Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 6 19:13:46 CST 2000

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM> wrote:

>I wonder why there is a rule for sannyasis at all?  For the grhasthas I ca
>understand there could be injunctions but I would think sannyasis would be
>beyond all that.  FWIW, it seems to be a very ancient custom though.  Jain
>monks also do not travel outside India.

We should look at asceticism and rules of monastic life from a larger
perspective. A number of different traditions have sannyasis, and each of
them has its own variation in the rules. As far as the Advaita tradition is
concerned, while granting that the vidvat sannyasin is ideally beyond rules,
one also has to account for the situation on the ground, so to speak. Not
every sannyasin is a vidvat sannyasin, and for them, the rules are necessary
and make good sense. They are of course different from those for
brahmacArins and gRhasthas. For example, the statement SravaNa, manana and
nididhyAsana can be and has been interpreted as a limited injunction. For
sannyasins, the SravaNa excludes the ritual portion of the Veda, and is
restricted to jnAnakANDa passages, according to Visvesvara Sarasvati's

As for rules about traveling outside India, to my knowledge, there is no
explicit prohibition. There are, however, regulations regarding who can
offer bhikshA to a sannyasin. I presume that not travelling outside India is
a position whose validity depends upon the fact that it would be difficult
to obtain proper bhikshA outside India. Nowadays, however, with large
numbers of people outside India, this is not v. difficult, and some
sannyasins have visited countries where there are lay followers who invite
them and can support them. In addition to Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha,
Sankaracharya of Puri, who visited US and UK in the 1950s, Swami
Narayanananda Bharati of the Nelamavu Math (branch of Sringeri), and Swami
Sugunendra Tirtha of the Puttige Math (Dvaita tradition) have recently
visited the US. The Nelamavu math swami is now back in India, and I haven't
heard anyone objecting to his having travelled outside India. In the latter
case, I remember there were some objections raised within the Madhva
community, but I don't think that has jeopardized the Swami's position in
Udipi significantly. Times are changing, and our ideas of what constitutes
proper behavior are also getting modified. That is why it is important not
to get bound completely in the old code-books, especially as the code books
themselves advise us to learn from the example of eminent people.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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