[Advaita-l] Sankara on sannyAsa for Steadiness in GYAna (wasRe:Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 5)

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Mon Oct 19 15:28:54 CDT 2009

Hari Om,

> On Sun, 18 Oct 2009, D.V.N. Sarma wrote:
>> Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa might have lived the life of sanyasi but
>> he never took sanyasa asrama.
> But as I have argued here before he wasn't exactly an Advaitin.
> Nevertheless what is relevant for this conversation is that he did indeed
> live the life of a sannyasi.

To add to what Jaldharji said, what is even more relevant to this
conversation is that Totapuri refused to teach advaita vedanta to
Ramakrishna without an initiation into sannyasa! :) Yes, Ramakrishna
was initiated into sannyasa but he also requested this initiation be a
secret from his mother! I assume people who randomly quote Ramakrishna
into all sort of places don't know this fact.

This also goes for Ramana. I've seen the Maharshi being quoted as not
having taken to official sannyasa. What I particularly note here is
that the definition of sannyasa itself has been dragged down to the
levels of only veshadhAri, with ochre clothes! Why not approach this
ridiculous definition the other way around? Instead of seeing if a
person is wearing ochre robes to fit into sannyasa, or begging alms to
keep his deha alive, against eating "mouth-watering" meals, why not
see if the person fits into any of the other 3 ashramas?!

Did Ramana fit into any other ashramas? By the way, even before
quoting that Maharshi didn't take to ochre robes, one should quote
that he didn't choose to stick to his own home as a child after the
dawn of jnAna, but ran away from it, much as Shankara had advised to a
person of first feel of viveka vairAgya. He begged to survive even as
a child around Arunachala, he wore a loin cloth... well, it wasn't
ochre in colour, if thats what bothers people. But he clearly wasn't a
householder or a student... some may want to say a forest-dweller.

Coming back to Ramakrishna, did he fit into any other ashramas? Most
definitely the answer is going to be that he was a householder. Was
he? He never consummated his marriage, treated his wife as a mother,
never earned any money -- nay, didn't even want to touch money, and
made no dAnA himself not having any possessions, per se. And as I
already mentioned above, Totapuri-- needless to say-- a sannyasi
himself, initiated Ramakrishna into sannyAsa.

Jaldharji brought out a very important point about King Janaka, which
kind of fits into this analysis of trying to see if all the examples
of non-sannyasi jnAnis in Shankara Bhashya fit into any of the other 3
ashramas. Even being a kshatriya king, after the dawn of knowledge,
how much of a kshatriya householder's life did Janaka involve himself

I also want to touch upon another possible fact that may have been
ignored in this debate. Obviously, the upanishads were not something
of a googleizing thing or to look up in a home library, for knowledge.
:) Then, being out of reach of the masses, I doubt if there were many
who knew 'ahaM brahmAsmi' as a mahavAkya that they dug into while
chewing on their food or went about their daily chores. How then would
they become jnAnis overnight or over a period of time is something
that I find amiss. It may have well been a rare occurrence due to
purva saMskAras. Else, I'd assume that all the ashramas gradually
brought the person closer and closer to vairAgya and then
post-sannyAsa, the teacher would ready the student for jnAna. Well,
just a thought. I think the free availability of such texts, although
having done a lot of good, has also given way to lot of confusions and
erroneous conclusions among masses.

Shankara, invariably in all his works, begins with the adhikAri: one
with sAdhana cAtushTaya. IMHO, out of all the four, the most important
is mumukshatva, all the others just driving to make the adhikAri a
mumukshu, one who yearns for liberation, he who feels a burning desire
to liberate. How such a person can remain in society instead of
involving himself with the quest of jnAna every waking moment of his
life is beyond me!

Finally, thanks Shyamji for this wonderful effort. I'm yet to catch up
fully on your entire series since I missed some parts due to
cross-posting to Advaitin & Advaita-L perhaps. I'll dig them up.

--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
[Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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