efining Bairaag vs. Depression
Bairaag has been mentioned throughout Gurbani and older texts such as the Vedas. The word Bairaag comes from the word Raag – which can be translated to love or attachment. When the word Raag is preceded by Bai, the meaning of the word Raag is negated. Thus, the word Bairaag can be translated to detached. Detachment is positive, it is a realization that this world is full of faults and that one day everything that one sees/knows will come to an end. Those in Bairaag are on their way to enlightenment. Depression on the other hand can be characterized by a persistent sense of sadness and loss of interest that prevents one from engaging in regular activities. Depression does not mean that one is failing. If one is going through this, they should call out for help and let somebody know how they’re feeling, and get guidance. There may be the opportunity that this energy can be channeled and put towards becoming a seeker of experiencing the One and it could be that they're closer to that path than they think.
Distinguishing Between Detachment and Depression
To determine and distinguish whether one is going through detachment or depression, one can take the support of Gurbani (Guru’s words/teachings). Guru Ram Das Ji Maharaj in their Bani (Guru’s words/teachings) says that ‘Bairaageeaa’ is calling out to a person that is going through the experience of detachment. It is Bairaag, not depression when one experiences yearning and a sense of feeling closer to reaching something – which brings a certain excitement. Guru Amar Das Ji Patshaah describes the state of Bairaag by saying,
ਮਨੁ ਚਾਓ ਭਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਆਗਮੁ ਸੁਣਿਆ ||
When we hear the One approaching we feel holistic and excited to feel the true essence of life. The ego begins to fade away and we begin to have a sense of completeness. We begin to feel as if we are a part of it all and we become enthralled by the prospect of actually experiencing the true essence of life. Thus, a Bairaagee is a seeker, full of excitement. Whereas an individual that is depressed will generally lack motivation and that excitement/yearning that a Bairaagee has. A Bairaagee on the other hand thinks to themself “Do I have to go to sleep?” and they can’t wait to wake up the next morning. Guru Ram Das Ji Patshaah says that the mind is yearning and it’s in this excitement you're working towards something. In that Chaao (joy) and Bairaag, we work towards experiencing life at its fullest and in its true essence. In depression, there's nothing to work towards and an individual quite often lacks excitement.
Depression and Bairaag seem very similar in some sense from the outside. For instance, a person that is depressed and a person in a state of Bairaag may both lose the drive to make a lot of money or to have a nice house for their family. However, the driving force behind this is different for both individuals. An individual that is depressed, may completely lose all motivation, desire to work, make money and may lose all love and affection towards family. In comparison, a Bairaagee just experiences a shift in the way they view things in life. Their love and care for their family grow because they get rid of the ego, motivation to work is now pure and sincere rather than stemming from greed. They recognize the One in everyone/everywhere, including those at work, and it fills a Bairaagee with joy to go serve them.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice for those seeking assistance. If you are struggling with depression, we advise seeking professional assistance.