Sri Ramakrishna would often explain about the nature of dispassion and Vairagya. He would say that when a person is possessed by dispassion or Vairagya, he will be completely overwhelmed and will sever all connections with the evanescent world of senses. To illustrate the idea, he used to narrate a story.

A wife once said to her husband that she was very anxious about her brother. The reason was that for the last ten days or so, her brother had been contemplating about becoming an ascetic and was busy preparing for that life. She said that he was trying to gradually reduce all his desires and wants. The husband assured her that he would never become an ascetic or a Sanyasi. He added that no one could renounce the world in that manner. The wife then asked her husband as to how one could become a Sanyasi. “It is this way,” exclaimed the husband and so saying he tore his dress to pieces. He took a piece and tied it round his loin and told his wife that then onwards all women including her were mothers to him. He left the house then and there never to return.

Thus, Sri Ramakrishna would say that dispassion comes like a flood and never in drops. Once the feelings of Vairagya are aroused in a person, he would be incapable of paying any attention to worldly matters. He would be completely possessed by an unquenchable longing for realizing the Ultimate Truth. No obstacle is insurmountable for such a person. His value judgments would completely change and he would not be concerned about the pragmatic ideas of existence. He would become a true seeker and march forward, in a royal manner, in his quest for Truth. He would be prepared to pay any price or give up anything to reach the Ultimate Goal of life.

by Swami Shantatmananda

Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 23rd Mar 2013

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