Overcoming your needs is a form of Dharma

A toy purchased five years ago is lying in the corner of a closet. No one has touched it for the last four years. However, it is still there. In addition, four other such toys are purchased. It is bragged that we have five such toys in our house! A few questions arise meekly in one’s mind: do you play with it every day? or even once a month? The honest answer is ‘No’. So, what is the use of these toys? Well, it may be of some use to someone, someday! ‘But your childhood is over, now this hoard of toys is of no use to you! Why don’t you give it to someone else who could play with it?’ The counter argument comes, ‘No, no…I love these toys, and I have many fond memories attached to them…’

Human needs are limited, but greed for things is unlimited. What is more intriguing is that our mind has the power to justify that greed. We easily get attached to things. We love to collect things. It has become our basic instinct to hoard ten times more things than our actual needs. It happens due to our fear of insecurity and uncertainty of life. On the one hand, the man is talking about the ephemeral nature of life, and on the other hand, he keeps on hoarding grain, clothes, shoes for the years and decades to come. Moreover, in this mad rush of materialism, we have not even mentioned the hoarding of the capital. All this illusive hoarding of wealth and material is done in the name of a better future.

We have affectionately nurtured our attachment for things and pride in hoarding at the same time. Parigraha means unconscious affection and attachment to wealth and possessions. It also stands for the longing to get more and more anxiety to sustain possessions. Parigraha is the name given to the insecurities that come from constantly feeling insufficient despite having all things. We need money to accomplish worldly, social, and family responsibilities. Nevertheless, we should not be so naive to compromise and abandon ethics, rules, and regulations to achieve this. There is no reason for us to snatch from others, betray others or resort to deceptions. Mamadhan Seth, the noble with abundant wealth, living in the kingdom of Raja Shreenik, had so much wealth compared to which the wealth of a king is also nothing. Why is it that he is sad despite having such an abundance of wealth? Why is he destined to have meagre food? Why does he have to go to collect firewood in the river’s freezing water at night in the bitter cold? Why does he not have happiness and peace in his life? Why does he have to undergo the grief of the seventh hell after death? The causes of these consequences are his ‘attachment’ to money, his desire to increase his wealth, and his excessive limit less Parigraha. No one remembers Mamman while worshipping the account books on Diwali. Instead, we write that may Shalibhadra be prosperous. Shalibhadra, despite having a lot of wealth, was not attached to it. He was not unconscious. Prabhuveer in the Dashvaikalika Sutra addressed the Sadhu (listener) that Parigraha is not in leaving things, but the unconscious, affection, loneliness, attachment toward the things is Parigraha. Parigraha gives life to the future. Parigraha is the seat of greed, envy, and hatred. It leads to all kinds of hardships and suffering in life. There are two Parigraha:

1) External Parigraha
2) Internal Parigraha

There are nine External Parigraha, which are shown in the 18th Gatha (Saga) of Vandittasutra.

Mahopadhyaya Shri Yashovijayaji Ganivar, the pioneer of ‘Gyansar’, at the beginning of the 25th Ashtaka, points out that the most dangerous force among the planets orbiting in the internal sky is ‘Parigraha’. As Krishnamurti says, you should not increase your self-importance, accumulate wealth, and garner fame.  He adds, you should, from time to time, imagine as if you have no material possessions and personal attachments in this world: no wealth, splendour, position, prestige, wife, children, or friends.

To survive externally, you will need some clothes, a handful of rice and a hut. So do not just keep on running after the mirage of success. It is nothing but propagation and promotion of all ego. The street of self-centred activities is relatively narrow.

In a fifteen-room bungalow, you can only sleep in one room. From the twenty-five pairs of clothing, you can wear only one at a time. Even if your granary is full, you can only eat a handful of grain. Ultimately, will you take the bundle of currency notes to God?

By saving more than you need, you are starving many of your siblings on this planet. Your hypocritical destination is the greed of ego. You are misusing the God-given life -touchstone. Instead of making life golden with the gift of God – touchstone, you make it as rigid as scrap metal.

Parigraha is the greatest enemy. It makes man greedy and takes him away from the generosity of charity. A man detached from Parigraha can become free and enjoy the pleasures of the world. Gandhiji instructed his disciples in the prayer meetings that there is much water in the Sabarmati River, but we do not have the right to consume more water than we need.

The 11 vows mentioned by Gandhiji in Ashram Bhajanavali are well known – Aparigraha – i.e. Do not hoard the things you do not want – is included among them.

It is worth remembering that just as there is Aparigraha of objects, there must also be Aparigraha of thoughts. Those who fill their mind with vain knowledge are Parigrahis – (superficial). All the thoughts that alienate us from God or do not lead us to God are Parigraha and are therefore worth forsaking.

Dr. Sejal Shah (Ph.D.)