--> Skip to main content

Aparigraha In Hinduism – Non-Possession Of Objects

Aparigraha is non-possession of objects, one of the ethical disciplines for attaining spiritual perfection. In his well-known sutras (aphorisms), Patanjali lists five principles under the ethical discipline Yama. These are ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (continence), and aparigraha (freedom from greed). In Jainism, aparigraha or non-possession is one of the five mahavratas (sacred vows) to be taken by monks. This is the way to a blemishless life and forms the quintessence of right conduct, one of the triratna or three jewels of wisdom (the others being right intentions and right knowledge) enunciated by Bhagavan Mahavira for supreme realization and peace.

Parigraha, the tendency to seize or hoard material objects beyond one’s basic needs or to cling obstinately to power and pelf, is born of a self-centered approach to life. It pollutes the mind and dwarfs the soul by stoking the subliminal inclination in a person to grab that which belongs to others. This results in unhealthy competition, social tension and violence.

Possession of material things hinder progress in Yoga in five ways –

  1. One has to undergo must stress, put in much effort ant take risks.
  2. Possession involves strain and tension. At times it causes great disturbance.
  3. Material things are subject to loss, reduction and decay.
  4. One gets attached to the possessions with the passage of time. A habit is developed and there is dependence on objects of luxury, which goes on increasing. That becomes a cause of suffering.
  5. By gathering wealth one deprives others of their due and thereby increases their misery. That gives rise to disorder in society.

Aparigraha implies freedom from lobha (greed), from attachment to transitory things, from self-indulgence and from personal possessions. It is a matter of annihilating one’s desires and appetites, minimizing needs and pinning faith in the Divine for the fulfillment of future needs. Both the yogi and the householder are expected to renounce in accordance with their respective dharma and establish themselves in Brahman or the Supreme Reality. Patanjali (II.39) – when a man becomes steadfast in his abstention from greed, he gains knowledge of his past, present and future existences.

Aparigraha is not a plea for inaction but a means of selfless service to humanity.