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Vairagya and Tyaga

By Swami Sivananda

What Is Vairagya?

If the mind is constantly thinking of tea and if it gets pain when you do not get it, it is said that you have got 'Aasakti' (attachment) for tea. This 'Aasakti' leads to bondage. The practice of 'Vairagya' (dispassion) demands you to renounce this 'Aasakti' for tea. Mere giving up of taking tea does not constitute the essence of 'Vairagya'.

Study Vairagya-Prakarana in Yoga Vasishtha. You will have a comprehensive understanding of the real Svarupa of Vairagya. A clean description of the actual dispassionate mental state of Sri Rama is given. Palatable dishes, refreshing beverages, affectionate father and mother, brother, dear friends, diamonds, pearls, flowers, sandal, ornaments, soft beds, gardens had no attraction for him. On the contrary, their very sight gave him intense pain.

In Vairagya, Brahmacharya is Antargata (hidden). Vairagya includes celibacy in thought, word and deed.

Two Kinds Of Vairagya

Vairagya (dispassion, indifference, non-attachment) is of two kinds, viz., (i) Karana Vairagya (Vairagya on account of some miseries) and (ii) Viveka-Purvaka Vairagya (Vairagya on account of discrimination between real and 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 were given up. As soon as the first opportunity offers itself, the man gets the downfall and goes back to his former state. Vishaya does havoc in him with a vengeance and redoubled force from reaction. But the other man who has given up the objects on account of Viveka, on account of illusory nature of objects, will have spiritual advancement. He will not have a downfall.

How Vairagya Dawns

Note how Vairagya arises in the mind. The transitory and perishable nature of all things creates a sort of disgust in all minds and, in proportion to the depth and subtlety of nature, this reaction from the world works more or less powerfully in the mind of every individual. An irresistible feeling arises in our mind, viz., that the finite can never satisfy the Infinite within us, that the changing and perishable cannot satisfy the changeless and deathless nature of ours.

When you are not impressed with the idea of rich living, rich style of living cannot attract you. When you are impressed with the idea that meat and wine are not at all pleasurable, they cannot tempt you. In that case, if you do not get meat and wine or rich living, you will not be agonised at all in your mind. Why are you attracted towards a young, beautiful lady? Because, owing to your ignorance, you vainly think you will get pleasure through her. If you have got Viveka, it will at once tell you that you will get immense pain through her. Then the mind will recede or withdraw from the object, woman.

Sadhana Without Vairagya Goes To Waste

When Vairagya appears in the mind, it opens the gate to Divine Wisdom. From dissatisfaction (with the sense-objects and worldly sense-enjoyments) comes aspiration. From aspiration comes abstraction. From abstraction comes the concentration of the mind. From the concentration of the mind comes meditation or contemplation. From contemplation comes Samadhi or Self-realisation. Without dissatisfaction or Vairagya, nothing is possible.

Just as cultivation in a stony land or saltish earth becomes absolutely fruitless, so also Yogic practices and Atma-Vichara (enquiry of the Soul) done without Vairagya (dispassion and indifference to the sensual enjoyments) becomes fruitless. Just as water, when it leaks into the rat-holes, instead of running into the proper channels in agricultural fields, becomes wasted and does not help the growth of plants, grains, etc., so also, the efforts of an aspirant become a wastage if he has not got the virtue Vairagya. He gets no spiritual advancement.

Intense Vairagya Necessary For Moksha

There must be intense (Tivra) Vairagya in the minds of the aspirants, throughout the period of their Sadhana. Mere mental adhesion will not do for success in Yoga. There must be intense longing for liberation, a high degree of Vairagya plus capacity for Sadhana (spiritual practice). Then only they will get Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Moksha. It was only Raja Janaka and Prahlada who had Tivra Vairagya (intense dispassion). This kind of Vairagya is necessary for quick realisation. It is very difficult to cross the ocean of Samsara with a dull type of Vairagya. The crocodile of sense-hankering (Trishna) for sense-enjoyments and sense-objects will catch the aspirants by the throat and, violently snatching away, will drown them half-way.

Enemies Of Vairagya

The Curse of Affection

Delusion proceeds from affection. It is a common observation that a person is distressed if the cat eats his domestic fowl; but when his affections are not touched, for instance, if the cat eats a sparrow or a mouse, he expresses no sorrow. You must, therefore, root out affection, which is the cause of vain attachment. The body generates numerous germs which people are anxious to remove; but to one variety they give the name "children," for which their lives are wasted away. Such is the delusion of the world.

At the back of affection and love, there is grief and sorrow. Affection is mixed with sorrow. At the back of pleasure, there is pain. Pain is mixed with pleasure. Man sows the poisonous seed of sorrow under the name of love, from which quickly spring up shoots of affection which contain a fire dangerous as lightning; and from these shoots, grow trees of sorrow with innumerable branches which, burning like a heap of covered straw, slowly consume the body.

The knot of affection is strengthened by long indulgence. Affection has entwined its threads around the hearts of men. The principal means to get rid of affection is to consider that this is a fleeting existence. In this wide world, how many millions of parents, wives, children, uncles and grandfathers have passed away. You should consider the society of friends as a momentary flash of lightning and, revolving this often in your mind, enjoy felicity.

