There are various kinds of vrittis-some painful, some pleasant. To destroy these vrittis Patanjali Maharshi suggests abhyasa and vairagya, by which all the vrittis subside and you enter into samadhi.
The same thing is said by the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita also. Arjuna questions the Lord regarding the impetuosity of the mind. Lord Krishna says: “Control this impetuous mind through abhyasa and vairagya.” Vairagya is the most essential factor, indifference to enjoyments herein and hereafter. Through dosha drishti, you can develop vairagya. The mind is filled with material samskaras. It is very difficult to wean the mind from the objects. The method is to remember the description of the world given by the Lord in the Gita: Anityam sukham lokam, dukhaalayam asasvotam–this world is impermanent, full of sufferings, the abode of sorrow. All the material pleasures appear to be pleasant in the beginning, but in the end they are like poison.
Remember the Vairagya Dindima of Sri Shankaracharya: “Lust, anger and greed are the thieves lurking in the mind; the jewel of wisdom is plundered by these dacoits. Therefore, wake up, O man of this samsara! Wake up; life is waning; you are caught up in this wheel of samsara. You are roasted by various kinds of anxieties and expectations. You do not realize, but this life is gradually waning away.” Constantly dwell on these thoughts; you will gradually develop vairagya.
Cultivation of vichara for sannyasa
A swan splits a mixture of water and milk and rejects the water and drinks the milk alone. Even so, a paramahansa rejects the material objects which give pain, abandons this illusory world of names and forms, identifies himself with the undying Atman and drinks the nectar of immortality.
Mira Bai deserted her husband; Raja Bhartrihari his wife; Vibhishana his brother, Ravana; Bali his guru, Sukracharya; and Prahlada his father, Hiranyakasipu. You can desert anyone who stands in the way of God-realization. But be careful that your aspiration is genuine and firm. If you have an intense spiritual thirst for God, and if you have a passionate wife/husband to pull you down, what is the earthly use of having such a disastrous partner with intellectual, psychological disparity and discord? You cannot sacrifice your noble ideal just for the sake of pleasing someone. Can you?
Wise, dispassionate men like Bhartrihari, Buddha, and Gopichand retired into forests abandoning all these things, considering all worldly things as worthless as straw, for realizing the Self which alone can confer immortality infinite bliss and eternal peace.
Tell me now friends! What do you find really in this illusory world? Happiness or pain? Joy or sorrow? Have you understood the illusory nature of this mayic creation? This world is a mere appearance. The mind and the senses are deceiving you at every moment. You have mistaken pain for pleasure on account of clouded understanding. There is not an iota of happiness in this sense-universe. Abandon this selfish struggle for earthly gain and satisfaction. March directly to that wire-puller who is moving these toys of flesh–human bodies–who is keeping up this big show, who is behind this show. In Him alone will you find lasting happiness and perennial joy. Merge in Him by practicing daily meditation.
During adversities, troubles, extreme difficulties, sickness, etc., a feeling of utter helplessness and of the presence of a mighty mysterious power or hidden governor of this universe, creeps over your being. But such moments do not last for a long time. And they are very few, also. Maya is very powerful. The illusory material objects invade the mind and cloud the understanding. But a man of dispassion and discrimination is always vigilant. Maya is afraid to approach him.
Prana or the life-breath is as impermanent as the drop of water on the lotus-leaf which is likely to be thrown by the slightest breeze. It is not certain that the man who is living today will live the next day. Life is as evanescent as a bubble. Try therefore to attain immortality.
There is an internal peace which is not disturbed by external happenings. This is the supreme peace of the soul or Atman. He who rests in this peace is able to meet difficulties and troubles with fortitude. He is not upset by adversities, calamities and trying circumstances.
Who is your real father? Search for Him. Who is your real mother? Search for Her. What is death? Why are you attached to the flesh? Be attached to the imperishable Atman, the indweller, the immortal friend and well-wisher.
A sannyasin’s analysis of life
Discrimination will tell us that this is a strange world that we live in. This is a very big museum or wonderful show. The flowers and the Himalayan scenery, the Niagara Falls, the sea, the sky are beautiful and charming. But the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, lightnings, thunderstorms, landslides, cyclones, epidemics of influenza and plague are awful and threatening. And disease, old age and death await us all–unless we die too young for them.
