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Uparati In Hindu Religion – Renunciation Of Desire For Children – Wealth And Worldly Pleasures

Renunciation of desire for children – wealth and worldly pleasures in Hindu religion is known as Uparati and is one of the six attributes of a spiritual aspirant known as Samadhi sarakam. The other five are sama, dama, titiksa, shraddha and samadhana.

These six attributes are not independent of one another, but are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Hence they are viewed as one integrated unit. This set of six in turn forms a part of the quartet of spiritual means, called Sadhana Chatustaya.

This quartet of means is considered a necessary prerequisite for a sadhaka to undertake intense inquiry into Brahman, as specified by the famous aphorism, “Athatho Brahma Jijnasa”, in Badarayanasutra.

Just as several pearls strung together are described as one necklace, the above mentioned set of six attributes, in view of their inter-dependent nature, is viewed as one instrument or sadhana.

Hence uparati facilitates the other five, and it in turn stands to benefit from the others. For instance, even after achieving uparati, if control of the mind (sama) is not attained, the mind would tend to rush towards sense objects, driven by past tendencies.

Similarly, in the absence of control of external organs (dama), desires can once again revive for the sensory objects when they come within the range of experience.

Much the same way, sama and dama also require uparati, since the mind, without the renunciation of desires, cannot keep control over the organs. One the whole, renouncing the objects as well as the means for achieving the objects (such as Vedic rituals aimed at securing heaven) constitutes true uparati.

The means of knowledge are classified as intimate means (anataranga) and distant means (bahiranga). Uparati and the other five attributes are treated as intimate means, since they directly contribute to self realization. Brahmacharya is viewed as distant means, as it first promotes purity of mind and through that self realization.

Uparati Meaning

Uparati is the renunciation of the three-fold desire: for progeny, for wealth, and for worldly pleasure (esana traya). Uparati has two other meanings primary as well as secondary. The former denotes the renunciation of the objects in the mind (not their mere physical avoidance0. Only when one is absorbed in the contemplation of the Self unremittingly will the mind cease to focus on outer objects. Such an undivided contemplation, in turn, is facilitated by karma sannyasa or giving up the outer activities. Since karma sannyasa contributes to eventual mental renunciation it is taken as the secondary meaning of uparati.

Difference Between Uparati And Vairagya

There is a subtle distinction between uparati and vairagya. The latter is the absence of desire when the object is not attained or not available. The former, on the other hand, is the absence of desire even when if the object becomes available, due to the conquering of the past tendencies. So, uparati represents the culmination of vairagya.

The Mahabharata provides a vivid pictorial description of a sadhaka. According to that, nityanitya vastu viveka (discrimination between the real and the unreal) is his dead, virago (severe renunciation) is his body; sama, dama, uparati, etc, are the key organs like heart, and mukuksatva (desire for liberation), his life force. Such a qualified seeker surely attains immortality.

  • Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX page 50 – Rupa IHRF
  • Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1965) Swami Madhavananda – Advaita Ashrama Kolkata
  • Pancadaui – A Critical Study (1985) Shakuntala Punjani – Parimal Publications Delhi