[Advaita-l] Kanchi Maha-swamigal's Discourses on Advaita Saadhanaa (KDAS-71)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 26 08:07:27 CDT 2006


For a Table of Contents of these Discourses, see
For the previous post, see

SECTION 56: SANNYAASA (continued)
Tamil Original: http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/dk6-129.htm

To hear and listen to such mahAvAkya teaching is what is called 'shravaNa'
in Brahma-VidyA-shAstra. The direct meaning of 'shravaNaM' is
'hearing/listening'.In the Tamil Tirumandhiram Verse #139, Tirumoolar means
by this word 'Receiving the mahAvakyopadesha'. Tayumanavar, in one of his
songs, refers to the three processes, 'shravaNa, manana and nidhidhyAsana'.
Tirumoolar follows the 'shravaNa' word by *guru-vuru-cintittal* meaning the
memorisation of the mantra taught by the guru. The Tamil word *uru* here
means mantra-japa that is manana. By thus memorising and repeating the
mantra one is automatically led on  to the next stage of 'nidhidhyAsana'.

There is an old saying *sannyasya shravaNaM kuryAt* -- one should do the
'listening' part only after taking up sannyAsa.

The object of this shravaNa is to obtain mukti as nirguNa-brahman right
where you are without having to go anywhere. Inferior to this is the union
with saguNa-brahman by going to Brahma-loka along the path of the Sun. Even
for that, according to Mundakopanishad (1.2.11) a mature Jiva - who is
learned and also accomplished with the qualities of shama, dama, etc. has to
leave home, go to the forest, and do penance, living by bhikshA. So does it
not mean that one who receives the teaching on NirguNa-brahman has to take
SannyAsa first?  The next mantra talks about him. He examines the whole
world-experience and decides: "Everything revolves around karma. Our goal of
the Atman will not be accessible to/by  any karma. So let me abandon all
karma". In other words he is ready to take up SannyAsa. But it has to be
done only through a guru. So he goes in search of a guru. The words 'only
through a guru' is because of the emphasis *guruM eva* in  the Upanishad.
The Acharya explains why *guruM eva* occurs there: "Even a scholar who is
knowledgeable on everything should not make his own efforts and hope to
independently obtain Brahma-jnAnaM". 

Later in the same Upanishad (III-2.4) it says, 'It is not only by a man
devoid of spiritual strength or a man overcome by delusion that the Atman is
unattainable, it is not attainable even by one who is doing the austerities
but who is 'alinga', that is, one devoid of the symbol that represents
sannyAsa'. This is the way the Acharya comments on the word 'alinga' in the

In BrihadAraNyakaM also (IV-4-22) the qualifications for sannyAsa are
enunciated: "The one who wants the spiritual world, renounces the present
world and his home.  Because that is how in ancient times the learned ones
whoi studied the spiritual vidyA just discarded the desire for kith and kin,
desire for wealth and property and desire for the other worldly attractions
and they left home literally as beggars".

In every work there are always expressions of different opinions but
following them there is also the reconciliation passage that comes later. So
also in this BrihadAraNyakaM, earlier to this passage in (III-5 ) it says
"AtmAnaM viditvA", that is, cognising the Atman, 'discarding desires for
kith and kin, wealth and property and the other world, they run away as
beggars'. Here the words "AtmAnaM viditvA" looks like saying 'after one has
cognised the Atman'. It appears that this means, in contrast to what was
said earlier, namely the earning of eligibility for SannyAsa for the sake of
earning the Atma-jnAna, it is now said that sannyAsa takes place after the
acquisition of jnAna.  This is a legitimate question; but the answer comes
if we carefully examine the context. In the same mantra, the question is
raised: "How will a jnAni behave?". And the answer comes; "Howsoever he may
behave, he is just such, he is a jnAnai".In other words he is not regimented
by any shAstra or regulation. For such a person , where is the need for the
rule that he should adopt the fourth Ashrama among the four Ashramas? So we
should not interpret "AtmAnaM viditvA" to say "after learning by experience"
but should interpret it as "understanding by the intellect".It is clear
therefore "He who confirms by his intellectual understanding that what he
has heard and learnt from the advaita-shAstras is true, now throws away all
his desires and becomes a sAnnyAsi" is what is said here. 

There is a custom of offering me  
[Recall: the Mahaswamigal is speaking]

a PoorNa-kumbha (the formal ritual reception with a vessel full of purified
water). At that time, as well as in your marriages and other functions when
you offer the sacred offering to the Achareya, there is a mantra which is
recited by the Pundits. It refers to "those great ones whose antaH-karaNa
has been purified by sannyAsa-yoga"
[cf. Mundaka U. III-2.6. 
sannyAsa-yogAd-yatayaH shuddh-satvAH*]

Here the reference is to the jnAnis. And this again shows the contention of
the Upanishad that sannyAsa is first, and then only, through that
purification one obtains jnAna.

An 'atyAshrami' is one who is either in the SannyAsa-Ashrama or one who is
even higher than that, namely one who is a jnAni whom no ShAstraic
injunctions touch. The Svetasvataropanishad  (VI-21) seems to be teaching
Brahma VidyA only to such atyAshramis. There is an Upanishad called
Kaivalyopanishad. The Acharya used to quote from it often. In the beginning
of that Upanishad it says the atyAsharami goes to a solitary place, sits in
a straight Asana, controls his senses and mind and meditates on the Shiva
svarUpa, his Atman.

(To be Continued)
PraNAms to all students of advaita.
PraNAms to the Maha-Swamigal.

Latest on my website is an article on Kanchi Mahaswamigal. Go to 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list