‘Nekkhamma’ means to give up or to renounce the worldly pleasures. In other words, it means retirement into solitary life, in search of the highest truth and peace. It is not easy for a worldly man to give up his possessions and the sensual enjoyments at once unless he realizes the real nature of life through his own bitter experience.

The Bodhisattas find that the household life is full of responsibilities and burdens. They regard the homeless life like the open sky free from worldly ties. Naturally, they lead a solitary life and easily realize that all the sensual pleasures in this world are transient, profitless, ignoble, fleeting like a flash of lightning or like a tiny dew-drop on a blade of grass.

Thirst for sensual enjoyment is insatiable and unquenchable. The more one enjoys the thirstier for mundane pleasure one will become. It is like drinking salt water that will never quench the thirst. It also can be compared to the act of licking a honey-drop on the edge of a sharp sword.

That is why Bodhisattas realize the vanity of material pleasures and seek delight in `Nekkhamma' to get rid of the worldly fetters on their way to Enlightenment.


Illustration from MAKHADEVA JATAKA

Long, long ago the Bodhisatta was born as the eldest son of a great king and was named Makhadeva. After his father's death, he ascended the throne and ruled the kingdom righteously.

With the march of time, he became wiser and wiser. He had no liking for his royal pleasures for he realized their vanity. His desire was to leave the world and retire to the forest to meditate.

One day he asked his barber to tell him if ever he would see a gray hair on his head. The king grew old and his black hair changed. The barber noticing a grey hair on the head told the king. When he was asked to show it, he rotted it with a pair of golden pincers and placed it on the king's hand. The wise king seeing it, thought that it was time for him to renounce the world as he was overcome by age.

He ordered all his ministers and the people to assemble and said:

"Oh dear people, I see a gray hair on my head. As I am now getting old, please understand that I will leave the world and go to the forest to meditate."
Nobody was able to prevent him from renouncing the world. Whilst his Queens, children and people were all weeping, he left the palace, and went alone to the Himalayas with no attachment to anything.

After His Enlightenment the Buddha said: "Like a drop of saliva did I renounce the Kingdom which I posses. In renouncing there was no attachment. This is my Perfection of Renunciation."