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The art of detachment: Lessons extracted from the verses of the Bhagavad Gita

Updated: Jul 9

In the bustling lanes of our modern life, we often attach the term ‘’detachment’’ or rather or ‘’vairagya’’, in the Bhagavad Gita, with a negative connotation. Detachment is always misunderstood with coldness. However, in the realm of mental health, detachment is a tool that can foster mental peace and can reduce suffering. 

Detachment is not only about coldness or perhaps becoming emotionally numb. I define detachment as the healthy separation of a being from the external world. This allows a human to experience life fully while not being attached to emotions, worldly outcomes or the fruits of our actions. Lord Krishna wisely states, “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.’’ 

"Karmanye vadhikaraste, ma phaleshou kada chana, Ma karma phala hetur bhoor, ma te sango'stvakarmani."

"You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction." (Bhagavad Gita 2.47)

The Gita also teaches us that we should perform our tasks diligently while relinquishing excessive attachment to the results. 

Steps to cultivating healthy detachment: 

  1. Mindfulness- Practicing mindfulness helps one to ground themself to the present moment and not let their thoughts and emotions tangle them. 

  2. Acceptance and letting go- Impermanence, is key. Accept that change is constant and let go of negative emotions. Keep faith in destiny. 

  3. Setting healthy boundaries- Understanding your limits is vital. Learning and embracing the art of saying ‘’NO’’ can foster mental well being. 

There are many practical approaches to detachment which can be extracted from the holy book. The Gita advises one to perform his/her duties without any selfish motives, Nishkama Karma. Furthermore, it also states that life’s circumstances can aid in detachment, you need to accept challenges and learn from them. The most important value is that one should not get swayed away from pleasure nor pain in life. You should always have a balanced mind which is ready to accept change. 

"Yogasthah kuru karmani, sangam tyaktva Dhananjaya, Samatvam yoga uchyate."

"Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga."

In this verse lord Krishna addresses Arjuna who is overwhelmed by the aspects of the Kurukshetra War. 

"Yogasthah kuru karmani- This means to be engaged in Yoga (a state of inner balance) and to perform your duties with just. 

I would like to conclude by remembering Lord Krishna’s golden words, "Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind," let us strive to strike the balance between ambition and detachment, finding contentment in the process rather than fixating on the results.

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