In Hindu theology, Arishadvarga or Shadripu/Shada Ripu (Sanskrit: षड्रिपु meaning the six enemies) are the six enemies of the mind.
These are the fundamental tenets of Kali-yuga(The Dark Age)
- kama — lust, craze, desire
- krodha — anger, hatred
- lobha — greed, miserliness, narrow-minded
- moha — delusory emotional attachment
- mada — pride, stubborn mindedness
- matsarya — envy, jealousy, show or vanity, and pride
According to Hindu scriptures, these bind the soul to the cycle of birth and death and keep it confined in this material world (confines of Maya or relative existence). Especially the first three are said to pave the way towards hell. The first two bring about difficult experiences we face in our lives.
No matter how powerful, rich, successful or outwardly happy we are, we cannot be considered mature if we have not conquered these six internal enemies. In fact, Sanātana Dharma says that we will never be truly happy and peaceful within our hearts unless we defeat these six enemies — the ‘Shadripus.’
It is also meaningless to practice ‘good behaviours’ if we have not conquered the Shadripus. For example, speaking a truth that is motivated by greed is inferior to speaking it without any desire for wealth. Who is superior — a man who calls the police to tell them the whereabouts of the wanted criminal to get a reward or a man who does so even though there is no bounty offered for the criminal’s arrest? The concept of Shadripus in Sanātana Dharma makes us responsible for our own successes and failures. In the Gitā, Bhagavān Krishna says –
One should uplift oneself by oneself; one should not degrade oneself. Indeed, the mind alone is the friend of oneself and mind alone is one’s enemy”.
No enemy can cause any more harm than one’s own mind. One can protect oneself against physical or emotional injury by others, but protection against one’s harmful thoughts, attitudes and feelings is not an easy task. However, if one is committed to one’s own growth and maturity, there is no better friend than oneself. One becomes one’s own benefactor doing what needs to be done to tackle the six-fold enemies within the mind which is of prime importance in facilitating one’s inner growth. Therefore Upaniṣads also say:
“The mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation (moksha) in humans. When attached to sense objects, the mind brings bondage. When detached from objects, it brings freedom.”
These six enemies are not entirely independent of each other. But they are all united against us and want to destroy us completely! For example, it is not possible for a person to be jealous and at the same time be free of anger completely, because jealousy inevitably gives rise to feelings of anger towards our external ‘enemy’. Another example is that excessive greed for money is itself caused by excessive desire, and it can lead to a feeling of pride or ego when that person does become rich. So here, we have 3 of the six enemies that are united against us.
Lord Krishna explains one of the possible relationships between some of these six enemies in the following verses. He shows how this Shadripus overpower the critical and discriminating ability of our intellect (Buddhi) due to which we forget the purpose of our life, and then they destroy us completely.
“Dwelling or thinking on the objects of the senses a man develops attachment for them. From attachment, desire is born. Desire gives rise to anger. From anger arises delusion. From delusion arises a failure of memory. From the failure of memory results destruction of the intellect; and through the destruction of intellect, total destruction ensues.”
When an individual experiences an object it may or may not leave an impression in one’s mind. If one thinks about the object again it does become an impression. If one continues to dwell upon or associate with the object, desire is born to re-experience it or even to possess it. Then the person acts to fulfil that desire. The more intense the desire, the greater becomes the need to fulfil it. Whatever comes in the way of fulfilling the desire evokes anger.
The following Shloka from Vairagya Dindima explains the Shadripu very well-
ज्ञानरत्नापहाराय तस्मात् जाग्रत जाग्रत॥३
Kama Krodascha Lobhascha Dehe Thishtanthi Taskarah।
Jnana Ratno-paharaya Tasmat Jagrata Jagrata.।।
Desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealousy — these dacoits are residing within your own body. They are not outside. They are residing as fifth column enemies within you. And, why are they there? To loot you of the Jnana-Ratna, to rob you of the precious gem of spiritual wisdom or atma-jnana, to loot you and deprive you of the precious gem of Self-awareness and make you forget your Self and weep and wail and be in ignorance. In order to deprive you of this jewel of atma-jnana, they are there. Therefore, oh man, oh Sadhak, Jagrata, Jagrata. Beware, beware. In this way, from the submerged level of the chitta or the deep within, various samskaras and vasna are brought into activity.
— Aḍi Shankaracharya