by Pravritti and Nivritti’.

  2. V. Nageswara Rao says:

    Dear Sir,
    Good Article on “Pravritti and Nivritti”.

    It’s very clear from your article that, the real spirituality is in Nivritti -do something for others – other than self – not just Pravritti. An Individual can always think about Self, it might be human tendency but within that intra – he/she should think and do something good other than self i.e. inter and external happiness for the betterment of the community, mainly who are in need, within our possible strengths, better not to be selfish always. Now-a-days mainly in city life no body cares no body, even the neighbor not known about the persons/family staying besides his/her house, it might be due to busy life style and or his/her nature.

    The Person who really wants to mix with people and to leave in society as a human being, better to know about the people and surroundings to develop his/her social life in Nivritti and not just in Pravritti.

    Thanking You for the Nice Article.
    With Regards,
    V.Nageswara Rao
    Zonal Coordinator,LEPRA Society
    Axshya TB Proejct Odisha,Bhubaneswar

  3. Umesh says:

    Respected Brother,
    Nice Article having good morality.

  4. Prakash Padhan says:

    Thank you sir for posting about Pravritti and Nivritti. Now-a-days people are more self-centered. Your article aware us to be unselfish which leads to service in society.

  5. Sir,

    A nice article regarding Pravritti, which means revolving towards, and the other is Nivritti, which means revolving away. The self care and society care are usually the reflection of a good society. The people who think about themselves only are usually not involved in social activities but the people who serve for others are always admired by the society who later on become famous as Great Man. The society also give honour to them all time. ‘Measuring Spiritual Progress by Pravritti and Nivritti’ is a nice piece of article to aware the modern man who has gradually forgotten his duty towards the society as well as his main duty by which he or she will get the Mokshya and prove him/herself as complete human being.

    Kedarnath Sahu
    Science Teacher
    Sohela,Bargarh Odisha

  6. Vinod Varma says:

    Simple but effective explanation of goal of human life. While Pravritti is a natural tendency, it is Nivritti that takes us to Moksha. Let benevolence of Guru help us attain Moksha through Nivritti.

  7. Madan Goyal says:

    There appears to be some confusion about the way these words have been explained. As far as I understand, pravritti is nature of person and mostly people are self centered or centered on materialistic happiness. Nivritti is detachment from material happiness and mostly it may be indifference towards worldly things or inclination towards spirituality or God. Sacrificing something, though may be part of spiritual process but spirituality does not necessarily mean sacrificing always. One may accumulate money and use it in social cause or for the benefit of public in general. Inclination towards worldly material is natural to everybody because of its need, circumstances and tuning since childhood. Nivritti on the other hand is that person stops deriving pleasure from worldly charms and a deliberate effort to think beyond routine.

  8. Santhosh says:

    Dear Uncle,
    Om Sai Ram.

    As Sai prescribed – “Manav Seva is Madhav Seva”, i.e. Service to Mankind and other creatures is equivalent to the service of God. The best spiritual practice is to develop Compassion and Love towards other surrounding creatures and spreading Love and Care.

    Om Sai Ram 🙂

  9. Dr.Binod Bihari Naik says:


    Pravritti and Nivritti are the measuring scale of one`s progress in spirituality as he views differently to a particular object by wearing different colored glass-specs though the color of the object is constant. Hence to recognize himself one has to brood his body and mind beyond those called detachment and dedication; and engages his intellect in concentration and contemplation to be held himself to universal one called meditation (Samadhi) within worldly affairs as per doctrine of Almighty. This is called Yoga& Spirituality which I have grasped and learned to implement myself.

    With Thanks
    Your Divine Brother
    Dr.Binod Bihari Naik
    Bargarh, Odhisa

  10. Madhusudan Mahunta says:


    Your article is very heart touching with learning things for all human beings. Mahatma like Buddhadeb, Gandhijee, Shirdi Sai Baba, Sri Satya Sai Baba, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Sri Aurobindo, Srimaa, Gopabandhu, Mother Teresa, Jagannath Das, Sri Chaitanya and Sri Ram, Sri Krishna all have accrued success in their life only due to Nivritti. But now-a-days it is difficult to find out people accruing this Nivritti. All are in the way of Pravritti. Your article has highly enlightened those people who are really out track of the real way of their life.

    I appreciate your article very much.
    Madhusudan Mahunta
    Sohela,Bargarh Odisha

  11. Very nice post on ‘Measuring Spiritual Progress by Pravritti and Nivritti’.

    Thanks for sharing it 🙂


  12. The path Pravritti & Nivritti is the measuring yardstick for spiritual progress of human beings.Very nice heart touching post.Thank you sir.

  13. Purnima Panda says:

    Pranam kaka,

    A nice article regarding Pravritti and Nivritti.Pravritti is indulgence in materialistic thing, caring about one’s self always making one more self centered. Nivritti is serving people without caring own’s self. By practicing nivritti one can progress towards complete peace and happiness that is Moksha. It is up to us to take the right path to get ultimate peace.

  14. You may read my article & responses on Pursuit of Excellence in Yoga and Spirituality based on self-realisation and self-analysis of measuring spiritual progress by pravritti and nivritti.

  15. If we look closely inside of us, we can make an astounding discovery. We shall find two ‘I’s within us-the genuine one and the impersonating one. The irony is, most of us consider the impersonator ‘I’ to be the only and genuine ‘I’. We spend our whole life-time in that delusion and don’t even know that the real, true ‘I’ always existed behind the curtain. The genuine ‘I’ remains quiet, seemingly unassertive, unobtrusive, always in equilibrium. The imposter ‘I’ is extremely vocal, violently adamant, highly repetitive and unusually fluid. It’s a part of human nature, or, better say, its leading part. The true ‘I’, on the other hand, is beyond nature. It keeps lighting up nature confined to human psyche, but never gets embroiled with or soiled by it.

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