'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)


ivvek vEraGy
Viveka, vairaagya; discrimination and detachment

Each of the words presented in A-Z here has related to ‘Vedantic saadhana’, (practice), for it is immensely practical and as pertinent to life now as it was millennia past. We can all use words or phrases to make life more positive for ourselves, regardless of where we are on our life path.

That said, for the serious student, there are some very succinct ‘codes’ in the Saadhana Chatushtaya, which has been discussed in several posts of  Aatmaavrajanam; to give the names of the four practices, they are, Viveka, Vairaagya, Samadhi-shatka-sampatti and Mumukshatvam. The latter refers to the fact that the seeker, to progress with these saadhanas, requires having such determination, such fervour, it's as if their hair is on fire. Have a sense of urgency in spiritual research! The penultimate saadhana has a clue in its name that it is split into a further six categories; shama (control of thoughts), dama (control of senses), uparati (withdrawal - keeping oneself to oneself), titiksha (forbearance, fortitude), shraddha (faith - not blind belief, but trust in the Higher) and samadhaana (contemplative turn of mind in daily activity).

Before engaging in the more 'nitty-gritty' parts of saadhana, though, it is necessary to understand why one would follow this particular path and how best to do it.

Viveka is the application of upayoga, plus lots of raising doubts, questioning, with the aim of discerning the Real from the UnReal. In Vedantic terms, this means seeing the world/Maya for the illusion that it is and seeing only Brahman everywhere, in, through, around every rock, creature and human being. Viveka doesn't get caught up in small talks, gossips, flights of fancy. It sees clearly and cannot be tricked.

Vairaagya supports viveka by endeavouring to loosen attachments to the material. This is not to say that one must become cold and unemotional. Not at all. However, it is the control of one's emotions which allows the mind to move cleanly through troublesome times. There is no useful purpose served in wailing and gnashing of teeth; those things can be cathartic, but they must not be allowed to overwhelm and muddy the waters of discernment. Learning the art of self-containment is what vairaagya is about.

When V&V are in harmony, the shatka-sampatti readily can be applied, and further support the purpose of viveka, reaching towards the goal of Unity with Self.

What use is this to the regular reader here, you who have so willingly come along for this ride? Thinking a little more about what is worth investing your time in and what is not; prioritising the importance of things - for so much of what goes on in life really doesn't matter - no it really doesn't. Learning to keep emotions in check is a lifetime's work but is worth attempting. We can have the feelings, but expressing them appropriately in place and time is a skill which can be developed. It will serve well - whether or not one is taking up a spiritual and devotional activity or not.


  1. We had a post doc in physics whose name was Vivek. Does Vivek have a meaning, does it come from Viveka.

    I love the doily like design of the menorise today.
    Hugs HiC

    1. Hari OM
      It does indeed, HiC... The Hindi usage drops the final 'a'. Viveka is one of those words which has multiple translations according to context - but all relate to higher thinking. See Here for a list! Yxx

    2. I have an Indian colleague called Vivek.
      Bertie is worried about whether you think he should be investing time in his blog......
      (No to be honest, Bertie is currently having a ball at Yvonne's house, and not worrying at all about Hindu philosophy. Meanwhile I am passing the time in the Holiday Inn Express in Amsterdam South prior to a work meeting tomorrow.
      Cheers! Gail.

  2. Oh dear Aunty Yam, its a bit too deep fur me today, although I to luffs the snowflake pattern picture
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  3. And the older we get, the more we do a bit of that prioritising:) Life can get so busy, but one has to remember that we might not be able to get it ALL done.

    Like your other commenters, we have to agree on the beauty of your menorise.

  4. that is interesting... I specially like the way of faith without blind belief...

  5. That pattern/mandela atthe end of the post was just beautiful and you're right about discerning what is important in life and focusing our thoughts and intentions into is really important. So much time is wasted on the trivial.

    Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    V for Visualise and Plan

  6. I think I'd do marginally better on vairagya as gnashing of teeth and windmilling of arms etc too energy-intensive for me, way too lazy to get hot and bothered about most things now. Epic fail on the flights of fancy front though, I'm afraid :) Vivek in Bengali is usually taken for 'conscience' that's the meaning I would auto-associate with the word.

