Last Updated: August 5, 2018

Definition - What does Renunciation mean?

Renunciation is the act of renouncing or rejecting something. In the context of yoga and Indian philosophy, renunciation is the giving up of worldly attachments in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment or liberation from the recurring cycle of life, death and rebirth.

In Hinduism, the act of renunciation is known by the Sanskrit term, sannyasa. In Buddhism, it is usually known by the Pali term, nekkhamma. In the Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains that both the yoga of action and the yoga of renunciation are paths to liberation.

Yogapedia explains Renunciation

A life of renunciation can vary widely, but the yogi who follows this path typically gives up material possessions, leads a simple life, and may leave family to wander without physical or emotional attachments. Many such ascetics are vegetarians.

In Hindu philosophy, sannyasa is a stage in a person’s life — the final of four life stages. The others (usually in order) are brahmacharya (devoted student), grihastha (family-supporting householder) and vanaprastha (retiree who has started to withdraw from material pursuits). Young students can choose to skip marriage and career and take the direct path to renunciation.

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