That which is nothing in the beginning and is so also in the end, necessarily does not exist in the present. Objects are like ordinary illusions though regarded as real. Do vichara. This world is verily like a resting tree for birds. One evening birds meet together on a tree for a night’s stay and the next morning they leave the tree and part from one another and go their away. Even so do men meet for a time as relatives, parents, sons and friends and then disperse. Birth leads to death and death to birth. Thus without rest man wanders forever.
This mysterious world with its charming scenery is very beautiful to look at but it is very dirty to mingle with. All are deceived by Mayic charm. But the sage, the devotee, the yogi and the viveki are not affected.
This very big world is a mere drop or an atom when compared to the infinite Brahman. Just as a straw is floating in the ocean, so also this world is floating in a corner of Brahman, as it were. The mind and the lenses of the eye are deceiving you. They reveal to you an exaggerated picture, just as the microphone exaggerates the sound of a pin-drop into a mighty thunder. This is a kind of jugglery which is understood by people who possess dispassion and discrimination, but not by the worldly-minded.
The mighty and powerful will pass away. This world will pass away with all its occupants. The sun, moon, and stars will pass away. All joys and sorrows will pass away. The five elements will pass away. Days and nights, months and years and centuries will pass away. Verily the Akshara or the Imperishable Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman or the Eternal alone will endure forever. Realize this Brahman, thine innermost Self through constant and profound meditation, and become immortal.
The glory of the worldly life passes away quickly. Name and fame are vibrations in the ether. How many renowned men and women, great and notorious, have come and gone! No one speaks of them now.
Ah! how quickly does the glory of the world pass away! Where are the mighty potentates who once wielded their scepters with vain pomp and glory? Where are those erudite professors, pandits and vidvans who once passed for great men in society? Tell me now, where are all those scholars, multimillionaires, who posed themselves so much for their erudition and wealth? Do people talk of them now?
The egoistic man of vanities has grown very old. His body is bent now and he walks with a stick, and yet his anger has not disappeared now. His body is emaciated. The limbs are in a wasted condition. The senses are cold, and yet his egoism has not vanished. His mustache has become grey, and yet the desires have not left him!
A frog which is in the mouth of a serpent and which is about to be devoured, attempts to get hold of nearby insects for its enjoyment. Even so man who is in the jaws of the serpent of time, tries in vain to obtain objects of sense-enjoyments like the frog, and forgets thereby his goal of life and his essential divine nature. How deluded he is!
The pleasure that one derives from the sense objects is temporary. This temporary pleasure is followed by a painful reaction. That is the reason why vivekins who are endowed with discrimination between the real and the unreal do not hanker after material pleasures. They shun them ruthlessly through dosha-drishti. The pleasure that you get from material objects is tantamount to the size of a grain of barley while the pain that you experience in this world is of the size of a mountain. Life is a lightning-flash of breath. Time is but a thunderclap of death. Live in the Atman. You will attain immortality. Go beyond time. You will attain eternity.
Advantages of sannyasa
Sannyasa is a mental state, a state of indifference to material and material enjoyments of this world, a state wherein man is trying to merge his mind in its source, the Satchidananda Parabrahman. Only a sannyasin can cut off all moha for the world. A man in the world will have some degree of moha. To destroy moha completely, one should take sannyasa. Otherwise what is the use of the sannyasa order? Why did this order come into existence? Why did Sri Shankaracharya take sannyasa? There is a purpose. There is a benefit. Sannyasa completely destroys moha. You may have heard about Narayanaswami. He has related his experiences. He says, “I practiced devotion. I attained a certain stage in bhakti, but for completing my evolution, I had to renounce. I found that I could not make any further progress while at home.” This is his experience, and this will be the experience of many others also.
So let us become true sannyasins. Let us develop the true spirit of sannyasa and devote ourselves to study, meditation and selfless service and shine as Shankara, Hastamalaka, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumara, and attain self-realization and divine wisdom and radiate peace and wisdom to all people who come in contact with us.
Need for the Nachiketa element
Every one of you should have strength of mind and will through discrimination. He who treats all the objects of this world as straw–that person is the greatest hero. Read the first section of the Katha Upanishad and see the glory of the world-renouncing Nachiketa. The world is in need of such Nachiketas. The Nachiketa spirit is wanted. Such a man can move the whole world. He is the support for us all; he is the guide; and he can give you solace. Nachiketa had no bank-balance. Lord Yama tempted him, promising him dominions and celestial cars, innumerable years of life; but he was a wise boy, though he was young. The world is in need of such boys of Nachiketa’s type. He shunned everything; “O Lord Yama! Keep these things for yourself. Give me immortality. They will only wear out our energies and the senses will become old. Keep the dance and the cars for yourself; give me immortality. Give me the knowledge of the sreyo-marga, not the preyo-marga–the sreyomarga that leads to immortality, eternal bliss, eternal sunshine. Show me that path.” Yama found that the boy was not an ordinary boy. Then he began to teach him the immortality of the soul, the nature of the soul beyond cause and effect, beyond good and evil, beyond time, space and causation. He found Nachiketa as the proper student, one who did not want earthly objects.
