Feb 25, 2023

Book Review: Karma Sannyasa by Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati


I took time to read this book very slowly throughout Feb. As I had mentioned in the book review of "Yoga for Women", the third stage of life - Vanaprastha - is one of the topics I've been curious about. Karma Sannyasa is based on the same philosophy to suit the current reality, since abandoning our external life and retiring to the forest to pursue inner reflection - isn't practical in today's times.

Sannyasa is a word that we are quite familiar with, which refers to complete renunciation.

In Karma Sannyasa, the author recommends detachment as the basis. Detachment isn't indifference, but being able to remain unaffected in the face of trials and tribulations of life and maintaining a state of equipoise and balance.

Some of the key principles that the author highlights about adopting Karma Sannyasa way of life are:

  • Inaction in Action
  • Maintain a balance between worldly life and inner life
  • Continue with your duties and obligations relating to your Karma
  • Develop a higher awareness through life and not away from it

We move onto this stage of life automatically (not dependent on age) when we realize that the householder way of life is the means and not the end in itself. We start to experience things and people from a different perspective and a higher awareness.

"Whatever you are given and whoever you are living with should be considered as tools to discover and express your own nature."

"Life of a householder was designed, not merely to wile away the time, but to throw out the rajasic and tamasic properties, the dark properties of nature."

The author talks about three laws that are essential in this journey:

  • Every experience becomes a tool to shape your spiritual life
  • Focus on the regularity of your sadhana and not the intensity or quantum of it
  • Practice a state of detachment (like the lotus leaf in water), while leading a worldly life

There are also various questions related to Karma, raising a family, initiation, spending time in an ashram, and more being answered in this book. It's quite a dense read, but if the topic is of interest to you, you'll find a lot of valuable insights.

Favorite quotes:

"Karma sannyasa is not escapism; it is the way to fully embrace life."

"Freedom does not lie in abandoning your situation in life, but in accepting your duties and undergoing them without being adversely affected by them."

"Our senses are so extroverted that the mind is not able to experience things directly without an object."

"Karma itself is not the cause of suffering. Your identification with Karma is the cause of suffering."

"With the technological comforts afforded to us, we should not waste time, mind, and money in those ways which do not help us spiritually."

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