Renunciation and Devotion

Dear all. I am reading Gita and renunciation and devotion is so emphasized as a way to obey Krishna. I do not know really what renunciation mean, for example it means abandoning everything you have and own at once?
Thank you for helping me.

Hi @Mehrshad youve got the wrong religion im afraid, this site is for Buddhism, not Hinduism :slight_smile:

Hello @Mehrshad, and welcome to the forum.

This is of course a valid question, whether you are Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever. Asking on a Buddhist forum you may get answers as they are found in the Buddhist texts, and that may well diverge from the view of the Gita (which I personally am not familiar with).

The Buddha in any case speaks of renunciation on many different levels. It starts out with keeping ethical precepts and refraining from harming others.

The five lay precepts are

  1. not killing
  2. not stealing
  3. not committing sexual misconduct
  4. not lying
  5. not consuming alcohol and drugs that cause negligence

Then of course there’s the option to become a monastic. Generally it is said that the more your practice progresses, the more your mind is inclined towards deeper levels of renunciation.


Here are some suttas that talk about renunciation:

renunciation (nekkhamma)


Dear Josephzizys
Hi and thank you so much for your recommendation but as the other members have said devotion and renunciation is common between religions as I understand. I would be very pleased if you please give me your suggestions.

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Thanks @Mehrshad , but i am not really comfortable with this, you state in your original post that you are reading the Gita and wish to serve Krishna, I think that that purpose would be better served by asking a Hinduism forum for advice, and i think that both the question, being one about personal practice, discussion of which is supoosed to be avoided on this forum, and the responses, which IMO amount to proselytizing, are inappropriate.


Dear Sabbamitta
Thank you for your reply. These five lay percets are so important and I have tried to use them in my life with little or no success. I should confess that I am unfortunately not a fair person. In other words I lie, steel, not fair in my partnership and so on. I have some philosophical questions about them and I suggest talking more deeply into these matters and getting experience from those who have tried them in their lives could help me in this way. I am not sure if this website is for this purpose, I mean philosophical discussions?

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Yes, that’s exactly what it’s for.

The Suttas say that keeping precepts brings a sort of deep and subtle joy, so why not try it with one precept at least and see how this goes?

Basically, what they say is that diving deeper into the practice also deepens the joy that we experience. It’s not meant to be a path of self-torture.


Taking and doing what you need for the sake of function, health, and security & not taking anything in excess. The idea of abandoning ‘everything’ isn’t what renunciation is about.

The historical Buddha realised a middle way between extremes asceticism as well as extreme sensual indulgence. One approach is rooted in ignorance, the other in greed, and the other in wisdom. Buddhadhamma is about thinking and realising for yourself instead of blindly obeying.


I am not asking people to which religion they adhere before I answer their questions. I have no idea how many people come to this forum and ask questions who are not Buddhists, but adhere to some other religion; they just don’t mention it.

If someone comes to this website—they know it’s a Buddhist forum, and they come here of their own accord—and asks a question, I don’t see any reason why I should not answer it. I think there are quite some people on this forum who are not Buddhists, but who come here because they want to discuss with Buddhists and want to hear what Buddhists have to say. What’s wrong with that?

How can people of different religions come to understand each other if not by going towards the other, asking questions, and having an exchange? This is how peace and understanding can grow in the world, not by sending each other away.

And what “personal practice” concerns, I think there’s quite a difference between going into the specifics of one’s own practice and discussing what the Suttas have to say in general terms about certain ethical and other practical questions.


Purpose of Rules and Precepts

You Don’t Need To Say NO To Everything

Why do you keep losing sense restraint?

Here: Hillside Hermitage

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I have said what i think @sabbamitta and frankly @Mehrshad follow up posts have not allayed my concerns one bit.

Red flags (metaphorically speaking) everywhere.

Dear josephzizys. Thank you for giving your ideas. As I understand the main concern you have is naming Gita and Krishna in my first post that has risen the suspicion of proselytizing, am I correct?

Hello Sabbamitta and thank you for your reply. I had though renunciation could only be applied to refrain from taking ownership of material goods but according to your interesting definition it also could be applied to for example the Buddha’s 5 lay precepts. Would you mind telling me what renunciation is in your mind?