The Maitreyi element for women
We want not only Nachiketas; we want the Maitreyi element in women also. The world is in need of ladies endowed with the Maitreyi element. See her glory in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2:4:1, et. al.) There was a great jnani in Janaka’s court named Yajnavalkya. He had numberless cows and great wealth When he wanted to enjoy the state of liberation while yet living, the jivanmukti-sukha, he was already a jnani, yet he wanted to retire to the forest. He called his two wives, Katyayani and Maitreyi, and wanted to divide his property between them. Katyayani was a wonderful woman; she was a righteous housewife. But Maitreyi was a Bhramavadini. She was endowed with viveka. She was a kevala adwaitin. She asked: “My revered Lord! Even if you give me the wealth of the fourteen worlds can I attain immortality?” That is the real thing! You will have to put that question always, and not be carried away by these little things. She wanted immortality–God-realization. “If all the wealth of the three worlds cannot give me immortality, I do not want them,” she said. We want not only Nachiketas, but Maitreyis, too. Only then can the world be redeemed. We want Gargis and Sulabhas, who have had experience of the Self–aparoksha anubhuti. That is the goal of your life.
Do selfless service. Always try to realize that wherever you see, it is the Atman that you see; understand the vibhuti yoga. Study. Purify your heart. Forget not the goal; attain it right now, this very second.
It is like walking on the razor’s edge; but for an aspirant who is endowed with aspiration, it is very smooth. Try to find out where there is real happiness. Enquire, “Who am I?” Negate these five sheaths–annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, vijnanamaya kosha and anandamaya kosha. These have all a beginning and an end. The Atman transcends all the five koshas. That is your real nature. Realize it, through renunciation–sannyasa.
Sannyasa is real internal transformation. It is not mere “taking gerua cloth from somebody.” It is not shaving the head, wearing orange-colored robe, carrying a kamandalu. Mere taking of sannyasa is no sannyasa: there must be complete transformation in the mind.
Such a transformed mind is wholly free from lust, desires and egoism, raga-dwesha, jealousy and vanity; it is free from outgoing tendencies. It has no attraction for sense objects; it is free from ambitions and planning.
Such a mind which makes for real sannyasa is always filled with sattwic qualities; it is free from kartri-bhoktri-bhvas. It always moves inwards–it is antarmukha vritti. It has renounced all work with desire; it has relinquished the fruits of all actions; it rests in its own Satchidananda swarupa. This is real sannyasa.
Secret of sannyasa
Immortal divine life cannot be attained without renunciation of the petty material, worldly life. The secret of renunciation is the renunciation of egoism and desires. Some think that renouncing the family and the material world alone is the real renunciation. But it is not enough. What is wanted is the renunciation of egoism, lust, anger, greed, petty-mindedness, and such other negative qualities that stand in the way of one’s perfection and self-evolution.
To want nothing is indeed the most efficacious way to attain the highest good. If you crave for a thing, you may not get it, and consequently be unhappy. Therefore, renounce the craving for objects.
Renounce the evil vrittis of the mind through regular introspection and by cultivating the opposite positive qualities. You will attain God-realization. Renunciation alone can make you fearless and happy. It is the bestower of eternal peace and immortality.
Who is a sannyasin–I
The life of Jesus shows how a real sannyasin will behave. A sannyasin is a very good and extremely virtuous man. He has no attachment to the world. He may live in the forest or in the city. He will always be thinking of God and of the welfare of other people. He will keep his mind and heart quite pure. He is without anger, without hatred, is truthful and kind. He wants no luxuries but just enough food to keep him alive. He wears very simple dress, He has no family and children and property. Yet he is extremely happy.
He is wise and virtuous. He possesses divine qualities such as mercy, universal love, truthfulness, purity. He has control over his mind and senses.
He is free from anger, lust, greed, pride, jealousy. He loves all. He always prays and meditates. He never does any harm to anybody. People respect and adore him.
