Once upon a time, a young man left home to find out what true renunciation is. He reached a holy city, where he met a saint.
He told the saint, “Sir, I have been going places to find out what the true renunciation is. Worldly life seems to be worthless to me. I will be obliged if you take me under your tutelage to guide me on how to renounce the world.”
After listening to him, the saint kept quiet for some time. Then he asked him, “Young man, tell me if your house, where you live, is made of mud or concrete. How many members are there in your family? Who cooks food in your house?”
All these questions astonished him as to how they were related to what he wanted to know. But he replied, “Sir, I live in a village in a mud house with four family members. We live a simple life as we can hardly make two ends meet. But my mind doesn’t like worldly matters.”
The saint told him, “My ashram is quite imposing. Many people live here in comfort and enjoy delicious meals daily. Will you like to live in this ashram, leaving behind your family of four members? If you want to live with comfort and eat sumptuous meals daily instead of simple meals, then I will take you under my guidance. Tell me your wish.”
The saint continued, “Dear, it is very important for a person to do one’s duties sincerely. Shirking one’s duties can’t lead to renunciation. In fact, people, who live with their families performing their duties sincerely, achieve more renunciation than those, who live in my ashram. Go live with your family, perform your duties sincerely, and do some social welfare. And you will feel happy.”
The saint elaborated further and said to him, “One can achieve true renunciation while living with a family. One can even renounce the world by performing one’s duties sincerely. Fulfilling one’s duties sincerely leads to true renunciation, though fulfilling them sincerely isn’t easy. It requires their performance with selfless sincerity without expecting anything undue in return. If you don’t get what is due to you, don’t react badly at all but respond with tolerance. This will lead to true renunciation.”
The man understood what the true renunciation was and left the ashram to live with his family after thanking the saint.