In enjoyment there is fear of disease; in social position, the fear of falling off; in wealth, the fear of (hostile) kings; in honor, the fear of humiliation; in power, the fear of foe men; in beauty, the fear of old age; in scriptural erudition, the fear of opponents; in virtue, the fear of traducers; in body, the fear of death. All the things of this world pertaining to human beings are attended with fear; renunciation alone stands for fearlessness.
—Vairagya Sakatam of Bhartrihari.
“Happiness is within,” “What is Vairagya?” “Miseries of mundane existence,” “Body,” “Woman,” “World,” and “Essence of Vairagya-Shatakam.”
In “Happiness is within,” I have emphasized that happiness which is the driving motive of all human endeavors is not in the perishable objects of the world, but is within one’s own self and that even the very little momentary pleasure you get from sensual enjoyments is but a reflection of the atmic bliss only. Real and lasting happiness can be had only from God, or the Atman, which shines in the chambers of your heart.
The chapter “What is Vairagya” is for the sake of convenience and ease divided into thirteen headings, all useful and interesting. The need for renunciation of desire as a means to liberation from bondage, varieties of Vairagya, its various stages, how to develop it, the path of renunciation, what Vairagya is and what it is not, these and many other allied topics have been nicely handled.
“Miseries of mundane existence” is the inspiring title of the third chapter. It should be borne in mind that ignorance is the real cause of all misery and hence it should by all means be done away with and Self-Knowledge attained, if these miseries of mundane life are to come to an end. One may easily renounce wife, son and property, but to renounce name and fame is an extraordinary feat of the highest spirituality. To attain knowledge of Self such a degree of renunciation is indispensably necessary. I have condemned building of ashrams and making disciples with a reservation clause because this to me seems to be the prime cause of failure to attain the goal of yoga practice in the case of many a good aspirant nowadays.
Chapter four deals with “Body.” Attachment to body is the cause of misery and bondage and this attachment is of course due to ignorance of the Reality. When attachment for one’s own body comes, then desire for sensual enjoyments, lust, anger, greed, worry, anxiety and innumerable other miseries also come in its train. If this is cut at the root by negating the body and identifying one’s self with the supreme Self, then all miseries and sorrows will come to an end. Hence the condemnation of attachment to the body.is purely carnal; it is not pure, unselfish love. Hence condemnation of such love is justified.
“World” is the title of the sixth chapter. Due to ignorance man believes that the world in which he lives is a solid reality and that there is nothing beyond it. He therefore wants to indulge in all sorts of sensual pleasures with a view to get happiness from them. Had he known that the world in which he lives is unreal and that there is something else which is an embodiment of happiness, realizing which one enjoys highest bliss, he would not do so. With a view to get happiness from objects, he undergoes severe pain, tortures and tribulations and yet he does not get the least satisfaction from them. I have tried to convince the reader that this world of names and forms is unreal, transitory and fleeting, that God, or the Atman alone is real and full of bliss and that he should try to realize the Atman and get the happiness he wants from it.
In the next chapter entitled “Essence of Vairagya-Shatakam” I have given in a nutshell the sum and substance of Bhartrihari’s century of verses which will be found very useful to those who cannot afford to obtain each and every book pertaining to Yoga or Vedanta.
May the students of Yoga and Vedanta in the East and West be all inspired to unstinted action by a perusal of this volume is the earnest prayer of:
15th September, 1938.