Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Nature of Renounciation



On guru poornima this year, the discussion started off with Acharyaji asking all of us present to talk about some topic that we liked or which affected us the most!...When the pointer came to me I was clear about what I wanted to talk about. The motive behind my choosing a topic like "tyaga" was to get an opportunity to learn more about it..

"Tyaga or renunciation is one of the most fascinating traits that a person can possess. To be able to do Tyaga one must be able to let go of things they love the most for a higher cause. At some point we all have to sacrifice something at some level, But to do it and not regret it, that is where all the difference comes. Because it is one of the most difficult things to do, the person who is able to do tyaga in its true sense is considered great." Everyone seemed impressed with my perception of tyaga.  
Acharya was smiling and then asked a simple question "why does one do tyaga?" I replied - "for a higher cause and to be happy." He then explained the concept of tyaga with the example of the sacrifices a mother does for her child. 

"Why does a mother willingly sacrifice for her child?" he asked.  Someone answered, "because of love". 
He asked, "what is love?" Now we had all heard and felt 'love' but no one could explain it!....

 Acharya simply said "Love was a feeling of oneness". He continued, "now if I do tyaga for someone I love, then the thing that I give up has not gone anywhere! It is just like shifting it from one pocket to other "…. 

Everyone burst into involuntary applause! I was smiling more than I ever have….The experience of learning about "tyaga" with such simplicity was truly amazing!



Tyaga is love
Tyaga is unconditional love. For example mother's love for her child.

Tyaga is oneness.
Again, mother is ready to do anything for the child because it is HER child.She
thinks the child is nonseperate from her.The child is herself.This oneness is Tyagam.

Tyaga is freedom.
There are two people in an argument.One person has to raise his voice when he thinks he has to be heard. His `wanting' to be heard slowly intensifies and culminates in anger. Only when there are two this `wanting' surfaces. When there is only one there is no `want'. 
When there are two there is fear also. Fear of losing, fear of separation, insecurity etc. are the outcome of this `want' . Tyaga is to let go of this `fear' and `want `
Tyaga is FREEDOM which is here and now.


Love as one-ness and the subsequent implications of sacrifice are a new way of looking at things for me.     Perhaps, it is only when I "sacrifice" with this feeling, do I not regret the sacrifice one bit... thinking back to some times that i regretted giving up something, I feel that the underlying one-ness was absent...


Ever so often, Tyaga is translated to mean “sacrifice”. But powerful as words could be, the word “sacrifice” automatically has a connotation of being the means to an end. As in, the act of sacrificing something is association with a goal of accomplishing something else.  I view this as one of the many examples where the literal style of the English language falls short of the metaphorical style of Sanskrit.
 “Kaamyanam Karmanam nyasam Sanyasam kavayo Vidhu:
 Sarva karma phala tyagam Prahustyagam vichakshana:”
 “Giving up of the expected results of the activities is what the wise call renunciation (tyaga)” 
... so says one translation of Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s words in Gita chapter 18, verse 2.

 To me, “Tyaga” ultimately means to not associate oneself with the expectations or outcomes of action. In this way, tyaga ties so well with “karma yoga”. When one chooses not to associate oneself with the expectations or outcomes, one leads a life of action as “yoga”. So every single time, we choose to act with “viveka” and “vairagya”, to act objectively and not associate ourselves with the expected outcomes, that is “tyaga”.

 Thus “tyaga” need not be a special choice, but in every chosen action, there is “tyaga”. In our day to day life, we make choices- we choose to do A or B. When we chose to do A, we have to dissociate ourselves with B and outcomes of B. But the ultimate tyaga is we chose to do A or B, not associating ourselves with the outcomes of both A and B. 

  When “tyaga” is driven by love, there is the experience of pure joy in that action and there is no more confusion in the chosen action. For example, when I’m with my little daughter, she makes me live in the moment, then “tyaga” of what preceeded in my stressful day and the “tyaga” of what expectations I have for the next day comes natural.  When I chose to eat healthy, exercise out of love for this amazing thing called my body, I act out of that compassion and love, with the “tyaga” of the expected outcomes with physical fitness. In spite of all the effort, if the body ails, I listen to this body, I offer rest and recovery also out of that same sense of compassion and love. Here love drives “tyaga”. Such is the act of “giving”….thus it is more the “giving”  than the “giving  up” that matters!

 As I type this, I’m mindful of the “tyaga” involved in dissociating myself with the expectations of reactions from others for the typed words. When this action of writing the words down is driven by the love for learning and growth, with the “ishawara arpana” bhava, expectations do not matter any more and that in its own way is “tyaga”.


I think the translation is succinct but could have elaborated on the "giving up" part more. It is confusing to me, when it talks about "giving up of expected results" making it a concept but not that can be practiced in reality. This is because, in my relative reality, I'm tied to the cause and effect plane and it is unrealistic to "give up" expectations. It is equal to saying "don't have any expectations". If I were to understand it more from the context of attachment, and from the concept of not being bound by expectations associated with guaranteed results, as in our previous discussion on expectations, I'm able to relate to that definition of "tyaga". 

 Also, I see the explanation appeal to the cognitive rationalist in me (the dispassionate objective thinker). The view of "tyaga" as being guided by unconditional love, appeals to the emotional identity in me. Hence, I wrote from both those dimensions in my previous discussion here.



Giving up of expected results is a concept but not that can be practiced in reality. It is unrealistic to "give up" expectations. It is equal to saying don't have any expectations."

Wouldn't tyaaga be better translated as giving up guarantee of results, or giving up dependence on, expected results?
Kaamyanam Karmanaam nyaasam Sanyaasam kavayo Vidhuh
Sarva karma phala tyaagam Praahustyaagam vichakshanaah

"The wise know Sanyaasa to be the abstinence from desire-based activity. 
They speak of Tyaaga as letting go of (dependence on) all results of action."

What do you think?



Love drives “tyaga”. Such is the act of “giving”….thus it is more the “giving”  than the “giving  up” that matters! So true....
 Only when "I have" can "I give". This is the message of the action to the mind. The mind is led to believing and experiencing the abundance of love that exists within each one of us and is waiting to be recognised.

 In giving, we give ourselves the gift of freedom.



Only when "I have" can "I give". This is the message of the action to the mind. The mind is led to believing and experiencing the abundance of love that exists within each one of us and is waiting to be recognised.

In giving, we give ourselves the gift of freedom.



There must be someone to do tyaga. In the absence of a doer is tyaga possible. Therefore true tyaga is possible only for a jnani purush. Am i right?


Here is a beautiful verse that goes;
Tyaja dharmam adharmam cha, ubhe sukrita-dushkrite;
sukrit-dushkrite ubhe tyaktvaa, yena tyajasi tat tyaja.
“Let go of both dharma and adharma, which are results of right or wrong action. 
Having let go of these two, give up that (agency) through which you let go.”
You are right in saying that true tyaaga is possible only for a jnaani. Absolute tyaaga is the nature of the self. The self is absolute and one without a second. It does not hold on to anything, and there is nothing else that can stick to it.
Like the mirror, it reflects images of objects without actually being in contact with them. The universe appears and disappears in the absolute self without adding or subtracting from the nature of the self.
For a jnaani, tyaaga is not an action. Tyaaga is nothing but self knowledge - the knowledge that "I am ever free from all possessions and actions."

Serenity Interactive
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