“Becoming Krishna conscious brings about anartha-apagamah, the disappearance of all anarthas, the miserable conditions we have unnecessarily accepted. The material body is the basic principle of these unwanted miserable conditions. The entire Vedic civilization is meant to relieve one from these unwanted miseries, but persons bound by the laws of nature do not know the destination of life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.32 Purport)
Friend1: Would you say the material body is contaminated?
Friend2: Where is this question coming from? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that characterization before, unless you are referring to a specific disease.
Friend1: It’s from something Prahlada Maharaja said. You can’t become disinterested in material life unless and until you take the dust of the lotus feet of a spiritually realized person, a great soul who has nothing to do with this material world.
Friend2: That only makes sense. Take the situation of a first-time trip through an underground train system.
Friend1: The subway?
Friend2: Yes. When you get off the train at the desired stop, you usually have a choice in direction. One side leads to an exit at a particular street. The other side might go towards another street.
Friend2: The thing is, if every person exiting the train travels only in one direction, you might not know there is another option.
Friend1: Just follow along.
Friend2: Suddenly a few people start going the other way. Now that choice becomes visible to you. The saintly person has a similar effect. They are not interested in the contaminations involved with life in the material world.
Friend1: There is that word. Is it the place that is contaminated or the body itself? And what are the contaminations?
Friend2: The Sanskrit word is anartha. This is a negation of the word artha, which refers to profit or interest. Anartha basically goes against your interest.
Friend1: What would be an example of an anartha?
Friend2: Could be something as basic as addiction to a stimulating beverage. You try one and soon thereafter you must have at least one every single morning. It is your pick-me-up.
Friend1: Okay, but then wouldn’t that be artha since it is meeting your interest of staying awake?
Friend2: That is the hidden danger of maya, or illusion. That which you consider to be profitable is actually hurting you in the long run. The stimulation doesn’t last long and in the future you might require a higher dosage to get the same effect. There are associated negative effects like dehydration and irritability. Then there are the nasty withdrawal symptoms.
Friend1: Headaches, lethargy and the like.
Friend2: Apply the same analysis to so many aspects of life and you will get an idea of the preponderance of anarthas.
Friend1: How do we cure the contamination, then? It seems like every person is going in the direction where more unwanted aspects get accepted.
Friend2: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that the entire Vedic culture is built around the concept of removing anarthas. Instead of school for learning how to earn money and enjoy the senses, get a basic education in the difference between matter and spirit, starting at an early age. Instead of chasing after unregulated sex life from this person and that, get married under religious principles. Instead of using the fruits of your labor to become further entangled in illusion, follow charity, sacrifice and austerity to further the highest goal of liberation.
Friend1: I see. In essence, purify while still using the material body and the surroundings provided by nature.
Friend2: Prahlada’s instruction is important in this regard. If you can accept the dust from the lotus feet of a Vaishnava, then even if you have so many anarthas gathered up through time, you will gradually be cured. The impossible becomes possible.
Friend1: Okay, but the teachers in the royal family were not positively influenced by Prahlada. He was the saint in their midst and they continued with their anarthas. The most obvious sign of failure is with the father, Hiranyakashipu.
Friend2: They didn’t accept Prahlada as their saintly guide, but there was still a benefit through his association. That amazing child caused the appearance of Narasimhadeva, the Supreme Lord who is famous for His uncommon activities.
Contamination created by place,
Knowledge of Divinity erased.
Like on subway in direction one,
Knowledge of other side none.
Until someone else showing,
Spiritual master in this way glowing.
Like Prahlada with vision clear,
Causing Narasimha to appear.