Can a person attain self-realisation, even while living with his/her family


Question :

Namaskar, out of the four Ashramas (stages of life), one is Sanyasa (asceticism). My curiosity is whether only those people giving up their family to live in isolation, or living in a place of pilgrimage for a lifetime alone can be called Sanyasi (ascetic), or can a person attain self-realisation, even while living with his/her family. As far as I know, my viewpoint could be improper, but I feel that it is written in scriptures that one who looks for Rama while living in this world, is a pure Sanyasi. Is it not a sin to give up one’s family to become a Sanyasi? Can one not live in this world with a Nishkaam Bhav (sense of selflessness), meaning, live like a saint even while being with the family? Kindly put my curiosity to rest and provide me proper guidance.
– Neeraj Kumar Mishra


Namaskar, Neeraj,
First of all, let us understand what Sanyasa is. The origin of the word Sanyasa is from a union of (Sam+Nyas). Sam, meaning everything and Nyas meaning, offering, or giving up; hence Sanyasa means giving up everything.
God Krishna has said in the 18th chapter of Shrimad Bhagvad Gita:
Kaamyanam karmanaam nyasam sanyasam kavayo viduh
Meaning, the knowledgeable ones say that sacrificing all the actions performed with expectation is Sanyasa. The Anubhuti of Sanyasa can be had even while living in Gruhastha Ashrama (life of a householder) and also while living in isolation. It is merely that Yogis with the instincts of a sanyasi (saint) are rare in this world and towards this end, rigorous Sadhana along with intense divine grace is needed. Be a Sanyasi, a worldly one, or one living in isolation, his being unattached is of prime importance.
Taking Sanyasa, that is renouncing the house and world to stay immersed in Sadhana can be attained only at the highest level of Sadhana.
For those below 60% spiritual level, restraining one’s senses to live a worldly life is primarily a prior preparation before going into Sanyasa. Pure saints never bestow Sanyasa upon anyone without ascertaining the capability and spiritual level of a Jivatma (embodied soul).
The reality is that there are only two Ashramas, one Brahmacharya (celibacy) and the second Sanyasa, it is only that it is difficult for every Jivatma to take the plunge; hence, God has created two more Ashramas – Gruhastha and Vanaprastha (living in a forest). Both these Ashramas which have been made for the Jivatma’s are like the transit points for Sanyasa Ashrama.
It is a different matter that in today’s Indian culture, both Varna and Ashrama systems have broken down and consequently Bharatiya culture has declined.
On should do Dharmaacharan (abiding the code of conduct as per Vedic Dharma) as a householder and once the children enter their life as a householder, one should hand over the responsibilities to them to do Sadhana most of the time, these are the duties and Dharma of Gruhasht (householder) and Vanprasth (retired householders) Ashram respectively, but due to lack of Dharmashikshan (education about abiding Dharma) and Dharmaglaani (Dharma being in danger) this system has almost collapsed. To do Sadhana while living as a householder, one must seek the companionship of Guru (Master), or one must go and stay at His Ashrama, turn inward and live in isolation for some time and contemplate upon the objective of one’s life and regularly read books and religious scriptures, practice Sadhana. Otherwise, becoming a Sanyasi while being worldly becomes impossible!
No sin arises if a person leaves the householder’s life and accepts Sanyas. This has been clearly told in Shreemad bhagwadgeeta.

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