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10 benefits of Aparigraha

Aparigraha is one of the 5 Yamas described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The other 4 Yamas are Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, and Continence. Most of us know and try to practice the last four Yamas but Aparigraha has mostly escaped our attention. According to Patanjali Yogasutras, ” With constancy of aparigraha, a spiritual illumination of the how and why of motives and birth emerges.”

Aparigraha is one of the virtues in Jainism. It is also one of the five vows that both householders (Sravaka) and ascetics must observe.


What is the meaning of Aparigraha?

To know this we have to understand what Parigraha is.

Parigraha means possessiveness, grasping or greediness.

Aparigraha is the opposite of Parigraha.

If you think deeply, this Parigraha is the cause of all the problems of the world. The problems we face at our individual level and at the global level at large. Our desire for more and more and our greed for more than what we need is the result of our Parigraha mindset.

Non-Violence, Non-Stealing, and Truthfulness we all believe are necessary virtues, but when it comes to Aparigraha we are neither aware nor believe the same is very important virtues in higher pursuit of life.

I had read the book Stuffocation a couple of years back. Very interesting read. Recently I laid my hands on the book The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Today in the western world, minimalism is in vogue.  They are seeing the benefit of minimalist life.

This all minimalist lifestyle concept is about living by the principles of Aparigraha which is deeply rooted in the Indian way of living. The more stuff we see around us is making us running after possessing the more. But in the process, we give up the precious time of human life.

More stuff needs more money and more money needs more of our time which unfortunately is limited. Aren’t we spending our precious human life after our insatiable desire to own and possess more? Many of our possessions are mostly unwanted.

We all believe material possessions, give us happiness, but in reality, material possessions give us a headache. (Pause and think)

The benefit of Minimalism as described by the author of the book The more of less are:

  • More time and energy (Managing lesser things)
  • More money (Buying lesser things)
  • More generosity (Extra money can help someone else who is in need)
  • More freedom (No worry to work for unwanted possessions)
  • Less stress (Obvious)
  • Less distraction (Lesser things to manage)
  • Less environmental impact (Lower production by producers)
  • A better example for our kids (This is a great benefit)
  • Less comparison (No social pressure to show off)
  • More contentment (Lesser possessions means peaceful life)

Low possessions and more time will make us awake to the spiritual side of the self. The whole or major part of our active human life is lost in earning money and possessing possessions.  By the time we realise the purpose of human life was not to earn money, till we die or become incompetent and aged, we have lived most of our lives.

This Aparigraha or Minimalist way of life is the only way to live in this otherwise noisy race we all are participating by chance or by choice.

This is our 2017 resolution so start action to throw away /give away/ give up all the unwanted material possessions we have hoarded for years. & make a beginning of a new life of a Minimalist (Practice Aparigraha) to the extent possible. This is going to be a life-changing resolution.

“A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.” Alexander, the Great

Sunil Gandhi

Five ways SOUL attracts new Karma

In the previous post Physics of Karma we have read what actually the Karma is and characteristics of Karma. We have also read why knowing about karma is the most important thing in the post The Law of Karma – 1.

Now in this post we will see why a soul attracts Karma which makes the soul its bondage. Just to re-emphasise the importance of Karma, knowing definition of Moksha is important.

Definition of Moksha is:

Karmaless Soul. I.e. when a soul sheds all Karma, it need not take a new birth as a body and attain omniscience status of the soul i.e. Kewal Gyan (Omniscience).   

As per the Jain Literature Tattvarthadhigam Sutras by Upadhyaya Umaswatiji Soul attracts Karma because of Yoga that means Mental, Physical and Verbal Activities.

A good deed attracts good Karma. A bad deed attracts bad Karma.

This attraction of Karma, good or bad is known as Aashrav. When Moksha or Salvation means Karmaless Soul, all kinds of Karmas whether good or bad is Aahrav and must be shed to attain Moksha. In short, whatever attracts new Karma to the soul is known as Aashrav.

Before I elaborate on Aashrav it is pertinent to know about Ratnatraya i.e.

  • Samyak Darshan – Right View about the Self (Body and Soul are different)
  • Samyak Charitra – Right Conduct (Without rage, greed, attachment, conceit)
  • Samyak Gyan – Right Knowledge (Knowledge of right laws governing our souls)

We have also read in one of the previous posts The Real Maths who we really are. We all living beings are Souls, but almost every one of us believes self as a body. Therefore, we all lack the basic understanding about the self, i.e. not having Samyak Darshan.

As per the Karma Granth,

One of the fundamental reasons for Aashrav is Mithyatva i.e. not having the right view of the self. Therefore, not believing self as a soul is the first and foremost reason for attracting new Karma to the soul i.e. Aashrav.

Over and above Mithyatva, Karma is also attracted by;

  • Non-observance of codes of conduct, i.e. Yama. These are nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence & possessiveness. This is known as Avirti.
  • Kashaya

This Granth further defined Kashaya as:

Things which enhance cycles of life and death for the soul.

There are four kinds of Kashaya:

  • Kroadh: Anger, rage, insult, hatred, excitement, passion
  • Maan : Arrogance, Self Pride, Conceit
  • Maya: Deceit (See all synonyms)
  • Lobh: Greed (See all synonyms)

These four Kashayas have four degrees of intensity.

  • High Intensity
  • Intense
  • Low Intensity
  • Very low intensity

This intensity decides how long a Karma will remain with the soul.

These are all bad Aashrav.

Similarly, a soul attracts new Karma by its good deeds also. These are known as Satavedniya Karma:

  • Respect and at service for teachers, elders, parents
  • Forgiveness
  • Empathy towards others
  • Practicing proper personal code of conduct – Yama
  • Religious reading and thinking
  • Not succumb to Kashayas
  • Charity & Personal Sacrifice
  • Right religious conduct

All these are the causes of good Aashrav.

These bad and good Karmas can be done by following nine ways:

  • Done by the self by thought, body or words
  • Inspire others doing it by thought, body or words
  • Praising others doing it by thought, body and words

To summarise:

A soul considering the self as a body; (Mithyatva)

  • By not observing codes of conduct ie. Yama (Avirti)
  • By indulging in Kashaya (Kashaya)
  • By doing good deeds (Satavdeniya)
  • By thought, word or body action (Yoga)

Attracts New Karma to the Soul. This attraction of new Karma to the soul is known as Aashrav.

As long as a soul believes the self as a body – whether it is a good Karma or bad Karma it is Aashrav and Karma is attracted to the body.

In the next post on the subject, we will see how a soul can stop attracting new Karma and even shed existing Karmas.

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Sunil Gandhi