Vairagya (dispassion) does not mean abandoning social duties and the responsibilities of life. It does not mean detachment from the world, or a life in a solitary cave of the Himalayas or in the cremation ground. It does not mean living on Neem leaves, the wearing of matted hair and carrying a water-pot made of gourd or coconut-shell in the hand. It does not mean shaving of the head and discarding one's clothes. Vairagya is mental detachment from all connections of the world.
A man may remain in the world and discharge all the duties of his order and stage of life with detachment. He may be a householder. He may live with family and children. But at the same time, he may have perfect mental detachment from everything. He can perform his spiritual practice systematically. That man who has perfect mental detachment while remaining in the world is a hero, indeed. He is much better than a holy man who is living in a cave of the Himalayas, because the former has to face innumerable temptations at every moment of his life.
Wherever a man may go, he carries with him his fickle, restless mind, his desires and subconscious impressions. Even if he lives in solitude in the Himalayas, still he is the same worldly man if he is engaged in building castles in the air and in thinking of the objects of the world. In that case even the cave becomes a big city for him. If the mind remains quiet, if it is free from attachments, one can be perfectly dispassionate even while living in a mansion in the busiest part of a city like Calcutta. Such a mansion will be converted into a dense forest by him. Vairagya is purely a mental state.
Vairagya is a means for attaining wisdom of the self. It is not the goal itself. A realised sage has neither desire nor dispassion. If you give him a little dry bread, he is quite satisfied and will not grumble. If you give him the best sweets, milk and fruits, he will not refuse, but he will not be elated by good food. He has equanimity of mind and is above likes and dislikes. He always delights in his own Self only, but not in external objects.