Bairaag (ਬੈਰਾਗੁ, detachment, non-attachment, etc.) implies a state of the mind that springs from one’s sense of discerning intellect (Viveka Budh) – this subtle sense of discrimination helps one to know the difference between what is right and wrong; what is real and unreal; what is fleeting and permanent; what is Truth and falsehood; and so on.
- ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Without detachment, (hunger or love of) Maya cannot be gotten rid of. ||1|| (sggs 329).
Jagat (material world) and its enchanting attractions overpower the Jeeva (individual beings) rather easily. Our attachment to the worldly possessions and objects (with a sense of belonging) feed our Haumai (false ego-sense).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: The Gurmukh is blessed with spiritual wisdom and a discerning intellect (sggs 317).
- ਸਚਿ ਰਤੇ ਸਦਾ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਮਿਲਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੪॥: Those who are attuned to the Truth, remain detached forever. Subduing their egotism, they are united with (the Truth). ||4|| (sggs 117).
The Gurbani draws attention to the fact that mere spiritual knowledge is of no consequence and that the purpose of this knowledge is to apply it to the daily life and attain a state of detachment (ਬੈਰਾਗੁ – Bairaag) with regard to worldly matters.
- ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਸਦਾ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥: Those who are attuned to the Divine Name, remain detached forever (sggs 230).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਤਰਵਰ ਰੂਪੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਫਲ ਰੂਪੀ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ॥ ਛਾਇਆ ਰੂਪੀ ਸਾਧੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਨਿ ਤਜਿਆ ਬਾਦੁ ਬਿਬਾਦੁ ॥੨੨੮॥: O Kabeer! (This world, burning in the fire of Bikaars – lust, anger, greed, attachment, etc. – the Naam) is the tree, and detachment (from Bikaars, the worldly objects, etc.) is the fruit. The Holy person (the Gurmukh), who has abandoned useless arguments, is the shade of this tree. ||228|| (sggs 1376).
Hence, detachment is the key to Spiritual Unfoldment. Our preoccupation, however, is always concerned with undue worldly pursuits and sensory pleasures. Not happy and content with our lot in life, we seek more and more sensory gratification without paying much attention for developing interest in the pursuit of Giaan or Wisdom. Unless one develops dispassion for undue attachment to material pleasures and material comforts, his dependence on them will impel him to more and more reactionary actions and, thereby, fueling his desires and fear in the process.
- ਕਰਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਤੂੰ ਛੋਡਿ ਪਾਖੰਡੁ ਸੋ ਸਹੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਣਏ ॥: (O mind!) Become detached, and renounce hypocrisy (of your superficial Bairaag or Pakhand); the Divine knows everything (from within you). (sggs 440).
- ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਦੂਜੀ ਰਾਈ ॥: There cannot be detachment in delusion, as long as there is even a particle of duality (sggs 634).
- ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਵਿਆਪਿਆ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: The materialists (Manmukhs) are engrossed in emotional attachment; they are not balanced and detached (sggs 29).
Simply put: detachment is “Being in the world, but not of it.” In other words, it is having a mind open to everything, but attached to nothing. Hence, detachment is an attitude or perspective.
Therefore, to be detached does not mean running away from life, family, society or one’s duty and responsibility. It also does not mean being less sensitive or loving to one’s family. One neither neglects his family, nor society, nor duty or responsibility to them; but rather he loves and serves the Divine in them and expands that love and selfless service to all other beings without any sense of bondage. After cultivating true detachment and Divine Knowledge, even if one lives amidst the worldly activity, he will be unattached from it and thus untainted by it, just as the lotus flower is not tainted by the slimy scum it grows in or the eyes of the fish which remain unaffected by the salty sea-water.
Thus, in fact, detachment makes us more sensitive, more caring, more warmer and friendly, more wholesome, more human, more closer to people, and greater love and compassion flow for them through understanding and effortless Wisdom.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਸੇ ਸਚੇ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥੧॥: O Nanak! Those are truly detached who are attuned to the Divine Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Shabad, Hukam…). ||1|| (sggs 1246).
- ਦਸ ਬੈਰਾਗਨਿ ਆਗਿਆਕਾਰੀ ਤਬ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਜੋਗੀ ਥੀਏ ॥: Since my ten senses have become detached from passions, they have become obedient. Since then I have become an immaculate Yogi (sggs 208).