The word vairagya comes from the Sanskrit
and means indifference. By Sufis it is called
fana, and it is shown in the cross, the symbol of the
This indifference comes to every being and is the first
step to his annihilation, because not one atom can have
its evolution without annihilation. The lower beings, the
mineral, vegetable and animal, evolve towards the higher
beings, and as man is the highest creation, there is nothing
for him to evolve to but this indifference, when it comes,
opens a way for him to God from whom he came.
This indifference comes to the child when she realizes
that her doll is not so interesting as she had thought and
that it would be more interesting to play with other children
who at least are alive. So first the child takes the doll
and loves it. She carries it about and if the dolly's hand
is hurt the child wants some remedy; a bed is needed to
put the dolly in and a carriage is needed to take the dolly
out. But when the nature of the doll is understood it is
thrown away, and the child realizes that to play with children
of her own age is better than to play with dolls which never
So it is with us, the children of the world. Our likes
and infatuations have a certain limit; when their time has
expired the period of indifference commences. When the water
of indifference is drunk, then there is no more wish for
anything in the world. The nature of the water one drinks
in this world is that one's thirst is quenched for a certain
time, and then comes again. When the water of divine knowledge
is drunk, then thirst never comes again.
This indifference comes when the nature of the world
is understood; it is the higher knowledge. Then it is understood
that all those objects to which one attached so much importance,
which one strove to attain, to achieve, are not important.
Before reaching that stage a person attaches too much importance
to his joys, to his sorrows. If he is sad the whole world
is full of sadness. If he is a little joyful the whole world
is full of joy – as if the sun would rise and set according
to his joy and sadness.
Indifference, however, must be reached after interest
has taken its course; before that moment it is a fault.
A person without an interest in life becomes exclusive,
he becomes disagreeable. Indifference must come after all
experience – interest must end in indifference. Man must
not take the endless path of interest: the taste of everything
in the world becomes flat. Man must realize that all he
seeks in the objects he runs after, that all beauty and
strength, are in himself, and he must be content to feel
them all in himself. This may be called the kiss of the
cross: then man's only principle is love.
Vairagya means satisfaction, the feeling that
no desire is to be satisfied any more, that nothing on earth
is desired. This is a great moment, and then comes that
which is the kingdom of God.
Why is God satisfied with the world whereas even man,
when he reaches a certain grade of intelligence, is not
satisfied? Or is God not satisfied? There are two sorts
of dissatisfaction. The first is felt when a man has so
much given in to the external self that the world can give
him no more satisfaction. The other comes when the desire
for more experience, for more enjoyment ceases. This is
called Vairagya, this is indifference. Such a person
is not unhappy. He is happier than others. He has only lost
his intense interest in the world.
There is a story of a comedian who every day disguised
himself in order to fool the king, the Badshah, at whose
court he lived. But the king recognized him in all his disguises.
The comedian then thought that he would disguise himself
as an ascetic. He went to a cave in the mountains and lived
there with two disciples, also comedians. He fasted for
long periods thinking that in this way he disguised himself
well. After forty days people, seeing his disciples, began
to speak of the sage living in the mountain. They brought
him presents: one hundred, two hundred dirhams. But he refused
all saying, 'Take it away. 'The sage does not want money
His fame spread more and more. The king heard of him
and became anxious to see him. So he went to the cave, but
for a long time the disciples would not let him enter. At
last he was allowed to come into the presence of the 'sate.'
The king said, 'I have been kept waiting very long before
I could see you.' The sage replied, 'The dogs of this world
are not allowed to enter the house.' The king was very much
insulted. He thought, 'This must be a very great person.'
He gave him a paper saying, 'This is a parwana for the support
of your disciples.' A parwana means a grant of land, but
the word has two meanings, it also means moth. The 'sage'
said, 'if it is a parwana its place is in the fire.' And
he put the paper in the fire which was burning before him.
The king went away and the comedian got up thinking,
'Now I must tell the king how well I have fooled him.' Then a
voice came saying, 'Your feigned indifference has brought
the king before you. If it had been real indifference, We
Ourselves would have come before you.