In the text Tattva-bodha there is description of the qualifications required to gain self-knowledge. The very first one is called viveka – nitya-anitya vastu vivekah..
nitya-vastu ekam brahma| tad-vyatiriktam sarvam anityam|
The timeless is one Brahman. Distinct from that, all else is time-bound. This is discriminative knowledge between the timeless and the time-bound.
So first is a discriminative enquiry which culminates in our ascertaining that there is ONE NITYA VASTU – ie there is one truth which cannot be destroyed – and everything else is anitya.
This viveka is a slow process. We live our life… we begin with many desires and ambitions. We fulfill each of them. Yet we find an emptiness inside – that emptiness inside is the feeling of being wanting… (remember the tanpura example) which leads us to imagine that by doing something else we will become fulfilled.
Slowly we begin to understand that no matter what I do, no matter how many ambitions I fulfill, the emptiness inside does not seem to go. So the solution is not in doing something - nasti akrta krtena.
Then what is the solution? This is where all the paper-back knowledge comes in handy… you read a book, or you go for a satsang. There you hear that the TREASURE you have looking for all your life is within you… is you. It is not out there in the changing world – the changing world cannot give you what you are looking for … you are looking for PERMANENCE – permanent happiness and permanent security…… that is God … who is your True Self. So turn your attention now to God, who is your True Self…. who never deserts you. God is permanent happiness and God is permanent security.
So NITYA VASTU is GOD who is your TRUE SELF. Now there is a longing to get one's TRUE SELF. So far one was happy with the crumbs of happiness given out by life. Now, one understands it is anitya - temporary…. and the interest in gaining anitya happiness and security etc simply drops.
This is VAIRAGYA – iha-amutra-phala bhoga viraga. People get scared by the word vairagya – really vairagya is not absence of raga – it is the shift in the focus of your raga or love. All human beings have love in their heart. The love is for different things, different situations, different people … because one thinks that by gaining these, I will become full, purna. So really the love is for the purna "I"…. the pleased self. … only thing is we don't know it.
Once it is understood that what I am looking for is the permanently purna 'I" – that means I am looking for NITYA vastu – then there is question is that what is that NITYA vastu. If the NITYA vastu is understood as GOD - then the focus of love shifts to God. If the NITYa vastu is understood as the truth of oneself, then the focus of love shifts to KNOWLDEGE of the truth of oneself. So vairagyam is another name for LOVE OF NITYA vastu. Even LOVE for GOD has to culminate in love for knowledge of the true nature of GOD, who is your TRUE self.
For the person who has vairagyam, no more there is running after enjoyable objects either in this world or in heavens … because the person has understood, that no matter what I enjoy, I will still remain the same empty person inside. Self non-acceptance and self-emptiness cannot be removed by going after enjoyments. Enjoyments differ – different things make me happy. These things keep changing. Maybe when India wins in a Cricket match. Or a funny scene in a movie. Or my favourite food or music. Different things make me happy. The only constant factor in all my experiences of happiness is my Self. I am the constant factor in all the experiences of happiness. Which I? The I that emerges free of all notions, free of all inhibitions. At the moment of happiness, "I" is totally free of all inhibiting notions. In fact, the external event whether it is an object or a person, or a sitaution, only causes my own nature of happiness, he happy self, to emerge. This the person who has vairagya has understood. And so focus of love changes to the PURNA self.
Many ideas exist about how to gain this purnatvam. Your love will be according to what your idea of where and how to find PURNATVAM is. You may think you will gain purnatvam when you physically merge with Bhagavan your beloved…. this is a very popular belief. You may think you will get purnatvam when you shed your individuality and acknowledge the presence of the All-knowing All Powerful Lord everywhere in everything… . so much so that only the All-Knowing All-Powerful Bhagavan exists. You may think you will get purnatvam when you sit close to your Beloved Bhagavan in some heaven – Go Lok Brindavan…
Our Shastra points out that if you think that there is even the slightest difference between you and Bhagavan – there will be fear for you, because there will be duality for you. Yes GOD is the NITYA you have been seeking all your life – and that GOD is Your TRUE SELF. So vairagyam is LOVE for GOD which is the same as LOVE of one's TRUE SELF. That GOD is your TRUE SELF – you are ignorant of. You have to gain knowledge of that fact. … and so finally vairagyam becomes LOVE for KNOWLEDGE of the TRUE SELF
Pujya Swamiji describes vairagyam in a very interesting manner – SEEING THE ABSENCE OF CONNECTION BETWEEN WHAT I WANT AND WHAT I DO. What I want is NITYA and what I run after is anitya… which cannot give me NITYA. And so the person turns away from actively pursuing money, power, status, objects, situations and even people. Vairagyam is freedom from emotional dependence … so no more is your sense of well-being dependent on the object.