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That’s part of it, certainly.

Well, my thoughts about it are really inspired by how this topic is spoken of in the Suttas, and as I already mentioned, there are various levels of renunciation and various ways in which it is discussed. I can only give a few examples.

Very often renunciation is opposed to sensuality, like for example in AN 2.65 (which is one of the texts mentioned above by Venerable @Snowbird).

Sensuality in a more specific sense refers to sexual activities, but in a broader sense also means giving in to impulses provoked by any sensual stimulation. And that can be all sorts of things, which then can lead to breaking any of the five lay precepts.

This is also why “renunciation” can have such a wide scope of applications. It may start with keeping the lay precepts—or just one of them even—and can extend all the way up to the highest goal. In a way you could say that becoming enlightened means having accomplished and perfected renunciation. You can say it’s just a perspective under which you can look at the entire path.

So if for example the impulse to steal something comes about a person who wants to train in renunciation, instead of going ahead without thinking they would pause and think “I want to train in not stealing”, and perhaps this time they would not do it. That could be the start; and as I said, the start of a journey that, when pursued continually, can lead up to full awakening.

Another way renunciation is often spoken of are states of deep meditation. The meditator renounces all the stimulations by the five senses and only focuses on this purified mind full of bliss. This is what the Sutta refers to that I quoted above, AN 2.65: the “bliss of renunciation” that it mentions is this bliss of deep meditation, and it says this is better than the bliss provided by the senses. In other words, meditation brings more happiness than sex (as Ajahn Brahm likes to put it).

If you wish to understand more of the Buddhist perspective on renunciation it can be helpful to do a bit of Sutta study. Venerable Snowbird’s list above may provide a good start. Or else you can just search the main website, type “renunciation” in the search field, and see what comes up.

Please note: Thinking about Buddhist philosophy and studying Suttas does not require one to become a Buddhist. Anyone can do it, just being interested is reason enough.


Hello Sasha_A. As I searched the website you sent for philosophical discussions Hillside Hermitage. I could not find any opportunity on that for this purpose. I mean no forum, no email and no contact detail.

Hello Sabbamitta. It took me some time to read the topics mentioned by Snowbird in Suttas. It seems a little complicated and extended if we talk about renunciation in all its forms at once. It seems easier and more understandable if we for example talk about atachment to wealth and possessions. I suggest dependency to money is a major obstacle because money could afford other sensualities as well. It is a major subject for confusing my mind and distracting it, too. What is your idea?

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You can find related discussions and ask your questions here: /r/HillsideHermitage

If it is confusing for you, perhaps you will find the following simplification helpful:

There are different levels of renunciation. One way to look at the different levels is the precepts. The 5 precepts are the first level of renunciation and involve renouncing unethical behavior. The 8 precepts are the next level and involve renouncing sensuality. The 10 precepts go even further and renounce handling money. The next highest level would be the rules for fully ordained monastics. The highest level would be the optional ascetic practices for monastics.

Another way to look at renunciation is the gradual training that is described in DN2, 4.3.1

There is an entire chapter on this topic in the SN (the collection of Linked Discourses), the 17th Saṁyutta. The Buddha even calls these things “brutal”:

SN17.1:2.1 ff: “Possessions, honor, and popularity are brutal, bitter, and harsh. They’re an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke. So you should train like this: ‘We will give up arisen possessions, honor, and popularity, and we won’t let them occupy our minds.’ That’s how you should train.”

If you want to study more of this chapter, just click the “next” button at the bottom of the page and go on from Sutta to Sutta. They are all fairly short.

The word “renunciation” isn’t mentioned here, but you may get a feel for the dangers it entails when one’s mind is too much attached to these things. I think the crucial term is “not let them occupy our minds”.

(Please note that the degree of renunciation—even if that word isn’t used—in this entire chapter mostly refers to the standards of a monk or nun. Monastics are of course supposed to keep much more distance from possessions as laypeople; but it’s perhaps the excess possessions that a layperson should focus on.)