Vairāgya literally means a state in which a person is devoid of attachment or rāga for things. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, we come across the curious term ‘yukta-vairāgya’, or literally, ‘appropriate’ vairāgya. Here we examine the definition of yukta-vairāgya as given by Śrī Rūpa Goswami, and examine Śrī Jīva’s commentary on the verse.
The definition is:
anāsaktasya viṣayān yathārham upayuñjataḥ |
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate ||
Śrī Jīva glosses some of the words of this verse as follows: yathārhaṁ = sva-bhakty-upayukta-mātraṁ yathā syāt tathā = only for utilizing them in his or her own bhakti, upayuñjato = bhuñjānasya puruṣasya = of the person who is experiencing. kṛṣṇa-sambandhe viṣayān, or ‘sense objects related to Kṛṣṇa’, means tat-prasādādi – Kṛṣṇa’s prasāda etc. Mukunda Goswami similarly glosses kṛṣṇa-sambandhe (related to Kṛṣṇa) as mahā-prasāda-srak-candanādau = mahā-prasāda, garland, candana etc.
Then, the verse can be translated as:
The intense desire (nirbandha) for sense-objects (viṣayān) related to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sambandhe), like prasāda, or garlands, candana etc. offered to Kṛṣṇa, by a detached person (anāsakta), who experiences them only for utilizing them in his or her own bhakti (yathārham upayuñjataḥ), is called yukta vairāgya.
Because the definition excludes all other types of desires for sense-objects (through the word ‘mātraṁ’), this is a type of vairāgya.
One must also reject phalgu-vairāgya or worthless vairāgya. Śrī Jīva explains that one should not reject that which is offered to Kṛṣṇa (prāptānaṅgīkāra), thinking that they are material objects to be given up. Such rejection is phalgu-vairāgya or worthless vairāgya.
Furthermore, this definition of yukta-vairāgya has to be understood within the context of Śrī Rūpa’s discussion. Yukta-vairāgya is not a limb of bhakti. Śrī Rūpa has explained that vairāgya is of no value in bhakti, because it makes the heart hard-hearted. By practice of bhakti, material desires will subside as a side-effect on their own. Some vairāgya or detachment may be useful when starting out on the path of bhakti, and that vairāgya is being defined here. Yukta-vairāgya gives an aspiring bhakta, initial entrance into bhakti.
The definition of yukta-vairāgya applies to a person only when he or she meets all of the the following criteria:
a) anāsakti or detachment from material objects like wealth and followers
b) Intense desire to accept objects offered to Kṛṣṇa solely to nourish one’s own bhakti
c) Rejection of any other type of sense objects.