Giving up or setting aside voluntarily worldly pleasures for the cause of religion, is what Renunciation is all about. Food and shelter are the most important worldly pleasures of humans; so is in the case of all other living organisms. Living without the resources of material world is impossible. ‘Renounce the world’ is therefore unimaginable and unacceptable: The concept remains as a mirage.
According to religious beliefs, renouncing worldly pleasures is one of the most glorious attributes of spirituality. It is an irrefutable belief. Belief is a human trait: No other living organism nurtures belief. Belief is too much of a good thing for the humans.
In terms of the belief, different religions have different views about renunciation: Sikh religion does not consider renunciation as a high spiritual order. Sikhism and its followers have different views in the matter of renunciation. They are not required to renounce the world for the cause of their religion. In fact, the Sikhs aspire to lead life with all available worldly resources and pleasures. Even their religious leaders lead life enjoying worldly pleasures and resources. They extend possible support by providing free food to the needy who visits Gurudwaras. Selfless service to humanity is part and parcel of Sikh religion. The position of other religions is different in this context.
According to Hinduism, Sanyasis, yogis, sadhus, godmen and godwomen are the fountain head of spirituality. They are the ones who claim to have renounced the world.
Buddhism regards renunciation as the highest order of Dharma. “The foolish are immersed in worldly pleasures but the wise do not touch it” is what Lord Buddha exhorted to his followers.
In Christianity, the saints and the priests are believed to have renounced the world. The same is the case in respect of all the other religions.
The urge to renounce world, to renounce worldly pleasures, might have arisen out of fear of death. Thinkers of the yore were seeped in subjectivism. Birth and death frightened them the most: They rightly concluded that there would be no death if there is no birth. They attributed life to the existence of soul which enters the body at the time of birth. The soul comes from above the world which they called heaven. The soul lives with all the comforts in the heaven. Once the soul leaves its abode to give birth to human beings, the pleasures of earthly resources which are believed to be immersed in the abyss of confusion and chaos become painful throughout the life.
Throughout the human history there were individuals who, out of their deep rooted beliefs in soul and the comforts of heaven, felt an urge to throw off the pleasures of earthly resources and thereby to pave a smooth passage to heaven at the time of death. By choosing the smooth passage they aspire never to return back to the earthly pleasures. They are the individuals who have renounced the world. Believers, who form the majority, see the renouncers (the ones who renounce) at the highest height of the spiritual ladder.
Going by the simplest of the simple parameters, if a person lives life, it means that the individual is consuming the materials available in the world. The individual is enjoying the products of human efforts, enjoying the products of human toil and human intelligence. The men and women of beliefs who claim to have renounced the world are the custodians of all the powers. Their influence reaches out to politics and administration of the State. They amass huge wealth for the cause of religion and they use it for themselves under the guise of renunciation. They control the largest segment of the society. They enjoy the fruits of the labour of others. They enjoy the resources of the world. They enjoy body-centric pleasures without suspicion or hindrance from the social segment they represent.
The dictum ‘to renounce the world’ is a fiction: A fiction that dramatizes and glorifies itself in the corridors of the religion and the faith. The glorified symbol of renunciation would ever continue to shine behind the curtain of hypocrisy.
The greats, who renounce world, would ever continue to enjoy the products of the world. The greats, who renounce the world, would ever continue to shine in the dignified moral glory of the religion they represent in different shades as sanyasis, monks, godmen, godwomen and the priests. But, “renounce the world”, would never happen.