Sannyasi is not the model

People have different call in their life, to live as a family man or a sannyasi (or single in modern context). Though one can learn from other, yet it is wrong to take one as the example for another to live his/her life.  One T.V. speaker (Tenkasi Swaminathan, Sun T.V. on July 13th (?) 2009) proved this by telling a story of a sannyasi.  Before share further, I have to accept that he is a very good speaker sharing more practical teachings on various subjects.

One time a sannyasi went and stayed with a King for few days.  And he received the best hospitality even enjoying the food, dress and ornaments and other facilities of the palace.  After few days the King came with confusion and asked a question: ‘while we both are enjoying the same food etc. why I always feel sad whereas you are always remain happy?’  For this the sannyasi said that he was waiting for such a question and promised to give answer after few days.  Finally one day the sannyasi told the king that he wants to go and asked the king to come along with him for a distance.  When both reached the border of the kingdom, the sannyasi said to the king, ‘now I am going to leave everything that you gave.  And if you want to be happy, leave everything and come after me.’  For this the king said, ‘how can I leave behind my family, kingdom and responsibility’?  Then the sannyasi said, ‘this is the secret of my happiness.  Though I enjoy all your hospitality, yet I am ready to abandon everything and walk freely, as I am not attached to them.  Whereas though you too enjoy them, as you are attached with them, you feel the burden more than the joy you get from it’.

And the moral of the story, according to Swaminathan is that while we enjoy the things of this world, like that sannyasi we should not have attachment with them.  And like that sannyasi we too should be ready to give up everything and walk way freely.

Certain illustrations are though good in themselves, yet cannot convey the correct teaching that is relevant for the entire situation.  It is wrong to say that sannyasis don’t have any attachment.  In fact some 35 years before I wrote a song in which I said, ‘“renounce the word” says a sannyasi but he too renounced the word with a DESRIE for mukti (moksha)’ (ulahai turandu nee vazhunduvidu yendru turanda jnanee solipponan; anda turanda jnanim veedu petreya virumbiye turavu kondan).  What a sannyasi gave up is his responsibility towards a family (but not to the society).  Here too, he has some kind of responsibility towards his mother.  Whereas for a family wo/man ‘responsibility’ comes before her/his legitimate rights to enjoy the pleasure of the life.  And those who tactfully managed to keep a balance between ‘responsibility’ and ‘privilege’ can even enjoy that ‘responsibility’ more joyfully than treating it as a burden.  Whether a sannyasi or a family man, no one can run away from responsibility.  But a sannyasi could never be a best model for a family man to understand and accept his responsibility.  King Janaka of Mitila should be the model for a family man and not any sannyasi.—however great they might be.

Here as a sub point I have to share my personal view.  The so called ‘nishkamyakarma’: ‘do your duty but never seek its fruits’ is often consoles a person who failed after sincere efforts in any endeavor.  Though the context of the sloka in Gita (2:47) is different, yet it is often used out of frustration than with a true spirit of nishkamyakarma.1   One can have the spirit of renunciation but none can give up responsibility which accompanies like a shadow for every stage in life.

Notes. 1.  I am not an expert on Gita.  However the main context of this sloka in Gita (karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phalesu kadaacana; maa karma phala hetur bhuuma te sangostvakarmani. Your right is to perform your duty only, but never lay claim to its fruit. Let not the fruit of action be your object, nor let your attachment be to inaction’—Gita Press, Gorakpur) is based on the doctrine of ‘karma’ which binds every one.  As the fruit of karma binds one, better do your duty but never seeks its fruit.  But this word ‘nishkamyakarma’ (which is not in Gita) is often become a scape goat for all our frustration in life.  If I remember correctly, N.T. Ramarao (the late C.M. of Andhra) when he lost his elections, then quoted this word and even the Gita sloka.  Whereas the best attitude to accept failures and defeat should be ‘at least I tried; though I failed’.  This will help one to learn some good lessons from that failure and defeat than any frustration in life.


Gurukulam, July 21, 2009.