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What is True Vairagya? )Dispassion)

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  • medit8ionsociety
    One of the first steps in Raja Yoga (the Yoga of Meditation) is to practice Discrimination and Dispassion. Discrimination between the real and the unreal, the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2007
      One of the first steps in Raja Yoga (the Yoga of Meditation)
      is to practice Discrimination and Dispassion. Discrimination
      between the real and the unreal, the eternal and the temporary.
      Dispassion is herein well illustrated by this article by the
      great sage Swami Sivananda. It is a rarely discussed subject
      and an important one for every meditator to understand and
      practice. Swamiji's style includes using many Hindu terms and
      as they are usually accompanied by English translations, it
      becomes a way to better understand Hindu scriptures when they
      are referred to in your further studies. Similarly, he also
      virtually always presents new sources of the wisdom of other
      sages in his writings, and I think you may find them very
      beneficial. In this (fairly long) article, the song that
      Buddha heard that led to his Enlightenment was new to me and
      I expect you too will have similar appreciation when these
      holy gems are shared.This article was sent out today in the
      always enlightening "Sivananda Day-to-day" which is sent out
      To subscribe to this mailing list please go to:

      What is True Vairagya?

      Sri Swami Sivananda

      Unnecessary torture of the body in the name of Tapas
      (austerities) is highly depreciable. This is Asuric Tapas
      (demoniac austerities) of ignorant persons. This is condemned
      by Lord Krishna in the Gita. Body is the moving temple of
      the Lord. It is an instrument for Self-realisation. You cannot
      do any Sadhana if the body is not kept strong and healthy.
      Attachment to Vairagya (dispassion) is as much an evil as
      attachment to sensual objects. Give up Vairagya-Abhimana
      (ego-centred dispassion). This Abhimana of Sadhus and
      Sannyasins is more dangerous and inveterate than the Abhimana
      of worldly persons.

      Vairagya-Abhimana is a deadly canker. It is difficult to
      get rid of the Vairagya-Abhimana as long as there is the
      body-idea. The feeling, `I am a great Vairagi or Tyagi' is
      Vairagya-Abhimana. The body of a Sannyasin who has dedicated
      it unto the service of humanity, is a public property. He
      has no claim on it because he denies the existence of body
      and tries to feel always: `I am Shiva (Sivoham).' The public
      will take care of his body.

      Lord Buddha tortured the body, did severe austerities, gave
      up food and yet he was not able to attain the goal. He heard
      the song:

      "Fair goes the dancing when the Sitar's tuned,
      Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high,
      And we will dance away the hearts of men.
      The string o'erstretched breaks and the music flies,
      The string o'erslack is dumb and music dies,
      Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high."

      Then he ate food, adopted the middle path and succeeded in
      achieving Nirvana. Extreme asceticism is not at all necessary
      for attaining perfection. What is wanted is strong mental
      Vairagya born of strong discrimination. All bodies are not
      fit for the practice of severe austerities. The body will drop
      down if you tax it too much by way of rigid Tapas. Do not spoil
      your health and body in the name of Tapas. Have a strong,
      healthy body, but have no attachment for the body. Be prepared
      to give it up at any time for a noble cause.

      The care-taker of the horse feeds it with proper nutrition
      when it is over-worked, when it is ailing. Then only it is
      ready for further work. Even so, this body should be injected
      with proper nutrition. Then only it will turn out good work.
      Then only it will soon regain its lost vitality on account
      of over work or ailment. Work will suffer if the body is not
      well attended to. When the body grows old it must be well
      protected against cold and well-looked after. If hard Titiksha
      (endurance) is practised now it will give way soon.
      Consequently the other shore of immortality and fearlessness
      cannot be reached.

