“Liberation from material contamination is called anartha-nivritti, indicating a diminishing of all unwanted things. This is the test of development in devotional service. If one actually develops the devotional attitude, he must be freed from the material contamination of illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating. These are the preliminary symptoms. When one is freed from all material contamination, his firm faith awakens in devotional service.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 23.13 Purport)
1. Anchor on a team
“I love seeing the various strategies which develop on these reality television competition series. There is always some kind of elimination on each episode, and what you will see is that the obvious picks don’t always get nominated.
“For instance, if my team has a really weak player, the rival team will try their best to keep that player from getting eliminated. If that player ever should leave, my team gets a huge boost. Though we are short one member, the ability and efficiency during competition greatly increase.”
2. Downsizing the residence
“I can’t believe how much stuff we had in the old house. There were some rooms where you literally couldn’t see the floor. One thing after another, piled up into these towers. The smell was terrible. You couldn’t undertake a cleanup effort because you wouldn’t know where to start.
“Now that we have moved to this smaller house, life is more peaceful. Simple and straightforward. We can’t load up on stuff precisely because there isn’t the space. We should have tried this years ago.”
3. Removing the television
“It’s amazing how much less you fear a virus when there is no television in the house. We actually go about our day with joy and excitement. We are not crippled by fear pushed by cheating establishments, who do not have our best interests at heart.”
4. Selling a failing business
“We had to close up shop. We could no longer stay in business. It was a drag on the financials. I have gone to work for someone else now. I must say, it isn’t all that bad. I have regular hours; finally. I have more time for outside activities. It’s like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
5. Getting a haircut
“Just too much of a pain. The routine maintenance on the long hair required extra time in front of the mirror. It looked nice; maybe. But I am much happier now. Don’t have to worry about finding a comb or putting on the right amount of beauty products. Life is much easier now.”
One of the byproducts of the bhakti way of life is removal of anarthas. This Sanskrit word refers to those things which are not profitable. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, the human being develops countless artificial attachments throughout the course of life.
It can be something basic, like relying on an electronic gadget, or something larger and more complex, like obsession with an automobile. The effect is always the same; deflected attention, distraction and uneasiness in how to maintain the association.
The acharya of the Vedic tradition may at first appear to be a spoiler to the party. They are taking away our fun. They want us to needlessly suffer. They are so miserable themselves that they won’t rest until everyone else is as unhappy as they are.
The reality is the opposite. Devotional service is blissfully performed. It is a voluntary engagement, and the stronger the connection in yoga, the greater the outpouring of love. Just as a mother does not need to be instructed to keep constant attention on her newborn child, so the advanced devotee no longer requires instruction or oversight to maintain their routine and regulation in spiritual life.
Such a person wants the same for everyone; they are immeasurably munificent in this regard. There is the description of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the most magnanimous, since He freely gives love of Krishna to others. This is not to boost His personal stature. This is not to place tallies on the scoreboard.
There is genuine interest in our wellbeing, in seeing that we reach the full potential of a human birth. The removal of anarthas is a vital component. Sometimes less is more. There is the concept of addition by subtraction. We gain so much by losing.
In this regard, another name for the Almighty is Hari. In this feature, He is known to take away. In my devotion to Him, He might remove so much from my life that I am left crying on the ground, devastated by the loss. Despite my heartfelt pleas, He does not change. He maintains my long-term interest.
Blessed right from the start,
Keeping my interests at heart.
Determining long-term where,
Such that together standing there.
Thus anarthas quickly to fade,
Addition by subtraction made.
Consciousness now free and clear,
That benefactor forever dear.
Categories: the five