Who is a sannyasin–II
A sannyasin has a different angle of vision. He has different eyes. He looks upon everything from an absolutely different point of view. Just as the man who wears green spectacles sees green objects everywhere, so also a jnani sees the Atman everywhere through his new eye of wisdom. There is absolutely no personal element in him. He has not a bit of selfish interest. The lower self is completely annihilated. He lives for serving all. He feels the world as his own self. He actually feels that all is himself only. There is not a single thought or feeling for his personal little self. He has cosmic vision and cosmic feeling. Just as the river has joined the ocean, he has joined the ocean of bliss, knowledge and consciousness. He thinks and feels and works for others.
A sannyasin is absolutely free from worries, difficulties, troubles, tribulations, sorrow and anxieties under any circumstance or condition. He is always cheerful and happy. He is not a slave or victim of different moods. He is not moved a bit by sorrow, grief or persecution.
A sannyasin has got all-round development. He has spotless or unblemished character. All sattwic virtues shine in him. He is an embodiment of mercy, sympathy, love, patience, serenity, etc. He has high qualities. The whole nature has been perfectly unfolded. All divine attributes are fully awakened in him.
Qualifications for sannyasa
Do not take sannyasa without the proper qualification and even if you do so without necessary qualification, you should stick to sannyasa and make genuine effort to make yourself qualified. To revert back to household life after renunciation is deplorable. It is like eating the vomited food or crow’s excrement.
If you make use of the orange robe for leading a comfortable life without exertion, you are the worst sinner. You can have no progress in the spiritual path. You cannot develop any virtue.
Strive ceaselessly to live in God through meditation, study, service of the needy and meditation. Then alone will you be able to conquer time and death.
Become a hero. Conquer the formidable foe, the turbulent mind. Self-conquest is more than many a martyrdom. The inner war against the evil thoughts, evil vasanas, cravings and evil samskaras or impressions is more formidable than the external wars. War against the mind and the senses is indeed more drastic than this outer warfare.
Realize your unity with human beings, animals, plants and rocks–with all Nature. Cultivate equal vision and universal brotherhood. You will soon attain the summum bonum of life.
Taste the immortal sweetness of the beautiful life in the Self within by annihilating the mind. Live in the Atman and attain the blessed immortal state. Meditate and reach the deeper depths of eternal life, and eventually attain the full glory of union with the Supreme Self.
The touchstone of sannyasa
Only a sannyasin really knows how to perform selfless actions. Only a sannyasin can do perfect nishkamya seva. You can attain a very high degree of selflessness; but perfection can be attained only when you renounce everything and become completely desireless and motiveless. The test of renunciation is selflessness; and the test of selflessness is renunciation.
Often people say, “I have mentally renounced everything. I am doing selfless service.” But they are afraid to enter the holy order of sannyasa. Attachments and cravings lurk in the corners of their mind. No doubt they are rendering great service; no doubt in due time they, too, will attain that perfection but it is not possible without complete renunciation, the ideal of a sannyasin.
Sannyasin’s clothes represent the highest ideals
The gerua cloth or the orange-colored robe should put into your mind the ideals of Shankara, of Dakshinamurti. Respect all saints. Reflect over the purpose for which you have taken birth in this world. Is it for a little position, a little bank-balance, a motorcar? Even the whole wealth of the fourteen worlds is nothing when compared to half a grain of vairagya. Nothing will tempt you in this world if you have real vairagya.
A man of renunciation operates through the purses and banks of the whole world. Maya stands with folded hands to serve that man who has got real dispassion. Dispassion comes from viveka. Dispassion should be born of discrimination. Smasana-vairagya or prasava vairagya will not help one in the spiritual path. Vairagya born of discrimination only will give you real strength. You may have nothing to eat, nobody to help you, yet strength born of discrimination, strength born of regular meditation, will make you bold, fearless and take you to the other shore of fearlessness and immortality. That strength is necessary. Discrimination and dispassion–he who possesses these alone is really the great man of the world. He is the king of kings, and he owns the wealth of the whole world.
Even a little meditation on Brahma satyam, jagan mithya–Brahman is real; the world is unreal–must be ingrained in every cell. The world is unreal. But Maya is tempting. It makes you forget the Reality. The function of Maya consists in making the real appear as unreal and the unreal appear as real. When you begin to meditate, even if you have no success, you must persist. Regularity is of paramount importance. You must have the conviction that you can get nothing from this world. Then only will your mind be turned inward.
