[Advaita-l] saMnyAsa and brAhmaNas (was RE: Fw: Re: waking, dreaming, sleeping as mutually supportive)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 30 06:13:50 CDT 2009

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:


>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.


Certainly, one cannot ignore the dashanAmI tradition where non-brAhmaNa saMnyAsins

(the term sounds awkward because saMnyAsins are beyond caste distinctions)

such as those in the nAga and paramahaMsa communities (not to be confused with 

the paramahaMsa type of saMnyAsa mentioned in classical texts) have been included 

for quite some time now. Among the dashanAmIs, the daNDin (those who have a

staff) class consists exclusively of those who were brAhmaNas in the pUrvAshrama. 


That aside, the saMnyAsa paddhati of Rudradeva does not mention any specific caste

for the person who aspires to become a saMnyAsin and goes on to describe the 

saMnyasa process for those with ekAgni (aupAsana agni), AhitAgni (shrauta agni's - 

dakShiNAgni, gArhapatya, and AhavanIya), the snAtaka, and for one who is facing

imminent death (Atura saMnyAsa). And upaniShad brahma yogin in  his commentary

on the saMnyAsa upaniShads, such as the nArada parivrAjaka, has taken a dvija to be

qualified for saMnyAsa provided, of course, that he meets other requirements mentioned therein.



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