Spiritual Questions and Answers with Radhanath Swami

What is the True Spirit of Renunciation?

By on July 23, 2016 in Insights with 62 Comments

RenunciationQuestion to Radhanath Swami:  Beautiful. I’d like to ask you about the true spirit of renunciation because it’s something a lot of us don’t understand. We think of it as just giving up things but there’s a richer side of renunciation that gives one things we can’t get from the world.

Radhanath Swami Answers:  True renunciation is not becoming a monk or swami, living homeless and sleeping on the floor. True renunciation can be attained by anyone—whether a millionaire, parent, student, politician, farmer or engineer. It’s not what you have or don’t have; it’s your state of consciousness. In essence, it means that true peace that comes from true renunciation arrives when we understand that nothing is mine. Whatever intelligence I have, whatever abilities I have, whatever family members I have, whatever wealth or property I have, is the sacred property of God or the Divine. I’m a caretaker. And to use what we have, not for selfish purposes, but for service to God and service to others, is the true principle of renunciation.

It’s like when a husband thinks, “This is my wife,” or a parent thinks “This is my child.” From a spiritual perspective, this is a misconception. The higher truth is: “This wife is God’s beloved daughter, entrusted in my care. And the way I serve God is by giving her respect, protection, appreciation and empowerment. This is what God wants me to give his child.”

When we have that consciousness, whatever money we have, we believe it is entrusted to us by God for the purpose of helping human society find relief and shelter and happiness, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And we use our wealth in wonderful ways because it’s the greatest joy in life for us to see what an incredible difference we can make as an instrument of God’s grace with our talents and with our wealth. I know people who are both extremely wealthy, people who are middle class and people with little material wealth. Whatever their circumstance may be, they are every bit as renounced as monks because they have that spirit. The spirit of charity on a spiritual platform. The Bhagavad Gita explains that real wisdom is when we see every living being with equal vision. When we love God, we naturally love our neighbor as our self, as the Bible also tells us.

When we recognize how precious and truly glorious we are, then we become humbled by that and recognize everyone’s true spiritual identity. And then our greatest joy is in sharing.

 

 

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  • Piyush Singh

    A very relevant question to everyone aspiring to advance in spiritual life.

    As we know that renunciation is a very vital quality that a spiritual practitioner needs to develop but the problem is that often we seldom know that what it is actually means.

    By answering this important question in a holistic way HH Radhanath Swami has helped us in a big way. Renunciation is not to give up things but to utilize things in proper consciousness in service of the supreme proprietor Lord Krishna. And this is really an amazing understanding of renunciation.

    Many thanks for publishing this inspiring wisdom from HH Radhanath Swami.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Thank you very much Piyushji for your thoughts in this. I particularly liked your point on “how to utilize things in proper consciousness”.

      • Piyush Singh

        Thank you Sumit ji for your encouragement.

    • NSP

      Indeed! For someone who is truly renounced, the material things (like wealth etc) that one possesses do not become burden for the person, as those are used in Lords service!

  • Jerry Richard

    we are just a small portion of that unlimited existence. Real renunciation is to understand this principle that our bodies, our minds, our families and everything that exists is meant for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of God head and to utilize everything for that purpose, the purpose of this human form of life is specifically and especially is for self realization

    • Sumit Sharma

      Great point Jerry. This is also termed as “yukta vairagya”, where one dovetails everything he has whether it is family, paraphernalia etc. People usually have tendency to accumulate things for their own purpose. They either want to use it for their own sense gratification or for their extended family’s sense gratification, however a true renunciate would not only engage things in God’s service, but also engage people connected with him for the same.

      • Anand Patil

        Thanks for sharing the point about Yukta vairagya…

      • Piyush Singh

        So wonderfully said. Thank you for this useful wisdom.

  • Sumit Sharma

    An amazing answer by Radhanath Swami Maharaj. So many wonderful points he has mentioned. I particularly liked the point where he mentions how we should see our family members and everything related to us in connection with God. Only when people get connected to God, they can have universal brotherhood, because only He can reciprocate with everyone in his/her interest as He is perfect and complete. And if one lives with this vision, he can have eternal peace.

    • Piyush Singh

      Very well summarized Sumit ji. Thank you.

