We have often collected the sayings of the wise here at Atma Jyoti Ashram, so that we can benefit from their frequent study. Here are a few quotes about renunciation from Holy Mother, Sri Ramakrishna and Mahendranath Gupta (“M”).
Holy Mother Sarada Devi:
Whether a man calls on God or not, if he does not marry he is already half liberated. When the mind happens to be a little attracted to God he will progress by leaps and bounds. Family life is the result of demerits. A man involved in it, even if he is inclined to God, cannot do anything about it. He is tied hand and foot.
From M’s quotes and stories about Sri Ramakrishna:
Purna and Naren Junior were in the state of samadhi. When they married Thakur [Sri Ramakrishna] began to weep at the news. “A man has blindfolded himself and yet complains that he cannot see,” Thakur used to say.
Thakur used to say: “While still in my early age, seeing the family life of some of my neighbors I used to say to Mother: ‘Ma, give me a turning.’ Mother did so. You see, She Herself does all. Just say so with heart and soul. Nothing else has to be done!”
M said: “Those who have married have a great chance too, as the avatara has come down now. He has shown the direct path. By taking to it, it will be done. They get the light in bits, slow but sure. But those who have not entered the householder’s life are is if standing in the open field–in full flood of light. That is why he said to Keshab Sen, ‘Living in the house, you get light from a chink but cannot stand in the open. Abundance of light is there.’”
Thakur used to say, “Pour as much water in pot with a hole as you like, it will not stay there.” Similarly, if there is no brahmacharya nothing is retained. Having read a few pages, one may pass an examination but soon everything is forgotten. The reason? There is no brahmacharya.”
Chaitanya Deva is sitting with bhaktas in Puri. Some person asks: “Why is it that spiritual matters do not stay in the mind of the worldly people?” Chaitanya Deva replied: “Because they have contact with women.” Thakur also used to say the same.
One day somebody asked Thakur “Which is the greatest wonder?” Thakur immediately replied, “The life of a sadhu. All–men, devatas, gandharvas, birds, beasts and insects, even trees and creepers, tread one path but the sadhu treads another–just the opposite one, upstream. Everywhere man and woman unite but the sadhu goes alone. Unless one is alone, one cannot attain to Him. Sadhus goes in company for some time–that of the guru–then he has to go alone till the last.” Without thinking for a moment, Thakur said these words.
Doctor: “Renounce ‘woman and gold,’” this is his advice. What exactly did he try to make people understand by giving this advice? Did he mean to say: Give up their enjoyment–give up lust and greed? Or was it something else?
M: (remaining silent for a while): “‘Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her’” [Luke 10:42].
From the beginning to the end, Thakur talks of nothing but sannyasa. Some people will achieve it in this very life, the others in the next or perhaps after some more lives. Everybody has this seed of sannyasa within him. It is like quinine placed within a banana. It is bound to have its effect. For those householders who were afraid of hearing it directly Thakur used to say in this way. To so many persons he has said it directly in plain words.
M: The household life is so difficult. Herein you have to keep your eye in all directions. One may be hit by a bullet coming from any direction; the lead shots are always being fired. Be careless even for a moment and you are gone.