These days the West bandies around all sorts of yoga terms, mainly because some of these terms have been considered to be necessities for spiritual development, & also because we seem to have a need to "improve" things. And, lets face it, there are so many lovely, sincere people who also want to do their best.
However, sometimes a word in an ancient language, does not have an equivalent meaning for the old language meaning. I'm learning deep Maori spirituality, using the Maori language as it was thousands of years ago. My teacher often tells us that the real meaning of a word, or proverb at other times, gets lost in the translation to English. It's the same with Sanskrit, the language of yoga. Sometimes when we translate words, sutras (sentences strung together), the real Sanskrit meaning gets lost in the translation, to, for example, English.
One of these words is vairagya. It does not actually properly translate into English. In the West, it is believed to mean "detachment". I heartily dislike that translation. (Yes, I know....in yoga we are not supposed to neither like nor dislike!!) That translation has led to so many false concepts, strange behaviour, weird justifications for behaviour, & countless heated debates.
Maybe we can look at in a a language that we understand, & drop "detachment". I have seen & heard so many mean things done, & said, in the name of detachment, & I do feel that this attitude is also an abuse tool. A tool for manipulative people to employ, to criticise others, & to justify wrong doing. A tool for being cold, uncaring.
Sometimes we need to stand up & be counted, & be prepared to accept the consequences. This is vairagya. At times we need to follow what our heart, or gut, or thoughts, keep telling us whether or not it goes hand in hand with our belief system or what every one else says/does/thinks: this is vairagya.
I have had times in my life when my yoga training enabled me to work in situations that were not exactly the greatest, because I needed to earn money for the family: this is vairagya. Sometimes we need to let others just be, to evolve without us trying to control them: vairagya.
Really by being a decent human being with values, ethics & decent behaviour, we will start to develop vairagya for ourselves.
There are 2 levels of vairagya, here I'm talking about the first level as I feel that there are too many silly concepts about the higher level.
But I will tell you this: the higher level of vairagya is expressed with genuine ahimsa (non-harming), & this goes along with a deep inner experience of love.
This is what we can aspire to: being a decent person, who does not hurt others, who also stands up against others being hurt, who is loving & caring. When we do this, the spiritual evolution is rapid. we will be awakening the qualities of vairagya within us.