Monday, September 18, 2017

Why take up ‘sanyas’ when you are worth a fortune?

Those with large fortunes continually make headlines. Sometimes the headlines are so radical that one must do a double take.

Yesterday, I came across the news article about a “Jain couple to leave minor kid, Rs 100 crore wealth for monkhood.”  (link) This story described the intent of a well-educated Jain couple from the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh who have decided to leave behind their three-year-old daughter and property "worth Rs 100 crore" (over $ 15 million) to embrace monkhood (‘sanyas’) under the 'Shwetambar' (white clad) order of their religion.

Sumit Rathore (left) and wife Anamika with daughter. (Source: Facebook profile of Yatindra Kush Tyagi).
Sumit Rathore (left) and wife Anamika with daughter. (Source: Facebook profile of Yatindra Kush Tyagi).
So, what is 'sanyas’ in the Indian cultural context?  According to Wikipedia 
“Sannyasa (saṃnyāsa) is the life stage of renunciation within the Hindu philosophy of four age-based life stages known as ashramas, with the first three being Brahmacharya (bachelor student), Grihastha (householder) and Vanaprastha (forest dweller, retired). Sannyasa is traditionally conceptualized for men or women in late years of their life, but young brahmacharis have had the choice to skip the householder and retirement stages, renounce worldly and materialistic pursuits and dedicate their lives to spiritual pursuits.” 
We have all heard of billionaires and millionaires announcing plans to give away a large part of their fortunes to charity during their lifetimes.  Notable are stories like that of "Bill Gates gives $4.6bn to charity in biggest donation since 2000."  or "Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares for Charity"  and Jeff Bezos taking to social media seeking ideas for his "philanthropic strategy" 

This story of Sumit Rathore and his wife Anamika, however, is a bit different. They have a net worth that most other Indians can only dream of. However, it is also different from that of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg since it is not about charity, but rather renouncing everything.

Which brings us back to the question: Why take up ‘sanyas’ when you are worth a fortune? Of course, Sanyas has little to do with high-networth but rather about one’s mindset in taking up sanyas, renouncing worldly pleasures, wealth and more importantly a young family with potential.

Their reasons for the move are unclear, and my guess is as good as yours; but it may be simply because Sumit and Anamika can!

In case you are wondering, my personal views on religion, charity and Indian culture continue to be reshaped based on my experiences. I am content being a mere ‘karma yogi,’ engaging with life and society while actively engaging in my Karma without renouncing much.
There is a phrase from Ratan Tata continues to shape my worldview  (link: The Economist

“I want to be able to go to bed at night and say that I haven't hurt anybody”

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