Renunciation has, in the present day, come to be perceived as the only path to liberation. The order of renunciation has thus come to be glorified as sacred and redeeming in itself. Ancient Bh\u0101rat\u012bya thought could not be more opposed to this erroneous view. While renunciation is exceptionally venerable, it cannot and must not be understood as the only path to liberation. Also, just the acceptance of the order of renunciation does not guarantee liberation. The tradition to the contrary, admits to every order of human life as potentially redeeming, provided it is adhered to scrupulously, with one\u2019s intent concentrated solely on liberation. In other words, man can remain a householder, and yet be liberated. While all the four \u0101\u015bramas of brahmacarya, g\u1e5bhastadharma, v\u0101naprasthadharma and sany\u0101sa are afforded equal importance in societal life, g\u1e5bhast\u0101\u015brama is considered to be the most noble. It is looked upon as the bedrock of a harmonious and happy society. When Bharata tried to persuade R\u0101ma to return to Ayodhy\u0101 in the Ayodhy\u0101-k\u0101\u1e47\u1e0da, one of the arguments he mounted was based on the sanctity and centrality of g\u1e5bhastadharma to society. He stated, \u091a\u0924\u0941\u0930\u094d\u0923\u093e\u092e\u093e\u0936\u094d\u0930\u092e\u093e\u0923\u093e\u0902 \u0939\u093f \u0917\u093e\u0930\u094d\u0939\u0938\u094d\u0925\u094d\u092f\u0902 \u0936\u094d\u0930\u0947\u0937\u094d\u0920\u092e\u093e\u0936\u094d\u0930\u092e\u092e\u094d\u0964 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u093e\u0939\u0941\u0930\u094d\u0927\u0930\u094d\u092e\u091c\u094d\u091e \u0927\u0930\u094d\u092e\u091c\u094d\u091e\u093e\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0902 \u0915\u0925\u0902 \u0924\u094d\u092f\u0915\u094d\u0924\u0941\u092e\u0930\u094d\u0939\u0938\u093f\u0965 catur\u1e47\u0101m\u0101\u015bram\u0101\u1e47\u0101\u1e41 hi g\u0101rhasthya\u1e41 \u015bre\u1e63\u1e6dham\u0101\u015bramam| pr\u0101hurdharmaj\u00f1a dharmaj\u00f1\u0101sta\u1e41 katha\u1e41 tyaktumarhasi|| O\u2019 knower of dharma, savants in dharma consider the order of the householder to be the noblest of orders. How then do you contemplate relinquishing it? Bharata was opposed to the idea of R\u0101ma resorting to the forest dressed in the garb of an ascetic, adhering to what seemed to him like the dictates of a v\u0101naprastha life. He thus admonished R\u0101ma to resort to g\u1e5bhastadharma and to return home, so that he may assume the responsibility of protecting and supporting the rest of the orders of society. A fascinating conversation between the wise king Janaka and sage \u015auka found in the Brahmavaivarta-pur\u0101\u1e47a, encapsulates the centrality and redeeming nature of g\u1e5bhastadharma. \u015auka returned from his gurukulav\u0101sa or stint at the traditional school, and sage Vy\u0101sa was overjoyed. Much to \u015auka\u2019s ire however, sage Vy\u0101sa soon began to importune \u015auka to marry. \u015auka who was keen on attaining liberation, was opposed to the idea, for he believed that marrying would draw him away from his goal. Unable to convince him, sage Vy\u0101sa requested him to speak with the wise king Janaka. Rather reluctantly, \u015auka proceeded to Mithil\u0101, Janaka\u2019s kingdom. The wise king invited the young \u015auka and inquired why he had arrived at Mithil\u0101. \u015auka responded, \u201cI have arrived at your city upon the word of sage Vy\u0101sa, O\u2019 king. It is liberation I desire. Pray, tell me how I must proceed. State clearly, O\u2019 king, what results in emancipation \u2013 austerities, religious observances, sacrifices, chanting of the scriptures, and resorting to holy places and waters, or knowledge?\u201d Janaka responded that one must move from being a brahmac\u0101r\u012b or a student to becoming a householder. He must raise a family, serve society and then resort to the woods to contemplate as a v\u0101naprastha. He may then assume the order of a renunciant, once he has attained complete detachment.\u201d \u015auka was not convinced. He inquired further, \u201cif detachment and wisdom blossom in one, does he still have to go through the four orders, living in the house first and then in the forest?\u201d Said the king in response, \u201cthe senses are immensely powerful and intractable. They draw away the immature (seeker) with their myriad impulses. An ant proceeds slowly up a mighty tree, starting at its base, and manages to reach the delectable fruit. A bird on the other hand, takes to the sky in haste, with little consideration for impediments, and tires itself out. The clever ant on the contrary, reaches its fruit and rejoices. The mind is supremely powerful, and desire is without a doubt, unconquerable for the irresolute. Hence, they, the mind and desires, must be won steadily, by traversing through the four orders in chronology. Although consigned to the order of a householder, if man remains tranquil, resolute and noble of thought, he is unlikely to be elated by gain or desolate from loss. If he attends to the duties enjoined on him (by the scriptures) abandoning worries, and rejoices in the self contently, he will be liberated without a doubt. Take me for instance. Seated upon the throne of a kingdom, I am yet realized. I wander about at will, rejoicing in many a pleasure and engaging in myriad deeds of this world. Nothing however, affects me. It is said after all, that the perceptible cannot bind the imperceptible. The five senses are subject to perception, while the self is beyond either deduction or perception. How then can the immutable and immaculate self be bound? The mind is the true reason behind (the experiencing of) pain and pleasure. If the mind is rendered pure, everything (in creation) is reflected in its purity therein. If the mind is encrusted with dross, resorting to every pilgrimage site and dipping in every holy waterbody is but a strain that is in vain. In essence, it is the mind that is the reason behind the liberation or bondage of man; not the physical frame, the individual soul, or the sense organs. The immaculate self is ever liberated and cannot be bound. Notions of liberation and bondage are matters of the mind, and are allayed when the mind finds tranquility.\u201d \u015auka was further intrigued by the words of the king. He asked, \u201cking, my doubts, rather than being dispelled from listening to your words, persist. The actions enjoined in the Vedas carry an element of cruelty, and cruelty is the very basis of adharma. It is a known fact that drinking intoxicants, harming animals and consuming meat is against accepted conduct of the noble. How then can the deeds enjoined in the Vedas be liberating; tell me king?\u201d King Janaka responded, \u201cActions performed without attachment and ego are considered by savants to be inaction. Blessed one, actions performed by attached householders are indeed cruelty personified. Those actions that are performed by self-possessed souls who yearn for liberation, with no attachment or ego, are indeed devoid of cruelty.\u201d The king said in continuation, \u201cconcerns of duality assail you. You have resorted to this faraway land as a result. You are eternally distressed, for you are assailed by the fear that you are bound. Abandon this fear and find joy. Liberation is in recognizing, \u2018this physical frame is bound; not I\u2019. Liberation is the recognition \u2013 \u2018this wealth, this kingdom and this house are not mine\u2019.\u201d \u015auka was finally convinced that the order of a householder was not necessarily a deterrent to the liberation he sought. He returned to sage Vy\u0101sa\u2019s hermitage and took a noble girl by name P\u012bvar\u012b for a wife. \u092e\u0928\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0941 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u092c\u0932\u0902 \u0915\u093e\u092e\u092e\u091c\u0947\u092f\u092e\u0915\u0943\u0924\u093e\u0924\u094d\u092e\u092d\u093f\u0903\u0964 \u0905\u0924\u0903 \u0915\u094d\u0930\u092e\u0947\u0923 \u091c\u0947\u0924\u0935\u094d\u092f\u092e\u093e\u0936\u094d\u0930\u092e\u093e\u0928\u0941\u0915\u094d\u0930\u092e\u0947\u0923 \u091a\u0965 manastu prabala\u1e41 k\u0101mamajeyamak\u1e5bt\u0101tmabhi\u1e25| ata\u1e25 krame\u1e47a jetavyam\u0101\u015bram\u0101nukrame\u1e47a ca|| The mind and desires are intractable for one of unresolved will. They must be mastered systematically, by resorting to the four orders (of brahmacarya, g\u1e5bhasth\u0101\u015brama, v\u0101naprastha and sany\u0101sa) in chronology.