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Detachment And Path Of Devotion

Sri Ramakrishna used to say: ‘The more you move eastward, the farther you are from the west.’ This is the secret to making vairagya easy and palatable: as we approach the Divine, our desires and attachments naturally fall off by themselves. Sri Ramakrishna elaborates: ‘When the mind is united with God, one sees Him very near, in one’s own heart. The more you realize this unity, the farther your mind is withdrawn from worldly things.’

Swami Vivekananda explains how vairagya functions in the path of devotion. He says: The Bhakti-Yogi knows the meaning of life’s struggles; he understands it. He has passed through a long series of these struggles and knows what they mean and earnestly desires to be free from the friction thereof; he wants to avoid the clash and go direct to the centre of all attraction, the great Hari. This is the renunciation of the Bhakta. This mighty attraction in the direction of God makes all other attractions vanish for him.

This mighty infinite love of God which enters his heart leaves no place for any other love to live there. How can it be otherwise? Bhakti fills his heart with the divine waters of the ocean of love, which is God Himself; there is no place there for little loves. That is to say, the Bhakta’s renunciation is that Vairagya or non-attachment for all things that are not God which results from Anuraga or great attachment to God.

Sri Ramakrishna agrees that vairagya ‘does not mean simply dispassion for the world. It means dispassion for the world and also longing for God’— that is, viraga and anuraga. These are the two wings of the bird of vairagya.

Trailokyanath Sannyal, the brahmo singer, asked Sri Ramakrishna, ‘What is the way to dry up the craving for worldly pleasure?’; Sri Ramakrishna replied, ‘Pray to the Divine Mother with a longing heart. Her vision dries up all craving for the world and completely destroys all attachment to “lust and gold”. ’Again, he said, ‘A man who has tasted even a drop of God’s ecstatic love looks on “lust and gold” as most insignificant. He who has tasted syrup made from sugar candy regards a drink made from treacle as a mere trifle.’ It is a matter of tasting higher joy, spiritual joy. Once we taste spiritual joy, we no longer relish the happiness of sense pleasure, money, or fame.

Source excerpts from article titled 'Vairagya - Path To Freedom' by Swami Mahayogananda published in the Prabuddha Bharata Magazine January 2010 issue.