Sannyas is about seeing the wonderful co-existence of everything in Existence. Sannyas is existing in relationships like a water drop on the lotus leaf. If you see the lotus leaf, the water droplet will be on the leaf but will be untouched by it. Sannyas is living in relationships while being untouched by them. A common misconception is that sannyas is renouncing relationships. No. Sannyas enriches relationships.
Awareness is bringing your consciousness to your mind and watching non-judgmentally
So many of my disciples who have embraced the path of sannyas come and tell me, ‘Swamiji, after initiation, the husband-wife understanding has flowered so beautifully. Now we are really living in tune with each other and with everything around us.’
With sannyas, you start watching everything. You become a witness. Because of this witnessing, a gap is created between you and the other person. That gap is misunderstood as ‘renunciation’. If you notice, the gap was not there earlier. Each one was suffocating the other. Now the gap is there. The gap is not a gap of distance but a gap of awareness.
Awareness is bringing your consciousness to your mind and watching non-judgmentally. It is a very subtle action. Soon it becomes continuous in you. That is sannyas! Bringing awareness to the moment continuously is sannyas. With awareness, the very root of suffering is addressed before it takes root. The suffering is addressed because you are watching. Without awareness, there is bound to be suffering.
Sannyas is also living without the burden of the inner woman or inner man. What is meant by inner woman or inner man? It is nothing but the lust hidden in your mind, the fantasies that you have created in your mind. Shiva says beautifully in the Tantra, a man who has abandoned the woman in his inner mind is a sannyasi, even if he is still in the family. On the contrary, if thoughts of a woman persist in a sannyasi’s mind, he cannot be called a sannyasi. This is the scale to measure if a man is a sannyasi.
In Buddha’s teaching, the Four Noble Truths, the second truth deals with the cause of suffering. He beautifully says that suffering is because of the demands we make on life every moment. It is like asking a banana tree to bear mangoes! We will understand this habit only when we bring in awareness.
Not only that, when you watch, you start seeing exactly how transactions are happening in relationships. You see how expectations are driving the whole thing. You see the ulterior motives in everything.
I remember an incident that happened when I was around 12 years of age. age. One of my grandmothers was about 104 when she passed away. She had no more children of her own. She was looked after by one of my uncles. My uncle and his wife were not happy looking after her. They would complain about her and not take care of her properly. She was also a difficult and unpleasant person. She was very miserly even though she was wealthy. She would often ask me to buy her tobacco. When I asked for money, she would tell me to ask my father for it! She would not even give water from her well to her neighbors during summer.
When she died, no one in the family wept. But the women in the household changed into cheap saris, removed their jewelry and got ready to receive friends and neighbors who arrived to offer condolences. As soon as the guests arrived, the women would start wailing. Every time a new set of relatives arrived, the wailing would start all over again. I was shocked at the hypocrisy of the situation.
When the dead body was still in the house and relatives were still coming, the immediate family went into the dead lady’s room where her box of jewelry was kept under her bed. They all laid their individual claim to her jewelry and started negotiating and bargaining even before her body had grown cold! They called in a goldsmith to estimate the worth of the jewelry.
At that moment, I lost all respect for family and its social conditioning. I started laughing loudly at their behavior. An uncle tried to hit me to stop my laughter. I held his hand and told him that if he tried to hit me again, I would tell the entire crowd what they were trying to loot even before the body was cremated. My mother knew me well and told the uncle to be careful. She knew I was quite capable of doing what I threatened to do!
Then the relatives started arguing about who would pay for the funeral expenses. My father, a mild and innocent man who hated arguments, immediately agreed to take care of all expenses.
Completely disgusted, I took my Bhagavad Gita book and started chanting its verses in front of the dead body. It is said that merely reading the Gita in front of a dead body can liberate the soul.
Given my age, this was the best I could do in that situation. A sannyasi takes responsibility for the whole of Existence. He doesn’t know the difference between his family and the rest of the world. All are the same. He wishes for the liberation of anyone who comes his way. On the other hand, a samsari takes responsibility for one family or maybe for a few organizations. This taking of responsibility is always towards a definite cause. It is either to accumulate the credit of serving, to fulfill some obligation, or to co-exist easily with the people around him.
The nature of a sannyasi’s responsibility is completely different. For him, the whole world is his family. There is no obligation driving him. Responsibility happens completely out of the quality of his inner space. Also, a samsari can rest after fulfilling every duty at that stage in life. A sannyasi continuously works, because people are constantly in need of truths in their life.
A sannyasi is established in rich relationships. People think sannyasis run away from relationships.
A young girl asked me while I was addressing a college gathering, ‘Was it failure in love that caused you to be a sannyasi?’
I told her, ‘It was success in love that caused me to become a sannyasi!’ Actually, sannyas is what softens you into real love, love towards not just one person but towards the whole of Existence.
Ordinary love comes with a reason, or with lust. Real love knows no reason. It is just a causeless overflowing energy towards everything in Existence. In reality, sannyas is living like a king. Sannyas is the beginning of a kingly life because when you have cleaned yourself of all your suffering, then you have gained everything you can ever gain! You gain far more than mere wealth can give you.
When I was born, the family astrologer was called to cast my horoscope as per family tradition. The astrologer studied it and said I would be a raja sannyasi, a kingly sannyasi. If sannyas is adapted in its right spirit, it gives a kingly stature.
Sannyas is the ultimate royalty, because it is rich without any paraphernalia! A king is rich because of his outer wealth. A sannyasi is rich because of his inner wealth. With outer wealth, there is the danger that any time you may become a pauper. With inner wealth, you remain rich forever.
It is said that when Buddha went begging, he would look like a king, and the person who gave him alms would look like a beggar! That is the hallmark of the sannyas quality. Of course Buddha was enlightened at that time. But the sannyas dimension itself has this quality in it. It will simply radiate a kingly energy. Not only that, the inner richness causes everything outside to be experienced with richness.
A sannyasi recognizes the unending abundance of Existence. His vision is oceanic. He is not stuck in narrow perceptions. He perceives the whole of Existence as one. He feels part of the whole. That is why he is rich. A rich man who feels he owns a few acres is not really the rich one. The man who feels the abundance of Existence is really the rich one. Understand that the very word ‘rich’ has been misinterpreted. How can a person who is enjoying just a few bungalows be rich? He cannot be! The rich person is the one who is enjoying everything around him continuously. His richness is the richness of the whole Existence. He enjoys everything with no attachment to anything.
source: Living Enlightenment