Spiritual Message for the Day – What Is Vairagya? by Sri Swami Sivananada

Baba Times Digest© | 6 July 2014 22:39 EST | New York Edition

 What is Vairagya ?


Divine Life Society Publication: What is Vairagya ? by Sri Swami Sivananda

An Internal Mental State

Raja Janaka, though he ruled a kingdom, was a perfectly dispassionate man. You cannot form a correct opinion of any Sadhu or Sannyasin or even householder as to his mental state of Vairagya or mental condition by just having a casual talk with him for a few hours or staying with him for a few days. You will have to live with him for a very long time to study his internal mental state. Generally most people commit serious blunders in these matters. They are deluded by mere external appearances.

Defects of Sensual Pleasures

Sensual enjoyment is attended with various defects. It is attended with various sorts of sins, pains, weaknesses, attachments, slave-mentality, weak will, severe exertion and struggle, bad habits, cravings, aggravation of desires and mental restlessness. Therefore shun all sorts of sensual enjoyments and rest in peace.

Mere outward giving up of thing is nothing. It is not real renunciation. Real Tyaga or Sannyasa is absolute renunciation of all Vasanas and destruction of the heart knot (ignorance), the Chit-jada-Granthi.

Varieties of Vairagya

Vairagya is of two kinds viz., Karanavairagya (on account of some miseries) and Viveka-purvaka-Vairagya (on account of discrimination between the real and the unreal).

The mind of a man who has got the former type of Vairagya is simply waiting for a chance to get back the things that have been given up or lost. As soon as the first opportunity occurs, the man gets a downfall and goes back to his former state. Vishaya (sensual object) does havoc in him with a vengeance and redoubled force from reaction. But the other man who has given up objects on account of deep enquiry and Viveka, on account of the illusory nature of objects, will have spiritual advancement. He will not have any downfall.

Stages in Vairagya

There are four stages in Vairagya:

(1) Yatamana:- This is an attempt not to allow the mind to run into sensual grooves;

(2) Vyatireka :-In this stage some objects are attracting you and you are endeavouring to cut off the attachment and attraction. Slowly Vairagya develops for these objects also. Then the Vairagya matures. When some objects tempt and delude you, you should ruthlessly avoid them.

(3) Ekendriya:-The senses stand still and subdued, but the mind has either Raga or Dvesha for objects. Mind is, in other words, the only sense that functions independently;

(4) Vasirara :-In this highest stage of Vairagya, the objects no longer tempt you. They cause no attraction. The senses are perfectly quiet. The mind also is free from likes and dislikes (Raga and Dvesha).

Vairagya is of three kinds viz., dull (Manda), intense (Tivra) and very intense (Tivratara). Dull Vairagya cannot help you much in the attainment of your goal.

How to Develop Vairagya

Study of Vairagya-Satakam of Bhartrihari, and the company of dispassionate Sadhus and Sannyasins will also help one in developing Vairagya. The temporary Vairagya which one gets when he is attending the funeral of a dead person and the Vairagya which a pregnant lady in pangs gets cannot help one to attain spiritual exaltation. The mind will pounce upon the objects when it gets opportunities.

As soon as Vairagya arises in the mind, it opens the gate of Divine Wisdom. No true and lasting satisfaction comes from the enjoyment of worldly pleasures.

What Vairagya is not

Vairagya does not mean abandoning social duties and responsibilities of life. It does not mean detachment from the world. It does not mean a life in the solitary caves of the Himalayas or in the crematorium. It does not mean shaving of head and throwing of clothes.

What Vairagya is

Vairagya is mental detachment from all connections with the world. That is all. A man may live in the world and discharge all the duties of his order and stage of life with perfect detachment. He may be a householder. He may live with family and children. But at the same time he may have perfect mental detachment. He can do his spiritual Sadhana. That man who has perfect mental detachment while remaining in the world is a hero indeed. He is much better than a Sadhu living in the Himalayan caves because the former has to face the innumerable temptations of life every moment.

Let me sound a note of warning here. Dear aspirants! Vairagya also may come and go, if you are careless and mix promiscuously with all sorts of worldly-minded people. You should develop Vairagya, therefore, to a maximum degree. The mind will be waiting for golden opportunities to get back the things once renounced. Whenever and wherever the mind hisses or raises its hood (for the mind is verily like a serpent), you should take refuge in Viveka and in the imperishable fortress of wise, dispassionate Mahatmas. There are different degrees in Vairagya. Supreme dispassion comes when one gets himself established in Brahman. Now the Vairagya becomes perfectly habitual.

Excerpts from:

 What is Vairagya ? by Sri Swami Sivananda


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