Householder (and related topics)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Tue Aug 19 11:41:07 CDT 1997

Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

>As far as I know, there is no mention of sannyasa *ashrama* as such in
>upanishhads, either as a requirement for a jnani or as a way of life
>at a young age. Even in Bhagavadgita, there is no mention of sannyasa
>*ashrama* as a superior way of life (for attaining jnanam). In fact,
>Krishna chides Arjuna when Arjuna says he wants to take sannyasa and,
>Krishna is the All-knower.

arjuna wanted to take sannyAsa not because he realized the futility of
karma, but as an excuse to cop out from his duty. So there is a sin of
ommission for him, since he wanted to use sannyAsa as an _excuse_. So
for _him_ sannyAsa is not superior to action, actually it is inferior to
Giri has made this amply clear.

The sannyAsa Ashrama is mentioned in the jAbAla upanishhad quoted by
shrI sha.nkara. It is also mentioned in the nArada parivrAjaka
upanishhad. The latter's title itself should make that clear. After
having pointed out these two already, merely asserting that there is no
mention of sannyAsa Ashrama, without even looking at these sources is
throughly unreasonable.

>My view is sannyasi *at a young age* is not there during Vedic times
>(sannyasa after vanaprastha may be there but that is at an old age).

Not so. The manu dharma clearly says that sannyAsa can be taken up after
brahmacharya itself! It also adds for such people progeny is not
necessary and that many people have attained brahman this way!

I'll try just once more:

The nArAyaNa upanishhat clearly says "tyAgenaike". It also clearly
mentions "na karmaNA na prajayA dhanena" (not by wealth, not by progeny,
not by work). The same veda also entails karma, earning of money and
progeny for a householder. So if one understands this clearly, has
enough vairAgya, and if he is not using sannyAsa as an excuse to cop out
of duty he should take up sannyAsa immediately. Saying, I'll be a
householder and mentally renounce things is akin to the following:

A boy is told by his mother not to stand in the hot sun since he might
get a sun-stroke. So the obvious solution is to go and stand under the
shade of a tree. Instead the boy can also say, "my mother did not ask me
to stand under a tree, only shade is required, so I'll hold a piece of
cloth over my head as protection, inspite of the excruciating pain it
will cause me if I stand holding it for hours together."

In the prose section of the upadeshasAhasrI, the master asks the
disciple who he is. The disciple replies that he was from the such and
such gotra, etc and that he is a parivrAjaka now. The master replies
that he can never cross the ocean of samsAra because it is clear he
hasn't renounced his ego! So shrI sha.nkara makes it clear that mental
renunciation is the most important. But the sannyAsa Ashrama _helps_
greatly if one is not using it as an _excuse_.

Let's look at some verses from Ramana Maharshi:

1. karma bears fruit, for so the creator ordains. But is it (karma) God?
(It cannot be since) karma is not sentient.
2. The results of action pass away, and yet leave seeds that cast the
agent into an ocean of action. Action does not bring liberation.
3. But acts performed without any attachment, in the spirit of service
to Ishvara, cleanse the mind and point the way to liberation.

(Upadesha sAram)

Read 1-3 very, very carefully. The entire range of arguments against
pUrva mImA.nsA and what karma yoga is, is condensed in 3 short verses!

The first is the argument against the adR^ishhTam concept of the
mImA.nsaka-s, which you posted once, but interpreted as destiny! The
second clearly points out actions have to be renounced (_ALL_ actions).
The third points out the way for those not qualified to do that yet,
i.e., renouncing all actions! The way is karma yoga, to cleanse the
mind. karma yoga _CANNOT_ bring about liberation, it can only cleanse
the mind, which is one of the _essential_ prerequisites for GYAna. GYAna
alone liberates (2 and 3 taken together makes that clear).

>Although I do not have a valid reference, Shri Shankara may be the
>initiator of sannyasa at a young age (to hold off the influence of
>young Bouddha ascetics ?).

In other words, shrI sha.nkara deliberately misinterpreted the veda-s to
suit his convenience? This has no foundation, as the manu dharma itself
mentions _explicitly_ sannyAsa after brahmacharya.


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