Bond – the creation of attachment

School of Yoga explains bandhana or bond – the creation of attachment

All transactions result in a relationship between us and the object we are transacting with. This is called bond or bandhana.

School of Yoga recaps- 

  • We respond to stimulus. When we like the stimulus, we draw the object closer to us, this is called rāga in Sanskrit and when we dislike the object, we push it away. This is dveṣa in Sanskrit.
  • The movement of drawing closer or pushing away is called karma or action in Sanskrit.
  • Karma results in an awareness of the situation and this is called vijñāna. 
  • This awareness of situation acts as an input to our sense of identity, this is called jñāna.
  • The above stimulus-response transaction results in an experience or anubhava in Sanskrit.
  • The experience and its impact on the sense of identity results in a change to one’s conditioning called svadharma in Sanskrit.
  • The change in conditioning is reflected in one’s behaviour or svabhāva. So, one’s behaviour is a manifestation of personal conditioning or svadharma.
  • Behaviour and conditioning cannot be separated; one’s behaviour is determined by conditioning, just as conditioning determines behaviour and the two act in unison in a weave, which is called svatantra or personality in Sanskrit.
  • Transactions are always unequal. We either give or take more. This is called ṛṇa or debt in Sanskrit.
  • The transaction results in a relationship between us and the object we are transacting with and is called bond or bandana in Sanskrit.

School of Yoga explains characteristics of the bond (bandana);

  • Initially, we first form bonds to validate our own existence, this are existential bonds and affects our sense of self-worth (asmitā). So, we will do everything to retain it because loss of those bonds will affect our sense of identity (asmitā).
  • As soon as our existence is confirmed, we begin transacting and incurring karma. 
  • As a result, there is a continuous creation of bonds, action and debt.  

School of Yoga explains transactional bonds;

Once existence is confirmed, then we begin transacting, forming a bond with those we transact with.

Transactional bonds can be of 2 types;

  • Equal bond or sambandana in Sanskrit  (sama =  equal +  bandana = bond).

Equal bonds exist when give and take occur in equal measure. This generally occurs in a marriage, where give and take is a continuous process and the identity of the couple is subsumed in the bond. This is why marriage in India is called sambandh and in-laws are called sambandi or samdi.

  • Bond of debt or ṛṇānubandhana in Sanskrit (ṛṇanu = that of debt + bandana = bond)

All bonds other than sambandana fall into this category. Rinn or ṛṇa occurs when one give or takes more from the other. The debt created has to be liquidated and if it is not completed in this life, it will spill over to the next. This is the basis for logic of the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra).

School of Yoga explains awareness of action (pragnya) in any bond:

The dissolution of debt involves 3 terms;

  • Often, all the debt is not liquidated in a single transaction. Consequently, this results in a debt balance. Therefore, the overall debt balance of an individual is called sanchita-karma (accumulated karma in Sanskrit)
  • The debt coming up for liquidation is called prarabda-karma (karma that has come up for reconciliation).
  • The debt which is being created NOW, is agami-karma or (current karma in Sanskrit)

Conclusion: Ṛṇānubandhana or bond of debt is transactional in nature. Whenever we transact with any object, an existential bond is first established. In this bond, there is only the dual experience of happiness (anandam) or fear of loss of identity (bhaya).

This is followed by a transaction which results in an experience of like or dislike with the object, leading to action or karma with the outcome of ṛṇānubandhana or bond of debt.

Obviously, the quantum of debt changes when we are aware of ourselves in the sutuation and make conscious attempts to reduce our debts by altering our actions (karma). Therefore, the quantum of debt which we incur is dependent on our awareness (prajñā) in the situation. 

Anecdotes, experiences and situations to help understand bond…

(Wikipedia extract) Alvin Cullum York was a United States soldier, a famous World War 1 hero. He was awarded the Medal of Honour for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others.


Alvin York – Medal of Honour

York belonged to a Christian denomination, the Church of Christ in Christian Union which discouraged warfare and violence.

When York was drafted into the army for World War I, he tried to avoid induction as a conscientious objector due to his religious beliefs. However, his status as a conscientious objector was rejected. 

However, York still wanted nothing to do with the army and killing. A sympathetic commanding officer lectured York and gave him leave to go home and reflect his position. Finally, York thought about it and decided to serve his country.

His unit was shipped out to Europe and participated in an attack. Suddenly, pinned down by German fire and seeing his friends being shot down all around him, York suddenly found himself placed in charge. Finally, he worked his way around behind German lines and shot with such deadly effect that the Germans surrendered. York later explained that he did what he did to hasten the end of the war and minimize the killing.

Here is an example of a person whose dharma was non-violence. Yet, he went to war, performed valorous deeds because he believed that would end the war quickly.

Analyse the following of Alvin York’s bonds:

  • His conditioning (dharma): what was York’s view of the world?
  • His self-identity: how did York’s conditioning and behaviour get affected by his sense of identity?
  • His experience of confusion: how did his sense of identity change and as his evolution occurred? How did the attributes move from confusion to conviction? How did it change with his bond to his country?
  • Alignment of action with conditioning: what was the impact of his changed conditioning on his subsequent actions?
  • Have you had a similar identity and conditioning conflicts? How did you resolve it?

Points to Ponder on bond:

Internal Tags: Conditioning or Dharma, Self Awareness or Asmita, Guna in Bhagawat Gita (chapter 14)

External Tags: Sentience

  • What is a bond? How does it occur?
  • How is a bond formed, sustained and dissolved?
  • Is a bond possible between animate and inanimate objects? For example, how can one define a bond between a car and a person?
  • What is prārabdha-karma and how does it affect us?
  • If prārabdha-karma exists, the how much of our decision making is actually done by us?
  • What happens to a bond in a stress situation?
  • What is guṇa? How does it affect decision making?
  • How does guṇa affect stress? What are the changes which occur in our guṇa during a stress situation?
  • What is the role of free-will and how does it affect us?
  • What happens to a bond in a stress situation?
  • What is our sense of Self? How does it affect decision-making?
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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