Householder (and related topics)
Anand_Hudli at BMC.BOEHRINGER-MANNHEIM.COM
Mon Aug 25 10:36:52 CDT 1997
Excellent post by Ramakrishnan. The aashrama system is based on sanaatana
dharma and as such any particular aashrama such as sannyaasa cannot be
considered redundant. If we go by the argument that physical sannyaasa is
not necessary, we are implicitly saying that sannyaasa is a redundant and
optional stage in life for an aspirant to mokshha. I have problems accepting
this argument for any person in general. There are exceptions, but these
exceptions are much much fewer than the general cases. After all, one does
not meet a Janaka or a Shuka everyday.
If the argument be made that we can mentally take up sannyaasa and remain
as householders, this has serious flaws. If we have the choice of mentally
taking up sannyaasa, then why dont we mentally take up brahmacharya as well?
After all, the argument goes, we can mentally practise brahmacharya (celibacy)
even if we are physically not practising it! This is a dangerous argument for
obvious reasons and is much worse than directly advocating hedonism. This
argument has the potential to mislead young people and cause them irreparable
So I think the injunction to take up physical sannyaasa cannot be taken
lightly. Each person needs to be honest to himself and ask the question,
"Can I really renounce everything staying as a householder?" Even the
slightest attachment is bound to come in the way of Self-realization.
In this connection, there is a story in the Bhaagavata which, I feel,
everyone engaged in this discussion must read. It is about King Bharata
who takes up sannyaasa and lives the life of a hermit. By chance, he comes
across a baby deer which has lost its mother. Bharata, out of sheer
compassion, takes care of the deer and raises it. In the process, he gets
attached to it and cannot make any progress toward Self realization.
Consequently he does not get mokshha in that life and will have to be
born again. The proponents of mentally taking up sannyaasa may point
out that even if one accepts physical sannyaasa as Bharata did, one may
still develop attachment to something other than the Self. But consider
this: If there is a danger of attachment for a sannyaasin, that danger
for a householder is significantly more. If Bharata could get attached
to a mere helpless animal, just imagine how easily a grandfather can
get attached to his grandchildren, or a husband to his wife and children.
I also realize that there are many who take up sannyaasa and indulge in
behavior that is unbecoming of a sannyaasin. But that is a problem with
the people not the sannyaasa aashrama itself. There are, after all,
many who are householders and still decieve their spouses and children.
This cannot be used as an argument against marriage by someone who
leads an immoral life.
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Householder (and related topics)
Author: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU> at SMTP
Date: 8/24/97 3:55 PM
Gummuluru Murthy wrote:
Since I have some free time now, here is my reply.
[long passages from various shruti texts snipped]
atha hainaM janako vaideho yAGYavalkyaM upasametyovAcha, bhagavan.h sannyAsaM
brUhIti: sa hovAcha yAGYavalkyaH brahmacharyaM parisamApya gR^ihI bhavet.h
gR^ihI bhUtvA vanI bhavet.h vanI bhUtvA pravrajet.h yadi vetarathA
brahmacharyAdeva pravrajet.h gR^ihAdvA vanAdvA ** atha punar avrAtI vA vratI vA
snAtako vA asnAtako votsannAgniko vA yadahar vA virajettad ahar vA
pravrajet.h ** (jAbAla, 4)
Once Janaka of Videha approached Yagyavalkya and said thus "O Bhagavan, teach
me (about) sannyAsa"
Yagyavalkya said "One should become a householder after brahmacharya, having
become a householder one should become a forest dweller, having become a forest
dweller one should renounce. Otherwise should renounce even from brahmacharya,
or householder or forest dweller. Whether one has or completed the injunction
or not, whether he is a student or not, ** even if he has not completed the
sacrificial rites, on whatever day he has the vairAgya, he should renounce
The meaning is rather clear now. Interpretations (read wishful
misinterpretations) like "renounce in the above stanza means only mentally
renounce" cannot be given since in the very next paragraph Yagyavalkya says that
the renouncer should wear Orange robes etc. He also _explicitly_ says that if
one is physically unfit he can renounce by means of speech and mind only,
otherwise one should _NOT_ do this alone. He _has_ to embrace the physical
1. The above paragraph shows that if one has the vairAgya, he should renounce
_at once_ and become a parivrAjaka. One cannot attain vairAgya and say that he
will remain as a householder. shruti _explicitly_ states that vairAgya is
enough to take up sannyAsa, one need not complete all the injunctions.
2. Yagyavalkya says by doing this one can attain brahman. But he does _not_ say
brahman is never attained unless one does this. shrI sha.nkara also makes this
clear. By prArabdha one may attain brahman while being a householder like
vidura or dharmavyAdha (his occupation is given as a butcher in the
mahAbhArata). However quoting this to remain as a householder is rather
ridiculous. I didn't get from Jaldhar's mail whether he agrees that in some
cases GYAna maybe obtained even if physical sannyAsa is not taken up, but I
never claimed so.
3. If one is realized he need not necessarily take up physical sannyAsa. It's
of no significance for one who has attained brahman already. H.H abhinava
vidyAtIrtha mahAsvAmigaL has also made this point clear. sannyAsa is a must for
those who have attained vairAgya, but are not realized yet.
4. The JU has been used by shrI sha.nkara in his sUtra bhAshhya and it is quite
clear that he did not invent the practice of brahmachAri-s becoming sannyAsi-s
as you alleged.
5. The sa.nskR^ita is rather simple (even I can follow it).
>young age. Shri Ramakrishnan uses only part of the sentence in coming to
>his accusation. I am quite aware of JAbAla and NAradaparivrAjaka
It should be rather clear now that I did not. There are other `jAbAla
upanishhad-s' also, like the bR^ihajjAbAla, bhasmajAbAla and the rudrAxajAbAla,
but these are all classified as shaiva upanisshad-s. Perhaps you read one of
them and got confused.
Please note that you can hold whatever view you please. But please don't make
statements like "Maybe sha.nkara said so to hold of the influence of buddhism"
and stuff like that. Such a statement strongly suggests that shrI sha.nkara was
dishonest enough to mis-interpret the veda-s to suit his own purposes.
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