If Devi’s grace is on us, we can reject the whole world as straw. May the Lord give us this knowledge: “Brahman is real, the world is unreal. The jiva is identical with Brahman.” Mere intellect is nothing. You might have studied and exhausted all the spiritual books of a library, but it is useless without viveka and dispassion. If you have even a little dispassion, a little viveka, all the objects will have no attraction for you. The man of dispassion is happy. He is the emperor of emperors. Dispassion will come when you have understood the real nature of Reality. What is your goal? Satchidananda Swarupa! Do not do parrot-like repetition, but actually experience it.
Swadhyaya for sannyasins
Do not waste your mental energy by studying obscure vedantic texts for years. What is the use of becoming a dry pandit without self-realization? A dry pandit is like an ass which carries a load of sandalwood on its back. Even if you study a little, you must assimilate and absorb it thoroughly. You must meditate and reflect over it. It must become part and parcel of your life. Take down notes when you study a book on yoga or philosophy. This is a highly useful practice. This will help you in remembering the essential or fundamental matters. This itself is a kind of lower samadhi, as the mind is deeply occupied in sattwic ideas. This will strengthen the spiritual samskaras and check the outgoing tendencies of the mind. The mind will move towards the Atman.
The Yoga Vashishtha is a splendid work in jnana yoga. You must study it again and again. Avadhuta Gita, Ashtavakra Gita and Ribhu Gita are excellent books for jnana yoga students. Laghu Vasudeva Manana and Vedantasara are the two books to be placed in the hands of beginners in the study of Vedanta. English translations are available from the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, and the Ramakrishna Mission.
I am very fond of the book Viveka Chudamani written by Sri Shankaracharya, that master-exponent of Advaita philosophy. The essence of Vedanta is there. It is a treasure of thought and a fount of inspiration. This is a book for constant study. It is your constant companion in your daily life. The style is simple and flowing. I used to carry the book with me always. It is an ideal book for the beginner and an ideal companion and remembrancer for the advanced students also.
Study the Mandukya Upanishad. You will know all about OM and the four states of consciousness. It is one of the classical Upanishads, and has twelve verses. Sri Gaudapadacharya, the Paramaguru or the grandpreceptor of Sri Shankara, has written karikas on this Upanishad which are very illuminating and sublime. Without the help of the karikas you cannot have a comprehensive understanding of the text, you cannot get a clear insight into the system of thought or philosophy that is propounded in this unique upanishad.
This upanishad does not deal with rituals and upasanas. It does not contain any story or parable or dialogue. It deals with pure philosophy alone, with metaphysical discussion of the Ultimate Reality or Brahman and the method of approach to the truth. It is said in the Mukti Upanishad: “The only means by which the final emancipation is attained is through the teachings of the Mandukya Upanishad alone, which is enough for the salvation of all aspirants.”
Meditation–the sannyasin’s foremost duty
To meditate is our foremost duty. It is for that we have taken our birth here. To concentrate, to purify, to meditate and realize our essential divine nature is our foremost duty. Realization cuts the knots of avidya, kama and karma and gives us permanent satisfaction and everlasting peace and eternal bliss.
There are various kinds of meditation–saguna dhyana for devotees, nirguna dhyana for Vedantins. There is jyotir-dhyana–“Light of lights, which transcends darkness, which transcends inertia, which is attainable through knowledge, is seated in your heart” (Bhagavad Gita 13:17). Nowhere will you find this in the Western philosophical books. It is only a realized sage like Lord Krishna that can give the summum bonum of human existence, the essence of all scriptures, in one word: The Light of Lights. What is the nature of Brahman? It is Light of lights. It is seated in the hearts of all. You study Western philosophical books, ten or fifteen volumes, and at the end you will find yourself to be an agnostic. That is the difference between the teachings of Eastern sages and the writings of Western philosophers. That Light of lights which transcends darkness, which transcends the three gunas, is close to you, closer than the jugular vein, closer than your breath. How to obtain this? Through wisdom, through meditation, you will have to obtain this. Every indriya is a light. Ear is a light. Eye is a light. Every sense of perception is a jyotish [light], because through the organs of perception you get knowledge of this world. Each is a light. Intellect is a light. Prana is a light. He who gives light to these–the Light of lights–is your own Atman. If you meditate on this, you will attain jnana and will be established in the supreme Light of lights.
“Him the sun does not illumine, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor the lightning–nor, verily, fires kindled upon the earth. He is the one light that gives light to all. He shining, everything shines” (Katha Upanishad 2:2:15). Through His light all the objects of this world are illuminated, the senses and mind are illuminated. The mind, intellect and senses borrow their light from the ultimate Source, the fountain-source for everything.
Advice to all
Realization of the supreme truth is not an easy task. It demands the price of your individuality, your ego, nay, your entire being itself. Live a life of detachment and renunciation. Ceaselessly strive to realize your Self or Atman. Always contemplate on Brahman. Desire nothing in this world or hereafter. Sannyasa is the greatest self-sacrifice, the greatest offering, that any man can make. There are only three duties for a sannyasi to perform. To love the whole of humanity as his own Self, to do selfless service, and to meditate. Meditation is his duty. Meditation is his food. Meditation is his life.
Everybody must become a sannyasi one day or the other. Everyone is moving towards Brahman. Identification with the body and the mind is the cause of all sufferings. In reality, you are Satchidananda-swarupa. Identification with this real swarupa is the key to perennial peace and supreme bliss. Ajo nityah saswatoyam purano: This Atman is unborn, eternal and ancient. Be regular in your meditation, japa and prayer. Regularity is of paramount importance in sadhana. Whatever you do, do regularly. Increase the period of meditation gradually. Do not be attracted by the tantalizing tinsels of the world. Nobody has been benefited by material possessions. You may have crores [tens of millions] of rupees in the bank; you may have a hundred motorcars and a dozen houses, but peace of mind you cannot have from these. You can have peace of mind only if you are regular in japa and meditation. Only when you realize the Self will you enjoy perennial peace. Construct a meditation cave in your own heart through regular and systematic spiritual practice and realize Him, not in the unknown future, but right now this very second. Forget not the goal.
Qualifications of a sannyasi
The real sannyasi is full of divine virtues. He is all-bliss and peace, and he serves vigorously. He works not for the sake of himself, but for the sake of service itself–in the yajna spirit. He is outwardly seen to engage himself in actions in the same way as any ordinary man, but there is a vast difference; and that is: the sannyasi is unattached. He does not long for anything. He works selflessly. He does everything as worship of the Supreme Lord. That is the secret of his tranquillity, equanimity, and even-mindedness in success and failure, praise and censure. Such a man is a glorious sannyasi.
There is no work which is specially dear to him; there is nothing which is repugnant to him. He greets every piece of work as service of the Lord. He does every work well. And he offers every work as a flower at the lotus feet of the Lord. Such sannyasins are the greatest need of the hour. The world should have ideal and dynamic sannyasins. May you all become the embodiments of the ideal of sannyasa!
Come, embrace sannyasa
Come, embrace sannyasa! One day or other you have to embrace sannyasa. The Upanishads declare that nothing except renunciation can give you moksha. If not now, at a later stage; if not in this life, in a life to come. Before you attain the Supreme, you will have to embrace sannyasa.
Some people say, “Why give sannyasa to young people?” Why? They are most fit for sannyasa. Only young people can practice intense sadhana and tapasya. What can an old man do? Just when he is about to die, some one will utter the Mahavakyas in his ears which had already gone stone-deaf! Of what use is such a sannyasa? Glory to the youthful sannyasins who have dared to defy the worldly temptations and embrace the holy order!
Even ladies ought to take sannyasa. There have been most astounding examples in the Upanishads and Yoga Vashishtha of ladies who possessed Brahmajnana. You are by nature nearer to God. You are loving by nature. You have many divine virtues. Ladies are more attached to their children. That is their weakness. If you try even a little bit, you can achieve the Supreme.
May you all realize the Self in this very birth!
Renunciation and society’s duty to sannyasins
You can have abiding peace and bliss only in renunciation and not in the objects of this world. You should develop discrimination, dispassion and non-attachment. You should be able to preserve the equanimity of your mind under all circumstances, like Raja Janaka who said coolly: “If the whole of the Mithila City is destroyed, the Self is not destroyed.”
You will always find in the world such supermen of higher wisdom, who are fired with intense dispassion and yearning for liberation. They will renounce the world and embrace sannyasa. There will always be sannyasins in the world. No political or social doctrine or system can put a stop to people renouncing the world and leading the life of sannyasa. Sannyasins and bhikshus are the very life breath of a nation. Without men of renunciation and spiritual leaders there can be no peace or happiness in the world. They are the suns that dispel the darkness of ignorance and vice. They are the pillars of dharma on which society has been built. They are the very foundation of a nation and the world at large.
