Fear is one of the most primal emotions that drive us, touching every aspect of our lives. According to the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, Fear is born from ignorance (Avidya) and Asmita or I-am-ness, which causes us to misidentify our real self with our physical self that is subject to birth, death and decay. In fact, fear of death (Abhinevesha) is one of the fundamental Kleshas or afflictions that affect the human mind.
Fear drives us in so many tangible and intangible ways and is the source of mental and physical pain and illnesses, including anxiety and depression. It is the underlying emotion that causes so many other afflictions, including Raga (attraction), Krodha (anger) and Dvesha (aversion), which we all encounter at some time in our lives.
Our sacred Scriptures provide the profound knowledge that not only helps us to understand the source of fear but also provides us with the means for overcoming fear and protecting ourselves against such negative emotions. To this end, 5th Century poet Bhartrihari identified nine categories of fear that we suffer from (see below)
The Atharva Veda, Book 15, Chapter 5 has 6 verses, all aimed at this subject matter of fear (anxiety, depression, etc.). These verses instil the belief that no weapon, enemy or challenge can prosper against those who are so determined and blessed. Indeed, these verses create an armour of protection against any contributor of fear.
The Verses in this Chapter recognise many specificities from which we derive fear and depression. These include fear of health issues, fear from friends, foes, failure, and other factors. Fear leads to depression, sickness and, therefore, the inability to attain and appreciate success in life. These verses, therefore, allow us to focus on the cause of depression and failure. Such recognition strengthens our ability to reconcile our fears and deal with them, and, to add to it, prayers help to boost our emotional and spiritual strengths.
The devotee who can recognise his fears and deal with them can also pray and build inner strength. No weapon, enemy or challenge – whether known or unknown – can be successful against those protected by God.