On Renunciation: Tyag, Sanyas, and Vairag – Part 1/3



For the ordinary people of the world, for the great mass of human beings, the best remedy for spiritual ignorance and the best course and pathway to ishvar prapti—the acquisition of spiritual knowledge and Godliness—is renunciation, termed sanyas, and tyag in Gujarati.

Now, this renunciation, this tyag, comes about in one of two ways. It may result  from some unpleasant experience or, to put it more properly, from one’s getting tired and disgusted with the world, in which case it bears the name vairag . Then again, it may arise from a desire and longing to see God, which is called talab, “longing” or “thirst.” What all this means, one way or another, is that renunciation—tyag—must eventually come, whatever may be the rhyme or reason for it. It constitutes the true requisite, the first essential precondition to the attainment of spiritual knowledge, acquaintance with godly things or persons, or anything else in this line.

Renunciation, according to Vivekananda in his poem on sanyas, means to eat and drink anything offered by anyone, to sleep anywhere, to wander without home, to keep oneself aloof and disconnected from karma, and most especially, to remain free from entanglement with women and wealth. By thus renouncing everything and maintaining oneself in this state, all past sanskaras become dead and destroyed and new, deep ones never get formed. “Eat whatever is given to until karma’s powers are spent”: thus counsels Vivekananda.

But even such renunciation or tyag, though providing the best path for the generality of mankind, brings many attendant difficulties. If a sadhu persists in this life of wandering here and there, however, accepting and eating only such food as is sufficient to satisfy his hunger, and keeping himself out of the clutches of greed and passion (lobh and kam), then he is said to have achieved a station far higher than that of a family man in the world (sansario). The state and condition of a true faqir is splendidly depicted in a couplet by Kabir:


Pet samana anna mage, tan samana chir,
 adhik hi sangrah na kare, taka nam fakir

He who fills the stomach with food, covers the body with clothing,
and keeps nothing more than that: such a one can be named a faqir.


That is: the one who desires for food sufficient to satisfy his appetite, who wants clothes sufficient to cover and keep his body protected from atmospheric effects (such as heat and cold), and who entertains no other desire of accumulating anything— he alone deserves to be called a real faqir.

– “Meher Baba’s Tiffin lectures”, p247
21-September-1926; Meherabad

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