Real Renunciation

Being surrounded by quite a large group of disciples in different ashramas, it came to pass that some of his sannyas-disciples were displaying an attitude of pride towards the disciples in the grhasta ashram. Becoming aware of this, and strictly disapproving of this attitude of pride, which is detrimental to the development of bhakti, Sripad Ramanujacarya decided to set a small example with the intention of correcting them of their deviation.

Summoning one of his brahmacari students, he thus instructed: “This morning, at the time of the daily morning bath of the sannyasis, I want you to go there and switch all their clothes around, then hide and see what happens.”

Following the instructions of his guru, the brahmacari hid behind a bush. After finishing their bath, the sannyasis went to put on their doties and found them all mixed up: “Hey, you’ve got mine, that’s mine, you’ve got my doty, this is my kurta!” Entangling themselves in their attempts to get their clothes back, they argued back and forth. Quite amused by this spectacle, the brahmacari reported to Ramanuja the reactions of the sannyasis.

At that time Ramanujacarya was particularly fond of a grhasta-couple among his students; Danurdasa and his wife who were known for their dedication and humility. That same day, in the evening, Ramanuja thus instructed the same brahmacari to go and summon Danurdasa, his grhasta disciple. While he was out of his house, the brahmacari was to go and steal something valuable from his home and then wait to see the ensuing reaction.

Doing as ordered, the brahmacari summoned Danurdas and then immediately returned to his house in order to steal something valuable. Being quite poor, the grhasta couple did not possess any luxuries other than some golden bracelets around the arms of Danurdasa’s sleeping wife. As she appeared to be in a deep sleep, the brahmacari approached and started to remove some of the bracelets. Suddenly she turned over, causing the brahmacari to become scared, so he jumped out the window, where he hid and waited as instructed by Ramanuja.

Upon his return from visiting his gurudeva, Danurdasa found his wife awaiting him, asking: “Danurdas, do you know if the temple is having financial problems?”

“No, why”

“Well I thought you might know. Maybe Ramanujacarya has told you something.”

“No, why?”

“Well, you know, while you were away, one of the brahmacaris of the math came and thinking me asleep, took some bracelets from my arm.”

“Really? And what did you do?”

“Well, as he had taken all the bracelets off one arm, I tried to carefully turn over so that he could also take the bracelets from the other arm, but he got scared and ran away.”

“Oh no, and what did you do then?”

“Well, nothing.”

“But why didn’t you run after him to give him the other bracelets too? You should have run after him!”, Danurdas told his wife.

Regretfully his wife admitted: “You are right, I should have done that, but it all happened so fast, that I didn’t have time to think about it.”

The brahmacari in his hiding place overheard the whole conversation with astonishment. Receiving the brahmacari’s reports, Ramanuja called the sannyasis and his other students and related the two types of behavior, asking the sannyasis, “Are you attached to a simple piece of cloth? Do you still think that you are big renunciates while the grhastas are only attached to material things?” Quite ashamed they bowed their heads.
In no way intending to discourage us from taking the path of renunciation, this little example nevertheless shows us that the inner understanding of Krsna consciousness is not labeled according to varnas and ashramas, but rather according to the inner heart’s attitude of humility and surrender, regardless of any external position. ‘ghre tako vane tako sada hari bole tako’ What ever ashram we are in, either grhasta or sannyasa,, if we take to ‘trnad api sunicena’, we can always chant the holy name. (sada hari bole tako)


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