[Advaita-l] The jnanis sannyasa
Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Sep 28 01:54:04 CDT 2010
Recently we had some lengthy discussion in the thread "Knowledge,
renunciation and varNASrama rules" and today I came across the following
passage in Shankaracharyas brhadaranyakopanishadbhashya. In 3.5.1 one
kahola kauShItakeya asks maharShi yAGYavAlkya to explain the sAkSAt
aparokSha brahman. During his reply maharShi yAGYavAlkya says, etaM vai
tamAtmAnaM viditvA brAhmaNA.h putraiShaNAyAshcha vitaiShaNAyAshcha
lokaiShaNAyAshcha vyutthAyAtha bhikShAcharyaM charanti "Knowing this very
Self, the Brahmanas renounce the desire for sons, the desire for wealth,
and the desire for worlds and take to begging alms as a way of life." In
other words, the necessity of sannyasa for the jnani is being described.
This prompts a lengthy discussion in the bhashya as to the propriety of
taking sannyasa and if it should be resorted to, what form it should take.
(The english translation is mainly based on Swami Madhavananda with some
small amendations and comments by myself. It is abridged not literal so I
have included the sanskrit text too.)
One opponent argues thus,
vyuthAya bhikShAcharyaM charanti ityanena pArivrAjyaM vidhIyate |
pArivrAjyAshrame cha yajnopavItAdisAdhanAni vihitAni li~nga.m cha
shrutibhi.h smR^itibhishcha | atastadvarjayitvA anyasmAt vyutthAnaM
pArivrAjyAntaropapatte.h | yaddhi tadeShNAbhyo vyutthAnalakShaNaM
pArivrAjyaM tadAtmaGYAnA~ngam | AtmaGYAnavirodhyeShaNAparityAgarUpatvAt |
avidyAviShayatvAchaiShaNAyA.h | tadvyatirekeNa chAstyAshramarupaM
pArivrAjyaM brahmalokAdiphalaprAptisAdhanaM yadviShayaM
yaGYOpavItAdisAdhanavidhAnaM li~ngavidhAnaM cha |
"It is admitted that the passage 'renounce the desire ... take to begging
alms as a way of life' refers to 'wandering' But in the sannyasa
ashrama such sadhanas as wearing yagnopavita and special insignia are
ordained by Shruti and Smrti. Therefore this passage means that everything
other than those should be renounced even though they too are based on
 pArivrAjyaM is a synonym for sannyasa.
 Yajnopavita is called a sadhana because of all the duties that
accompany wearing it such as performing sandhyavandana etc.
 For instance danda, kamandalu, kesari robes and other parts of a monks
 They are based on saMkalpa or purposeful intention. "aham amukakarma
kariShye" I will do some action.
na cha eShAnArUpasAdhanopAdAnasya AshramadharmamAtreNa pArivrAjyAntare
viShaye sambhavati iti sarvopaniShadvihitasya AtmaGYAnasya bAdhanaM
yuktam | yaGYOpavItAdyAviShayaiShaNArUpasAdhanopAditsyAyAM chAvashyaM
asAdhanaphalarUpasya ashanAyAdisaMsAradharmavarjitasya ahaM brahmAsmIti
viGYAnaM bAdhyate | na cha tadbAdhanaM yuktam | sarvopaniShadAM
"No for it is known that there is _another_kind_of_sannyasa_, different
from merely the sannyasa ashram, which is prescribed in all the
upanishads and characterized by renunciation of all desires, the
impediments to Self-realization. The kind characterized by sadhanas such
as wearing yajnopavita etc. of the form of desire is an impediment to
understanding 'I myself am Brahman'. And that impediment should not be
adopted. All the upanishads aim to teach this.
 The intent is to separate those who are renouncing as a matter of duty
which though noble still implies a sense of ego from those who renounce
because it is the result of desirelessness, the natural consequence of
their superior understanding of reality.
 "All" for Shankaracharya means absolutely all even if taught by
 and other mahavakyas of Vedanta.
 This is not to say a jnani cannot also be a dandin etc. Just that he
should not feel an obligation to do so because obligations boil down to "I
want". The insignia are meant for people of lower understanding not for
 Yes the karmakanda and upanishads do mention selfish or
altruistic karma for those who are at intermediate stages of knowledge but
the final goal is to cease karma altogether.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list