By Swami Harshananda
Esaṇātraya literally means ‘three desires’.
Significance of Vairāgya
The Upaniṣads stresses great importance on vairāgya or renunciation. Though vairāgya is a negative aspect of sādhanā (spiritual discipline), it is of primary importance. It is as significant as cleaning of a cloth before coloring.
The principal aspect of the vairāgya is eṣaṇātrayatyāga or renunciation of three types of desires, which are serious impediments in the path of spiritual progress. All these three bind the jīva to sansāra or trans-migratory existence and hence the need to give them up arises. The types of esaṇātraya are:
- Putraiṣaṇā - the desire for a son : This desire needs a wife for its fulfillment and hence also known as ‘jāyaiṣaṇā’ or ‘dāraiṣaṇā’ (desire for a wife). It is aimed at discharging the debt called pitṛṇa towards the forefathers by the performance of obsequial rites like śrāddha and this will also prevent the person from going to hell after death. Medical treatises like those of Caraka (1400 B.C.) replace putraiṣaṇā by prāṇaiṣaṇā (the desire to live). It is a good desire, hence it should not given up.
- Vittaiṣaṇā - the desire for wealth : It helps one to perform the various Vedic sacrifices by which one can go to heaven. This also automatically satisfies Lokaiṣaṇā.
- Lokaiṣaṇā - the desire to attain heaven after death
- Bṛadāranyaka Upaniṣad 3.5.1
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore