Without understanding, how can the mind become steady?
Without the Name the whole world is insane.||3|| Without detachment,
how can one one be a detached hermit? Without renouncing egoism,
how can anyone be a renunciate? (sggs 1140).

The closest word for Sanyasa in English is renunciation. What does it really mean? Is it wandering around wearing saffron robes or other peculiar garbs? Does it mean running away from the society? Is it the self-inflicted pain of austerity and penance? Does it mean abandoning one's family due to distress and afflictions of the world? Does it mean destroying one's body or denying it its natural necessities? Is it just the abandonment of worldly objects, places or possessions? Is it a temporary suppression of sinful actions or evil inclinations? Is it the selective renouncing of things? Is it renouncing of what one consider not-his? Is it begging or taking food from homes of others? The total or supreme Sanyasa the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) talks about is none of these! Because any activity that creates division (duality or "Doojaa Bhaav") within cannot lead one to a true renunciation.

  • ਮਨਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ਦੇਖੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕਉਨੁ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਕਉਨੁ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥: Mani veechaar dekh braham giaanee koun girahee koun udaasee: Contemplate this in your mind, and see, O spiritual teacher: who is the householder, and who is the renunciate? (sggs 1329).
  • ਭਿਆਗਤ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਜਿਨ ਕੇ ਚਿਤ ਮਹਿ ਭਰਮੁ ॥: Abhiaagat ehi na aakheean jin ke chit mahi bharam: He is not called a renunciate, whose consciousness is filled with doubt (sggs 949).
  • ਭਿਆਗਤ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਰ ਘਰਿ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਕਰੇਨਿ ॥: Abhiaagat ehi na aakheean ji par ghari bhojan karen: They are not called renunciates, who take food in the homes of others (sggs 949).
  • ਇਕਿ ਕੰਦ ਮੂਲੁ ਚੁਣਿ ਖਾਹਿ ਵਣ ਖੰਡਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਭਗਵਾ ਵੇਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਜੋਗੀ ਸੰਨਿਆਸਾ ॥ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਛਾਦਨ ਭੋਜਨ ਕੀ ਆਸਾ ॥ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਨ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਨ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥: Ik kand mool chun khaahi vanu khandi vaasaa. Ik bhagavaa vesu kari firahi jogee sanyasa. Aadar trisanaa bahut shaadan bhojan kee aasaa. Birathaa janam gavaai na girahee na udaasaa: Some pick and eat fruits and roots, and live in the wilderness. Some wander around wearing saffron robes, as Yogis and Sanyasis. But there is still so much desire within them-they still yearn for clothes and food i.e., passing sense pleasures. They waste their lives uselessly; they are neither householders nor renunciates. (sggs 140).
  • ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਦੂਜੀ ਰਾਈ: Dubidhaa vichi bairaagu na hovee jabb lagu doojee raaee: There cannot be detachment in delusion, as long as there is even a particle of duality (sggs 634).

Man is like the elephant on this earth. The rider who continually inflicts pain and suffering on this elephant is ignorance: false ego-sense, foolishness, illusion, duality, relativist consciousness, doubts, and so on. Though this elephant is very powerful — it possesses the two tusks of Bibek-Budhi (the power to discriminate between truth and false) and Bairaag (dispassion) — but it was overcome by the rider. In other words, though we are perfect in every way, but we are overcome by ignorance, Mayaic Budhi...

Without knowing the true blissful nature (Anand) of the Mool with (Source, Origin, Jot...), the majority of us out of ignorance are caught in the whirlpool of worldly existence. After the elephant is captured in the forest, it is imprisoned in the iron cage. Similarly, the man and his mind-elephant is cooped in the material and psychological cage.

  • ਮਨੁ ਕੁੰਚਰੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਉਦਿਆਨੈ ॥: Manu kuncharu kaaiaa udiaanai: The mind is an elephant in the forest of the body (sggs 221).
  • ਕਾਮ ਸੁਆਇ ਗਜ ਬਸਿ ਪਰੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਅੰਕਸੁ ਸਹਿਓ ਸੀਸ ॥: Kaam suaai gaj basi pare mann bauraa re ankas sahio sees: Attracted by the lure of lust, the elephant is captured, O crazy mind, and now the halter is placed around its neck (sggs 335).
  • ਜਿਉ ਮੈਗਲੁ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਿਓ ਤੂ ਲਾਗਿ ਪਰਿਓ ਕੁਟੰਬਾਇਲੇ ॥: Jiou maigal indree ras parerio too laag pario kutambaaile: O man, like the elephant, driven by lust, you are attached to your family (sggs 862).

One may manage to break out of material cage of desires and fears and go to jungles, caves or mountaintops. But breaking out of the psychological cage (false ego-sense or Haume) is not as easy as abandoning the material cage. Therefore, as repeatedly indicated in the Gurbani, until the psychological cage is broken and abandoned at once and forever, there will be no total or supreme Sanyasa in life.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਹਉ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਕਹਾ ਕੋਊ ਤਿਆਗੀ ॥: Bin hou tiaag kahaa kouoo tiaagee: Without renouncing egoism, how can anyone be a renunciate? (sggs 1140).

According to the Gurbani, therefore, the total or supreme Sanyasa is in abandoning the psychological construct called false ego-sense, which seems to exist on account of ignorance and delusion. Therefore, renunciation springs in the inner recesses of one's consciousness and manifests in the way one thinks, acts and speaks.

Simply put: renunciation is casting away of one's lesser self (ego-being) to actualize his Higher Being - Mool within (Source, Jot...). Once the cage of psychological conditionings or self-limitations (Haume) is abandoned, the material cage (lust, anger, greed, attachment, self-conceit, envy, stubborn mindedness and their numerous variations) will stand broken. Once the source of ignorance or foolishness is abandoned, there is the freedom from sorrows (Dukha).

  • ਮਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਤਿਆਗੀ ॥: Manu bairaagee houmai tiaagee: This mind becomes a detached renunciate by forsaking egoism (sggs 415).
  • ਤਿਆਗਨਾ ਤਿਆਗਨੁ ਨੀਕਾ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਤਿਆਗਨਾ ॥੩॥: Tiaaganaa tiaagan neekaa kaam krodh lobh tiaaganaa ||3||: Renunciation, renunciation (i.e, out of all renunciations) - noble is the renunciation of lust, anger and greed (i.e, renunciation of all Bikaars). ||3|| (sggs 1018).
  • ਸੋ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ਜੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਏ ॥: So sanayasee jo satigur sevai vichahu aapu gavaaye: He alone is a Sanyasi, who serves the Satgur and removes his self-conceit from within (sggs 1013).

Perhaps one can appreciate now the folly of abandoning society or family and then call oneself a Sanyasis or a renunciate. One harrowed by distress of family, pressures at rapidly changing workplace and other worldly problems may put on saffron robe and wander away. Such false renunciation triggered by the afflictions of the world does not last long.

Thus, this sort of "monkey renunciation" does not constitute real renunciation. As the Gurbani makes it clear, in the absence of complete abandonment of the psychological cage without any residue, the ten organs of sensations can overcome even the detached renunciate and attach him back to the sensory pleasures. To put it otherwise, Maya (illusion, ignorance, dualistic principle, etc.) that torments us through household and worldly affairs, until this Maya is fully transcended, the same Maya will torment us in the hermitage, forests, secluded caves or mountaintops. The Gurbani's position is that by running away from the world and responsibilities, we cannot attain permanent peace of the mind. It is a cowardly way of opting out of a problem or responsibility the easier way. Where ever one goes, his desires will still be there in the mind, to toss him around. But because of fear of outcome one wants to renounce the world.

  • ਹੋਇ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਤਜਿ ਚਲਿਓ ਛੁਟਕੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਠਾ ॥੧॥: Hoi udaasee grihu taji chalio shutakai naahee naathaa ||1||: (One) becomes a renunciate (ਦੁਨੀਆ ਵਲੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ), abandons his home and walks out on (his) family, but (his) wandering impulses (ਭਟਕਣਾ) do not leave (him) ||1|| (sggs 1003).
  • ਮਮਤਾ ਮੋਹੁ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਹਿਤਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਨਾ ਅਉਧੂਤੀ ਨਾ ਸੰਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: Mamataa Mohu Kaamani Hitakaaree. Naa aoudhootee naa sansaaree: (If one is) attached to the affection (of Maya...) and the love of woman (lust...). You are neither a renunciate (anchoret, ਤਿਆਗੀ...), nor a family man (ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤੀ). ||1|| (sggs 903).
  • ਦਸ ਨਾਰੀ ਅਉਧੂਤ ਦੇਨਿ ਚਮੋੜੀਐ ॥: Das naaree aoudhoot deni chamorreeai: The ten sense organs even attach the detached renunciates (anchorites, ਤਿਆਗੀ) to sensory pleasures (sggs 522).
  • ਇਕਿ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਤਿਨ੍‍ ਕਾਮਿ ਵਿਆਪੈ ॥: Ik firahi udaasee tinh kaam viaapai: Some wander around as renunciates, but they are engrossed in lust (sggs 370).
  • ਅੰਤਰੁ ਮਲਿ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਨਾ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਮਲੁ ਘਟਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਕਾਹੇ ਭਇਆ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ॥੧॥: Antar mali niramal nahee keenaa baahar bhekh udaasee. Hirdai kamal ghat brahm n cheenaah kaahe bhaiaa saniaasee ||1||: (If a person) have not cleansed the filth from within, although outwardly, (he may) wear the dress of a renunciate (ਸਾਧੂਆਂ ਵਾਲਾ ਬਾਣਾ...); in the heart-lotus of your self, you have not recognized God - why have you become a Sannyaasee? ||1|| (sggs 525).

Therefore, according to the Gurbani, the man must renounce his ego regime (Haume) the psychological construct self-image. This is the best part of renunciation. What makes people abandon society in the first place is this ego! That is to say, in the life of both the renunciate and the householder, there is anxiety and egoism. In other words, even though the renunciate has abandoned all the material things and has come to a hermitage, but he is still a prisoner in the ego-cage. On the other hand, in the life of an unenlightened householder, there is constant worry and anxiety. Thus, without the ultimate sacrifice of the false ego-sense, both are miserable.

  • ਸੋ ਅਉਧੂਤੀ ਜੋ ਧੂਪੈ ਆਪੁ ॥: So aoudhootee jo dhoopai aapu: He alone is a detached hermit, who burns away his self-conceit (sggs 952).
  • ਗਿਰਸਤ ਮਹਿ ਚਿੰਤ ਉਦਾਸ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਜੀਅ ਕਉ ਜੰਜਾਰ ॥੩॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਇਆ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਰੀ ਤਿਨਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Girasat mahi chint udaas ahankaar. Karam karat jeea kaou janjaar ||3|| Prabh kirapaa te manu vasi aaiaa. Nanak gurmukh taree tin Maya: In the householder's life, there is anxiety, and in the life of the renunciate, there is egotism. Performing religious rituals, the soul is entangled. ||3|| By awakening the Divine Grace within, the mind is brought under control; O Nanak, one who has become Gurmukh crosses over the ocean of Maya (sggs 385).
  • ਆਪੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਹਿ ਤਾਮਸੀ ਕਾਹੇ ਭਏ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥: Aapu na cheenahi taamasee kaahe bhaae udaasaa: The unenlightened people do not understand themselves - why have they become renunciates? (sggs 419).

The false ego-sense is unreal. It is our instinctive or mayaic mind. Therefore, renunciation of the ego-mind is the total or supreme renunciation. Here "total" is meant only the instinctive mind; for mind is the all. Ignorance or foolishness of the mind is also termed bondage the love of "Kanik Kaamini" or lust and greed. To be fully successful, the mind must be renounced all at once and forever, otherwise it will expand once again and it will gathered once again. So the Gurbani asks us to look within in an effort to find this phantom called mind so that it might be renounced or annihilated once and for all. Renunciation of the ego-mind (worries, concepts, notions, thoughts-stuff, etc.) is the freedom from the cage known as Sansaar: the creation-cycle.

  • ਜੋ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਹਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਸੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਰਾਮ ॥: Jo manu maarahi aapanaa se purakh bairaagee raam: Those who conquer their minds are beings of renunciation and detachment (sggs 569).
  • ਨਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਰੈ ॥: Na man marai na Maya marai: Maya can not be conquered without annihilation of the mind (sggs 1342).
  • ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਧਾਤੁ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਕੈਸੇ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥: Mann marai dhaat mar jaae ...: When the mind is conquered, its turbulent wanderings are stopped. Without annihilating (conquering) the mind, how can God be found? Rare is the one who knows the medicine to conquer the mind. The mind is conquered through the Shabad; this is known to the Lord’s humble servant (sggs 665).
  • ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥: Mann jeetai jagg jeet: If you conquer the mind, you conquer the material world (sggs 6).

If we analyze it further, the abandonment of the cage of false ego-sense is the firm and decisive renunciation of craving for fleeting sense-pleasures for the sake of eternal joy. Simply put, renunciation means to have dispassion for the gross objects of the world to give up at once, with determination, that which is unreal and longing for the Bliss Absolute. It is only by relinquishing sense-slavery that the human mind can develop Bibek-Budhi, Vairagya, introspection, etc., with which it can experience the subtler realms of the human psyche, including ultimately the Mool with (Source, Origin, Jot...). Cessation of craving for pleasure is the realization of the Absolute within. According to the Gurbani, this ultimate state can be experienced at this very moment, "here" and "now". It is essentially withdrawing oneself within. One does not have to escape into forest or caves, it can be done in one's own home.

  • ਸੁੰਨ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਬੈਸਣੁ ਕਲਪ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਪੰਥਾ ॥: Sunn gufaa mahi aasan baisan kalap bibarajit panthaa: In the inner cave of silence, dwell in your Yogic posture; let the subjugation of desire be your spiritual path (sggs 334).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਘਰਿ ਬੈਠਿਆ ਜੋਗੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ॥: Nanak ghar baithiaa jog paaeeai satgur kai oupades: O Nanak, Yoga is obtained even while sitting in your own home, by following the Satguru's (Divine) Teachings (sggs 1421).
  • ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਘਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥: Naam rate ghar maahi udaasaa: Attuned to the Divine Naam, remain detached within your own home (sggs 16).
  • ਰੇ ਮਨ ਐਸੋ ਕਰ ਸੰਨਿਆਸਾ ॥ ਬਨ ਸੇ ਸਦਨ ਸਭੈ ਕਰ ਸਮਝਹੁ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥: Re mann aiso kar sanyasa. Bann se sadan sabhai kar samajhahu mann hee maahi udaasaa: O mind, adopt such Sanyasa: take your home to be the forest, and remain detached within your own mind (Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Raamkalee).
  • ਬਨ ਮਹਿ ਪੇਖਿਓ ਤ੍ਰਿਣ ਮਹਿ ਪੇਖਿਓ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਪੇਖਿਓ ਉਦਾਸਾਏ ॥: Ban mahi pekhio trin mahi pekhio grihi pekhio udaasaaye: I have seen God in the woods and in the fields. I have seen Him in the household, and in renunciation (sggs 1139).

Therefore, the only purpose of religion is to lead people to pure and total renunciation: abandoning of the false ego-sense ("I-am-ness), "here" and "now". Such supreme renunciation, in turn, leads one to real Yoga, Divine Knowledge (Aatam Giaan), and ultimately to liberation (Mukti) from the onslaught of ignorance the "rider" on this elephant-mind.

Thus, from a practical standpoint, turning to Sanyasa does not mean running away from the society, but one should remain here detached, and serve his True Nature and mankind without expectation of name, fame, gain, recognition, titles, and so on. Action without any motive, out of a sense of duty and selfless love, will eventually help a person to evolve spiritually and reach a stage where he will be totally free from baser desires. To look at renunciation from an another angle, it is the casting away of selfishness, evil actions, evil passions, sense-slavery, corruption, frauds, deception, and so on. It is seeing the same Lord in each and every heart. As indicated in the Gurbani, the mere claim of renunciation without such righteous conduct or truthful living will be nothing but hypocrisy.