Everyone should prepare himself for sannyasa. And there will always be young men who would, through the force of purva-samskaras acquired in past births, boldly renounce the world and embrace sannyasa. The Upanishads emphatically declare that immortality cannot be attained either through the performance of selfish actions even though they may be good and virtuous, or by any means other than renunciation. Only by renouncing selfishness, only by renouncing and annihilating egoism and mineness can man achieve immortality. And, remember this, immortality is your real goal, not the pittance of material enjoyments nor even the pleasures of heaven. The Ishavasya Upanishad in its very opening mantra exhorts man to renounce, and enjoy the highest bliss: “Therefore by renunciation alone enjoy all things.”
Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita extols the glory of renunciation. He has clearly stated in the Gita the true meaning of sannyasa. He does not countenance the mere renunciation of actions, but He insists on the renunciation of karmaphala or the fruits of actions. The Lord extols the glory of the nitya sannyasi who longs for nothing and hates nothing. No doubt the path of renunciation is a thorny one; it is the razor’s edge. But there will always be brave, heroic men of discrimination and dispassion who will be fired with the zeal to renounce the world and lead the life of nivritti and attain self-realization. No “ism” can check them. This is the land of Lord Buddha. You all know that Lord Buddha’s fiery determination to renounce the world could not be damped by a princely life, wife and newborn babe.
The supreme urge to renounce manifests itself in man and grows deep within him. Keen discrimination and fiery dispassion arise in him. He perceives: “Brahman is real. The world is unreal. The jiva is none other than Brahman.” (This is Shankara’s renowned “Vedanta in half a verse.”) He gets a flash of that truth. So he aspires to make it a permanent reality. That flash is quite sufficient to sustain him till he merges into the conflagration of universal consciousness. That flash of understanding destroys all the charms of material enjoyments. The happiness of the three worlds appears as a mere straw in his eyes. All his earthly relations appear to him as strangers. He feels he is independent even as each jiva is essentially independent of others. He knows that family ties are a sort of karmabandhanam (karmic bondage; karmic tie) which are to be snapped if he is to attain Brahma-anubhava (direct personal experience of Brahman). Such an urge to renounce is irresistible when it arises in man. No obstacle could deter such a man. If society does not want him, he would seclude himself in the heart of a desert or a forest or in a mountain cave and carry on his quest.
But it is the duty of an enlightened society to support such men of renunciation and to help them in every possible way in their quest of truth. They in their turn would serve the society and give men and women the priceless spiritual food.
People very often ask me why I admit young men into my ashram and initiate them into sannyasa. These aspirants appear to be young only to your superficial vision. They appear to be young only so far as their body is concerned. But they are not young in their mind. Their heart is mature. In it have arisen viveka and vairagya. It is due to their purva samskaras. It is due to their yoga sadhana done in previous births. When millions of their follow-men were slumbering, these few brave adhyatmic soldiers toiled day and night and acquired spiritual wealth. They had made considerable progress on the path to perfection and the Lord has given them inner wisdom very early in their present birth, and also opportunity for further spiritual growth.
These young mumukshus have renounced the world in search of God. When the son renounces the world, the parents and other members of the family should at once feel that he has done the noblest act; and from that moment they, too, should regain their faith in God; and they too, should aspire in their own station to reach Him.
The scriptures declare: “The moment vairagya dawns in you, you should renounce the world.” No one can fix a time for a man to renounce. Everything depends on purva samskaras. Dhruva renounced when he was a boy. Shankara renounced when he was a young man. Lord Buddha renounced after marrying and begetting a son.
It is the duty of saints and elder sannyasins to protect spiritually thirsting aspirants. A spiritually thirsting aspirant, full of vairagya and mumukshutwa, is to the saint what an invaluable treasure trove is to a worldly man. Nothing on earth gladdens a saint’s heart as much as finding a real thirsting aspirant. When such an aspirant comes to him and he sees that the aspirant is qualified for initiation, it is the duty of the sadhu to fulfill the aspirant’s spiritual yearning. He cannot say: “Oh, I cannot initiate you now.” By throwing him back into worldly life, the sadhu is really squandering rare spiritual wealth. It is a serious blunder. It is a great loss to humanity.
