The Vedas speak of renunciation as crucial for release from samsara, suggesting that there is no other path except sanyasa and tyaga to lead to this goal. But Krishna’s brilliant analysis of the deeper import of renunciation and its true spirit harkens to the disciplined life that every individual should adopt for salvation, said Srimati Rukmini Ramamurthy in a lecture.
Many regard Karma with caution and suspicion and are tempted to shun it, knowing it to be the root cause of bondage and a hindrance to salvation. A few others feel that yagas and yagnas prescribed in the Vedas should not be given up. Some philosophical experts claim that giving up of kamya karma — when one strives for name, fame, wealth, progeny, comfortable life, etc. — is sanyasa.
Others define tyaga as the giving up of the fruits of all actions. But the Lord explains that none can escape karma since all are compelled to act in some way or other. Moreover, all actions have consequences that may turn out to be good or bad depending on the context. Still, a sincere aspirant, says Krishna, has a chance to make the best of the situation, if the same karma is viewed from a different angle.
For instance, yagna, dhana and penance bear a ritualistic connotation in scriptural parlance and are capable of fulfilling the desires of people if they are performed with sincerity. These are also beneficial to the world and instil discipline and purity in those who are engaged in these rituals. Such kinds of karma that bring about a good effect are not to be given up, counsel some.
The Lord focusses on the ordained duties of the individual, in whatever walk of life one may be, with the directive that one should never refrain from them for any reason. These acts should not be given up but are to be carried out with detachment, disavowing any expectation of selfish gain. Consequently, such actions lose their doshas and assume the value of yagna, or dhana or penance retaining only the good effects. This approach encompassing an altruistic attitude is capable of converting one’s daily acts into penance that leads to the attainment of the higher goal. And there lies the essence of renunciation.