Definition of yukta-vairāgya

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.

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6 replies »

  1. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. Most of the sites that show up when one does a Google search on yukta-vairagya gives one an impression that accepting anything material such as wealth, followers etc. for the service of Kṛṣṇa is yukta-vairagya. Other explanations include offering of the fruits of one’s actions to Kṛṣṇa is


  2. Thank you for the clarifying post on this important subject.

    It seems that Mukunda Gosvami in his commentary reads “kṛṣṇa-sambandhe” as a bahu-vrīhi compound in order to give his gloss of “mahā-prasāda-srak-candanādau”, whereas Sri Jiva Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti don’t offer a specific gloss of “kṛṣṇa-sambandhe” in their commentaries. This leaves me wondering whether they are reading “kṛṣṇa-sambandhe” as rather a tat-purusa compound and perhaps simply saying that nirbandha (“intentness,” or “intense desire”, etc.) is for/in relation to Kṛṣṇa (Kṛṣṇa Himself)? In other words, that yukta-vairagya is nirbandha in relation to Kṛṣṇa on the part of one who is detached and partakes of sense objects as appropriate to one’s bhakti. This would imply that the viṣayān mentioned in the verse would refer to both Kṛṣṇa-prasāda and sense objects in general, all of which would be honored or avoid respectively as appropriate by the sādhaka. So, the ultimate sense of the teaching in the passage would be the same as Mukunda Gosvami has read it, but would leave the emphasis on the sādhaka’s nirbandha for Kṛṣṇa more so than on the sādhaka’s nirbandha in regard to Kṛṣṇa-prasāda. The corollary verse following this one in BRS about phalgu-vairagya specifically refers to objects related to Hari, so perhaps that implies the original intended sense of “kṛṣṇa-sambandhe” is indeed meant to be taken as a bahu-vrīhi, but still I wonder, as nirbandha in the verse seems to relate specifically to “kṛṣṇa-sambandhe” in the seventh case rather than “viṣayān” in the second case, which I believe is the object specifically of “upayañjataḥ”. Any thoughts on this? I ask simply in the spirit of relish and with no disputation.


    • Sri Visvanatha writes: anāsaktasya sataḥ yathārhaṁ sva-bhakty-upayuktaṁ yathā syāt tathā viṣayān upayuñjato bhuñjānasya puruṣasya yad vairāgyaṁ tad yuktam ucyate | yatra vairāgye sati kṛṣṇa-sambandhe nirbandhaḥ syād ity arthaḥ

      [..] yad vairāgyaṁ tad yuktam ucyate – the vairagya [of the person who is anasakta, who experiences sense objects in a way that utilizes them for his own bhakti] is called yukta. When this vairagya is present [yatra vairāgye sati], there arises an intense desire in relation to (i.e. for) Krsna [kṛṣṇa-sambandhe nirbandhaḥ syād].

      Sri Visvanatha suggests that when in the initial stage, appropriate renunciation is present, the arising of intense desire for Krsna simultaneously takes place. If we take this meaning, what you say is correct.

      I took Sri Mukunda’s meaning because it agrees with the hari sambandhi vastunah in the next verse, and because this meaning is a vyavartaka of yukta vairagya from phalgu vairagya. Whereas if we take the second meaning, nirbandhah (intense desire for Krsna) is not part of the definition, but a separate sentence. This second meaning is also present in Sri Jiva’s commentary – he supplies ‘syat’ as the verb of the second sentence and so does Sri Visvanatha.


  3. Cheers for the thoughtful reply.

    I have further query regarding the commentaries of Sri Jiva and Sri Visvanatha on this verse.

    Just as you mention, they render the verse into two separate sentences, yet the content of what they describe in two sentences is all one sentence in the BRS verse itself (as far as I can tell), as it would seem odd to take “vairagyam” as the subject of one sentence, apply all the qualifiers in the first half of the verse to it, and then extract the content from the third pada in between them and call that a separate sentence. So, if “nirbandha” is subject of the one sentence in the verse, then would it be this “nirbandha” as per the qualifiers given in the first half of the verse that is being called yukta-vairagya? Regarding the second sentence of the commentaries, it would almost seem that it it is being said that the nirbandha mentioned in the verse is an outcome of vairagya, that is, “when this vairagya is present, then there will be nirbandha in relation to Krsna.” Yet basically the opposite of this is said in the prior verse in BRS (1.2.254): “When a person develops ruci for Hari-bhajana, then even extreme attachment (rāga) to the sense objects largely dissolves.” So, I wonder whether there is an implied remainder to the second sentences of the commentaries of Sri Jiva and Sri Visvanatha that nirbandha in relation to Kṛṣṇa must be (syād) present in the instances of [such] vairāgya “because such nirbandha is the cause of that vairagya” (this being the point just made in 1.2.254). This would be to explain why nirbandha is be called a type (an appropriate type) of vairagya in the sentence of the BRS verse itself: “The intentness (or intense desire) in relation with Kṛṣṇa of one who is detached and partakes of sense objects as appropriate [to the practice of bhakti] is called yukta-vairāgya.” Any thoughts?


    • Please see the Sanskrit above. Nirbandha is not yukta-vairagya. yad vairāgyaṁ tad yuktam ucyate. That vairagya [tad] which [yat..] is yukta. To understand the context of this verse, one has to see some verses before, where it is said that vairagya can be an assistant for entrance to bhakti (see 1.2.248). This is explained by Sri Jiva in the commentary on the present verse: : tat prāg uktaṁ bhakti-praveśa-yogyam eva vairāgyaṁ vyanakti

      The sati saptami does not imply causation (see HNV). It implies simultaneity of two different events. Maybe my English is clumsy and it could be rendered differently. While this vairagya is present, there is nirbandha in relation to Krsna..

      Even after sat-sanga, bhakti may not begin in someone. Why? Because they do not have yukta vairagya- they are too caught up in material things. This is one of the adhikaras for bhakti, so it all makes sense.

      Nirbandha = vairagya only in the first interpretation (Sri Mukunda Goswami), not the second. There is no causation between bhakti and vairagya in the first interpretation either.


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