Bliss Through Renunciation

There lived a king who had a wise minister. Once, the king enquired whether or not he knew any man who has practised perfect renunciation. The minister replied, “There is one in every street corner, Your Majesty.” The king was anxious to meet such a perfect man. He requested his minister to introduce him to such a person. But the minister kept systematically avoiding him. One day, the king gave an ultimatum, saying, “If you don’t find such a person, within a week, you will be dismissed.” Realising the seriousness of the situation, the Minister searched everywhere but could not locate one. As time was running out, he devised a plan to put on the act of a sage. For pretending to be a sage, minister promised the young man 100 pieces of gold.

Thus the stage was set. The young man out in ochre robed, applied a liberal helping of ash all over his body, wore a string of ‘rudraksh’ beads and slipped on wooden footwear. He sat under a banyan tree and began chanting. As notified, the king, the queen, the princes and the retinue arrived but saw the sage in deep meditation.

The king was impressed by the dress and demeanour of the holy man. The king, queen, the princes and all those accompanying him prostrated before the holy man. The king offered trays of jewels, gold, silk robes, fruits, etc, which were all promptly refused and rejected. The king was wonderstruck at his complete detachment and renunciation of material objects. Thoroughly satisfied, the king returned to the palace planning that the minister deserved a promotion as prime minister. After leaving the king at the palace, the minister rushed back to the holy man with 100 pieces of gold and many other gifts. The minister commended and congratulated the young man for his outstanding performance while enacting the drama.

The minister offered him the gold and gifts but the young man rejected them and asked them to be taken away. The Minister was confused and so he said, “Look, the drama is over, my friend, you may now accept what I promised you.” The sage motioned the minister to sit down and spoke the following words of wisdom. “I only put on act of renunciation a show of detachment and so much wealth and reverence were showered on me. What could not I achieve if I genuinely gave up everything?”