[Advaita-l] saMnyAsa and brAhmaNas (was RE: Fw: Re: waking, dreaming, sleeping as mutually supportive)

Michael Shepherd michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk
Wed Oct 28 16:06:23 CDT 2009

But good to know that so many of the correspondents here are considering
samnyasa as a future ? :-]


-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
[mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org]On Behalf Of
Vidyasankar Sundaresan
Sent: 28 October 2009 20:37
To: Advaita List
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] saMnyAsa and brAhmaNas (was RE: Fw: Re: waking,
dreaming, sleeping as mutually supportive)

Dear Anand,

Thank you for appropriately weighing in on this discussion! As always, you

much needed light and clarity to the issue at hand.

It is true that there has been an ongoing debate within the dharmaSAstra-s

about who is eligible to take up the traditional order of saMnyAsa. However,

it is clear, both from the historical record of the advaita tradition and

sureSvara's vArttika, that formal saMnyAsa has always existed (and been

approved) among all varNa-s that have the upanayana rite of passage. The

externals and peripherals of the saMnyAsin may have differed according to

what section of society he or she was born in, but that is a far cry from

absolutely restricting the saMnyAsa order to a brAhmaNa male. It goes

without saying that much room was always given for the discretion of a

guru in deciding whom to initiate into the saMnyAsa order.

That aside, it is also my contention that Sankara bhagavatpAda's comment

about brAhmaNa-s alone being fit for saMnyAsa (in the bRhadAraNyaka

bhAshya) should not be seen in isolation. For one thing, we have to take

the vArttika of his own direct disciple into account. For another, we have

to take into account his comments on brahmasUtras 3.4.15 to 3.4.42.

These encompass numerous sUtra-s where Sankara bhagavatpAda would

have had ample opportunity to say that brAhmaNa-s alone are eligible for

saMnyAsa, if that were indeed his strict intention. He does not do so.

he cites numerous verses that use the more general word dvija and also

himself uses the word dvija independently.

So much for the attempt of some to define a clear-cut demarcation of

purushArtha-s and pramANa-s (??!!) according to the four varNa-s.


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