      • Sumit Sharma

        Thank you very much Piyushji for encouragement!

        • Piyush Singh

          🙂

    • Anand Patil

      Very very true. People have so many misconceptions about renunciation. Even when someone tries to practice spirituality they say “you will have to leave everything, why are you starting so early in your life…”. This is such a wrong conception of spirituality in general and renunciation. HH Radhanath Swami clears this misconception skillfully.

      • Piyush Singh

        Yes, the common idea is that spirituality is something to be practiced in the old age as if they are sure that everyone is going to get the chance to get old. These days many people die much earlier taking this big risk of not using their human life for the purpose for which it is meant.

        • Sumit Sharma

          Correct. In one of my discussions with my friend I realized that he has the same old thinking that one must engage in spirituality in fag end of the life, however he was taken back when I posed the question “How do you know when you are going to die” and then a good conversation started.

          • Piyush Singh

            True. Unfortunately this is the understanding of many people. They consider spirituality to be a optional subject not knowing that actually it is the most required subject compared to anything material.

    • NSP

      Thanks for bringing out this wonderful point about universal brotherhood!

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde

    Thank you very much for defining true renunciation as thinking of whatever we have belong to God.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Great! That’s true renunciation. Srila Prabhupad used to say “If you don’t have anything, then what you can renounce. He wanted to say that whatever we have is Krishna’s property, however if a devotee offers it with love, then Krishna becomes very happy.

      • Piyush Singh

        So true. This is the correct understanding of renunciation.

  • Laxmikanth

    very well said by Radhanath swami , something very important subject matter for every one , generally, people think renunciation is possible only for those who are sitting in Himalayas, or those yogis who appear at Kumbamela once in a while, and for those who cannot do any work they generally take renunciation and maintain by begging but the fact as said by Radhanath swami is that even a queen of England or a billionaire of mild east, a sheik , a CEO, a simple house wife can practice renunciation if they understand the spirit behind it

    • Piyush Singh

      Yes, that is how renunciation is misunderstood often. But this answer by HH Radhanath Swami really clarifies many of the common confusions.

      • Sumit Sharma

        Yes true!

        • Piyush Singh

          Thank you :).

    • Sumit Sharma

      Good point Laxmikanthji! It’s the state of mind which manifests as renouncing things. It does not matter how much you have, what matters is what your state of mind is.

      • Anand Patil

        I couldn’t agree more than this.

        Thanks Sumit pr.

      • Piyush Singh

        So true. State of mind is all important. That is why it is said that satisfaction is the greatest wealth.

  • NSP

    Great explanation by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj! What a wonderful perspective he provides – “True renunciation can be attained by anyone—whether a millionaire, parent, student, politician, farmer or engineer. It’s not what you have or don’t have; it’s your state of consciousness.” Contrary to popular conception, even someone who is very wealthy can be renounced! I remember reading somewhere that some of the earlier Vaishnava kings were similarly renounced despite being extremely wealthy and despite being proprietor of practically the whole planet.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Thanks for bringing this point! You are very right when you say anyone can be renounced provided his mindset is of that nature.

    • Umesh

      Thanks NSP for the point of earlier days Vaishnava kings. I also remember some examples.. like Pandavas in Mahabharat

      • Piyush Singh

        Fortunately we have so many examples in the scriptures, history and in modern times as well. I’ve personally seen many of the devotees of Lord leading very simple lives even when they are very wealthy materially. This is only possible when one is blessed with this real understanding of true renunciation.

    • Anand Patil

      Very true. Thanks Niranjan pr.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde

    The glory of renunciation is that, it can be achieved by anyone.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Yes, provided the person understands it clearly and carefully. There are folks who concoct their own meaning of renunciation thereby creating disturbances in the society.

      • Piyush Singh

        Yes actually. Renunciation needs to be understood and practiced in its true spirit as guided by HH Radhanath Swami in the answer.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    Wonderful explanation as to what true renunciation is all about – a stage of consciousness and using everything we have in the Lord’s service.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Which in other words is termed as “yukta Vairagya”. However, one must understand that without detachment, it’s very hard to offer fruit of our labour.

      • Piyush Singh

        So true. The more our attachment to Krishna increases our detachment from material world also automatically increases.

