[This page will cover Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on renunciation and/or Sannyasa. For Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on salvation and/or moksha, see Swami Vivekananda Quotes on Salvation. You may explore quotes on other topic like religion, God etc clicking on the “Contents” link above.]
- A Sannyasin cannot belong to any religion, for his is a life of independent thought, which draws from all religions; his is a life of realisation, not merely of theory or belief, much less of dogma.[Source]
- Always remember that renunciation is the
root idea. Unless one is initiated into this idea, not even Brahma and the World – gods have the power to attain Mukti.[Source]
- Discriminate within yourself between the real and the unreal. Have you not read the Vedanta? Even when you sleep, keep the sword of discrimination at the head of your bed, so that covetousness cannot approach you even in dream. Practising such strength, renunciation will gradually come, and then you will see the portals of heaven are wide open to you.
- Everything is fraught with fear: Renunciation alone is fearless.[Source]
- For thy good, O Sharman, may thine be Vairagya, the feeling of which is love, which unifies all inequalities, cures the disease of Samsâra, removes the threefold misery, inevitable in this phenomenal world, reveals the true nature of all things, destroys the darkness of Mâyâ, and which brings out the Selfhood of everything from Brahma to the blade of grass![Source]
- Give up, renounce the world. Now we are like dogs strayed into a kitchen and eating a piece of meat, looking round in fear lest at any moment some one may come and drive them out. Instead of that, be a king and know you own the world. This never comes until you give it up and it ceases to bind. Give up mentally, if you do not physically. Give up from the heart of your hearts.[Source]
- Highest love for God can never be achieved without renunciation.[Source]
- How can religion or morality begin without renunciation itself ? The Alpha and Omega is renunciation. “Give up,” says the Veda, “give up.” That is the one way, “Give up”.न प्रजया धनेन त्यागेनैकेऽमृतत्वमानशुः — “Neither through wealth, nor through progeny, but by giving up alone that immortality is to be reached.”[Source]
- “I do not want to get material life, do not want the sense-life, but something higher.” That is renunciation. Then, by the power of meditation, undo the mischief that has been done.
- If you can give up, you will have religion. If you cannot, you may read all the books that are in the world, from East to West, swallow all the libraries, and become the greatest of Pandits, but if you have Karma Kanda only, you are nothing; there is no spirituality. Through renunciation alone this immortality is to be reached. It is the power, the great power, that cares not even for the universe; then it is that ब्रह्माण्डम् गोष्पदायते। “The whole universe becomes like a hollow made by a cow’s foot.”[Source]
- In all our Yogas this renunciation is necessary. This is the stepping-stone and the real centre and the real heart of all spiritual culture — renunciation. This is religion — renunciation.[Source]
- It is always for greater joy that you give up the lesser. This is practical religion–the attainment of freedom, renunciation. Renounce the lower so that you may get the higher. Renounce! Renounce! Sacrifice! Give up! Not for zero. Not for nothing. But to get the higher.
- No freedom without renunciation.
- “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and everything shall be added unto you.” This is the one great duty, this is renunciation.[Source]
- Renounce and give up. What did Christ say? “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Again and again did he preach renunciation as the only way to perfection. There comes a time when the mind awakes from this long and dreary dream—the child gives up its play and wants to go back to its mother.
- Renunciation!—Renunciation!—you must preach this above everything else. There will be no spiritual strength unless one renounces the world.[Source]
- Renunciation, and renunciation alone, is the real secret, the Mulamantra, of all Realisation.[Source]
- Renunciation is always the ideal of every race; only other races do not know what they are made to do by nature unconsciously.[Source]
- Renunciation is in our blood.[Source]
- Renunciation is of the mind.[Source]
- Renunciation is the background of all religious thought wherever it be, and you will always find that as this idea of renunciation lessens, the more will the senses creep into the field of religion, and spirituality will decrease in the same ratio.[Source]
- Renunciation is the very basis of our true life. Every moment of goodness and real life that we enjoy is when we do not think of ourselves.
