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Renunciation and Relinquishment

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  First Online: June 01, 2000
Page Last Updated: October 31, 2016


What is the difference between renunciation and relinquishment?


According some schools of Indian thought, notably those preceding the Bhagavad-Gita, every human action is motivated by a need or desire. As Buddha has noted, this invariably leads to attachment, sorrow and acts as an impediment to moksha. The solution, this school says, is Sanyasa or the renunciation.

Sanyasa involves detachment from mundane things of life (like food, sex, family) and striving for an eternal life through prayer and sacrifice. In today's India, Sadhus, Bhikshus and other ascetics follow Sanyasa.

Relinquishment or Tyaga, on the other hand, involves giving up the fruits of action. One is not supposed to give up positive things of life like charity, penance, and pursuit of knowledge, but must be actively engaged in. However, one should not expect any fruits of such action.

It is considered by the followers of this post-Gita school of thought, that in fact, the humans have no control whatsoever on the results of such action; only the Supreme Soul has control. One is to perform his/her duty devotionally and relinquish the results.

Most popular exponents of this thought have been Swami Vivekananda, Balgangadhar Tilak, and notably, Mahatma Gandhi


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