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Meaning Of Vairagya In Hinduism

The word vairagya is a commonly used in Hindu religion. It is used by most Hindus as it is present in almost every Indian language. The widely used meaning of the word vairagya in Hinduism is dispassion or renunciation. Vairagya is the state of having viraga. Thus vairagya means change or loss of colour, growing pale, disgust, aversion, distaste for, loathing of, complete freedom from all worldly desires, indifference to worldly objects and to life, or asceticism.

The word vairagya is derived from the word viraga, which in turn is derived from the root word ranj by adding a vi prefix and a ghain suffix. Viraga means change or loss of colour, excitement, irritation, aversion, dislike, indifference, indifference to external things or worldly objects, the faulty suppression of a sound in pronunciation, or a particular high number.

Vairagya is considered to be one of the four qualities necessary for a spiritual aspirant in Hinduism. The other three qualities are discernment; calming of the mind; and the desire for moksha.

The quality of vairagya has been emphasised as very important, particularly at the beginning of Hindu spiritual or religious life.

All major texts of the Sanatana Dharma emphasise the quality of vairagya. Intense vairagya leads to one’s progressing faster on the path to attain spiritual liberation, moksha. Such a person is freed from the cycle of transmigratory existence or repeated births and deaths, and becomes one with the ultimate reality, Brahman. Vairagya can be practised by any one, irrespective of one’s station in life and irrespective of whether that person is a householder or a monastic. The goal is to develop vairagya towards the world and all sense-objects and to develop an affinity to God and spiritual life.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna asserts that the mind can be controlled only by vairagya and abhyasa, regular practice. Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra stresses the importance of vairagya, non attachment, as integral to the control of the mind or to the achievement of the cessation of thought vibrations in the mind.

The king-turned-sage Bhartrihari wrote one hundred verses on vairagya titled Vairagya Shatakam. There is hardly any treatise on spirituality in Sanatana Dharma that does not talk about vairagya.

There are different kinds of vairagya. Shmashana vairagya, cremation-ground dispassion or markata vairagya, monkey dispassions are examples of disinterestedness in worldly affairs arising out of some suffering in life.

Source – Prabuddha Bharata April 2019 Issue page 48