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Renunciation is a Glorious Thing

by Swami Sivananda

Who is a real hero? He who has controlled his mind and senses, who has annihilated the Vasanas, Samskaras, cravings, who has attained Self-realisation, is a real hero of heroes. A liberated sage, a dynamic Yogi, a realised Bhagavata, is the real hero of heroes, indeed! Ordinarily, ignorant people of the world say that he who has renounced the world is a timid man who cannot earn his livelihood. This is a sad and terrible mistake. It is very difficult to renounce family, children, relations, possessions, property, wealth, One in a million only can take to renunciation. Now, take out all the leaders of the world and put them in solitude for a year in a forest. They will feel like fish out of water. They cannot remain. They will run back to the world within a week without informing their Guru. Such is their spiritual strength!

The life of a Sannyasi is the best kind of life in this world. A true Sannyasi is the true monarch of the three worlds. Even an aspirant is the Emperor of the three worlds. Lord Krishna says: Only wishing to know Yoga even, the seeker after Yoga goeth beyond the world of Brahma (VI. 44).

This world is full of difficulties and troubles. No one save a Yogi or a Jnani is free from these worldly miseries and anxieties. Go wherever you like. It is all the same.

For a passionate man, there is much pleasure in this world. He runs after money and woman. His mind is intoxicated, perverted and clouded. For a Viveki or a man of discrimination, this world is a ball of burning fire. Lead a life of Vairagya and renunciation. Then and then alone can you be happy.

You must show extreme contempt towards worldly objects. Treat all earthly possessions and sensuous enjoyments as dung, poison, dust and straw. Turn the mind away from them. Then only will you get Jnana.

This world is a mere Mela of two days, and this body is a mere appearance for two seconds. Even if you become the sole monarch of the whole world, you cannot enjoy real bliss and peace. by the worldly affections, by the avarice of wealth, the acquirement of women and jewels and by the attachment to external fleeting forms and beauties, the mind gets fattened, while indifference to them thins it out! (Yoga Vasishta).

The Mahabharata says: Desire is not gratified by indulgence. On the other hand it increases like fire after a pouring of ghee over it. All the wheat and maize grown in the world, all wealth, all cattle, all women even, will not be sufficient to gratify the desire of one person. Knowing this, a wise man should control his mind.

To attain to an exalted state of spirituality, you should in the first instance fully realise the glory of life in the Spirit or the Soul. Then only will you have the requisite strength to kick and spurn this world mercilessly and take to a life of meditation on the Atman and of renunciation. Constant remembrance of and meditation on the following Slokas of the Bhagavadgita will help you to a great extent in the attainment of your goal:

He whose self is unattached to external contacts, and findeth joy in the Self, having the self harmonised with the Eternal by Yoga, enjoys happiness exempt from decay (Ch. V-21).

That in which he findeth the Supreme Delight, which the purified Reason alone can grasp, beyond the senses, wherein established, he moveth not from the Reality; which, having obtained, he thinketh there is no greater gain beyond it; wherein established he is not shaken even by heavy sorrow (Ch. VI-21, 22).

The Yogi who thus, ever harmonising the Self, hath put away sin, he easily enjoyeth the infinite bliss of contact with the Eternal (Ch. VI-28).

When the dweller in the body hath crossed over these three qualities, whence all bodies have been produced, liberated from birth, death, old age and sorrow, he drinketh the nectar of Immortality (Ch. XIV-20).

Every moment you should be ready for Sannyasa. The very longing for Sannyasa shows that there is growth of spirituality. Deluded people bring various vain arguments: Mohammed was a householder. Nanak was a householder. Rama married. Krishna married. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa married. Delusion! Even if you are a Jnani, you will have terrible downfall when you come in contact with worldly persons and worldly things! Many Sannyasins have fallen. Many Yogis have fallen! The Bhagavata says that actual fire is not so dangerous, heated iron is not so dangerous, burning charcoal is not so dangerous, as the company of worldly persons! Worldly people always speak against Sannyasa, against renunciation and Tapas! Even a cobra is not so very dangerous as these deluded people!

Even in an advanced stage of life, people remain in their house with family, wives and children, but take fancy to say: I have got mental detachment; I am a mental Sannyasin. Ah! There is a terrible attachment in them! Sannyasa has its own glory and splendour. Sannyasa is extremely necessary. One may say: I do not need orange-coloured robes. Still Sannyasa is necessary. Sannyasa has got its own psychology. All arguments against it are false! The Mundaka Upanishad will tell you how necessary Sannyasa is. The world has not produced a greater genius than Sankara, the greatest Sannyasin! Why did Ramakrishna Paramahamsa take Sannyasa? No use of argumentation and logic; mere vanity of the intellect! Sannyasa is necessary though you may have Advaitic Realisation. Totapuri, Ramkrishna's Guru, though he had Brahmic Realisation, took Sannyasa. Why did Mandana Misra take Sannyasa? Yajnavalkya had the highest Realisation, but yet he took Sannyasa. Why? The world has not produced a greater sage than Yajnavalkya. Study his instructions to his wife, Maitreyi! Sannyasa destroys all worldliness, all evil Samskaras, and establishes you in Divine Meditation. You must come out of the house and wander about begging for alms and fix the mind eternally on the Infinite Absolute. Then only can you have the choice either to take or not to take the orange robe. Do not content yourself with saying, I have no attachment, I am a mental Sannyasin. You will weep afterwards. Study the Mundaka Upanishad. If Sannyasa is not necessary, why should there be four Ashrams? Were the makers of such rules mere fools? How can you understand the glory of Sannyasa, while remaining in the house and the office, clubs and hotels? How can you know the glory of the destruction of Maya, Realisation of God? You want to eat, drink and enjoy all day and night! You are immersed in sensual pleasures. There is no dispassion. That is why you are afraid to renounce the world. You try to justify your worldliness through foolish arguments!

You are afraid to bear suffering; you always wish to be carried away by sense-cravings! How can you know the glory of Sannyasa? The deluded attachment to men and women, friends and relatives, money and gold, has to be ruthlessly burnt to ashes! All the so-called duties of the world have to be kicked away for the sake of that glorious state of Self-realisation. The Mahabharata proclaims that for the sake of Self-realisation the whole world should be renounced without any hesitation. Why do you roll in this miserable Samsara? Are you not ashamed? If you have real manliness, you must break the chains of earthly bondage, the bondage of birth and death, old age and disease, hunger and thirst! That is courage, that is heroism! That is real manliness. Do not be cowards; start now; fight against worldly delusion against the mind and the senses!

The parents nowadays are irresponsible. They are deluded and think they are educating their children, allow them to rot in delusion, worldliness and passion! If there are five sons, the parents want all their sons to become barristers and judges! There is vanity at the root of all this. O man! if at least one of your sons has the glorious fortune to open his inward eye, realise the futility of life in the world, renounce all his desires and attachments and take to the wise path of Self-realisation, he has done the greatest duty to his parents; he has opened the doors of Salvation to seven generations before and seven generations after in his family; he has become a centre of worship and adoration to all his country-people! What is the use of physical service, fighting for social and political freedom, when everybody is locked up in the jail of egoistic delusion? What is the use of beating the air, thinking it is drum? Even so is all this activity and business of life in this world which is only an airy nothing in reality, but is taken to be a solid true existence by the gross-minded ones. Therefore, exert and try to realise your Self!

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