  • ਹਰਿ ਪਾਖੰਡੁ ਨ ਕੀਜਈ ਬੈਰਾਗੀਅੜੇ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਪਾਸੁ ਨ ਛੋਡਈ ਬੈਰਾਗੀਅੜੇ ॥: Har paakhand na keejee bairaageearre. Trisanaa paas na shodaee bairaageearre: Don't practice hypocrisy with God, O renunciate! Thirst and desire do not just go away, O renunciate (sggs 1104).
  • ਬਦ ਅਮਲ ਛੋਡਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਹਥਿ ਕੂਜਾ ॥: Bad amal shod karahu hathi koojaa: (O Yogi) Let renunciation of evil actions be the water-jug you carry (sggs 1084).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਸੰਧਿ ਮੈ ਪੇਖਿਆ ਘਟ ਹੂ ਘਟ ਜਾਗੀ ॥ ਐਸੀ ਬੁਧਿ ਸਮਾਚਰੀ ਘਟ ਮਾਹਿ ਤਿਆਗੀ ॥: Trikuttee sandhi mai pekhiaa ghatt hoo ghatt jaagee. Aisee budh samaacharee ghatt maahi tiaagee: I gaze upon the world, the confluence of the three qualities (Maya); God is awake and aware in each and every heart. Such is the understanding revealed to me; within my heart, now I have become a detached renunciate (sggs 857).

The Gurbani tells us that a true renunciate is a Gurmukh (spiritual being) and a Gurmukh is a true renunciate. To put it otherwise, a person of true and total renunciation is a Giaanee (the knower of his Mool) and a Giaanee is a supreme renunciate; for a Gurmukh and a Giaanee are one and the same. He is a person of Mool-realization. But such a Gurmukh or a Giaanee is very rare. As the Gurbani reminds us, until and unless we become a true Gurmukh or a Giaanee, we would not know the difference between the renunciation and the worldliness (Maya). And without a true and total renunciation, no spiritual progress is possible.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: Guramukh paravirati naravirati pashaanai: By becoimg the Gurmukh, (one) knows Paravirti and Niravirti - ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ (sggs 941).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bin bairaag na shootas maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.) ||1|| (sggs 329).
  • ਪ੍ਰਥਮੇ ਛੋਡੀ ਪਰਾਈ ਨਿੰਦਾ ॥ ਉਤਰਿ ਗਈ ਸਭ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਚਿੰਦਾ ॥ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਸਭੁ ਕੀਨੋ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਪਰਮ ਬੈਸਨੋ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪੇਖਿ ਹਜੂਰਿ ॥੧॥ ਐਸੋ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪੈ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਕਾ ਛੋਡਿਆ ਸੰਗੁ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕਾ ਉਤਰਿਆ ਰੰਗੁ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਧਿਆਏ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰੇ ॥ ਸਾਧ ਜਨਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨਿਸਤਰੇ ॥੨॥: Prathame shodee paraaee nindaa ...: First, I gave up slandering others. All the anxiety of my mind was dispelled. Greed and attachment were totally banished. I see God ever-present, close at hand ||1||. I have become a great devotee. Such a renunciate is very rare. Such a humble servant chants the Divine Name.||1||Pause|| I have forsaken my egotistical intellect. The love of lust and anger has vanished. I meditate on the Divine Naam. In the spiritual company, I am emancipated ||2|| (sggs 1147).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੁਕਤਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੁਗਤਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬਕਤਾ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਏ ਜੀਉ ॥੫॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਛੂਟਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਵਣੁ ਜਾਵਣੁ ਤੂਟਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰਮ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਹਕਰਮਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰੇ ਸੁ ਸੁਭਾਏ ਜੀਉ ॥੬॥: The Gurmukh is liberated, and the Gurmukh is linked (to Mool within). The Gurmukh is the spiritual teacher, and the Gurmukh is the preacher. Blessed is the Gurmukh, the householder and the renunciate. The Gurmukh knows the Lord's Value. ||5|| Egotism is bondage; as Gurmukh, one is emancipated. The Gurmukh escapes the cycle of coming and going in reincarnation. The Gurmukh performs Karma (ਮਾਇਆ-ਰਹਿਤ), and the Gurmukh is beyond Karma (i.e., he does not get involve in Mayaic efforts...). Whatever the Gurmukh does, is done in good faith (ਆਤਮ-ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਚ ਟਿਕ ਕੇ). ||6|| (sggs 131).

