Families should not hinder those who seek to devote their lives to the path of renunciation
BY PRAMUKH SWAMI MAHARAJ
The following is an excerpt from a talk by His Divine Holiness, the head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, given on the occasion of a sadhu initiation rite held on October 26, 1985. BAPS now has more than 900 sadhus.
TO GIVE UP COMFORTS AND MATERIAL POSSESSIONS o give up comforts and material possessions, wealth, good jobs and businesses, and tread this path is not a trivial matter. Today many virtuous youths from noble and respectable families have become sadhus. It is only after thoughtful consideration that they have stepped forth onto this noble path.
The more we encourage those who walk this path, the more progress we will see in society. The life of a householder is such that no matter how strong his good intentions, man becomes entangled in the web of worldly activities; thus, he is unable to engage in spirituality and social service as much as he would wish. For those noble souls who desire to sacrifice their lives for the good of society, there is no better way than the path of renunciation. Sadhus are able to offer devotion to God and at the same time give their services for the benefit of society.
Sometimes parents try to dissuade their children from following this noble calling, saying, “It would make us look bad in society.” That is hard to believe. If your son were to follow the way of vice, if he became a drunkard, if he engaged in adultery or immoral activities, that would certainly make you, your family and your community look bad. But if he walks the path of God and offers devotion, then your name is made even more luminous!
Some may feel that these young men are becoming sadhus because they had nothing to eat at home. Here, no one has become a sadhu motivated by hunger pangs. You all know that young men from America and London have come here to become sadhus. Many of those receiving initiation are engineers. Many have received other degrees and are highly qualified.
Some feel that the highly qualified engineers, doctors and other graduates here might have been very useful working for our nation—and they are becoming sadhus! But all the professionals who become sadhus will accomplish a hundred million times more work in their lifetime as a sadhu than they could have accomplished in their respective fields. Yet we question how our nation’s work will be done without these engineers? There will never be a shortage of people for those worldly tasks. That work will never come to a halt. But today our society has a desperate need for people to perform that most fundamental work, which is the development of character. Think about it. If we offer such talented, illustrious young men from society at the holy feet of God, they will do such great work that thousands of others will be inspired to become good.
Today many of our children migrate to foreign lands. We are unable to even set eyes on them. We lose contact with them—not even a letter! Yet our life goes on. We should be similarly glad if our son walks on such a noble path of renunciation. Then, if we can just understand that our son is sitting in a place even greater than America! He is in Akshardham with God, in God’s service. And what a great thing that is, for in God’s palace, misery does not exist!
Initiation: Dozens of young men join the BAPS sadhu ranks, November 4, 2005
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From a small family, he is now entering a large family. From one small community, he moves to a very large one—the community of the entire world becomes his. They begin to develop the expansive notion of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, “the whole world is my family.” For others, it is just “me and my brother” or “me and my wife;” they see nothing beyond that. Whereas for the sadhu “The entire world is mine. All those living in the world are my people, and I want to do good to them all.” He dedicates his entire life for this noble cause.
So, if anyone from your family wishes to take this path, you should happily offer your blessings. Truly, spiritual welfare will be the reward for those who take this path. No one will suffer a loss in this endeavor.
Often parents are not overly concerned if their son ruins his life in bad company, but if he walks on the path to God they become worried. “What will become of him? Will he like it there? Will he be all right?” But when the parents get their son married, do they worry about questions like “Will he like it or not?” Do we even ask him? Nothing like that ever happens. We simply impose it upon him and worry about the consequences later. The thought “will you like it in a foreign country?” does not cross our mind. Therefore, this path will also be agreeable to him. If he is spiritually inclined, if he desires to walk on this path, then we should very enthusiastically offer him at the feet of God. What he will be able to accomplish at home, he will be able to accomplish ten million-fold if he walks on this path.