Need and Greed

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

To hoard ma­te­rial ob­jects be­yond one’s ba­sic needs is pari­graha, born of a self-cen­tric ap­proach to life. It may make you grab things that be­long to some­one else. This may lead to con­flict, ten­sion, com­pe­ti­tion and vi­o­lence, be­sides im­ped­ing one’s spir­i­tual growth, as greed and grace do not go to­gether. Ma­te­rial wants whet the ap­petite for more. In­ner peace is eclipsed in the process.

In Jain­ism, the path to spir­i­tual ascension lies in self-de­nial, self-ab­ne­ga­tion and self-mor­ti­fi­ca­tion. Apari­graha (non­pos­ses­sion) is one of the five ma­havratas, or sa­cred vows, to be taken by monks, oth­ers be­ing ahimsa (non-vi­o­lence), satya (truth), asteya (non-steal­ing) and brah­macharya (celibacy). Apari­graha is a mat­ter of dis­ci­plin­ing the mind and the senses so that one may lead a straight life. It forms the quintessence of right con­duct, one of the three jew­els of Jaina wis­dom. Right con­duct stems from the other two prin­ci­ples: right faith, right knowl­edge.

Apari­graha im­plies free­dom from men­tal glut­tony for goods or ob­jects one holds dear. For ascetics, apari­graha is the path of nivritti, the ten­dency to move away from the world af­ter in­tro­spec­tion, to be dis­tin­guished from the path of pravritti (worldly in­volve­ment).

For the house­holder, apari­graha is not a plea for with­drawal from worldly ac­tiv­i­ties but the re­al­i­sa­tion that the uni­verse is un­der the pro­pri­etor­ship of the Supreme soul, and that one should take only as much as is needed.

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