- Renunciation is the very basis upon which ethics stands. There never was an ethical code preached which had not renunciation for its basis.[Source]
- Renunciation is the very soul of the Upanishads.[Source]
- Renunciation is the word — “नान्य: पन्था विद्यते अयनाय — There’s no other way than this.”[Source]
- Renunciation means that none can serve both God and Mammon.[Source]
- Renunciation — non-resistance — non-destructiveness — are the ideals to be attained through less and less worldliness, less and less resistance, less and less destructiveness. Keep the ideal in view and work towards it. None can live in the world without resistance, without destruction, without desire. The world has not come to that state yet when the ideal can be realised in society.[Source]
- Self-love is the first teacher of self-renunciation.[Source]
- Self-realisation is to be attained by renunciation, by meditation—renunciation of all the senses, cutting the knots, the chains that bind us down to matter.
- The Himalayas stand for that renunciation, and the grand lesson we shall ever teach to humanity will be renunciation.[Source]
- The idea of renunciation and sacrifice is in all religions as a means to reach God.[Source]
- The ideal of renunciation nowhere attains such a height as in the teachings of the Vedanta.[Source]
- The men of the world should have no voice in the affairs of the Sannyasins. The Sannyasin should have nothing to do with the rich, his duty is with the poor. He should treat the poor with loving care and serve them joyfully with all his might. To pay respects to the rich and hang on them for support has been the bane of all the Sannyasin communities of our country. A true Sannyasin should scrupulously avoid that. Such conduct becomes a public woman rather than one who professes to have renounced the world. How should a man immersed in Kama-Kanchana(lust and greed) become a devotee of one whose central ideal is the renunciation of Kama-Kanchana?[Source]
- The question has yet to be decided whether peace will survive or war; whether patience will survive or non-forbearance, whether goodness will survive or wickedness; whether muscle will survive or brain; whether worldliness will survive or spirituality. We have solved our problem ages ago, and held on to it through good or evil fortune, and mean to hold on to it till the end of time. Our solution is unworldliness — renunciation.[Source]
- The voice of the ancient sages proclaim to us, “If you desire to attain God, you will have to renounce Kâma-Kânchana (lust and possession).[Source]
- There can be no love so long as there is lust— even a speck of it, as it were, in the heart. None but men of great renunciation, none but mighty giants among men, have a right to that Love Divine. If that highest ideal of love is held out to the masses, it will indirectly tend to stimulate its worldly which dominates the heart of man— for, meditating on love to God by thinking of oneself as His wife or beloved, one would very likely be thinking most of the time of one’s own wife— the result is too obvious to point out…
- There is no end to renunciation.[Source]
- There is nothing so high as renunciation of self.[Source]
- Tremendous purity, tremendous renunciation, is the one secret of spirituality. “Neither through wealth, nor through progeny, but through renunciation alone is immortality to be reached,” say the Vedas. “Sell all that thou hast and give to poor, and follow me,” says the Christ. So all great saints and prophets have expressed it, and have carried it out in their lives. How can great spirituality come without renunciation?
- Vairagya or renunciation is the turning point in all the various Yogas. The Karmi (worker) renounces the fruits of his work. The Bhakta (devotee) renounces all little loves for the almighty and omnipresent love. The Yogi renounces his experiences, because his philosophy is that the whole Nature, although it is for the experience of the soul, at last brings him to know that he is not in Nature, but eternally separate from Nature. The Jnani (philosopher) renounces everything, because his philosophy is that Nature never existed, neither in the past, nor present, nor will It in the future.[Source]
- When a man has fulfilled the duties and obligations of that stage of life in which he is born, and his aspirations lead him to seek a spiritual life and to abandon altogether the worldly pursuits of possession, fame, or power, when, by the growth of insight into the nature of the world, he sees its impermanence, its strife, its misery, and the paltry nature of its prizes, and turns away from all these — then he seeks the True, the Eternal Love, the Refuge. He makes complete renunciation (Sannyâsa) of all worldly position, property, and name, and wanders forth into the world to live a life of self-sacrifice and to persistently seek spiritual knowledge, striving to excel in love and compassion and to acquire lasting insight. Gaining these pearls of wisdom by years of meditation, discipline, and inquiry, he in his turn becomes a teacher and hands on to disciples, lay or professed, who may seek them from him, all that he can of wisdom and beneficence.[Source]
- When a man is under the control of his senses, he is of this world. When he has controlled the senses, he has renounced.[Source]
- Without renunciation God can never be realised—यदि ब्रह्मा स्वयं वदेत्—even if Brahmâ himself enjoined otherwise![Source]
- Without renunciation, without burning dispassion for sense-objects, without turning away from wealth and lust as from filthy abomination— “न सिध्यति ब्रह्मशतान्तरेऽपि—never can one attain salvation even in hundreds of Brahma’s cycles”.[Source]
Unselfish work is true renunciation
This world is not for cowards. Do not try to fly. Look not for success or failure. Join yourself to the perfectly unselfish will and work on. Know that the mind which is born to succeed joins itself to a determined will and perseveres. You have the right to work, but do not become so degenerate as to look for results. Work incessantly, but see something behind the work. Even good deeds can find a man in great bondage. Therefore be not bound by good deeds or by desire for name and fame. Those who know this secret pass beyond this round of birth and death and become immortal.