        A practitioner of Yukta Vairagya knows well that how to expertly engage everything is Lord Krishna’s service.

  • anashree

    Thank you Maharaj for the wonderful explanation. True renunciation is a state of consciousness wherein one realises that nothing belongs to him or her and whatever one has is the property of the Lord and should be used in the service of the Lord.

    • Sumit Sharma

      You are spot on! It’s the consciousness that differentiates between a real renunciation from that of the false renunciation. In this regard, Radhanath Swami Maharaj says somewhere else that sometimes it appears that both karmi and devotee might look like doing the same work, however it’s the consciousness that makes the difference.

      • Piyush Singh

        Really important point Sumit ji. Yes, the consciousness makes the real difference. While a karmi works for own selfish purpose a devotee works in service of the Lord.

        • Sumit Sharma

          Thanks Piyushji!

          • Piyush Singh

            Welcome Sumit ji !!! 🙂

    • Piyush Singh

      So well summarized. Utilizing everything in service of Lord is the best use for everything. Even Srila Prabhuapada writes in one of the purports this “Everything can be used to the extent that it can be engaged in Krishna’s service – SB 9.4.27”

  • Carl Farrel

    Renunciation is humility. Essentially renunciation is about detachment from the false ego because that is the seat of all other attachments. We may be learned, we may be very exemplary in our austerities but if we are proud and if we are not properly respecting others then our detachment is simply superficial.

    • Piyush Singh

      So well Said Carl. Pride is a big stumbling block in the path of spiritual advancement.

    • Keshav Kishor Das

      Well said……..! I am struggling to develop this genuine humility…,

    • Sumit Sharma

      Very nice perspective Carl! In fact, that’s what Radhanath Swami Maharaj always stresses upon. There are lot of renunciates who are proud of their so called renunciation without understanding that they have to first renounce the very idea of “Me and mine”.

      • Piyush Singh

        Very well said Sumit ji. The concept of Me and Mine is very difficult to give up even in the spiritual practitioners.

    • Piyush Singh

      So true. Even renunciation is to be dealt with in appropriate perspective so that it helps one advance in spiritual life. If one misses to do so there are high chances of getting implicated from other unwanted hindrances that may even have negative impact on one’s progress.

  • Piyush Singh

    I’m really touched by this instruction of HH Radhanath Swami here as this is really a eye opener…”The higher truth is: “This wife is God’s beloved daughter, entrusted in my care. And the way I serve God is by giving her respect, protection, appreciation and empowerment. This is what God wants me to give his child.”” and same to be followed for everything that Lord Krishna has blessed me with.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Great point! And that’s what is called universal unity. God has given us responsibilities in terms of various relationships that we own in life.

      • Piyush Singh

        So true. Thank you.

  • Bob Wilkins

    The difference between material and spiritual is the consciousness in which something is used. When we use things for our sense gratification that is material, when we use that same thing in the service of Supreme Lord that is the perfection of renunciation.

    • Piyush Singh

      Indeed, this is the perfect understanding of real renunciation.

  • Kelly Gomes

    Rupa Goswami explains to reject anything as material is incomplete renunciation because material and spiritual is simply our perception. Spiritual means to see everything in relation to God.

    • Piyush Singh

      So true. Actually everything belongs to God only and all our so called possessions are actually not ours. Anything used remembering it’s connection with God makes the object spiritual however if the connection is forgotten the same object is material and also a cause of bondage.

  • Keith Swanson

    Radhanath Swami says we have to go deeper in our spiritual lives by connecting to God in the innermost chambers of our heart. He compares the heart to a palace with many rooms. In the centre of this palace of the heart there are private chambers. It is in these regions of the heart- the deep internal recesses- we keep our private life with separate desires. Our challenge therefore as spiritualists is to allow God to enter these chambers or give these chambers to God and allow him to access.

    • Piyush Singh

      So inspiring. Thank you very much for sharing this insightful wisdom from HH Radhanath Swami.

  • Keshav Kishor Das

    So true.This makes the difference between “yuktha vairagya” from “phalgu vairagya” very clear as explained by Rupa goswami.Thank you Maharaj.

    • Piyush Singh

      Indeed !!!

  • Prahalad

    Very precise definition of renunciation given by Radhanath Swami.

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