A young man, Shri Chaitnya, left his widow mother and issueless wife to embark on spirituality (meeting his beloved God) by way of renunciation. There was a lot of commotion at home and resistance from all concerned. Earlier, his elder unmarried brother had also disappeared for the same purpose and never returned to show his face (he died in an unknown place). Later Shri Chaitnya became a renowned saint and his wife devoted herself fully to the Lord. This spirit of renunciation seems to be an inborn instinct, which grabs a person at any stage of life. It is similar to a scene shown on a TV channel and given below:
There is a river, not very wide but shallow, and on one side of it there is a herd of deer waiting to cross the river. There are numerous crocodiles waiting in the river to have the seasonal feast of deer. After long hesitation and gathering courage, the herd jumps in the river and the lucky ones are able to cross the river. Sometimes, the plight of the aspirer to spirituality is similar.
I came across an unmarried person who happened to be attracted by spirituality with a view to shake off the family burden and do repetition of a particular Mantra (devotional incantation) in a hermitage along with other aspirants, free lodging and boarding being provided. One day he disappeared from his home. His parents found out from his friends that he had left for a holy town. They went there and found him. By that time a wise person had already made him realize his duties towards his parents.
A few months after the return his parents managed to get him married. [There is still a belief that if a teenaged girl happens to show unusual behaviour, epilepsy-like disorder, or a boy runs away from home to become a sanyasi – a person who has renounced family life -, that to get rid of such tendencies of the mind they are to be married.] But, his marriage ended at a little sad note in the sense that his wife separated from him after leaving three daughters with him, and it is a matter of happiness now that he married off all the daughters and is now getting good care from his son-in-laws and marching on the path of spirituality.
Earlier also, just after 8 months of marriage he was leaving to the hermitage and his wife was crying. I happened to be there so I advised him to complete his household duties and continue devotion as a hobby. With great persuasion he could be stopped and what happened later is given above.
Some people who feel married life is full of responsibilities or feel incapable in managing worldly affairs for whatever reasons may feel that spirituality is an easier way to shrug off liabilities. But, this attitude of mind is lacking true spirit and ends in upheavals. One should not forget one’s worldly duties for the sake of spirituality, leaving half way might turn into an awkward situation. There are many cases showing the tendency to get rid of worldly relations to serve and love God. Family and relatives oppress such people. Some are able to get divine service while some return to manage their worldly duties, suspending the spirit of running away from their kith and kin.
Usually a sincere and honest worker is in trouble when he wishes to join another organization on better prospects, i.e., a better salary or job satisfaction. Similarly, the dependent family members also don’t allow the person, who is still fit for the occupation, to take up service to God. Though he might have completed his liabilities the family may not feel the same and extract more from him till he is retired by the employer or his health fails. There are many other issues that come in the way of renunciation.
In Indian philosophy, past deeds of earlier lives, known as ‘samskar’, may sometimes cause hindrances in the progress of spirituality in the aspirant. Hence one is supposed to fulfill one’s duties towards one’s parents, family, and society before renouncing that life for the service to God in the form of welfare to mankind.
It is even said by saints that spirituality is best followed in a family life!
SP Sharma, India