Monkey Renunciation

Monkeys make an external show of renunciation by not accepting clothing and by living naked in the forest. In this way they consider themselves renunciants, but actually they are very busy enjoying sense gratification with dozens of female monkeys. Such renunciation is called markata-vairagya – the renunciation of a monkey. One cannot be really renounced until one actually becomes disgusted with material activity and sees it as a stumbling block to spiritual advancement. Renunciation should not be phalgu, temporary, but should exist throughout one’s life.

Temporary renunciation, or monkey renunciation, is like the renunciation one feels at a cremation ground. When a man takes a dead body to the crematorium, he sometimes thinks, “This is the final end of the body. Why am I working so hard day and night?” Such sentiments naturally arise in the mind of any man who goes to a crematorial ghata. However, as soon as he returns from the cremation grounds, he again engages in material activity for sense enjoyment. This is called çmaçanavairagya, or markata-vairagya.

The word markata-vairagya is used by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to indicate so-called Vaisnavas who dress themselves in loincloths . . . . Such people carry a bead bag and chant, but at heart they are always thinking about getting women and money. Unknown to others, these markata-vairagis maintain women but externally present themselves as renunciants.