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Selections From the Viveka Chudamani of Sri Sankaracharya

1. The man who, having with difficulties acquired a human birth and knowledge of the scriptures, through delusion does not exert himself for liberation commits suicide, for he destroys himself by clinging to unreal objects.

2. What greater fool is there than the man who, having obtained a rare human birth, neglects to attain the goal of his life?

3. Vairagya is the desire to abandon all the transitory enjoyments from the physical body up to Brahma, the creator, having already known their defects and shortcomings from observation, hearing, etc.

4. Those fools who are tied to these sense objects by the thick cord of attachment, so very difficult to be broken, are forcibly carried along by their own karma, to heaven, earth and hell.

5. The deer, elephant, moth, fish and black bee–these five meet with their death, being bound to one or other of the five senses, sound, etc., through attachment. What then of man who is bound by all the senses jointly?

6. In point of virulence sense-objects are even more fatal than the poison of a cobra. Poison kills one who drinks it, but sensuous objects can kill one who even looks at them through the eye.

7. He who is free from the terrible bondage of the hankering for the sense objects so very difficult to get rid of, is alone fit for liberation; none else is, even though he is well versed in the six systems of philosophy.

8. Those seekers after liberation who are endowed with only an apparent dispassion (vairagya) and are endeavoring to cross the ocean of samsara or conditioned existence are seized by the shark of hankering; being caught by the neck and forcibly dragged down and drowned.

9. He who has slain the shark of desire with the sword of supreme or mature dispassion, crosses the ocean of samsara without obstacles.

10. Know that death rapidly overtakes that stupid man who treads along the dreadful path of sensual pleasure; but whoever treads the right path under the instruction of a teacher who looks after his spiritual welfare and also his own reasoning attains his end–know this to be true.

11. If you really have a yearning for liberation, abandon sense-objects from a good distance as if they were poison and always develop carefully the amrita-like virtues of contentment, compassion, forgiveness, sincerity, tranquillity and self-control.

12. Whoever passionately attends to the feeding of his own body which is an object for jackals, fishes and vultures to enjoy, and ignores what should always be attempted: liberation from the bondage of ignorance without beginning, commits suicide thereby.

13. Whoever tries to realize the Self by nourishing his body is like one who crosses a river by catching hold of a crocodile, thinking it to be a log of wood.

14. For one desirous of liberation the infatuation over things like the body is dire death. He who is free from such infatuation is alone fit for liberation.

15. Conquer the infatuation over the objects like the body, wife, children, and so on. Having conquered it the sages attain the supreme state.

16. This gross body is to be contemned for it is made up of skin, flesh, blood, arteries, veins, fat, marrow and bones and is filled with filth.

17. The physical body has got various restrictions regarding caste and order of life. It is subject to various diseases. It is worshipped and honored sometimes. It is censured and insulted at other times.

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Chapters for How to Get Vairagya

Preface: How to Get Vairagya