Tyāga

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Tyaga, TyAga, Tyaaga


Tyāga literally means ‘giving up’.

Concept of Tyāga

Tyāga or giving up is an important concept found in the scriptures. It has two aspects:

  1. Giving away something to someone who needs it more. It is known as dāna. It has been prescribed as a duty for the householders.
  2. Giving up an object feeling that it is not a necessity or even an obstacle to the way of life one has chosen. It is known as vairāgya.[1] It is an essential qualification for one who aspires after sanyāsa or monastic life.

Different Perceptions by Scriptures

  • The Manusmṛti[2] forbids a householder from giving up his parents, wife and sons who depend upon him.
  • The Bhagavadgītā[3] gives a general definition of tyāga as giving up the fruits of all actions. It then categorizes the tyāga of actions into three types:[4]
  1. Sāttvika - It consists in performing one’s prescribed duties but giving up attachment towards them as also the fruits thereof.
  2. Rājasika - Giving up one’s prescribed duties because they entail a lot of physical exertion is rājasika-tyāga.
  3. Tāmasika - If the same is done out of delusion or confused understanding, it is tāmasika-tyāga.

Avowal by Bhagavadgitā

The Bhagavadgitā, however, unequivocally declares that works like yajña,[5] dāna[6] and tapas[7] should not be given up. On the contrary it must be performed. They always have a purifying effect.


References

  1. Vairāgya means renunciation.
  2. Manusmṛti 8.389
  3. Bhagavadgītā 18.2
  4. Bhagavadgitā 18.7-9
  5. Yajña means sacrifice.
  6. Dāna means giving gifts.
  7. Tapas means austerities.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore