Let’s Learn to ask Right question, ‘Do I really need this?’

Shrimad Rajchandra, a brilliant young Jain philosopher who became Gandhi’s spiritual mentor, convinced him of “the subtlety and profundity” of Hinduism, the religion of his birth. And it was the Bhagavadgita, which Gandhi had first read in London, that became his “spiritual dictionary” and exercised probably the greatest single influence on his life. Two Sanskrit words in the Gita particularly fascinated him. One was aparigraha (“nonpossession”), which implies that people have to jettison the material goods that cramp the life of the spirit and to shake off the bonds of money and property. The other was samabhava (“equability”), which enjoins people to remain unruffled by pain or pleasure, victory or defeat, and to work without hope of success or fear of failure.

Aparigraha, a fundamental principle rooted in ancient Indian philosophy, offers profound insights into living a more balanced and fulfilling life. Derived from the Sanskrit words “apari” meaning non-attachment and “graha” meaning greed or possessiveness, Aparigraha encourages individuals to let go of material possessions and detach themselves from the constant craving for more. This principle goes beyond the realm of materialism, extending to relationships, emotions, and even our impact on the environment. By exploring the origins, understanding the concept, and examining its practical applications, this article delves into the depth of Aparigraha and its potential to bring about greater inner peace, contentment, and sustainability in our lives.

The idea that human nature is inherently greedy is a debated topic, and perspectives vary. However, if one wishes to practice nonpossession, regardless of their views on human nature, they can adopt various approaches inspired by philosophical, spiritual, and practical teachings. Here are some ways to practice nonpossession.

The Benefits of Practicing Aparigraha:

When we wholeheartedly embrace the practice of aparigraha, we open ourselves up to a host of benefits that enrich our lives.

  1. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Letting go of the need to accumulate and constantly pursue more can alleviate the stress and anxiety that often accompany materialistic mindsets. By focusing on what truly matters, we find contentment and peace in the present moment.
  2. Increased Clarity and Inner Peace: Aparigraha helps clear the clutter in our minds, allowing us to see things with greater clarity. Without the burden of attachment, we can make decisions with a calmer and more discerning mind, leading us towards inner peace.
  3. Embracing Simplicity and Freedom: Practicing aparigraha invites us to embrace a simpler and more minimalistic lifestyle. By letting go of the excess, we experience a newfound freedom that liberates us from the constant pursuit of material possessions and societal expectations.

Finally, cultivating mindfulness is key to navigating our consumer-based society. Instead of mindlessly swiping our credit cards, let’s pause and ask ourselves: Do I really need this? Will it bring me long-term happiness? By practicing mindfulness in our consumption habits, we can make wiser choices, support sustainable businesses, and find contentment in the present moment rather than in the next purchase.

So, let’s challenge the status quo, embrace Aparigraha, and break free from the shackles of consumerism. Because at the end of the day, it’s not the things we own that define us, but the experiences, relationships, and personal growth that truly enrich our lives.

Dr. Sejal Shah (Ph.D.)