What is Renunciation

December 26, 2013 Comments Off on What is Renunciation

The whole object of yoga-sadhana is to take away all results in the way of good and bad, virtue and vice, heaven and hell. In fact, all dvandvas stand abandoned or transcended by dint of yoga outlook.

This is the summary benefit yoga brings about. Krishna has been emphasizing this transcending note right from the beginning of his exposition of sankhya-yoga (Bhagavadgeeta 2.15, 38, 45, 48, 50, 53, 70). In the 4th chapter also he has described the true effect of spiritual enlightenment in four verses ( Bhagavadgeeta 4.20-23). There, he does not speak about desisting from any action. On the other hand he points out that yoga-attitude or spiritual wisdom will completely eliminate all the ‘dual’ consequences of whatever one does. Abandonment is not of the actions themselves, but only of the dual effects they produce on our mind.

This subtle but great difference between “renunciation of actions” and “renunciation of results” somehow did not strike Arjuna, as it does not even today, many students and sadhakas. The effort of Krishna has been to impart Wisdom, which has the sole effect of removing the disturbing and binding effects of all actions and safeguarding the mind and intelligence from getting afflicted or agitated on account of them. That singular purpose somehow misses Arjuna’s attention. Delusion prevails in him.

At the same time, Krishna has no intention of denouncing either the hallowed sannyasa, the great ideal or goal of human life, or the supreme glory and fulfillment it brings. The only question is how to achieve this glorious renunciation? What for is it sought? And how, in actual practice, can it be gained? In the exposition Krishna has made so far, the points are already discussed and clarified. But obviously for Arjuna, the discussion is not sufficient.

In fact, our scriptures emphasize shravana, manana and nididhyaasana as the three-fold method for achieving spiritual knowledge and realization. Listening to the words of wisdom from the Teacher (shravana) constitutes the first step. Rumination or reflection upon what is heard (manana) is the second step. And then alone contemplative meditation (nididhyaasana), the final step, is undertaken. All these are to be repeatedly resorted to. Sadhana means consistent effort, practice and pursuit. Consistency means being given to the task assiduously again and again. Thus repetition cannot be avoided.

By raising questions and seeking answers and clarification, Arjuna is gaining more and more of shravana which naturally implies more and more of manana also. This is the way for any sadhaka. Thus the 18 chapters of Bhagavadgeeta constitute a full-fledged sadhana.  – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha [Excerpt from the book “Essential Concepts in Bhagavadgita – Vol 3” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha]

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