046 – Family Life Vs Renunciation

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Family Life Vs Renunciation

The following story on Renunciation is from Hindu Spiritual scriptures.

A person who was brought up in a very wealthy family, married an young woman and gave birth to a Child. One day while he was going around, he was horrified and humiliated to see the indignities of “aging, sickness, and death”. Realizing  that,  these would happen to him too, he wanted to seek a release from the above. He decided to renounce his family and preferring solitude, wandered into the forests seeking enlightenment. He left his home without even informing his wife.

His wife was devastated and overcome with grief. She struggled to bring up the family. She had to undergo financial stress, face the societal pressures on a single woman and the probing questions of her son on his father’s whereabouts etc.,  

After several years, her husband returned back home. She asked him, three questions about his decision.

  1. Why you chose not to inform me of your decision to renounce?

   He replied that he was not sure of his mental resolve if asked to reconsider his decision     to renounce.

  1. Have you achieved the sought after enlightenment?

    He replied  ‘Yes’.

  1. Could you have achieved enlightenment even while continuing your family life?

    He replied that he has realized that enlightenment is more in the mind and not in the        outer conditions. Understanding the above, he said, he has come back.

His wife recalled the mental pressures, she faced after his renunciation. He regretted for his acts and concluded that, she was a more enlightened person than himself.

Hindu scriptures recommend sanyas (renunciation) as the last stage of one’s life, when one has discharged one’s obligations to family and society. One of the great appeals and relevance of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata lies in the fact that Sri Rama and Sri Krishna performed great deeds while they were married.

Hindu Scriptures define that, “renunciation is a renunciation to the attachment to getting what one needs fulfilled by someone or something outside his or her self. With renunciation you are complete in yourself and you don’t have expectations from others to complete you. You can love so much more purely and whole heartedly and be the strength that your family needs”.

 Thiruvalluvar in his Couplet 46 says

“If the family life is in accordance with the set of righteous values, one can achieve enlightenment similar to what one can gain by seeking other orders of life, such as  doing penance in the forests in Solitude”.

அறத்தாற்றின் இல்வாழ்க்கை ஆற்றின் புறத்தாற்றின்
போஒய்ப் பெறுவது எவன்?

aRaththaatrin ill-vaazhkkai aatrin puRaththaatrin
po-oaip peRuvadu  evan

अरत्ताट्-रिन् इल्-वाऴ्क्कै आट्-रिन् पुरत्ताट्-रिन्

पोओय्प् पेरुवदु यवन्

பரிமேலழகர் உரை: 

இல்வாழ்க்கை அறத்தாற்றின் ஆற்றின் – ஒருவன் இல் வாழ்க்கையை அறத்தின் வழியே செலுத்துவன் ஆயின்; புறத்தாற்றின் போஒய்ப் பெறுவது எவன் – அவன் அதற்குப் புறம் ஆகிய நெறியில் போய்ப் பெறும் பயன் யாது? (‘அறத்தாறு’ என்பது பழி அஞ்சிப் பகுத்து உண்டலும், அன்பு உடைமையும் என மேற்சொல்லிய ஆறு. ‘புறத்தாறு’ இல்லை விட்டு வனத்துச் செல்லும் நிலை. அந்நிலையின் இது பயனுடைத்து என்பார், போஒய்ப் பெறுவது எவன் என்றார்.)

Lord Krishna in Bagavath Gita 3.35 says

“श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् |
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेय: परधर्मो भयावह:”

It is far better to perform one’s natural prescribed duty, though tinged with faults, than to perform another’s prescribed duty, though perfectly. In fact, it is preferable to die in the discharge of one’s duty, than to follow the path of another, which is fraught with danger.

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S. N. Srirama Desikan

गार्हस्थ्य जीवनं येन धर्म्ये मार्गे प्रवर्त्यते ।

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