Letters From Ramanashram – Vairagya, bodha, uparati

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(Vairagya, bodha, uparati)

28th October, 1947

I have recently been reading the ‘Vasudevamananam’. Yesterday I read in the chapter of ‘vairagyabodhoparati’ that, if Realization be attained, then liberation, (moksha) can be gained even without vairagya (non-attachment) and uparati (desirelessness). I asked Bhagavan how that could be, as according to the Ancients, the sign of a Realized Soul (jnani) is nonattachment.

Bhagavan replied, “It is true that non-attachment is the sign of a Realized Soul. But it is also stated in the same book that any apparent attachment one may be conscious of pertains to the body only and not to the Self. That attachment is a deterrent to the complete happiness of a ‘j’ivanmukta’, i.e., of one delivered from worldly bonds during his lifetime; whereas for the ‘videha mukta’, (one who is delivered from worldly bonds only at death,) Realization alone is important. When it is stated that liberation can be gained by obtaining realization even without non-attachment and desirelessness, it means that liberation is gained only at the time of death. It cannot be said, however, that it will all be waste if one has non-attachment and desirelessness yet no realization, for they will enable one to attain Heaven (punyaloka). It is all mentioned in Vasudevamananam.”

I then asked how realization could ever be attained without non-attachment and desirelessness.

Bhagavan explained, “Non-attachment, Illumination and desirelessness (vairagya, bhodha, uparati), these three, will not remain separate from one another. After attaining realization though one may continue outwardly to show attachment, inwardly non-attachment will necessarily be there. It is however said to be a hindrance to the complete enjoyment of bliss by a ‘jivan mukta’. Owing to the strength of the results of past actions, (prarabdha) he acts as one having inherent tendencies (vasanas); but, strictly speaking, attachment will not touch him. That is why it is said to be the result of past actions”.

I asked whether that meant that, even though one attained knowledge of the Self, one would not be able, were past actions to remain too strong, to discard inherent tendencies, and that, until those inherent tendencies were destroyed, one could not attain undisturbed peace.

Bhagavan replied, “Yes, those who are firm in their vairagya, bodha and uparati are indeed in a high state of realisation, that means they are jivanmuktas. If instead those for whom Selfrealisation alone is the most important, but out of prarabdha they move about as if they have attachments, they remain conscious of the fact that they actually do not have attachments. Strictly speaking such attachments do not affect them. That is why in Vasishtam it is said that even in the third stage, vasanas get exterminated and the mind gets destroyed. If it is asked when the fourth stage is reached and where is the need for the fifth and the sixth stage, some vague replies are given. So long as there is a doubt, there is an explanation. The disappearance of all doubts is realisation” “For a Realized Soul,” I asked, “to the extent to which he has non-attachment, will he to that extent have tranquillity and peace; while to the extent that his attachment grows, will he to that extent be further removed from tranquillity?” “Yes,” said Bhagavan, “that is the meaning”. And so saying, he was again silent.

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