      O Ram, neglect not this body. The society and Prakriti will
      extract and continue to extract as much work as possible from
      those selfless workers who have dedicated their lives to the
      service of humanity. They are yoked to service till the last
      breath leaves their bodies. Lord Vishnu instructs Prahlada,
      "My dear Prahlada! enough of your Tapas. Take care of your
      body. Rise from your Samadhi. Serve people now. Disseminate
      Bhakti far and wide." Yoga Vasishtha speaks of one as a
      `Maha Tyagi' (great renunciate) and `Maha Bhogi' (great
      enjoyer), who has renounced the idea of `I am a Tyagi' and
      `I am a Vairagi', who neither accepts nor rejects things
      that come by themselves by identifying himself with the silent
      witness, the Immortal Atman, who feels always `I am Akarta
      (non-doer)', `I am Abhokta (non-enjoyer)' even while moving
      amidst objects. The Gita says, "But the disciplined self,
      moving among sense-objects, with senses free form attraction
      and repulsion mastered by the Self goeth to Peace." Chapter II-64.

      Some neophytes and raw aspirants pose themselves for
      `Maha Tyagis' or `Maha Bhogis' and quote scriptures also:
      `We eat without tongues; we see without eyes.' The thief
      or the hypocrite will be found out soon. They are just like
      the people who catch fishes from the Ganges to satisfy their
      palates and quote Gita:¬ó`Nainam Chindanti Sastrani Nainam
      Dahati Pavakah; Na chainam kledayantyapo na soshayati
      marutah¬óWeapons cleave him not, nor fire burneth him, nor
      waters wet him, nor wind drieth him away.' Sublime philosophy
      indeed of perverted people with perverted intellects! The
      gilted ornaments cannot shine for a long time. The crow that
      shines under borrowed feathers of the peacock will be found
      out soon. Their Trishnas (sense-hankering) and Vasanas (subtle
      desires) will burst out and any lay bystander can detect the
      hypocrite without any difficulty.

      A Maha Tyagi or Maha Bhogi will not refuse to accept some
      mangoes or a cup of milk when they come by themselves. But
      he will not crave for them. He will not say, `I have enjoyed
      today good mangoes or good milk.' If an aspirant is seriously
      ailing, if he is not able to eat solid food-stuffs, if there
      is a feeling of want in him for milk, if he has no money with
      him to purchase milk, if any devotee casually offers of his
      own accord some milk, he should not refuse it. God works
      mysteriously. He takes care of his devotees by working through
      the minds of various persons.

      The child sometimes eats food at night while he is sleeping.
      If the mother asks the child in the morning, `Baby, you took
      food last night,' he replies, `I have not taken anything
      last night. You are playing and joking with me.' Such is the
      condition of a Jivanmukta, or a Maha Tyagi or Maha Bhogi. He
      eats and yet he does not eat. He eats without a mouth and
      smells without a nose. Sometimes a man talks at night when he
      dreams. If you ask him when he comes to waking consciousness,
      `O Prema, do you know that you talked last night when you were
      dreaming?' He replies, `I do not remember anything.' Such is
      the state of a Jivanmukta or a Maha Tyagi and a Maha Bhogi.

      Durvasa ate a sumptuous meal and yet he said, `I am a Nitya
      Upavasi. I do not eat anything. I take grass juice only'
      because he identified himself with the Atman who is always
      the witness and the non-enjoyer. Lord Krishna is regarded as
      a Nitya Brahmachari (eternal celibate) though he was with Radha,
      Rukmini and Satyabhama. Sage Tiruvalluvar said to his wife, `My
      beloved! say unto the river that my huaband, a Nitya Brahmachari,
      has commanded you to give path of way. She will at once yield
      and you can cross it without a boat.' She repeated the words of
      her husband and crossed the river immediately. She was quite
      amazed at the words of her husband and asked him, `My Lord! you
      are living with me and yet you say that you are a Nitya
      Brahmachari. I am struck with wonder. I am puzzled. Kindly
      explain this philosophy'. Tiruvalluvar replied, `I am immortal
      Atman. I have realised this through direct cognition (Anubhava).
      I do not do anything. I am the silent witness. The senses,
      body, mind and intellect are my instruments. I am entirely
      distinct from them.' Tiruvalluvar's wife understood the nature
      of the soul and then she became silent.

