Real Renunciation


Sri Swami Sivananda

This article is from the book Self-Realisation.

Real renunciation consists in the renunciation of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness’ and desires. Moksha does not mean the physical separation from all worldly affairs but only a state of mind bereft of all impure Vasanas or clinging to worldly things, but yet working as usual amidst them.

Queen Chudalai in the form of Kumbha Muni said to Raja Sikhidhwaja, her husband, who was in the forest: “The renunciation of yours is not the true one. Though you have given up your kingdom and the rest, that will not constitute true renunciation. You have yet desires in all objects. It is only by entire rejection of them that you can hope to attain the Brahmic Bliss of the wise. Alas! You have not renounced anything. All your delusive renunciations are in vain.” On this the king reflected and said: ‘There is left with me only this body composed of white bones and flesh, in which the serpents of the five sense-organs hiss. I shall instantly dispose of it without care. You shall soon see.” So saying, he ascended the summit of a high cliff, and was about to cast his body down, when the supreme Kumbha Muni arrested him with these words: ‘What is this folly that you are about to do? How, O ignorant man, did this body of yours hinder your progress? How will death in any way help you? Though you should fall down and destroy this body, like a bull that is angry with a tender calf, yet you will not complete the true abnegation. But, if you, O king, will give up that which is the cause of motion in this body, and which yields the seed of all births and Karmas, then true renunciation will be made. This is the unqualified Truth.”

That man who has a wavering mind and turbulent senses, and who has not ethical training, can never obtain this Atman.

There is no salvation obtained through the mere holding of the staff or making the head bald or other disguise or through ostentatious observances. Sitting for six hours on one Asana at stretch and reading Gita or Bhagawata for two hours, cannot give Mukti for a man. Though the man is seated with closed eyes, he may have day-dream and many evil thoughts. He may not possess right conduct and ethical culture. He tells lots of lies daily. He injures others. He does backbiting and tale-bearing. He has an unchaste look. He has jealousy. Purification of the mind and cultivation of virtuous qualities are of vital importance. Then only the divine light will descend. Then only the vessel will be strong enough to hold on the divine light.

The mirror must be quite clean. Then only the reflection of the face in the mirror will be quite clear. The turbidity of the water in the lake must be removed. Then only you can see the bottom of the lake. Even so all impurities of the mind should be removed. The senses should be subdued. The mind should be rendered quite steady. The mind-wandering should be eradicated by constant practice and by eradication of Vasanas. Then only the aspirant can realise the Self in this self. Then only he can get Atma-Sakshatkara. Aspirants do not move on right lines. They do not practise the right kind of Sadhana and the right kind of Tapas. They do not attempt to control the Indriyas. That is the reason why they do not make any real progress in the spiritual path.

Just as there is a lot of pus in the sinus inside the apparently healed ulcer or wound, so also there are lots of impurities in the minds of aspirants, though they move about from Kashmir to Brindawan, from Gangotri to Badri-Narayan, under the pretext of realised souls. This is the real state of affairs. There is only Rupantara-Bheda or difference in colour and dress. Nobody wants to do any rigid Sadhana with patience. Nobody does introspection and careful self-analysis and correction of the mistakes, weaknesses and defects. They blow out empty powerless ‘SIVOHAM, SIVOHAM, and AHAM BRAHMA ASMI’. They cram some Slokas here and there, something from Panchadasi, something from Upanishads and repeat them like parrots in the presence of some selfish householder, their so-called admirers and Bhaktas (Bhagawatha) who are waiting with the false hopes of getting some wealth or a son or some Bhooti (herb from the Himalayas) from them. This is their Self-realisation. Great Pity! Life is wasted! No real improvement has come!

Renunciation is not lethargy, escapism, frustration or irresponsibility. Renunciation is getting rid of egoism, desires and cravings. When all the desires are annihilated, then this very mortal becomes Immortal. Freedom is supreme happiness. Dependence is extreme misery. Renunciation moves hand in hand with Peace.

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