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The Fifth Yama

The Fifth Yama: A-pari-graha

Restraining The Tendency To Hoard


We all have possessions.  We have a body, and we have thoughts, ideas, desires, and feelings in our bodies.  We also have an ego and an intellect.  The intellect makes decisions for us and the ego attaches a sense of I-ness to our whole outer and inner demeanor.  Our ego can be oriented either negatively or positively.  


Our negative ego can overcome our intellect, identify with possessions, and claim: I own all these possessions.  I am rich and famous.  

Our positive ego can elevate our intellect and humbly say:  These possessions are lent to me so I share while moving forward.  

Our negative ego will look at the quantity of possessions and feel pompous and self-important.  It will want to accumulate more.

A positive ego will assess the quality of possessions, soon realize shallowness in these possessions, and will not want to accumulate more unnecessarily.  It will want to relinquish ownership.  

A positive ego will soon understand that becoming famous based on “owning” possessions makes up a superficial existence and will realize the need to reverse course and turn inward.


The discipline of reversing course and turning inward is called Aparigraha.  In practicing Aparigraha, we are no longer possessive, covetous, and no more focused on mine and yours, even about our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and desires.  We recognize that everything in the world, including our bodies and wealth, is constantly changing.  We are called upon to navigate changing scenarios in the world comfortably.  A rigid ego will not help us.  Only a flexible heart and mind will.


Normally, ordinary folks love to consider new ideas as their own, for which reason they affix the phrase: All rights reserved.  This is patented!  With Aparigraha, we no longer claim a smart, original idea as our own.  In using a smart idea, Yoga practitioners feel that are they retrieving brilliant ideas by tapping into a knowledge base where such ideas are already existing.


Practicing Aparigraha encourages the Yogi to not hoard power like a dictator because such hoarding of power distorts the human ego and makes it even more negative.  A-pari-graha implies sharing power by listening to fellow workers, allowing them to express their opinions, and acting cooperatively.  

The Yogi will never dominate a conversation with a person who is meeker than him.  More so, the Yogi will never threaten the meek person if he speaks up or seems, in his opinion, to be rocking the boat.


Aparigraha teaches us that we are mere custodians of our possessions.  Aparigraha does not allow us to spend a coordinated amount of time caring for possessions because this will eventually cause these possessions to possess us. Aparigraha detaches us and causes us to smile and share with those who don’t have. With Aparigraha, we have quality time to spend with our souls.   


Finally, when we practice Aparigraha, we have great benefits coming our way. Yoga Sutra 2:39 says that with Aparigraha, we finally understand why we were born in our current life situation!