Genuine Renunciation - Part 1

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva!

Renunciation is a much talked about word in any religious circle, but unless the renunciation is genuine, it will create all forms of agitation and disturbance. In one of the classes on Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.15.39 in Rajkot, HG Devakinandan prabhuji very nicely explained the meaning of genuine renunciation and I would like to share some of the important points from his class for all our benefit.

mathurāyāṁ tathā vajraṁ śūrasena-patiṁ tataḥ
prājāpatyāṁ nirūpyeṣṭim agnīn apibad īśvaraḥ

Then he posted Vajra, the son of Aniruddha [grandson of Lord Kṛṣṇa], at Mathurā as the King of Śūrasena. Afterwards Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira performed a Prājāpatya sacrifice and placed in himself the fire for quitting household life.

1. Know when to stop ruling and when to stop being a leader: The context for the above verse is that Yudhishtira Maharaj is settling his affairs as a king and he is doing it very expertly. He handed over the reins to Parikshit Maharaj and Vajranath, the great grandson of Lord Krishna was placed as the King of Mathura. Yudhishtira Maharaj is very great because he did not hold on to his position. Otherwise the most difficult thing in this world is to give up positions. Renunciation can take two forms. One renunciation is on a gross level where we change our clothing, but before changing our clothing, Yudhishtira Maharaj renounced by way of his behaviour. The greatness of a king or a leader is not only during the time he rules, but the fact that he knows when to stop ruling. A great leader knows when he has to stop being a leader. That is the sign of greatness. We see that many politicians they want to keep going on and on. We see that Srila Prabhupada did not hold on to the throne and once a temple was constructed, he handed over everything to the young disciples who were properly trained and he just moved on to preach.

2. Discontinue when there is no loss to continue: Maharaj says that genuine renunciation comes from leaving those things which your mind will always be attracted to. Though we have left so many things as devotees, all these are on the gross level. But we have not renounced the pride that we have renounced. If one is proud of his renunciation, that renunciation is not genuine still. Yudhishtira Maharaj was so exalted and expert that he could have very well continued to rule even after hearing of Krishna's departure. What is there to stop him ruling? Such a great personality, so pure, so dharmic, what would be the loss if the Pandavas stayed back to rule? When there is no loss to continue and one discontinues an activity that is genuine renunciation. Maharaj had settled all his family affairs. Maharaj could have continued to be a Vanaprastha. But Maharaj said, "I left when my thaali (plate) was full." Everything was nice to continue that station of life and that was the time Maharaj decided to leave. We should not wait till our sons and daughters start telling us, "I do not like your face. You are not earning. It is very difficult to maintain you." Maharaj says that we should leave in such a manner that they are begging, "please stay" or they should be bewildered, "Why you are leaving? Everything is fine." When Maharaj left, his family could not understand. They said, "Everything you have. Why you are leaving?" Maharaj said, "That is why I am leaving." This is genuine renunciation. This comes because of the quality of sincere devotional service.

Prabhuji went on to explain how genuine renunciation means understanding what our supreme task is and the same shall be offered in the next mail, Krishna wiling.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi.