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Sanyas – The Path for the Courageous

In our daily lives, we often find ourselves plagued with inhibitions while exploring new avenues, taking up new responsibilities or doing something out of the ordinary. One wishing to adopt sanyas too may face such inner turmoil. Pujyashri Gurudev beautifully inspires us to overcome our fears and take the plunge

Human birth holds two possibilities for you – either continue living in the darkness of ignorance about your real Self, or experience the dawn of self-realisation. Awaken to the Self and you will see the divinity within, else you will squander away your life aimlessly. Life does not stop for anyone. This is an opportune moment. Wake up. Taste the nectar of your Real Self before death knocks at your door. If you cannot do this, when death arrives, you will say, “I am afraid to open the gates for you. I am scared of the unknown. I will not come along.” But death is deaf to your pleas. You will have to go. You will have to face it. If that is the case, why not welcome the journey? Why allow death to drag you forcefully into the unfamiliar? Why not walk into it consciously, willingly?

Embrace Sanyas Before Death

Death is separation from the body. Therefore it is associated with the pain of losing the known and the fear of entering the unknown. Sanyas is dropping the identification with the body, knowing that the Self is distinctly separate from it. Therefore, a sanyasi, at the time of death, walks away with dignity, without any suffering because he knows he has nothing to lose.

Death and sanyas both do the same thing – separation from the body. The only difference is that death forces itself upon you, whereas sanyas is your own choice. Death snatches you, whereas sanyas allows you to walk away fearlessly. Death neither allows you to live, nor lets you die peacefully. Sanyas enriches your life, and gifts you a graceful passing. Although sanyas appears to be akin to death, it is the entrance to eternity.

Unaware of the glory of sanyas, you become fearful at the thought of it. Do not doubt your ability or give in to fear. In the face of fear, call out for divine aid. You have the same potential as the Enlightened Ones. Invoke that hidden strength. Embrace sanyas before you are trapped in the clutches of death.

Fear of Change

Even though it is the ultimate gift you can give yourself, pursuing sanyas can understandably evoke fear. While embracing sanyas, various fears come into play. The first and foremost is the fear of change. You want to remain as you have always been. You would rather offer flowers in the temple than offer to change yourself and your habits. To spend ten rupees on flowers and feel content that you are ‘religious’ is so easy. There is the comfort of satisfaction without any transformation. However, sanyas focuses on self-transformation and therefore, gives rise to fear.

Memorising verses from the scriptures, parroting them and being labelled ‘religious’ is very simple indeed. A sanyasi strives to imbibe the message of the verses, to live in accordance with the essence of the scriptures and remain elevated.

Fear of Opposition

For self-transformation you will need to turn within. As you begin to shift your focus away from the outside world it may arouse a feeling of insecurity among the people around you, who want you to be dependent on them. Since their needs are no longer fulfilled, they may even pose impediments in your path. Society, even your near and dear ones, may oppose you. It is a paradox that the world censures evil, yet criticises one who is working towards destroying his inner evils. Once you have accepted sanyas, the world will monitor you like a policeman. Every act of yours will be dissected and discussed. Unfortunately, some forgo sanyas, succumbing to the fear of this scrutiny, little realising that it is actually a ladder to success.

Fear of the Unknown

Sanyas is stepping into the unknown. But the mind is always afraid of the unknown. The shore of worldliness may be full of pain, yet, it is known. You have lived here life after life. It gives you a sense of security. Hence, you hesitate to undertake the journey into the uncharted territory. Moreover, the achievements of those who have embarked on this journey are internal. Nothing extraordinary is visible externally. So you doubt the existence of the other shore. You have neither proof nor guarantee that you will reach. Your experience alone is proof. However, for this experience, it is essential to make a start. The tragedy is that you do not have the courage because you dread the storms and cyclones of uncertainties.

Fear of Being Alone

In this journey, you must travel alone. Pilgrimages can be made with your near and dear ones, but the inner journey must be undertaken alone. During the journey and upon reaching the destination, you are by yourself. There is absolute solitude within and the endeavour to enter it is sanyas. Those who are able to do so are blessed. They alone become worthy of realising the Self. Familiarity Comes with Practice The world of sanyas appears unfamiliar, but if you observe carefully, all paths in the beginning are alien. What was known to you? Was love known? When you fell in love for the first time, did you know what it entailed? Was that feeling of happiness, the fountains of joy, flowers blossoming in your heart familiar? No. It all felt new and unprecedented. When you listened to music for the first time and were so inspired that you even began to learn how to play an instrument, were you familiar with it? Did you know how much practice you would have to put in before you began?

The acclaimed violinist Yehudi Menuhin was once asked, “How often do you practice? Melodies seem to flow spontaneously the minute you put your fingers to the strings.” Menuhin laughed, “Naturally! With eight hours of practice everyday, it would appear spontaneous. But if I do not practice for three days, I begin to falter. If I do not play for a week, my critics can discern my mistakes. And if I stay away from the violin for a fortnight, even the audience will notice the difference.” When you listen to a recital, you cannot fathom the investment of time, effort, practice and penance that has gone into it. This is the cost of playing mesmerising tunes.

Do Not Pay Heed to Your Fears

Lord Buddha said, “Sanyas is like birds flying in the sky, leaving no trail for others to follow.” And so the path appears difficult. Each one will have to find his own way. At some point, you will have to dare to take a step.

Fear is natural, but you must cultivate courage. Rather that scurrying away in fear, resolve to work hard. Accept the fear, but do not fall prey to it. It is not necessary to listen, believe or act in accordance with fear.

Realise that there is one thing in common between the valiant and the cowardly and that is fear. Both fear the unknown but cowards listen to fear while the brave remain uninfluenced by it. The courageous say, “No matter if there is fear, if the path is unfamiliar or if I must tread it alone, I will certainly face the challenges and overcome fear.”

Muster Courage

Nothing comes free. Why then do you want God for free? Be brave. Give up the crowd and let your boat loose in the waters of the unknown. Storms will come your way but do not worry. You will get shaken, be ready for it! Have such conviction, love and faith in the Guru that no fear can hold you back. Yearn for sanyas.

Blessed are those who have plunged within. Unfortunate are those who are stuck on the shore of the known due to fear. They keep deliberating but do not take a step in the right direction. In their lives, that auspicious moment does not arrive. Death will come but this auspicious moment of sanyas will not arrive unless you choose it.

While the fire is burning, make use of it. What will you do once it becomes ashes? Before the boat sinks, ferry across to the other shore. As long as you are breathing, tie the knot with the unknown. Let this precious life not pass by in vain. Dare to take sanyas.


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