I read this book about 6 years ago. It’s about a young guy who drops out of school, is sickened by society, decides he wants no material possessions, travels around the country for a while and ends up dying of starvation living in a bus in the Alaskan wilderness. Sean Penn just made a film of it and Slate has a good review of the film. Sounds like the film has some flaws but the scenery is quite incredible.
India has a system embedded in its society for those individuals who decide to renounce the material world and focus all their energy on the spiritual. These individuals are called Sadus and they are usually highly respected as they wander the country. They are the Mystics and Ascetics; the Rishis and the Sanyasins. The Indian peasants are happy to have the opportunity to assist them with food or spare change. Our society treats people who renounce, or fall off the tracks, as low-lifes and bums.
If this kid who is the subject of Into The Wild had lived in India I believe he would have lived a much longer life filled with spiritual fulfillment.