    Valid point about prioritising stuff, key to escaping the constant mental noise.

    1. Hari OM
      Am sure you are aware that Bengali is not a language with its roots in Sanskrit, but it does have many Sanskrit words within it - not least names. Of the 14 variant translation/meanings provided for viveka in Sanskrit, the closest in meaning (or perhaps 'intention') to conscience, would be 'discretion'. It would not be unusual to have this regional variant, it is exactly the sort of mutation that happens in translations in general, which is why there can be so much debate of certain passages in scriptures of all ancient languages and can lead to much confusion! Yxx

    2. Nope not aware of that, and respectfully disagree. The Bengali language I, and most Eastern Indians speak as our mother tongue has firm roots in Sanskrit, directly descended from it through the vernacular. The language of ancient Bengal was Sanskrit.

      The majority of Bengali words in use today also are derived from Sanskrit. The current lexicon would be 70-75% based on Sanskrit, maybe even higher, the words either in pure form (Tatsama) or in modified/mutant form (Tadbhava). The spelling system is based on Sanskrit, we have three 's's and two 'n's and 'joint-consonants' and similar rules for joining them. The vowel diacritics and the way the script is written is also so similar that the relationship is obvious. Ahangkara, adhikara, guna, gau, vairagya, karma, moksha, vadya, nritya, sangeet, prema, yuddha, brahmacharya - all of these words are part of the current Bengali lexicon.

      It has many loanwords from very many languages including Arabic, English, Portuguese, Persian, but altogether they make up a slim slice.

      Suniti Kumar Chatterjee's books would be the definitive work to go to if you are interested in reading further.

    3. Hari OM
      Thank you Nilanjana; I take your point regarding current usage. It does seem that the origins of the language are somewhat debated. SK Chatterjee is mentioned in places I read for actually suggesting Bengali had its origin in the 10th century CE, deriving from Magahi Prakrit (a spoken language) through Magahi Apabhramsha(its written counterpart) ... the papers I was looking at appeared to infer these were earlier than Sanskrit to the formulation of Bengali... but I accept this is likely to be an interpretation of the researchers. I bow to the native speaker!

      Thank you for taking up the debate and pushing me to look deeper. One can never stop learning. Yxx

    4. Yes, that is my understanding also - Bengali evolved out of Magadhi Prakrit around a thousand years ago. Apabhramsas are a 'corrupt' or 'unrefined' form of Sanskrit. Prakrit was the dialect spoken by the plebs (non-brahmins, since the brahmins tended to hoard knowledge of the scriptures and generally monopolised the written language, also Sanskrit has a super complex grammar - difficult for uneducated masses to get into the lingo). Both Apabhramsa and Prakrit are themselves words with Sanskrit roots.

      The basic progression would be - Vedic Sanskrit (Rigveda, composed ~ 1500 BCE) - Classical Sanskrit (Epics, Ramayana n Mahabharata) - Apabhramsa - Prakrits - Modern Indian Languages of the Indo-Aryan family.

      Simplified of course, the real progression would have overlaps and would not be linear.

      Agree totally on the learning bit. Have a gloriously happy day.

  7. I agree with the others. As I've become older and wiser, I am better at prioritizing what is important. The hard part is seeing what might be important for the future, even though it's difficult to stick with right now. E.g., I am doing a new fear therapy with Shyla, and it is very slow work. I don't feel like doing it on some days because I don't see immediate effects -- but it could be magic in the long run.

    Your picture at the end is gorgeous.

  8. Learnt a lot from this post. Thank you for letting us know about the words in Vedantic saadhana in such a beautiful and simple way :)

  9. Yesterday was cook for the grandkids day. They seem to be my priority up next to my Hubby. The youngest is a bit of a challenge as he is a bit quirky. And that bit of quirkiness works on my people handling skills. And I have never had good people skills. namaste, janice xx

  10. You have explained both vairagya and viveka beautifully. I enjoyed reading it. Missed out reading so much from your wonderful posts. I will take a look at some other posts now. Thank you so much for sharing these concepts. :) Happy Friday!

    Jui Positive Cookies


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