--> Skip to main content

Strong Renunciation - Story - How To Achieve

There is a special kind of vairagya (strong renunciation) by which we proceed speedily to the spiritual goal. What is it like? Sri Ramakrishna explained it with the help of one of his wonderful parables:

One can free oneself from attachment to ‘lust and gold’ if, by the grace of God, one cultivates a spirit of strong renunciation [tivra vairagya].

At one time there was a drought in a certain part of the country. The farmers began to cut long channels to bring water to their fields. One farmer was stubbornly determined, he took a vow that he would not stop digging until the channel connected his field with the river. He set to work.

The time came for his bath, and his wife sent their daughter to him with oil. ‘Father,’ said the girl, ‘it is already late. Rub your body with oil and take your bath.’ ‘Go away!’ thundered the farmer. ‘I have too much to do now.’ It was past midday, and the farmer was still at work in his field. He didn’t even think of his bath. Then his wife came and said: ‘Why haven’t you taken your bath? The food is getting cold. You overdo everything. You can finish the rest tomorrow or even today after dinner.’

The farmer scolded her furiously and ran at her, spade in hand, crying: ‘What? Have you no sense? There’s no rain. The crops are dying. What will the children eat? You’ll all starve to death. I have taken a vow not to think of bath and food today before I bring water to my field.’

The wife saw his state of mind and ran away in fear. Through a whole day’s back-breaking labour the farmer managed by evening to connect his field with the river. Then he sat down and watched the water flowing into his field with a murmuring sound. His mind was filled with peace and joy.

He went home, called his wife, and said to her, ‘Now give me some oil and prepare me a smoke.’ With serene mind he finished his bath and meal, and retired to bed, where he snored to his heart’s content. The determination he showed is an example of strong renunciation.

Strong renunciation comes when the time is ripe. Then there is no turning back. As Swami Vivekananda recounts: ‘Sometimes the thing comes upon them in a flash. There was a boy, for instance, who used to come to read the Upanishads with Swami Abhedananda. One day he turned and said, “Sir, is all this really true?” “Oh yes!” said Swami Abhedananda, “It may be difficult to realize, but it is certainly true.” And next day, that boy was a silent Sannyasin, nude, on his way to Kedarnath! ’

Like that boy, the time must come for us too, some day or other, some lifetime or other, when we shall weary of the endless ‘round of smiles and tears’, turn our backs on it — shun it as worthless dross — and turn our faces towards the Himalayan heights of God-realization. And the saints and sages of all the ages assure us that we must reach the goal.

Source excerpts from article titled 'Vairagya - Path To Freedom' by Swami Mahayogananda published in the Prabuddha Bharata Magazine January 2010 issue.