Arishadvargas: The Six Detriments for Success

अरिशड्वर्ग (Arishadvargas) are six these six-detrimental-qualities a person must overcome to gain and retain material power and influence. Even one of the Arishadvargas is enough to cause a person's destruction. Similarly, the person who has overcome all Arishadvargas has the ability not just to harness power – but also to retain it in an enduring manner. According to the Vedic sages (Rishis), only those who have overcome their Arishadvargas can be called Wise.

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Power – is essential to great accomplishments – every person who’s ambitious or wise understands this. Seers of Vedas held Power next to Wisdom. For gaining power is easier than retaining it, whereas wisdom, once attained, only increases with time. Be this power wealth, position or influence, political, economic or intellectual.

A poor person might win millions in a lottery. A dull minded person might be made the ruler of a country owing to his lineage or proximity to power broker. Influence over people can be gained by advertising or pretence. Yet retaining these is easier said than done.

There’s no “luck” according to the law of Karma taught by the Rishis and Munis of the Vedas. Everything is a result of Karma. Karma isn’t destiny; it’s ongoing action as well as the result of previous actions. Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita suggests that everything we do as well as don’t do is an action.

There’s no escape from action. Even if we sit idle doing nothing –  inaction – too, is an action or way of responding to the force of life. Right action – better understood as Dharma – is the key to attain peace, prosperity, and happiness.

Against conventional beliefs and ideas of fate and destiny – luck is a result of Karma. Luck is nothing but a mysterious way of Karma to deliver fruits of past actions in an unexpected matter.

The Law of Karma, or Causation, in simple words means that “all actions have an equal and opposite reaction”. So, if you work for something – you are sure to have the results according to the nature of that action. These results may not necessarily yield the happiness. That’s because what you may regard as giving you happiness today may as well be the reason for causing you sadness tomorrow. As Rishi Vashistha suggests to Prince Rama in Yoga Vashistha; “That which can bring happiness can also bring pain.”

According to Krishna, in Bhagavad-Gita, “Desire (Kama) is the root of pain.” So, he suggests “Work for the sake of the value of the work”, i.e. be dedicated to the work and let go of the desire to enjoy the fruits of action. But, for most, that’s easier said than done.

“Why will people work if they don’t have a desire to get something out of it?”, many may argue. But, just because people expect results from their action/work – doesn’t mean that these results will always give them what they want. But if you live in the moment and enjoying your works/actions – you will find the peace and happiness automatically. Desire as a state of want means the destruction of any inherent happiness. The gaining of the fruits of desire can bring only momentary pleasure – eternal happiness arises spontaneously through the renunciation of desire. Although this may be hard to comprehend with at an ordinary level– you can surely verify it if you practice it, even if for a single day.

According to Kautilya a.k.a. Chanakya in Artha Sutras, “He’s the most powerful person who has conquered himself.” And “He who has conquered his six detrimental qualities or Arishadvargas is not just peaceful but also powerful.” In simple words, what Kautilya suggests is that he who has conquered Arishadvargas or six detrimental qualities is the most powerful person.

Ari-Shad-Vargas means Detrimental-six-qualities of Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, and Maatsarya.

  1. काम (Kama)

    essentially means Desire in the broadest sense of the term, not just lust as it is sometimes translated. Desire in various forms is natural in all beings but becomes a detrimental quality when it is not regulated according to the checks and balances mentioned in Dharma Shastras or the teachings of Right Conduct. If a desire does anything, no matter how small, to harm the social or economic fabric of family, society or nation, it becomes defined as Adharma or against Dharma. Therefore Kama, in this context, is best defined as desire that which goes against Dharma. Selfish desires make people perform wrong actions (Akarma) leading to disastrous consequences in the long term. It includes the following…

  2. क्रोध (Krodha)

    – When that which one desires doesn’t come to fruition, meaning when you don’t get what you want, it routinely gives rise to Krodha – Anger, like a dangerous fire. Anger causes agitation and aggression in the mind and promotes erratic actions. When the mind is unstable it loses its peace and results in actions that are counterproductive or destructive. When we strike out of anger we often unknowingly harm our own longer interests.

  3. लोभ (Lobha)

    – Unjust desires are usually excessive and create greed. Every living being certainly has needs, like the need to eat, sleep, live or procreate. But when our supposed needs harm the needs of others – they become greed. Needs can easily be satisfied – greed can never be satiated. Greed is also the death of reason, causing us to desire things we may not really need or even be able to use. Happiness is a state of mind when inner peace reigns supreme. Peace is only possible in the presence of true discernment between need and greed. When we lose our discernment, we lose our ability to think wisely. In the absence of wise – all is lost.

  4. मोहा (Moha)

    – When the object of our desire gives us what we want, we often get infatuated with it and want to possess it. It is a beautiful thing to see a flower blossom but isn’t loving or caring to pluck it or destroy it. It is great when we care for animals – but not caring when we kill them to satiate our taste buds. This is Moha – perhaps best translated as Infatuation. Infatuation is momentary – love is eternal. When a person is infatuated with another, he or she loses the ability to reason or observe. When we are overwhelmed by infatuation – we fail to see the limitations of our desired person or object and see them in a glorified light. As a result, we can do a great many things that are detrimental to protecting or pursuing our infatuations. We move away from peace of mind and internal happiness into the abyss of confusion and uncertainty.

  5. मदा (Mada)

    – When we desire something, we assume that we are worthy of it, that it naturally belongs to us because of how great we are. Our ego makes us feel better than others, more deserving of achievement and adualtion. This is defined as Mada, meaning intoxication and delusion, much like being drunk on alcohol. It brings into our thoughts a sense of superiority and arrogance. When we think ourselves to be superior, or a “holier than thou” attitude, we don’t hesitate to dominate and harm others – emotionally as well as physically. This creates enemies for ourselves not just on the outside but also within. Eventually, it yields us only resentment and anger. When power or position is attained by “luck”, i.e. in the absence of proper training, and the mind infested with ego finds it difficult to retain the power or any respect for having it. Our delusion and arrogance can draw destruction upon us.

  6. मात्सर्य (Matsarya)

    – There is a difference between intellectual information and wisdom. Not everyone who is intellectual is wise. Intellectuals routinely seek attention and expect appreciation and adulation for their ideas. Wisdom creates inner peace and contentment, regardless of what other people think. Mere intellectual knowledge is loud – Wisdom is quiet. Outer knowledge seeks dominance – wisdom seeks acceptance. Many intellectuals cannot appreciate those more accomplished than themselves. Intellectual knowledge that has not ripened into wisdom easily breeds jealousy and envy, which is what Matsarya means. Intellectuals are often unhappy, regardless of what they have achieved because others appear happier and more accomplished than they are Envy slays peace of mind and eventually sows the seeds of destruction.

Therefore, unless a person has overcome these six-detrimental-qualities or Arishadvargas, there is no way to retain any power achieved, much less derive lasting happiness form it. Even one of the Arishadvargas is enough to cause destruction. Similarly, the person who has overcome all Arishadvargas has the ability not just to harness power – but also to retain it in an enduring manner. Only those who have overcome their Arishadvargas can be called Wise.

4 responses on "Arishadvargas: The Six Detriments for Success"

  1. Beautifully articulated! Meaningful and easy to understand.

  2. काम क्रोध मद लोभ की
    ज्योंलो मन में खान
    त्योंलो पण्डित मूर्खो तुलसी एक समान

    But as it is common saying human life is achieved only because of some good karma then why is human life itself made to go through these आरिषडवर्ग।

  3. Nice to read such information . Thanks for posting.

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