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Thoughts – Teachings on Vairagya Concept in Hinduism – Swami Brahmeshananda

Vairagya is one of the most important values for spiritual life. As a matter of fact, no spiritual life is ever possible without it. Swami Brahmeshananda shares his thoughts and teachings on Vairagya.

The Sanskrit word vairagya is translated variously. Swami Vivekananda translates it as non-attachment. Swami Turiyananda in his translation of Vivekachudamani has equated it with renunciation. The other meaning is dispassion. Instead of vairagya, Sri Ramakrishna preferred to use the word tyaga, which means renunciation.

In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali considers it, along with abhyasa, as a mighty weapon for the control of thought waves.

 It is also one of the sadhana chatushtaya or four basic qualifications for an adhikari, a person competent for Self-knowledge. Of these four qualifications, Shankaracharya considers vairagya or renunciation, and mumukshatva or desire for liberation, as most important.

Although vairagya is an important value, it never arises in most of the people in the world. In fact, many of them are scared of it!! They are like the man in Tolstoy’s parable, who, while passing through a forest accidentally fell into a well, but luckily grabbed the branch of a tree just above it. In the well below, a python was awaiting his fall. Two rats were trying to cut the branch and an elephant was shaking the tree’s roots. Just then he found drops of honey dripping from a honey comb above. And, in spite of the imminent, definite fall and death, he stretched out his tongue to catch a drop of the dribbling honey!

Similarly, despite much eulogy of vairagya in religious literature, it is unfortunate that many spiritual aspirants do not pay much attention to it. They meditate, pray, and chant the name of God, but due to lack of vairagya they do not gain anything; their sadhana is like water flowing out through rat holes instead of going into the fields.