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Non-Attachment Can Grant Knowledge of Past Lives

Jun 21st, 2024 | 1 Min Read
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Category: Yog Sutra


Language: English

अपरिग्रहस्थैर्ये जन्मकथन्तासम्बोधः॥
aparigraha-sthairye janmakathantā-sambodhaḥ || 2.39 ||
Translation: By being firmly established in aparigraha (non-acquisition), one learns the how and why of previous births.

Sutra 2.39 of Patanjali Yog Sutra talks about aparigraha, or non-possession, as a cornerstone of yogic philosophy. It goes beyond mere minimalism, encompassing a complete detachment from desires for material objects, wealth, and even social interactions fueled by lust. This week's JKYog Online Class explored how, firmly established in aparigraha, one knows the how and why of previous births. The term aparigraha has several connotations:
  • Refraining from acquiring objects of desire
  • Not hoarding wealth or possessions
  • Rejecting unsolicited gifts
  • Renunciation of material belongings
  • Detachment from forbidden relationships
When one's mind becomes clear of these desires, one can see how they influenced our current birth. This clarity allows one to understand the cause-and-effect relationships of past desires, achieving total detachment and freedom from these bonds.

Vyas, the commentator, explains that achieving aparigraha means recognising the problems caused by acquiring, preserving, and destroying possessions, as these lead to attachment and injury. Possessions create saṁskāras (mental impressions) that can cause future distress when desires are unfulfilled or possessions are lost. Yogis are advised to acquire only what is necessary for basic maintenance and relinquish the rest.

Indian saints, when composing devotional hymns, often include the 'phalaśruti'– benefits of reading the text or hymn. Sage Patanjali provides the phalashruti for adopting aparigraha, stating that such a person gains knowledge of previous births. However, aparigraha should be adopted without expecting this result.

Gaining knowledge of previous births can mean understanding:
  • Life as a continuous cycle of births and deaths
  • Devotion to the Supreme God can end this cycle
  • Current sufferings are due to past karma
  • Good deeds in this life can shape future destiny
Renouncing desires prevents the pain they can cause. Giving up lust for something also prevents the pain associated with it. Complete detachment breaks the cycle of life and death; anything less is temporary. Attach to God, who is unattached, to facilitate letting go of all other attachments.

Summary: JKYog India Online Class- Patanjali Yoga Sutra [English]- 20.06.2024