There are many tales and fables about tyāgam in our purāṇās and itihāsās

Ashtottaram 36


Ashtottaram 36: OṀ (AUM) –TYAA-GA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA

    ॐ त्यागभूम्यै नमः                                   

(Tyāgam: Renunciation, sacrifice, giving up)

Tyāgam or giving up is an important concept found in the Hindu scriptures. It has two aspects: giving away something to someone who needs it more (dāna) and giving up an object that is not a necessity or even an obstacle to the way of life one has chosen (renunciation). Dāna has been prescribed as a duty for householders. Vairāgya is an essential qualification for one who aspires after sanyāsa or monastic life where you give everything entirely. The Manusmruti forbids a householder from giving up his parents, wife, and children who depend upon him.

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The Bhagavad Gīta gives a general definition of tyāga as giving up the fruits of all actions. It then categorizes tyāga into three types: sāttvika, rājasa, and tāmasika.  The Bhagavad Gīta, however unequivocally declares that works like a yajna (sacrifice), dāna (giving gifts), and tapas (austerities) should not be given up, but, must be performed. They always have a purifying effect.

Swami Vivekānanda said that ‘a person born on the Bharata land which knows tyāgam and dharmam does not have to go anywhere else’. There were many Indians who sacrificed their lands and lives during the freedom movement and independence struggle with the British. Chatrapati Shivājī, Alluri Sitārāma Raju, Rāṇī Rudrama Devi and many more fought for our independence and sacrificed their lives. Gandhi was famous for his civil disobedience movement (satyāgraha) against British rulers and following non-violence as his weapon in the freedom movement.

Ashtottaram 36
Dāna means giving gifts. Pixabay

There are many tales and fables about tyāgam in our purāṇās and itihāsās.  Bhishma’s oath (pratijna) is one of the most popular sacrifice stories from Mahabharata. Bhishma vowed to remain unmarried so that his father Shantanu could marry Satyavathi. In turn, Bhishma’s father gives him a boon that, he shall die only when he wishes for it.


King Shibi is the son of Ushinara, the Bhojak King of Kashi and he lived in the Treta Yuga. His father was Ushinara. His story is highlighted in the Mahabharata. He was most famous for willingly offering his flesh to an eagle, who wanted to slay an innocent bird. The birds revealed themselves to be the gods, Indra (king of demi-gods) and Agni (fire god), and restored Shibi to his original form. He once encountered the spirit of Yayati (was a Purāṇic king) and helped restore the king to the heavens.

There were many women in Indian villages who sacrificed everything they had for the protection and welfare of the villagers. They are deified and worshipped as village protectors by the villagers. People celebrate these deities’ birthdays annually with decorations, fireworks, parades, and processions. This is just a glimpse of what Indian culture used to be, where tyāgam ran in the blood of many Hindus. Even today, you see parents in every house, street, town, or city in India, who sacrifice many things and pleasures in their lives in order to provide better education and better lives for their children.

The land we call as our mātrubhōmi is the home of sacrifice and is ‘Tyāga Bhūmi’.