Bhagwan Mahavira’s Renunciation

Renunciation is oft condemned as escapism or neglecting one’s duties. Pujyashri Gurudev opens our eyes to a new perspective. One may ask, ‘Why did Mahavira renounce His home? Was this not neglecting His duties? Was this not escapism?’

Let us consider this from a spiritual perspective. Mahavira did not renounce His home at all, for that can only be done by someone who has accepted the home as his own, in the first place. Mahavira renounced that which never was a home to Him.

We find this difficult to understand because our concept of a ‘home’ is that which is built of stone. The phrase ‘renouncing a home’ itself creates a delusion. In reality, Mahavira never renounced His home. What He actually did was renounce the delusion and set off in search of the true home.

We are holding on to a false home and have closed our eyes to that which is our true home. Who, then, is an escapist — we or Mahavira? What is the meaning of escapism? Is the search for bliss, escapism? Is the quest for true knowledge, escapism? Is the search for enlightenment, escapism?

To run away from one’s duties and responsibilities is considered escapism by the society. However, the Enlightened Ones question whether we really know our responsibilities.

An escapist is one who runs away from sorrow, one who tries to escape, dissatisfied with external circumstances. But if a house is on fire and someone is running away from that burning house, what will you call this — escapism or wisdom? Nobody would call this person an escapist.

Rather, he would be thought of as wise or intelligent. And this is exactly what Mahavira did. He retreated from that which was ablaze. Those who did not consider Vardhamana’s renunciation as an act of escapism, honoured Him with the name ‘Mahavira’.

They were aware of their own shortcomings, therefore instead of supporting attachment in the name of ‘duty’, with great reverence they addressed the one who had courageously performed the feat of renouncing attachment, ‘Mahavira,’ the Courageous One.

If we are able to comprehend this reality, renunciation will hold a new meaning.

— Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai