[Advaita-l] Tyaga

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jun 9 12:53:42 CDT 2003

We recently discussed the necessity of tyaga.  An example of this is given
in the Kathopanishad.  Vajashrava was a Rshi who was a householder and
famous for his his charity.  He performed the yajna called Sarvamedha in
which all ones wealth is given away.  As dakshina he donated 1000 cows to
the Brahmanas.

Shankaracharya explains that Vajashrava means "One whose fame comes
through food."  Unlike the so-called "celebrities" of today who become
notorious for vulgarity, the Vedic ideal is one should become well-known
for the liberality of ones charity.  Through such dana society is
maintained and Dharma upheld.  This is why the Manusmrti and other
dharmashastras say that out of the four ashramas, the Grhastha is the best
because the other three depend on him for support.  Nowadays we don't
actually barter food anymore but the principle is the same.  By paying
taxes, giving to charity etc. we maintain society and uphold Dharma.
Because of his generosity Vajashrava became famous  He was the epitome of
a sadgrhastha.

But his son Nachiketa was troubled.  He observed that the cows were old
and barren and gave no milk.  Ths they were not much of a gift.  Thus he
asked his father, "To whom will you give me?"  What more beloved and
valuable "posession" is there than the love of a parent for their
child?  Therefore one who is renouncing all posessions should
renounce even the bonds of family.  from Nachiketa's thinking we see that
even the karmakanda ultimately has vairagya as its' objective.

There was nothing technically wrong with Vajashrava's performance of the
ritual.  He had followed all the rules.  But he only paid lip-service to
the spirit.  On the other hand, Nachiketa's actions demonstrate the
difference between a true lover of Dharma and a time-passer.  Because
despite his learning he had not controlled his senses, Vajashrava got
irritated at his sons' suggestions and basically told his son to go to
hell. (Literally "I give you to Death.")  Yet this was a blessing in
disguise. Because of his love for Dharma, Dharmaraja (Yamadeva who is
also God of Death) himself taught Nachiketa Brahmavidya.

Nowadays it is fashionable in some circles to bemoan the decline of
religion.  Different theories are put as to the reson.  Maybe its' the
Muslims.  Maybe it is the Christian missionaries.  Maybe it is the
communists, or western materialism or any number of other enemies.  But
how many look in their own hearts to see if they are acting like a
Vajashrava or a Nachiketa?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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