Meaning of ‘Vairagya’ – Detachment: Part 1 (Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh)

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How does attachment begin? What is the source of detachment? Can we learn it or few people have it from the beginning?

Raw fruit is hanging on to the tree. It is attached with the tree. It requires some force to make it separate from the tree. But when the same fruit is fully ripe, it naturally falls down. It gets detached from the tree without any external force. Same is the case with the flowers, leaves and other parts of the tree. The moment they are fully mature they start falling down.

Look at the children. When they are very young like one year old, they are weak and they want their mom to around all the time. The moment their mom is missing for some time they start crying. There are weakness and dependence on them. But the same child when it grows two or three years, he wants to run and play. He is not ready to stay in the arms of the mother all the time. But still, he doesn’t want to go out of the house alone. Still, there is weakness and fear. In the teenage, some more strength comes and the same kid is ready to move in the whole city. But he may have the fear of losing the love, girlfriend, or friends. In the adult age now, you and I can move in the whole world; leaving the mother, wife, girlfriend, and job. But still, we know in our hearts that we have fear of losing them. So what do we understand from that?

Attachment is a characteristic of weakness. Attachment comes out of fear. On the other hand, detachment stems from strength. It is the natural characteristic of being strong and capable. So logically we can say that if we become stronger in any aspect then we become free from that i.e. we become detached from that. So attachment can be removed by being stronger and leaving our fears behind. The key to getting detachment is to be stronger and fearless. The whole system of yoga is simply promoting strength and hence making a person detached from the things.

There are four kinds of attachment. So we need to be strong on these four planes and get detached from them. They are the following:

  1. Physical
  2. Mental
  3. Social
  4. Emotional

All kinds of fear and weakness are associated with these four planes. Here we see that all yogic practices are helping us build strength on these four planes. Aasana practices, cleansing practices make us stronger on the physical plane; the practice of self-study is building the detachment on the mental plane by providing the tools to make better thinking and decisions. Then there are the practices of meditation too. Same way practices like Karma Yoga and charity activities help us understand our role in society and make us socially responsible. In the end, we have the idea of compassion, unconditional love, and Bhakti Yoga. These are the practices required to develop emotional strength and get free from those fears.

So this detachment ‘Vairagya’ is a natural characteristic that develops with the time while practicing yoga. We can’t pretend to be detached without really developing it from inside. So what great masters suggest us is to simply continue doing your practices and let them bring the change from inside.

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