[Advaita-l] RE: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 45, Issue 23

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Tue Jan 30 02:34:22 CST 2007


On 29/01/07, Anbu sivam2 <anbesivam2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> The entitlement to Sanyasa that is confined to Brahmins is a Vedic-smartha
> tradition followed in all the Shankara Maths.

There is a confusion here on your part. While the mathadhipati-s in
most traditional maths have come from the brahmin communities,
sannyasi-s in general have come from all communities.

Also, sanyasa is not strictly speaking an ashrama. It is integrated
into the ashrama system as the "last stage of life" but fundamentally
it is about the renunciation of karma (tyaga+vairagya). Hence the
sannyasi is also an atyashrami (beyond all ashrama-s).

As Jaldhar pointed out, moksha is not about achieving something but
about realizing the ever-existent truth. Therefore, there can be no
injunction on who can or cannot "get" moksha. Sannyasa is somewhat
similar. People who have the requisite vairagya just renounce
everything and walk away! There is no way they can be stopped. Truly
speaking, this is what sannyasa really is and this is the way it has
operated over the centuries.

But even in the case of formal sannyasa diksha, the traditional
sannyasi akhara-s in North India have had sannyasi-s from all
communities for many centuries now. There are also many women
sannyasi-s. Please visit a kumbha mela sometime and you will find
thousands of sannyasi-s from all kinds of backgrounds. Even foreigners
have been granted sannyasa by traditional guru-s. I think Vidyasankar
had earlier pointed out some instances where the Sringeri matha
granted sannyasa to women.

Of course, "modern" institutions such as Ramakrishna Math & Chinmaya
Mission give sannyasa diksha to all including women (RK Math has a
parallel organisation for women called Sarada Math), but this is far
from being a modern practice as I have tried to show above.
Incidentally, the Mahabharata has atleast one reference to women
sannyasi-s. So by and large, the tradition accepts sannyasi-s from all
communities. Fulfilment of the sadhana-chatushtaya is the primary
criterion, not the community one comes from.


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