It is the experience of almost everyone of us that whenever we try to concentrate the mind on an object or an idea, the mind immediately starts wandering. It is very difficult to keep the mind steadily concerned about a single thought. This difficulty has been expressed even by such a superior disciple as Arjuna, even when there was such a highly capable guru as Lord Krishna to instruct him. After hearing carefully the description of yoga from the mouth of Lord Krishna (Gita), Arjuna had to confess that he could not understand it properly, because of the instability of his mind. He expressed that control of the mind was even more difficult than control of the wind. On this, Lord Krishna has said something which is important for everybody who wishes to bring the mind under control. Krishna declares in clear terms (Gita) that although there is no doubt that the mind is a very difficult,. cult thing to be brought under control, it can, nevertheless, be made silent and steady, by a two-pronged attack, that of vairagya and abhyasa. He does not fail to warn that yoga is impossible for those whose minds are not steady and controlled. Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutra, has also emphasized the importance of these two means for making the mind silent. We may say that these two qualities make the very essence of yoga. We shall, in the remaining pages, make a detailed study of these two. The former quality constitutes what we may call the behavioral aspects of yoga, the latter is concerned directly with steadying the. mind.
Mind usually is like a disturbed pond containing many impurities. For cleaning such a pond, we have first of all to stop the inflow of fresh impurities, and then to remove existing impurities. The mind has similarly to be tackled in two ways, and these are the ways of vairagya and abhyasa. Vairagya is the cessation of raga, and means an absence of the urge or longing for enjoyment. It indicates a complete lack of the tendency of mind to be swayed away by objects of experience. It means a total lack of ambition or desire for achievement.It is,however, a very rare quality.Our minds are usually overtaken by the process of desire-desire to attain success, to become Important, to have power, and soon. We usually get caught up easily in an endless circle of achievement and further achievement. Vairagya can dawn only upon a mind which has come to realize the futility of the process of desire and achievement. There are three techniques in yoga in terms of which the state of vairagya may be analysed. They are respectively called yama, niyama and ptatyahara. We shall describe these three aspects of vairagya in brief at this stage.