Devotee: What is the real meaning of the word anartha?

Srila Guru Maharaj: Anartha means ‘separate interest’. Krishna consciousness is causeless, nirguna; it has no end. Nirguna means that the central flow and vibration of Krishna consciousness is eternal. That wave has no end. Any interest which is separate from Krishna consciousness is anartha. Artha means ‘necessity’, and anartha is that which is not my necessity — that which is opposed to my necessity — being based on separate consciousness and interest. So, to get out of the trap of separate interest, which is misleading us, and to learn how to read the Infinite, we are to identify with the universal flow, the universal wave. At present, we are being carried away by different waves of separate-interest consciousness, anartha. It is not necessary for us. Our only necessity is to merge in the wave of the universal interest, which is for Itself, for Himself.

The Lord says:

aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta cha prabhur eva cha
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.24)

«I am the only enjoyer of all sacrifices, of all movement in this world. I am the only enjoyer, and everything belongs to Me unconditionally.»

God’s position is such. He is paramount. He is the highest harmonising centre, and we must all submit cent-per-cent to Him. Any deviation from that is anartha. Anartha means ‘meaningless’. It has no meaning. The only real meaning or purpose worthy to be served is the connection with the universal wave, the universal movement. Anything besides that is anartha — undesirable and unnecessary. The anarthas will serve no purpose. We are in connection with anarthas, undesirable things which won’t serve any real purpose towards our cause. But the real cause of our life, and the whole satisfaction of our very existence will be found only in connection with the universal wave of the whole Absolute. That is Krishna consciousness. It is the most universal, fundamental wave, and we have to catch that. Our goal, our satisfaction, and the very fulfilment of our life is only to be found there, in that layer, that plane, and not in the superficial plane of nationality interest, family interest, social service, etc., for that is provincialism.

One section is busy with many local interests, and another section wishes to stop all activity. To stop one’s own movement, to do away with one’s own existence, is renunciation, samadhi, and is also suicidal. So, we have to give up renunciation as well as enjoyment. The tendency to do evil and also the tendency to go on strike, both are to be given up. In a nation, we may find so many workers doing some wrong, going against the principle of the law, but that is hooliganism and is bad. At the same time, to go on strike, refusing to work, is also bad. The good path is only to work for the interest of the country.

This we have to learn: from local interest we must go to the universal, the Absolute. We are not to have any local interest, however extensive it may be. Whether self-centred, family-centred, village-centred, or society-centred as in humanitarianism, it is all only a part of the Infinite. This is the fact, and generally we are to try to understand things in such a way. The technical words like anartha-nivrtti, bhava, asakti, all these are covered by this understanding.

Lord Krishna has recommended in Srimad Bhagavad-gita how one can conquer kama, lust, by regulating the senses. He advises us to become acquainted with the nature of the soul, then all the problems caused by kama will be turned into ashes:

indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir buddher yah paratas tu sah
evam buddheh param buddhva samstabhyatmanam atmana
jahi satrum maha-baho kama-rupam durasadam
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.42–3)

Lust is not easily accessible but is hidden. We cannot easily trace where he lives, but he comes suddenly and, after looting, disappears. But we are told here that really he lives in the intelligence, the mind, and the senses. To conquer that lust, we are to regulate the senses, but in order to do so we first have to analyse what the senses are and what is their position, and then, what is the position of the internal king of the senses, the mind. After that we are to analyse what is the intrinsic position of the buddhi: the faculty of reason, judgement, and intelligence. Then, with the help of reason, we are to try to find out what is in the background of that faculty of reason, of judgement, and of decision making.

In the background is a pencil-thin ray whose nature is diametrically opposite to the world of experience. In Srimad Bhagavatam, an example is given that in the night a cloud may cover the moon. Though the cloud obscures the moon, still the cloud can only be seen by the light of the moon.

na rarajodupas chhanna sva-jyotsna-rajitair ghanaih
aham-matya bhasitaya sva-bhasa puruso yatha

In this example, the soul is likened to the moon, and the ahankar is likened to cloud cover. The sense-consciousness, the mind, and the intelligence have all combined to form a system, ahankar, which has covered the soul. But they are seen, and it is possible for them to act, only because there is light: the light of the soul, the moon. So, by the help of our reason, we must try to perceive what is above reason, and we shall come to see that it is the atma, the soul. In this way, we may have some direct connection with the atma, or at least some conception, however vague, of its existence and nature. At that time, our whole material aspiration will turn into trash, and within ourselves we will be able to conquer all the charms of this world. The Lord’s advice in Srimad Bhagavad-gita is to somehow or other try to obtain understanding of the true nature of our own atma. We are really of such a superior nature and hold a noble, dignified position in the higher plane, but lust and so many base things have come to entrap us.

Raso ’py asya param drstva nivartate (Bg: 2.59). By even slightly coming in contact with the dignified position of our own soul, all worldly charm will vanish, and even that will seem to be a negligible thing compared to the awakening of higher levels of realisation, up to the Supersoul, Paramatma, then to Narayan and Krishna! There is so much ecstatic enjoyment on that side, and it will be realised only when it will be revealed within us. Though to our present conception it is far away, still, that experiencer, that taster, is within us; it is the jivatma. And if we try to concentrate even for a second there, we will find what a dignified position the soul holds. We shall think, «Who are these thieves? The intellect, mind, and senses are all thieves and plunderers. They are taking me into the land of misery as if through some intricate conspiracy.» It will seem like that to us.

indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.42)

Our senses are superior in comparison to all the things we experience around us. Suppose we were devoid of all our senses of touch, sight, hearing, and so on, then we would have no conception of anything external. The world would mean nothing to us.

Then again, the central figure of all the senses is the mind. Someone may call, but we may find: «He was calling me? Oh, I was unconscious. I was unmindful and did not hear. I have my senses, but because I was unmindful, I did not hear or see him.» So, the mind is in the centre. And the mind has two functions, sankalpa-vikalpa: «I want this, I don’t want that. I don’t want that, I want this.» This is mainly the function of the mind.

Then comes the buddhi, intelligence. From the mind, we are to go up to the buddhi, the reason. What is it? Discrimination. «Oh, my mind wants that, but it will bring such a reaction, so don’t go to do it.» The buddhi, the intelligence or faculty of judgement, will give the warning, «Don’t go! Don’t listen to what the mind says; don’t obey him.» That is the intelligence. Then, if going up from there, surpassing the intelligence, we search for what is next, what is above the intelligence, backing it and making the function of intelligence possible, we will be able to see, «Oh, this is my real self, and everything else is an outside extension in the material world; it is all a material overcoating. I can leave it, and with only myself, my own atma, alone, I can go up to somewhere higher. This present atmosphere is not at all necessary for me; rather, it is harmful, a coating, a garment which has been thrust onto me in order that I come in connection with this bad environment.» With this realisation, with our soul proper, we can go in a higher direction, towards Paramatma, Narayan, and Krishna.

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