Hope and Anticipation

Hope and anticipation are the opposite of Vairagya and Tyaga. They fatten the mind. To be perfectly hopeless is a very high state for a philosopher. It is a very bad state for worldlings. They always say with contempt: "He is a hopeless man." Worldlings and philosophers move towards diametrically opposite poles.

How To Develop Vairagya

Those who do not develop the painless Vairagya inherent in one's self and that with great felicity and happiness are, at best, but vermins in human shapes. When a bee finds that its feet are stuck in the honey, it slowly licks its feet several times and then flies away with joy. Even so, extricate yourself from the mind's sticking and clinging to this body and children-honey owing to Raga and Moha through Vairagya and meditation and fly away from this cage of flesh and bone to the Source, Brahman or Absolute.

It is very difficult to wean some children. They suck the breast even when they are three or four years old. The mother applies some nim-paste to the nipples. The child is weaned quickly. Even so, you will have to get a medicine of nim-paste for the mind to get it weaned from sensual objects. Sit in a solitary room. Think of the miseries of this earthly life, its cares, worries, anxieties, hunger, thirst, sins, temptations, passion, fighting, fears, vanity, disease, death, old age, sorrow, grief, tribulation, loss, failures, disappointments, hostility, scorpion stings, mosquito bites, etc. This will serve as an efficient nim-paste to wean the mind from Samsara. You must think in the above-manner daily.

Remember constantly the pains of various kinds pertaining to this mundane existence. Moha will vanish if you repeat the following line of Chapter XIII of Gita several times daily: "Janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosha-anudarsanam-Insight into the pain and evil of birth, old age and sickness." Always make the mind understand clearly that there is only pain in this world. Reflect often on the instability of this world. This is the first Sadhana for aspirants. They can thus develop Vairagya. The mind will be weaned from objects. Attraction for sense-objects will gradually vanish.

Renunciation Brings About Moksha

Shun the earthly objects as fire or poison or offal. Renounce all desires and cravings. This itself is Moksha (freedom). Renunciation of desires brings about the annihilation of the mind. Annihilation of the mind brings on the destruction of Maya, because the mind alone is Maya. Maya is enthroned in the imagination of the mind. How cunning she is! A Viveki knows her tricks well. She is awfully afraid of the man of renunciation and Atmavichara. She bows to him with folded hands.

What Is True Renunciation?

The mind is the all-in-all and its mastery leads to the renunciation of all. Chitta-Tyaga alone constitutes the renunciation of all. True renunciation lies in the abnegation of the mind. It consists in renouncing all desires and egoism and not world-existence. Through such a mental abnegation, you will be able to free yourself from all pain. Then will come immortality in life or enjoyment of the infinite delight of existence free from ego, founded on oneness of all in Brahman.

Sannyasa-a Mental State

Sannyasa is a mental state only. It is Gerua or colouring of the heart and not of cloth alone. He is a veritable Sannyasin who is free from passions and egoism and who possesses all the Sattvic qualities, even though he lives with the family in the world. Chudala was a queen-Yogini-Sannyasini, though she was ruling a kingdom. That Sannyasin who lives in the forest, but who is full of passions is worse than a householder and a worldly-minded fool. Sikhidhvaja was a worldly man, though he lived in the forest naked for very many years.

True renunciation is the renunciation of all passions, desires, egoism and Vasana. If you have a stainless mind, a mind free from attachment, egoism and passion, you are a Sannyasin-no matter whether you live in a forest or in the bustle of a city, whether you wear white cloth or an orange-coloured robe, whether you shave the head or keep a long tuft of hair.

Shave the mind. Someone asked Guru Nanak, "O saint, why have you not shaved your head? You are a Sannyasin." Guru Nanak replied, "My dear friend, I have shaved my mind." In fact, the mind should be cleanly shaved. Shaving the mind consists in getting rid of all sorts of attachments, passions, egoism, Moha (infatuation), lust, greed, anger, etc. This is the real shaving. External shaving of the head has no meaning so long as there is internal craving, Trishna.

Many have not understood what true renunciation is. Renunciation of physical objects is no renunciation at all. The real Tyaga (renunciation) consists in the renunciation of egoism (Ahankara). If you can renounce this Ahankara, you have renounced everything else in the world. If the subtle Ahankara is given up, Dehadhyasa (identification with the body) automatically goes away.

Vedanta does not want you to renounce the world. It wants you to change your mental attitude and give up this false, illusory 'I'-ness (Ahamta) and mineness (Mamata). The snake-charmer removes only the two poisonous fangs of the cobra. The snake remains the same. It hisses, raises its hood and shows the teeth. In fact, it does everything as before. The snake-charmer has changed his mental attitude towards the snake. He has a feeling now that it has got no poisonous fangs. Even so, you must remove the two poisonous fangs of the mind, viz., Ahamta and Mamata only. Then you can allow the mind to go wherever it likes. Then you will have always Samadhi only.

You must renounce the Tyagabhimana also. The Tyagabhimana is very deep-rooted. You must renounce the idea, "I have renounced everything." "I am a great Tyagi"-this Abhimana of the Sadhus is a greater evil than the Abhimana of householders, "I am a landlord; I am a Brahmin, etc."


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