[Advaita-l] saMnyAsa and brAhmaNas (was RE: Fw: Re: waking, dreaming, sleeping as mutually supportive)
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 28 15:36:40 CDT 2009
Thank you for appropriately weighing in on this discussion! As always, you bring
much needed light and clarity to the issue at hand.
It is true that there has been an ongoing debate within the dharmaSAstra-s
about who is eligible to take up the traditional order of saMnyAsa. However,
it is clear, both from the historical record of the advaita tradition and from
sureSvara's vArttika, that formal saMnyAsa has always existed (and been
approved) among all varNa-s that have the upanayana rite of passage. The
externals and peripherals of the saMnyAsin may have differed according to
what section of society he or she was born in, but that is a far cry from
absolutely restricting the saMnyAsa order to a brAhmaNa male. It goes
without saying that much room was always given for the discretion of a
guru in deciding whom to initiate into the saMnyAsa order.
That aside, it is also my contention that Sankara bhagavatpAda's comment
about brAhmaNa-s alone being fit for saMnyAsa (in the bRhadAraNyaka
bhAshya) should not be seen in isolation. For one thing, we have to take
the vArttika of his own direct disciple into account. For another, we have
to take into account his comments on brahmasUtras 3.4.15 to 3.4.42.
These encompass numerous sUtra-s where Sankara bhagavatpAda would
have had ample opportunity to say that brAhmaNa-s alone are eligible for
saMnyAsa, if that were indeed his strict intention. He does not do so. Rather,
he cites numerous verses that use the more general word dvija and also
himself uses the word dvija independently.
So much for the attempt of some to define a clear-cut demarcation of
purushArtha-s and pramANa-s (??!!) according to the four varNa-s.
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