Jagad-guru His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhant Saraswati Goswami Thakur ‘Prabhupad’ has made the following comments on the word markata-vairagya:
“To a superficial eye, monkeys are engaged in renunciation because they live naked in the forest without any fixed home. In fact, they are only interested in their own sensual enjoyment and have never given it up. Such show-bottle renunciation is called markata- vairagya, ‘monkey-renunciation’.
Real renunciation comes as a side-effect of pure devotion, and other types of renunciation which arise out of frustration with material pleasures or desires cannot last throughout one’s life. Because of its temporary character, such renunciation is therefore called phalgu, or false. Such temporary renunciation, or monkey renunciation, is also known as shmashana-vairagya, ‘the renunciation of the cremation ground.’