      Ordinary aspirants with delicate health should not take
      recourse to the practice of drastic austerities. He who has
      attained Kaya Siddhi (bodily perfection) can do any kind of
      Tapas because his body is adamantine. If an aspirant with
      delicate health gives up food and tries to live on Neem
      leaves alone, the obvious result is that he will get various
      sorts of gastro-intestinal diseases and pass away soon. This
      is the fruit obtained by persons who practise Tamasic Tapas.

      If you have mastery over the pair of opposites, viz., heat
      and cold, if you can bear intense heat and intense cold, if
      you can remain without clothing in the icy Gangotri, this is
      highly creditable indeed. But if your frame is delicate, if
      you attempt to stand before the sun in summer for some hours,
      if you throw off your clothing in the Gangotri all at once,
      you will die immediately of sunstroke or pneumonia. You should
      not attempt to take recourse to these hard practices. What
      little you will gain by Japa and meditation in this birth will
      be lost and you have lost one chance given by the Lord in this
      birth to reach him, by your foolish practices or Tamasic Tapas.

      An aspirant gave up his clothing all at once. He developed
      rheumatism, malaria, enlarged spleen and died within a short
      time. During the period of sickness all cravings that were
      temporarily suppressed asserted themselves with re-doubled
      force. He be came a slave of the tongue. He craved for many
      varieties of food. He could not suppress them. He ate
      indiscriminately and died of acute diarrhoea.

      An aspirant said, "I have not realised the Self though I did
      meditation for some years. I am going to commit suicide with
      the Bhava (feeling) I am immortal Atman. I have got full
      Vairagya. No sin will cling to me, because my motive is pure.
      I will attain Self realisation." He actually committed the
      abominable act. Do you think that he realised his Self by this
      act? Do you find such a statement anywhere in the scriptures?
      Certainly not. This is extreme foolishness. Some aspirants who
      have no idea of the nature of true Vairagya, who have not lived
      under the guidance of their masters for some time, commit such
      ignoble acts. They can never get salvation by taking to wrong
      Tapas though their Bhava may be pure. They cannot entertain the
      Bhava `I am Atman' just at the time of committing the act.
      Horrible thoughts will crowd at the critical juncture. They
      will have to share obviously the fate of Pretas (ghosts).

      The mind should gradually be weaned off its old habits and
      cravings. If you cut off all at once its pleasure centres, it
      will get puzzled. That is the reason why young aspirants who
      take to too much Vairagya commit the ignoble act of committing
      suicide. You should train the mind in meditation gradually and
      make it taste the inner bliss. Gradually it will leave off its
      old habits and old cravings and you can get yourself established
      in true Vairagya.

      The more the Viveka (discrimination), the more the true
      Vairagya. The flower of Vairagya gradually grows in the garden
      of Antahkarana (inner faculties, i.e. mind, intellect, ego and
      the subconscious mind), from the understanding that the world
      is a mere appearance and full of miseries and that Brahman
      alone is the only reality full of knowledge and bliss, and
      through continued practice of meditation and association with
      the realised souls for a protracted period. Eventually all
      objects of the world appear before the dispassionate soul as
      trifling or worthless things. He will not give up his new
      spiritual life even if the wealth of the whole world is offered
      to him.

      Aspirants should give up those articles of food which they
      like best for some time. They should discipline all the
      Indriyas (senses) in a perfect manner. They should always
      lead a simple life. They should always eat simple food. But
      they should not become slaves of Vairagya Abhimana. Vairagya
      is a mental state. The Lord infuses this in his devotees in
      order to get rid of the clinging to sensual objects.

      May you all become Maha Tyagis and Maha Bhogis! May you all
      be free from the canker of Vairagya Abhimana! May you all
      possess true lasting Para Vairagya (intense dispassion)!
      May you all attain Kaivalya or Perfection!
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