“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)
न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।
na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।
“I like that vairagya is within the list of opulences assigned to Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is renunciation. God possesses it in full. I think it is important to understand, since the tendency is to go in the opposite direction.
“We have this image of the Almighty as a larger than life figure. He is older than everyone else. He is more powerful than anything we can imagine. He can solve complex math equations in seconds. He never loses a fight. He can control anything that He takes an interest in.
“But who would actually consider vairagya? The Supreme Lord has the most renunciation. You try to take something away from Him and it doesn’t matter. The best example, vivid, real-life proof of the claim is the avatara of Shri Rama.
“He was on the precipice of becoming the next king in Ayodhya. Everyone was excited about the decision from King Dasharatha. He loved Rama so much. This was the son Dasharatha had longed for. Rama was the eldest, so the succession protocols aligned with the desires of the administration and the people at large.
“The plans suddenly changed. Rama was not going to be the king. He would also have to leave the kingdom for fourteen years. No sweat. No hesitation. Rama happily left. No worries. That is real vairagya, right there. Someone going from riches to rags. Losing something valuable and not being upset over it.
“The question I had relates to Sita and Lakshmana. They insisted on accompanying Rama to the forest, for the fourteen year exile period. Does that mean they lack vairagya? Are they not too attached to someone, forsaking interests at home?”
Lakshmana’s decision represents the height of detachment. Nothing was taken away from him. As Rama’s younger brother, he could have stayed in the kingdom and enjoyed the regal life. He was not assigned to the forest. There was no reason for him to go.
As Rama’s wife, Sita Devi had even more justification for staying at home. What would a beautiful queen, with delicate features, be doing in a place reserved for ascetics? Why should she live amongst the animals? Her choice was not rational.
As Lakshmana explains in the Ramayana, both he and Sita are like fish taken out of water when deprived of Rama’s association. This appears to be attachment, but when connected to the Supreme Lord it is indicative of full renunciation.
Detaching from that which is insignificant and never letting go of that which is the most important. Dasharatha had the same attachment, which is why he couldn’t bear the separation from Rama. The pain was too much to tolerate; it ended his life.
Even the ascetics who leave everything behind and take up residence in the tapo-vanas have some sort of attachment to their rituals and observances. They are seeking something higher. No one can completely eliminate desire. The idea is to be focused on something permanent. Don’t give everything up as a fanatic or in an attempt to win a competition. Be attached to Rama and renunciation will be an accompanying feature: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Complete detachment showing,
When to the forest going.
Since like fish out of water taken,
Not alone Rama to be forsaken.
Sita and Lakshmana accompanying still,
Days in full pleasure to fill.
Ideal having attachment the same,
Found through holy name.