Anartha Nivritti: Removing Misconceptions

Many Vaishnavas do not correctly understand how anartha-nivritti takes place gradually throughout the stages of progress. Most devotees think that anartha-nivitti is a separate stage that you must first complete fully, and then move on to the next stage (nistha) after it’s finished. That is absolutely not how it works. Far from it.

The reality is that the removal of anarthas is a gradual process and it is a direct result of progressing through the final stages of nistha, ruci, asakti and bhava. So it is factually a parallel process that continues up to and including the first stage of perfection – bhava.

In Madhurya-kadambini, Third Shower, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti first talks about the four different types of anarthas, and then he details the gradual process of nullification through the final stages of sadhana-bhakti. Here are the relevant excerpts. (refer to the diagram at the end of blog)

Four types of anarthas have been mentioned, namely:
1. those arising from previous sinful activity – duskrtottha
2. those arising from previous pious activity – sukrtottha
3. those arising from offenses against the Holy Name – aparadhottha
4. those arising from cultivation of bhakti – bhakty-uttha

Anarthas arising from previous sinful activities fall in the category of the five types of klesha previously mentioned: ignorance, false ego, attachment, hatred, and fear of death.
Anarthas arising from pious activities are the addictions to the enjoyments which arise from pious action. Some sages include the anarthas arising from pious activities under the categories of the klesas mentioned above.

Anarthas which arise from offenses refers to those arising from the nama aparadhas, not seva aparadhas (such as entering the temple in a palanquin or with shoes).
Next are the anarthas arising from bhakti. As many weeds grow along with the main plant, along with bhakti there appears acquisition of material wealth and other facilities, worship and respect by others, a comfortable position and fame (labha, puja, pratistha). By their nature, they have the power to influence the heart of the devotee, expand, and retard the growth of the main plant intended for cultivation (bhakti). Madhurya Kadambini, 3.15

The four types of anarthas have five stages of anartha-nivritti (nullification):
1. partial – eka-desa-varttini
2. pervasive – affecting many anarthas – bahu-desa-varttini
3. almost complete – prayiki
4. complete – purna
5. absolute – atyantiki

By continued practice:
With the appearance of nistha, the eradication is pervasive (affecting many anarthas).
With the appearance of bhava/rati, the eradication is almost complete.
With the appearance of prema, the eradication is complete.
With the attainment of the Lord’s association, the eradication is absolute, with no possibility of their reappearance. Madhurya Kadambini, 3.16

Here we confront the startling and sobering revelation that even at the stage of bhäva/rati, anarthas are still present, because the eradication is, “almost complete”. Only at prema are the anarthas completely gone, and only with attainment of the Lord is the eradication absolute. These are extremely important details that must be understood without confusion.

Sri Visvanatha then breaks down the eradication phases for specific types of anarthas.

The eradication of the anarthas arising from previous sin is as follows:

With the performance of bhajana-kriya, the eradication is almost complete.
With the appearance of nistha eradication is complete.
With the appearance of asakti it is absolute.
The eradication of anarthas arising from bhakti is as follows:

With the performance of bhajana-kriya, eradication is partial.
With the appearance of niñöhä it is complete.
With the appearance of ruci it is absolute.
The wise self-realized souls have concluded this by thoroughly considering all matters. Madhurya Kadambini, 3.18

Anticipating some opposition to the above analysis, Visvanatha Cakravarti writes: One may raise the objection that these stages of extinguishing anarthas do not apply to devotees, quoting hundreds of verses from sastra. MK, 3.19

Sri Visvanatha then quotes three verses from sastra about the supreme power of the Holy Name to remove anarthas and all material contamination at once. He then says:
This is all true. One should have no doubt that the Holy Name has in all cases such inestimable power. However, the Holy Name, being unhappy with offenses committed
against it, does not manifest its complete power in the offender. This is indeed the reason sinful tendencies continue in the offender. Still, the servants of death have no power to attack such a person (as in Ajämila’s case). Though this is true, they have no means of purification other than becoming free from nama-aparadha. Madhurya Kadambini, 3.19

Sri Visvanatha then explains:
In the same way, the offending devotee will at first suffer some miseries. As he performs sincere service to the devotees, the scriptures, and spiritual master, the Name will again gradually manifest mercy and gradually eliminate his anarthas. Thus, one cannot argue against the gradual elimination of anarthas. Someone may argue that, I have never committed any offenses. One should not make such statements. Though the offense may not have been done recently, it may have been done in the past, but one can infer the existence of offenses by their effect. The effect of offenses is that a person will not manifest any symptoms of prema by performance of nama kirtana. Madhurya Kadambini , 3.20

Those persons are called practitioners (sadhakas) who have developed rati for Krsna but have not completely extinguished the anarthas, and who are qualified to see Krsna directly. BRS 2.1.276
Such devotees are still at the stage of practice (sadhana), yet they have developed some level of rati (bhava) for Krsna and they are even qualified to “see” Krsna directly – yet they still have anarthas! Thus, the notion that one must be absolutely “free from ALL material desires and ALL bad habits” before any meaningful progress can be made in raganuga bhakti, is clearly not supported by Sanatana Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravarti to name a few great acharyas. Anarthas may remain even up to the stage of bhava, the preliminary stage of pure love of Krsna.

This study of anartha-nivritti, should never be misconstrued to imply that unrestricted indulgence in sense gratification is encouraged or ignored. What we should take away from this study is a pragmatic perspective that is realistically applicable in our lives, versus an idealistic, impossible, impractical, repressive view that has never, and will never, yield successful results. Artificial repressive approaches will end only in frustration, discouragement and sometimes even rejection of the path of bhakti.

Someone may still argue that if a devotee is truly sincere, they will never engage in anarthas,otherwise, it means they must not be sincere. This is not a valid argument because it is not universally accepted as true, nor is it a fact based in actual reality or confirmed by any acaryas, as we have read . It is an example of dogmatic idealism imbued with ignorance that has no place in the philosophy of bhakti. It is an aspect of fundamentalism, which is also rejected on the path of bhakti. The acaryas statements have more than confirmed this fact.

Click on the diagram to enlarge.



Blog Source:  The book: The Realization And Manifestation Of Your Eternal Identity By Sri UttamaSloka Das

The references are taken from Madhurya Kadambini by Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dhananjaya pandit das
    Apr 23, 2017 @ 21:46:54

    Your diagram does not include anartha nivrita stage. Why?


  2. krishnadasanudas
    Apr 23, 2017 @ 22:48:31

    Diagram is based on Madhurya kadambini


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