This aspirant ought to be helped by other sannyasis to grow in spirituality and to attain self-realization. After reaching this ultimate goal, after attaining wisdom, this aspirant will not only shine as a jivanmukta, as a supreme example of supermanhood, but he will also render real selfless service to the world. By granting this young man’s aspiration the sadhu is really rendering inestimable service to humanity, though this is not realized at once.
Sannyasa is a mental state
It is difficult to find out who is a real sannyasi. According to the Gita, detachment and dispassion is sannyasa. Sannyasa is a mental state, not merely putting on an orange cloth. Develop dispassion and viveka. The world is a straw for a man of dispassion. Vairagya is the greatest wealth.
Money in the bank cannot make you fearless. It is vairagya that makes you absolutely fearless. Vairagya and abhyasa are the most important sadhana. The enjoyment of the fourteen worlds becomes like a straw to a man of vairagya. Vairagya, renunciation, detachment is a mental state.
Find out the defects of material life. The world appears attractive, but there is cancer, there is tuberculosis, there is paralysis. People become hopeless and helpless. Therefore, vairagya, vivekapurvaka vairagya, vairagya born of discrimination, wisdom, only will help you, but not vairagya that comes on account of difficulties. Therefore develop vivekapurvaka vairagya and virtues like kshama, serenity, titiksha, little by little. You may fail a thousand times, but again you will rise up, if you have God’s grace, if you are eternally vigilant. Always remember the important Gita slokas: “He who is free from all desires, free from mineness and egoism, will attain peace.” “He who has faith attains knowledge. He who is devoted to the Self, he who has controlled the senses, attains knowledge. Attaining knowledge, he enjoys supreme peace.”
Become a real mental sannyasi
This world is a world of accidents, fractures and dislocation. So let us be careful. How to avoid karma? Give up raga-dwesha, likes and dislikes. How to avoid raga-dwesha? Do not have egoism. How to give up egoism? Abandon aviveka, non-discrimination. How to give up nondiscrimination? Get rid of ignorance. Ignorance is the first cause for the chain of sorrows–duhkhaparampara. How to get rid of ignorance? Attain knowledge of the Self. Then there will be no egoism, no raga-dwesha (likes and dislikes), no karma, no body and no sorrow. You will merge yourself in Parabrahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Just as rivers join the ocean, so also the individual soul will join the universal Existence: Satchidananda Parabrahman. Just as camphor melts in fire and becomes identical with fire, even so mind melts in Silence, its Source, Ananda. That is our duty. That is the goal. That is happiness, Brahmic seat of splendor, immaculate seat of splendor. Become, then, a real mental sannyasi.
Necessity for sannyasa
Immortality is attained, not by work, progeny or wealth, but by renunciation. Renounce your ego, Bear insult. Bear injury.
Brahma jnana is the highest wealth. Even if you possess the wealth of the three worlds, it is nothing, You will be afraid of other things. Fear should go. Worry should go. For that you should have knowledge of the Self.
The root-cause for diseases is selfishness. The root-cause is anger. The root-cause is malice. When you are angry, impurities are thrown in the blood. Hatred bacilli, malice bacilli, jealousy bacilli enter your system and produce diseases.
Our foremost duty is to attain the supreme, ancient wisdom. One may deliver lectures; he may be a learned man. But his learning is useless if he has no dispassion, if he has no detachment. He who detaches himself from the objects of the world is a real yogi, a sage of supreme wisdom. What is needed is detachment. Do not allow the mind to think of objects. Detach the mind from the senses. Then only you will have tranquillity of mind. This is sannyasa.
People are bound by hopes, expectations, works, anxieties. So they do not know that their life is passing away. All the hairs may have grown gray. Many teeth may have fallen. Only a few years of life may be left. But it does not matter. Even in a moment (muhurta) one can attain self-realization, through devotion, dedication, discrimination, dispassion, aspiration, renunciation. You must develop these virtues. Sannyasa is necessary.
Man sees only the objects of this universe and not the internal Self. But the wise man, who turns away from material objects seeking immortality, beholds the Self within.
You should discipline the mind. You must take sannyasa. Then only can you cut off moha completely. The supreme wealth is dispassion, detachment. Detach, attach. Detach the mind from worldly objects and attach it to God. Do constant selfless service. You must crush your egoism. Through self-surrender you can attain God. But egoism and desire assert at every step. These are obstacles for doing self-surrender. But the wise man, desirous of immortality, renounces the material pleasures. You should withdraw the mind, and the senses (indriyas), just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs.