This is only a symbol, that when death caught hold of Shankara, then before dying he asked his mother to give him the permission to take sannyas, and the permission was given.
Yes, this permission is granted only when death is standing at the door. One does not get permission before this – only when the mother realizes that her son will only be saved if he be-comes a sannyasin; otherwise as he is, he will die. When the question is of choosing between a dead son and a sannyasin son, then the mother chooses the sannyasin son. This is the meaning, because a sannyasin son means a dead son. Sannyas means one has died while living.
Jesus has said, “You cannot come with me until you agree to carry your cross on your shoulders; you cannot come with me until you are ready to deny yourself; there is no way of resurrection until you are ready to die.”
If this story is true, if things really happened in this way, then this symbol should be remembered. Shankara, a small child, is on the verge of death; a crocodile has caught hold of his leg. His mother is standing on the bank of the river and Shankara is asking her permission to take sannyas. He is saying, “I am dying, there is no hope of my being saved. Let me die as a sannyasin. Give me the permission for sannyas. The crocodile is taking me away – so give me the permission.”
Even then the mother must have hesitated. Even then she might have hoped against hope that her son may be saved. But death was pulling Shankara away. A crowd of people must have collected and they must have said, “You had better give your permission now. He is dying, he is going. You cannot stop him from dying, so set him free before he dies.”
Ultimately, she gave the permission, after hearing Shankara’s words that he wants to die as a sannyasin so that he is not born again, so that there is no longer any attachment to life for him; he wants to die with no attachment to life. Even then, to me it seems that the mother must have hesitated; her eyes must have been full of tears. She must have prayed to God to save her son. But when there was no hope then very reluctantly, in a very helpless way, she must have said, “Since you are dying you had better die as a sannyasin.”
But this incident may not have happened, because crocodiles don’t worry about these things. When men don’t worry, why should crocodiles worry? It is said that Shankara was saved. The crocodile thought, “Why kill this person now when he has be-come a sannyasin?” No, crocodiles are not so intelligent! When Hitler and Mussolini are not intelligent, then how can crocodiles be intelligent?
But this symbol is very valuable. Man is saved only when he becomes a sannyasin, then even death cannot harm him. Only he dies who tries to catch hold of life; death cannot kill the person who himself gives up life. How can you take from a person who is ready to give away? Things can only be snatched away from the person who wants to save them. That is why Jesus says, “That one who saves will lose; one who is ready to lose, is saved.” You must understand this.