“5. Aparigraha – To renounce everything excepting the necessities for the maintenance of the body is known as “Aparigraha.” ” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1958, ElEdit 7, Yogic Treatments and Natural Remedies, Appendix, YAMA SÁDHANÁ
“Aparigraha involves the non-acceptance of such amenities and comforts of life as are superfluous for the preservation of the physical existence.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 4 June 1959, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 3, The Place of Sadvipras in the Samája Cakra
In case of enjoyment of any material object, the control over the subjectivity is called Brahmacarya while the control over objectivity is aparigraha.
“Deharakśá tiriktabhogasádhanásviikaro’parigraha.” Non-indulgence in the enjoyment of such amenities and comforts of life as are superfluous for the preservation of life is aparigraha. For our existence we require food, clothes, and also a house to live in. Provision for old age and money and cultivable land for one’s dependents are also essential. Therefore, a number of factors have to be taken into consideration to determine an individual’s necessity for the preservation of life. It may be that the requirements of any two persons are not similar. It is therefore, difficult to determine the minimum requirements for any particular person, because it is entirely a relative factor. The minimum requirement of a person can, to some extent, be determined and decided by the society.
For example, no one shall accumulate more than a certain amount of money or no one shall possess more than a certain number of houses or no one shall be owner of more than a certain area of landed property. But it is not possible for the society to fix the minimum limit in all spheres. Even after setting a limit for land, property etc., it is not possible to fix a quota in respect of edibles. The voracious may overeat and be attacked with diseases, the seekers of luxury may overspend on their luxuries and incur debt. That is why it will be easier for an individual to be established in aparigraha, if the individual and the society work together cooperatively. Those items of personal requirement which are left to the discretion of the individual largely depend on the conception of that individual’s happiness and comforts.
This also changes according to time, person and place. For example, one person may easily bear certain physical hardships, while another person under the same circumstances may possibly die. Under these circumstances the latter requires greater comforts of life than the former to remove his or her difficulty and this will not be against aparigraha. The place is to be considered also. In the summer season in India woollen clothing is unnecessary, but it is a necessity in Siberia during that time. Time should be considered also. The minimum necessity of an ordinary person today is not limited to the minimum necessity of an ordinary person in prehistoric age. The reason is that the objects of pleasure are more easily available today and will be available even more easily in the future. Therefore, while practising aparigraha, if the time factor is neglected, one will become unfit for social life and will have to withdraw from the physical world. Advocating the use of [raw sugar], i.e., guŕ, in the age of sugar, and bullock-cart in the age of railways, has no meaning in the practice of aparigraha. Today for an ordinary person whose time is not more valuable than that of another, travelling by aeroplane is definitely contrary to aparigraha, whereas travelling by rail is certainly not against aparigraha.
That is why I said that the society may help individuals to be established in aparigraha by setting a standard in certain spheres of life. But the complete establishment in aparigraha ultimately depends on the individual.
Aparigraha is an endless fight to reduce one’s own objects of comforts out of sympathy for the common people, after ensuring that individuals are able to maintain solidarity in their physical, mental and spiritual lives for themselves and their families.
In practising aparigraha the objects of pleasure will increase or decrease with person, place and time; but the definition of aparigraha, as mentioned above, will be applicable to all persons, in all countries and at all times.
HOW TO LIVE IN THE SOCIETY
The establishment of an ideal society depends on the mutual help of the members and their cooperative behaviour. This cooperative behaviour depends on the practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama; so, spiritual practices, especially the practice of Yama and Niyama, are the sound foundation of an ideal society.
It is often noticed that individuals incur debt because of their violating the principles of Yama and Niyama, especially due to their extravagance – and as a result, they approach the society for relief. In this connection I must point out that just as the society is duty-bound to give relief to individuals by combined efforts, so also it must have control over the conduct of individuals, over their practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama, and also over their expenditure. Not to consult anybody at the time of spending money but to ask for help from all when in debt, is not a good practice. Such a mentality cannot be encouraged.
To purchase, by incurring debt, serge where tweed will do, or gaberdine where serge will do, is surely against the principle of aparigraha. Similarly, people should take food which is nutritious but not rich. They have to give up the practice of feeding others with money taken on loan. That is why social control over the individual’s conduct and expenditure is indispensably necessary. Hence, all Ananda Margis, when they see other Margis acting against the principles of Yama and Niyama, must make them shun this habit either by sweet or harsh words or by dealing even more strictly. Thus they will have to make the society strong. Henceforth I direct every Ananda Margi to keep strict vigilance on other Ananda Margi to make them practise the principles of Yama and Niyama and also to accept calmly directions of other Margis in this connection.
I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their ácárya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender. Where one’s own ácárya or any person of responsible rank is not easily available, consultation or rather permission is to be obtained from any other ácárya, táttvika or any right-thinking member of the Marga. Every member should follow this instruction strictly.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, Ánanda Púrńimá 1957, Jamalpur, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 11, A Guide to Human Conduct
“The impetus from crude psychic urges gave birth to capitalism. In capitalism the psychology of the acquisition of material wealth, be it land, money, metal or other property, strongly predominates. Such crude psychic urges and psychic pabula remain unchecked and unbridled in capitalism and turn into a hungry profit motive in the market system. As a result, traders, industrialists and business people suffer from the psychic disease of accumulating more and more wealth by any means, even to the point of depriving other human beings of their basic requirements.
Those dominated by these hungry psychic urges or psychic pabula run after material gains and do not hesitate to exploit others mercilessly. Exploitation starts when one violates the principle of aparigraha (non-indulgence in those amenities and comforts which are superfluous for physical existence), and accumulates more physical wealth than one actually needs for survival and progress in the world. The exploiters forget the basic truth that this material world is very limited, whereas psychic pabula is propelled by an unlimited urge. When unlimited pabula are let loose in the limited material world, exploitation starts. A few become rich and others become poor. In such a condition millions die without food, live without shelter, work without education, suffer without medicine and move without proper clothing. The society then splits into two distinct groups – haves and have-nots. The former is the class of exploiters – the capitalists – and the latter is the class of the exploited – the disgruntled workers or Vikśubdha Shúdras.
So the unchecked psychic urges and psychic pabula for material acquisition end in merciless exploitation. The inhuman exploitation causes the mass-level deprivation of millions of people. The curse of capitalism engulfs the whole of society. Thus capitalism is anti-human.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, October 1986, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 12, The Transformation of Psychic Pabula into Psycho-spiritual Pabulum, Psychic Pabula and Capitalism