The ordinary Sannyasin gives up the world, goes out, and thinks of God. The real Sannyasin lives in the world, but is not of it. Those who deny themselves, live in the forest, and chew the cud of unsatisfied desires are not true renouncers. Live in the midst of the battle of life. Anyone can keep calm in a cave or when asleep. Stand in the whirl and madness of action and reach the Centre. If you have found the Centre, you cannot be moved.[Source]
Renunciation, that is the flag, the banner of India
From a lecture delivered by Swami Vivekananda in Calcutta in 1897—[Source]
Renunciation, that is the flag, the banner of India, floating over the world, the one undying thought which India sends again and again as a warning to dying races, as a warning to all tyranny, as a warning to wickedness in the world. Ay, Hindus, let not your hold of that banner go. Hold it aloft. Even if you are weak and cannot renounce, do not lower the ideal. Say, “I am weak and cannot renounce the world”, but do not try to be hypocrites, torturing texts, and making specious arguments, and trying to throw dust in the eyes of people who are ignorant. Do not do that, but own you are weak. For the idea is great, that of renunciation. What matters it if millions fail in the attempt, if ten soldiers or even two return victorious! Blessed be the millions dead! Their blood has bought the victory. This renunciation is the one ideal throughout the different Vedic sects except one, and that is the Vallabhâchârya sect in Bombay Presidency, and most of you are aware what comes where renunciation does not exist. We want orthodoxy — even the hideously orthodox, even those who smother themselves with ashes, even those who stand with their hands uplifted. Ay, we want them, unnatural though they be, for standing for that idea of giving up, and acting as a warning to the race against succumbing to the effeminate luxuries that are creeping into India, eating into our very vitals, and tending to make the whole race a race of hypocrites. We want to have a little of asceticism. Renunciation conquered India in days of yore, it has still to conquer India. Still it stands as the greatest and highest of Indian ideals — this renunciation. The land of Buddha, the land of Ramanuja, of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the land of renunciation, the land where, from the days of yore, Karma Kanda was preached against, and even today there are hundreds who have given up everything, and become Jivanmuktas — ay, will that land give up its ideals? Certainly not. There may be people whose brains have become turned by the Western luxurious ideals; there may be thousands and hundreds of thousands who have drunk deep of enjoyment, this curse of the West — the senses — the curse of the world; yet for all that, there will be other thousands in this motherland of mine to whom religion will ever be a reality, and who will be ever ready to give up without counting the cost, if need be.
Disciple: Sir, even the Upanishads etc. do not clearly teach about renunciation and Sannyasa.
Swamiji: You are talking like a madman! Renunciation is the very soul of the Upanishads. Illumination born of discriminative reflection is the ultimate aim of Upanishadic knowledge. My belief, however, is that it was since the time of Buddha that the monastic vow was preached more thoroughly all over India, and renunciation, the giving up of sense-enjoyment, was recognised as the highest aim of religious life. And Hinduism has absorbed into itself this Buddhistic spirit of renunciation. Never was a great man of such renunciation born in this world as Buddha.[Source]