Householder (and related topics)
gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Wed Aug 20 13:27:12 CDT 1997
On Tue, 19 Aug 1997, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:
> 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
And also in other sannyasa upanishhad-s.
> 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
Certainly. It is even a part of vedic marriage (vivaha) rituals.
For those who are unaware of vivaha rituals :
There are different karmas to be performed at each of the ashram and they
total 16 karmas. Vivaha is one such karma to be performed at the end of
the Brahmacharya ashram.
Brahmacharya Ashram includes the Balya Koumara and Youvana avasthas
of the Human life. Once the Balya Avastha is over the individual is
send to the Gurukula for the education and he will return to the
parents. After the completion of the studies the teacher will perform the
snataka vratha and graduate the student.
At this juncture that the Vidyarthi can decide to enter or
not to enter in to the marriage life. He can just opt for the
Sannyasa ashram skipping the Grihastha and the Vanaprastha.
This is the starting point of the rituals of the marriage. The bride's
father and the bride's relatives will go and receive the Vidyarthi and
bring him to their house. There they will convince him that the life of
the Sannyasa is the later part of the life and will keep him satisfied
with the elaborate food arrangements and other pleasantries which will
keep the mind of the Vidyarthi off the sannyasa. They will also tell him
sannyasa ashram is tough and he can enjoy all the pleasures (i.e., sense-
pleasures) by marrying.
Then the parents offer their eligible daughter for the pani
grahana and ask him to join the society for the discharge of the three
debts., namely deva runa, rishi runa, pitru runa and the performance of
the purusharthas- Dharma Artha Kama and Moksha. But, if we closely observe
the marriage ceremony and the mantras recited by the bridgegroom, he will
say 'I ... am taking ... wife. etc. etc. Dharma cha arthe cha kame cha
nathi charami.' No mention of mokshha. Some people (like Jaldhar) have
said that is adequate proof that mokshha is not within the preview of the
grihasta and so long as he bound in marriage, he is bound to his wife and
children. Other people have interpreted this as that the husband is not
obligated to provide conditions for the mokshha for his wife or
vice-versa. But, few husbands (and wives) have done so of their own
accord. There is a story in periyapurana where the husband falls at the
feet of the wife, recognizing her to be a jnani.
Actually the vedic mantras for marriage has to be recited either
by the bridegroom or the bride's father and should include all the above
i.e., father convincing the groom to take his daughter, and the groom
promising the bride : artha, kama and dharma. Just because it is not done
nowadays does not mean it is not mentioned. And neither it is avoided
because of economic purposes (See 'Dialogues with Guru' by His Holiness
of Sringeri Math, yes, another from the Shankara's lineage on this subject).
One of the good books to read on this subject of the Vedic
rites is translated in the book 'The Vedic Experience: Mantramanjari' by
R. Panikkar et. al. [U. of Calif. Press, 1977].
>>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,
Exactly. Were His Guru, Govinda or Govinda's Guru, Gaudapada
married ?. If we trace our way back like this to the first century, we
find Manu dharma saying one can take sannyas, and still going back to 800
BC, we find other dharma sastras saying the same thing. And then it is
found in vedic marriage rituals. How far back do you want to go ?
For non-scriptural, but historic records (supported by Alexander's
records), read the times of Chanakya and how people in Chandragupta's
lineage took sannyas at a young age. Those are in BCs too, long before
Shankara ever placed His lotus feet on Bharat.
Maybe (just maybe), the % of people taking sannyas at a young age
increased after Shankara. Maybe this was because of the urge to practice
His philosophy. But He is not the initiator of taking sannyas in a young
age. In fact, as He himself says, He is not even the initiator of a
philosophy, He has just interpreted what has been said for centuries/
eternally. Shankara's philosophy is the philosophy of His interpretation
of the Upanishhads. Period.
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