When someone dies in the house, you experience vairagya, dispassion. It feels as if everything in the world is false, everything is useless. This is called shamshana vairagya. The dispassion that a woman experiences for a few days after childbirth is called prasati vairagya. There are different kinds of vairagya: prasati, shamshana and jnana.

Vairagya means disconnection of the mind from the objects of the world. The heart is broken. The heart has disconnected from the world. Sometimes there is a temporary heartbreak and sometimes a permanent heartbreak. King Bhartihari gave an apple to his queen. She gave it to her lover who gave it his beloved, who in turn gave it to the king. When the king wondered how the apple had come back to him and found out how, he felt that love is a big illusion. He left his palace and became a vairagi.

Srimad Bhagavatam has excellent verses on vairagya. It gives a description of the real form of the world. The form of the world that we see is not real. For example, one may go to America or England as a tourist and praise those countries, but one has not seen their real form. Similarly, you have not seen the world in its entirety. If you could see the world from a level perspective, you would want to live differently. This thought comes. Srimad Bhagavatam explains this; it explains the feeling of vairagya. Yoga Vasishtha also explains it very well. These are the two books that explain vairagya, but not Ramacharitamanas. Ramacharitamanas is not a book of vairagya. It says that vairagya is not the solution, bhakti is. It says intense love for God is the solution.

Srimad Bhagavatam and Yoga Vasishtha explain vairagya in different ways. When Sri Rama returned from his guru’s ashram, he no longer felt interested in the affairs of the kingdom. So one day Dasharatha called him and asked what the matter was. Rama replied that it is all pointless, one day all this will perish, we don’t even know if the world really exists. He was speaking the philosophy of Vedanta. Dasharatha was alarmed and went to Vasishtha, who came to counsel Rama. He told him, “Look, you are not wrong. This world is indeed the way you say it is. But remember this, if once you come into it as an actor, you will have to play your part well. You have come as the son of a king, you cannot take vairagya. You will have to play your part according to the script, the lila.”

Srimad Bhagavatam speaks of pure sannyasa. It says that once the seed of vairagya germinates in the mind, one should cast aside the objects of the world and enter the path of sannyasa. What kind of a person should develop the feeling of vairagya? One who has experienced pain due to falsity. When one experiences grief due to the death of a child, its cause is a falsity because one does not have any control over death. The reaction experienced is due to an untruth. When such falsity influences a person, its solution is vairagya, because vairagya negates that which is not true.

These are all different methods. If you find sannyasa easy, take sannyasa; if you find bhakti easy, take to the path of bhakti. If you like Vasishtha’s suggestion of acting, then act away: cry a little, laugh a little, a little sorrow, a little joy. And if you don’t want any of this, seek the counsel of saints.