--> Skip to main content

Nivritti Marga In Hinduism

Nivritti Marga in Hinduism is the path of abandonment of activity or path of withdrawal or renunciation. The term nivrtti, which means inactivity or refraining from or cessation of activity, is the opposite of pravritti, meaning activity, efficacy. In fact, bhakti (devotion) considers true renunciation to be the inner quality of detachment from worldly affairs and from the results of one’s actions rather than physical separation from society. Medhatithi (on Manusmriti 6.32) says that renunciation means surrendering the notions of “I and mine”.

Hindu texts do not permit cessation of activity. In the Bhagavad Gita (5.2), karma yoga, “application of actions or worldly activities”, is preferred to karma sannyasa, “renunciation of actions or worldly activities.” The buddhi (intellect) is endowed with sattviki (good quality) which discriminates between right pravritti (activism) and right nivritti (abstention) (Bhagavad Gita 18.30).

Mahanarayana Upanishad (21.2) considers nyasa (renunciation) even above asceticism. Some Puranic and tantric texts give preference to the path of renunciation or inactivity over worldly activism.

Shiva Purana (3.4.16) states that Brahma, the creator, helps Vyasa in propagating the path of renunciation in the Kali Yuga, Brihad Brahma Samhita (3.7.21), a Tantra text, considers the path of activity (pravritti marga) as consisting of rajas and tamas qualities, whereas the path of renunciation or inactivity (nivritti marga) consists of sattva quality.

Adhyatma Ramayana (3.3.32-33) calls those engrossed in the path of activity as those under the influence of ignorance or nescience, and those who practice abstention as those engaged in deliberation of the notion or meaning of Vedanta. Persons engrossed in bhakti (devotion) towards God are said to be possessed of knowledge.

In fact, the renouncer who gives up the three worldly aims – dharma (duty), artha (wealth) and kama (desire), strives only for moksha (liberation).

Some philosophical schools prefer nivritti marga, whereas others do not advocate this path.