Householder (and related topics)

Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Fri Aug 15 14:33:23 CDT 1997

On Fri, 15 Aug 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> Shri Giri states emphatically that sannyasi ashrama (an actual taking
> up of the vows of sannyasa) is necessary for realizing (attaining)
> Brahman.

        That's exactly what I am NOT saying. I never said, nor will say,
that an actual taking up of the vows of sannyasa is necessary for
realization. One of my very first sentences in the post was
        'External sannyas is very useful but not required.'
I must be a fool (and I am already ignorant !) to say that external
sannyas is absolutely required since Shankara Himself says otherwise.
But, quoting Shankara, I went to say that attainment of jnana
without external sannyas is very rare. And this is the considered view of
all authorities on advaita vedanta.

> He quotes Shri Shankara and other post-Shankara advaitin
> writings to support that view.

        Okay, for me, Shankara, and those in His lineage are the *authority*.
And I thought that was advaita *vedanta* !
        Some people on this list (and outside) have complained that I
quote from Shankara (although Shankara always uses logic and reason for
His statements) but I fail to see how we can claim to be authorities of
vedanta and give our own views. Atleast I can say this, Shankara knows
_much much_ more advaita vedanta than I know, so I look up to Him. I have
read books by several people in His lineage and everyone has the utmost
respect for Him. When even such great people acknowledge the greatness of
Shankara, and quote from Him, why shouldn't I ?

> As may be noted from the archives, I am of the view that maanasika-
> sannyasa (mental renunciation) is the only way for Brahman realization,

        No one denies this either. All that is meant is that sannyasa ashrama
is more conducive to (and in most cases, required for) maanasika-sannyasa.
        Even Jaldhar, who insists on external sannyas, only means
external *and* internal sannyas. Not just the former.

> 2. Further, I ask Shri Giri and other proponents of that particular
> line of thought to show me an *upanishhadic* statement which
> categorically says so (that sannyasa ashrama is a pre-requisite
> for being a jnani).

        I can't do that for the simple reason that I never said that
sannyasa ashrama is a pre-requisite to being a jnani.

> 3. In my view, sannyasa ashrama is a more recent social phenomenon
> in Indian society (compared to the more antiquity of Indian thought).
> I suspect sannyasa ashrama is not prevalent (may be not even existent)
> in the Vedic times.

        This is incorrect. In fact, after a certain stage in one's life,
one naturally took up the life of vanaprastha and then sannyas. This
includes the Rishis you mention. Nowadays, hardly anyone does so.
See Shri Vidya's posting.

>In traditional Indian society, this entire question about householders was
>moot. With the advance of age and the fulfilment of family
>responsibilities, one was expected to gradually withdraw from active
>involvement in society, through the vAnaprastha stage, eventually becoming
>a sannyAsin. Thus, at least theoretically, there was never any question
>about the necessity of becoming a sannyAsin. The stock example quoted is
>yAjnavalkya, who expounds on brahma-jnAna even when he is married to two
>wives, but still eventually withdraws from the world, to become a
>parivrAjaka - a wandering ascetic.

Vidya further writes:

> whom are quite fraudulent. There just seems to be a suspicion that one
> might be better off being involved in worldly activity, but with a
> detached attitude, rather than formally becoming a wandering ascetic. To

        This is a very interesting point. Modern organizations which have
a lot of sannyasis also have other restrictions. A very famous
organization in US does not accept disciples over the age of 25, another
organization requires a college degree with a GPA of 2.0 or more etc. And
several organizations in India don't accept women in the sannyas order.
So, one may not even qualify to join certain organizations.

        But these are the kind of reasons given by people who don't want
to leave the social responsibilites either. Where there is a will, there
is a way. There are several genuine organizations in India (that's based
on my opinion and experience) which do accept people from all walks of
life, provided the disciple exhibits the required traits. Many
organizations (I know of atleast one organization in US which provides
free residence, food etc. and several in India) allow the seeker to stay
in the ashram and mingle with the sannyasis. That will allow the seeker to
see whether the sannyasis there are genuine and also how much vaigraya
we/they have (or lack).

        Sometimes, when we do meet these genuine people imbibed in the
higher consciousness, all the questions we have noted down to ask them
(and even test them) completely disappears and a sense of calm and peace
descends upon us. Then, we surely know we are have come to the right
place. And the only thing which is stopping the person from taking
external sannyas at that time is the lack of vairagya.

AUM shaantiH

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