A day before, one of the news channels covered the story of a highly educated young sanyasi (recluse) returning home due to pressure from family and society. I do not intend to pass any judgment on the personal issue of somebody but just wish to share my impression about the subtleties of the words ‘spirituality’ and ‘sanyasa’.
I heard one of the saints saying that every man has three kinds of lives. First is the social life which requires us to selflessly serve family and society because we owe them a lot since our birth. Next is the personal life that we work for our own interests and finally it is the spiritual life through which we seek the connection with our source within. The one who is able to balance these three roles is considered to be a true devotee. It is very easy to dictate these terms and probably even to start with but there is a need of unflinching faith and devotion to carry on without demeaning any of the three.
Spirituality instills purity in our worldly dealings. As we make progress in knowing our inner realm, the perspective for the outer existence grows clear. A spiritually awakened person humbly consumes himself for the sake of others, yet retains no feeling of being the doer which implies that he renounces the fruits of his actions but not the actions. This has been called as the genuine sansaya i.e. the renunciation in mentality and not just physical living. The sacred verses of Bhagwad Gita explain it thoroughly. The real knowledge enables the freedom from shackles of undue attachment with things, people and actions. Thus he remains in the world, yet not of the world (मेले में अकेला, अकेले में मेला).
There are times when a seeker may feel tempted to escape from the atmosphere which is not so favorable for his spiritual pursuit. The mystics in Christanity call it a ‘Dark Night’ for the soul and Hindus know it as ‘Adhyatmik Pariksha’ (spiritual test). This period of trial calls for unconditional submission to God’s will and cheerfully accepting whatever comes in the way. I would like to quote here an analogy comparing a baby monkey and a baby cat. For the monkeys, it is wholly upon the little child to clasp its mother tightly while she jumps from one place to another. On the contrary the cats take the responsibility of holding their kids softly in their mouths while carrying them. Unlike infants, we cannot be sure of our grip on God. So we have to be like kittens solely depending upon His grace to keep us close to Him. It is His work to lead us ahead once we have surrendered. Eventually our perseverance and patience make us experience how lovingly He carries us through the adversities. This is the spirit of spirituality which is very simple to preach and equally subtle to practise.