Definition - What does Vairagya mean?

Vairagya is a Sanskrit term meaning "detachment." It is a state of being free of attachment to materialistic life. It can also be defined as the mental state of mind that lets go of all attachments that belong to the materialistic world. Letting go of feelings such as pride, ego, aversion, inferiority and superiority complex, false identities and fear, are all also associated with vairagya.

According to the Yoga Sutras, the core principles of yoga are vairagya and abhyasa, meaning "to practice."

Yogapedia explains Vairagya

Abhyasa and vairagya, the core principles of yoga, set the stage for other practices that lead to control of the mind and Self-realization. Together, the principles take one through the right path to achieve the ultimate goal of realizing the Self.

The intensity or degree of vairagya is classified into three types: mridhu (meaning "mild"), madhyama (meaning "moderate") and teevra (meaning "intense"). It is teevra vairagya that makes Self-realization possible.

Vairagya has four stages:

  1. Yatamana, which refers to the efforts to lead the mind away from sensual pleasures;
  2. Vyatireka, meaning "logical discontinuance," the stage that makes you aware of your level of vairagya toward certain objects;
  3. Ekendriya, the stage in which the senses remain subdued with the mind having attachment or aversion to an object; and
  4. Vasirara, the highest stage in which there does not exist any temptation toward objects, there are no likes or aversions, and this is when Self-realization and spiritual supremacy become possible.

Attaining vairagya is the only way to achieve spiritual progress. Vairagya can be achieved by learning to discriminate between the essential and non-essential as well as by practicing the art of developing right thoughts, speech and action.

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