In the ancient scheme devised by saints vision for a man’s peaceful journey through life, special emphasis was laid on efforts to derive spiritual enlightenment. Tradition did not bar men either from supporting his family or from acquiring material benefits but they were always cautioned to remain detached. Those fired with religious zeal were advised to discard wordly activities after a specified period and resort to exercises which will enable them to reach God’s kingdom.
Excessive attachment towards kith and kin will only make them frustrated. The tendency among children is to turn ungrateful and tell the parents, who might have undergone several privations and sacrifices to bring them up, that their success was only due to their own endeavour. Even the wife may detest her husband if he is in the sick-bed for along time or if he is stripped of his status or wealth. The man too, if he finds his wife a burden, may get disgusted with her.
The catastrophic consequences of excessive attachment towards family members and worldly possessions have been discussed by Neelakanta Dikshitar, a profound scholar, Pandyan Minister and devotee of Divine Mother, in one of his famous poems. So too are the sentiments in Yagnavalkya’s works.
Swami Ramakrishna narrates this inherent nature of a person by relating the story of a man who discarded his children and his wife when all of them were crossing a stream but were caught in sudden freshes. After a stage, a person is asked to get rid of his earthly links and meditate on God.
The concept of retirement for a man who has been toiling for a number of years for his family arises from this principle.
In his Ramayana discourse, Sri S. Venkatesa Sastrigal referred to emperor Dasaratha’s sudden plans to crown Sri Rama. A reminder of his old age made him decide to step down and he was confident of his son’s ability. The public welcomed the proposal with tumultuous approbation and the stage was set for His coronation when Fate intervened and thwarted the plans. Circumstances led to the Divine prince’s banishment.