“Parigraha” literally means ‘accumulation’ in Sanskrit. The prefix ‘a’ gives the opposite meaning to the word, negation. That is, ‘aparigraha’ literally translates as ‘non-accumulation. More: https://www.julianalucky.com/.
Here are a few more definiti
ons that help to make the term clearer:
Rejection of the habit of conveniences and pleasures (translated by Swami Satyananda Saraswati);
The non-acceptance of gifts (Svensson);
The ability to accept only what is appropriate (trans. Deshikachara);
Abstinence from Greed (translated by Bailey).
Now let us try to relate this principle to the realities of modern social man.
We live in an age of hyper-consumption. And we always don’t have enough of everything. We no longer have enough for a few pairs of work shoes. We are no longer satisfied with the penultimate model of phone. We like to surround ourselves with cute (and seemingly necessary) knickknacks – the third (!) antique floor lamp, pussycat figurines, books with wise quotes gathering dust on the shelves. Many of us have closets full of clothes that we do not wear for several years. And some are lucky enough (?) to own several apartments, houses, cars, yachts…
We have been taught that way. To desire, to earn, and to realize those desires. But how good is it for us, our loved ones and those far away, for the world around us? That’s a good question.
There is another curious interpretation of the meaning of aparigraha.
Deborah Edel in her book “Yama and Niyama. A Study of the Ethical Foundations of Yoga Practice,” interprets this principle to include non-attachment, non-stickiness, non-grabbing, and non-passion.
“What we try to possess, we possess,” Deborah observes in the pages of a chapter on aparigraha. And she describes the Indian technique of catching monkeys who do not observe this pit.
That ancient method consists in the cunning construction of a cage, which is not at all for the monkey, but for the bait.
The bait banana is placed in the cage, which has only one very narrow opening. The monkey can stick his paw through this hole, but the size of the hole prevents him from pulling the banana out. When the hunters come, the monkey is free to let go of the banana quietly and run away. But the poor animals can’t do that. They are too attached to that banana… Which works to the hunters’ advantage.
This kind of “banana” sticking happens to many of us. And it may not always be a thing. Attachment to the results of yoga practice, to people, to pleasures, according to the author of this book, is also a violation of aparigraha.