As time and again indicated in the Gurbani, the abandonment of the ego-mind (Haume) alone is total renunciation. Once it is abandoned it clears the ground for the manifestation of soul qualities leading to the experience of the Truth within. Then all sorrows come to an end. The Gurbani says anyone ne desirous of leading a life of pure renunciation can do so while living in the midst of happenings of the world. In other words, one can remain amidst his family, yet behave like a renunciate or an ascetic, showing detachment and forbearance. There is no need for anybody to practice stringent austerities and penance or retire to secluded places. Even at home we can restrain and control our minds from running away along with our senses. What's needed is living a divine life: a life of truth, virtues, integrated personality, disciplined character, utter humility, compassion, contentment, and the mind free from malice and allied evil traits.

The divine life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle) dawns when the mind is established in Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan); for Spiritual Wisdom is the creeper that yields the fruits of cessation of sensory attachments and wrong habit patterns. Thus it is only when the Mool is realized — Shabad-Surti, Pure Consciousness, Joti-Svaroopa, etc. — that the highest form of dispassion and the spirit of real inner and outer renunciation become firmly rooted in the heart. As per the Gurbani, he who devotes himself to Shabad-Vichaar to actualize his Mool with (Source, Origin, Jot...), is a true man of renunciation.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਿਆ ਜਿਸੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਗਿਰਸਤ ਉਦਾਸਾ ਜੀਉ ॥: Nanak naam vasiaa jis antar paravaan girasat udaasaa jeeou: O Nanak, if the Divine Naam dwells within the mind, one is approved and accepted, whether he is a house-holder or a renunciate (sggs 108).
  • ਸੇ ਜਨ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਸਚਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ॥: Se jan bairaagee sach liv laagee aapanaa aap pashaaniaa: They are beings of detachment, who have lovingly focused their consciousness (on the Lord) and have realized their own self. (sggs 569).
  • ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: (Yoga) is attained by remaining unblemished in the midst of the worldly filth (Maya) — this is the way to attain Yoga (sggs 730).
  • ਪੂਰਾ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਗੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨੰ ॥੮॥੧॥ pooraa bairaagee sehaj subhaagee sach naanak man maanan ||8||1|| (Who is aatuned to the High Spiritual Plane - ਜੋ ਮਨੁੱਖ ਸਦਾ ਉੱਚੇ ਆਤਮਕ ਮੰਡਲ ਵਿਚ ਵੱਸਦਾ ਹੈ - to whose mind the Naam, Shabad, Hukam is pleasing...) O Nanak! (he becomes) perfect renunciate (Bairaagee) and very fortunate; through Sahaj (Natural State of Being, Intuitive Ease, ਗਿਆਨ ਅਵਸਤਾ, etc., his) mind is pleased with the Truth. ||8||1||(sggs 635).
  • ਅਭਿਆਗਤ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿ ਆਤਮ ਗਉਣੁ ਕਰੇਨਿ ॥: Abhiaagat sayee Nanakaa ji aatam gaoun karen: They alone are renunciates, O Nanak, who know their Soul (sggs 949).
  • ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਭਇਆ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥: Gur bachanee baahar ghar eko Nanak bhaiaa udaasee: Following the Divine Teachings, Nanak has become a detached renunciate. Now he sees the same God outside and inside (sggs 992).
  • ਬਾਬਾ ਐਸੀ ਰਵਤ ਰਵੈ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਏਕ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਸੀ ॥: Baabaa aisee ravat ravai sanyasi. Gur kai sabadi ek liv laagee terai naam ratte tripataasee: O Baabaa, this is the way of life of the renunciate. Through the Gur-Shabad, he is to enshrine love for One God. Imbued with His Name, he remains satisfied and fulfilled (sggs 1012).
  • ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਸੋ ਦਾਸੁ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨਿਆ ॥: So girahee so daas udaasee jin gurmukh aap pashaaniaa: He is a householder, he is a renunciate and God's slave, who, as Gurmukh, realizes the Self (sggs 1332).
  • ਜਿਸ ਤੇ ਹੋਆ ਸੋਈ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਸੋ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥: Jis te hoaa soee kar maaniaa Nanak girahee udaasee so paravaan: Surrendering to the Source, O Nanak, one is approved as a householder, and a renunciate (sggs 1329).

In short, the SGGS seems to indicate that as a householder, externally one should be active and work truthfully to fulfill his duties, and internally observe Sanyasa.

— T. Singh