Renunciation is an expensive business

Some people think that renunciation is a cheap business: just as even those without much capital can start a cheap business, similarly, those without much determination to shoulder responsibilities can adopt renunciation.

Yes, it’s sadly true some people do take to the renounced order as an escapeway from responsibility. But the Bhagavad-gita (18.07-08) stresses that such renunciation is unproductive – it doesn’t lead to any spiritual growth.

To be authentically renounced, we need to embrace renunciation wholeheartedly (18.52), not take to it dejectedly as the last option after all other options have failed. Renunciation that is fueled by frustration doesn’t last for long. For our renunciation to be sustainable, we need to consciously disinvest our emotions from worldly objects. As we all are naturally attracted to sensual pleasures and bodily comforts, turning away from them requires a lot of determination. If we compare this determination to the capital needed for starting a business, then renunciation is an expensive business.

Thankfully, we don’t need to be in the renounced order to achieve life’s supreme perfection: love for Krishna, the all-attractive Supreme, whose eternal parts we all are. He is accessible to anyone who wants to love him, irrespective of whether they are renounced or engaged. He offers all of us the process of bhakti-yoga to seamlessly transfer our emotional investments from the world to him.

Even if we don’t have enough renunciation to embrace the renounced order, we can still practice bhakti-yoga with whatever renunciation we have. We can respect the renounced order as an expensive business that we can’t afford, at least not presently. And we can engage in the affordable business of practicing bhakti according to our present social position, knowing that Krishna is fully accessible to us.

By serving Krishna devotionally through our occupation (18.56), we can progress gradually towards eternal ecstatic absorption in Krishna.

Think it over:

  • What is the problem with renunciation that is fueled by frustration?
  • How is renunciation an expensive business, not a cheap business?
  • How does bhakti-yoga include both the renounced and the engaged?

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