[Advaita-l] Women and Paramahamsa sannyasa

श्रीमल्ललितालालितः lalitaalaalitah at lalitaalaalitah.com
Fri Mar 16 14:55:13 CDT 2012

*श्रीमल्ललितालालितः <http://www.lalitaalaalitah.com/>
lalitAlAlitaH <http://about.me/lalitaalaalitah/bio>*

On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 21:25, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <
svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

> > A wrong conception. That type of saMnyAsa which is marked by tridaNDa is
> > not called paramahaMsa-saMnyAsa at all. paramahaMsa saMnyAsa is marked by
> > either eka-daNDa or lack of daNDa.
> Not to nitpick, but note that there is a lot of variability in what
> different sources
> mean by the term paramahaMsa saMnyAsa.

Yes, you are correct in saying that different sources define the term
paramahaMsa differently.
But, I was opposing the view according to definitions of
paramahaMsopaniShat and shrI-vidyAraNya. And it was the view which shrI V.
Subrahmanian was considering while talking, I think. So, my oppositions
holds good here.
Moreover, I've not seen any shruti or smR^iti defining paramahaMsa-s as
tri-daNDI-s. I've seen refutation of this view in a few commentaries of

>  > > there is evidence in the smRti for such
> > > a practice having been in vogue.
> >
> > Without having vidhi-vAkyA-s to support saMnyAsa of women, it is not
> > correct to say that they are allowed by veda-s to do so. Any story which
> > has no base in vaidika-dharma-shAstra-s or is opposed to nyAya-s of
> > pUrva-mImAMsA is not acceptable.
> The correct pUrva mImAMsA approach to this is to ask if there is a specific
> vaidika nishedha that prohibits women from taking saMnyAsa. This is very
> different from looking for a vidhi supporting saMnyAsa for women.

Even unavailability of niShedha is not needed to bar women from saMnyAsa.
Why ?
Because, women can't shun karma.
Why ?
Because, they are not in possession of karma. By karma I mean vaidika karma
There is no need to shun laukika karma with prAjApatyeShTi and virajA homa.
The karma which was received with vidhi is to be shunned with vidhi in
order to avoid pratyavAya. laukika-karma-s are not prescribed with vidhi.
So, as soon as need or desire goes, one is seen to leave them without being
subject to any pratyavAya.

If there
> is something found in the smRti that is followed by SishTa-s, which is not
> directly prohibited by Sruti, then it does not violate Srauta rules and
> dharma.
> And of course, mahAbhArata is smRti-par-excellence for vaidika SishTAcAra.

Actually, non-occurance of tridaNDa-saMnyAsa of women in past(I don't mean
50 years only), is enough to show that it was not followed by shiShTa-s.
Only 18 dharma-shAstra-s are counted as smR^iti in tradition, which
comprise manu-smR^iti, pArAshara-smR^iti, etc. They mainly deal with Achara
of varNAshrama, prAyashchitta, etc. in details.
As dharma-shAstra-s and itihAsa, both are mentioned separately. So, clearly
an itihAsa is not smR^iti. It is quoted as smR^iti, because it does same
work as dharmashAstra-s. So, it's a gauNa-prayoga.
According to manu and sha¬Nkara-bhagavatpAda, only brAhmaNa can take
Some people say that traivarNika-s can take saMnyAsa as there is some sUtra
which says : trayANAM varNAnAM vedamadhItya chatvAra AshramAH.
Now, the method to take saMnyAsa, which says that one should install agnI
inside after doing prAjApatya, is enough to prove that women can't do this.
They are not given agnI.
Anyway, there is a sUtra from baudhAyana, which say : strINAM chaike. Some
people accept saMnyAsa of women. So, I accept that a special school follows
this rule. But, this is the rule followed by main-streams, is difficult to
say. Because, it is opposed to the views expressed above. And,
pArAshara-smR^iti, which is prescribed for kali-yuga, and it's
mAdhavIya-TIkA don't say anything about saMnyAsa of women and others while
dealing with adhikAra of saMnyAsa. So, one can also say that view of
baudhAyana is not for this yuga.

So, let me make it clear again that :
I mean that women can't take saMnyAsa with the paddhatI mentioned due to
lack of karma, yaGYopavIta, agnI, etc.
I mean that their saMnyAsa was never allowed by main-stream
vaidika-s(mImAMsaka-s, both pUrva and uttara).
They can take saMnyAsa with the same ritual, because they are faithful to
vedAnta, guru, etc. and guru is willing; but it is not meant for them.
A special type of saMnyAsa is accepted for women and anyone else, which is
marked by uparatI from kAmya-karma and it gives them time for shravaNa,
etc. It is accepted by shrI-vidyAraNya.

 > Q: Is there any basis for saying that women can't take this saMnyAsa,
> which
> > is marked by tridaNDa and bhixA, etc. ?
> > A: Yes. saMnyAsa is meant mainly to shun karma-s and their tools, i.e.
> > shikhA, yaGYopavIta, etc. When there is no adhikAra of women in
> > karma(according to pUrva-mImAMsA and the popular belief), there can be no
> > talk of shunning karma. प्रसक्त एव निषिध्यते ।
> saMnyAsa pertains to sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana. Within the category of
> sarva-karman, there is vaidika karmA and laukika karmA. Every human
> being, regardless of gender, varNa and ASrama, is engaged in laukika
> karmA. SikhA-yajnopavItAdi are symbols, instrumental for vaidika karmA
> only, not for laukika karmA. As far as I am aware, there is nothing to
> prohibit the giving up of laukika karmA by someone who is desirous of
> jnAna but may not have had adhikAra for specific kinds of vaidika karmA.

I accept. I'm not opposing saMnyAsa of laukika karma by women. I'm opposing
saMnyAsa of vaidika karma by women which is marked by special rituals.

> It would not be correct to say that only a rich man can renounce wealth
> and that a poor man should first gain wealth and become rich before he
> can think of renouncing it. Yes, in the vast majority of cases, a poor man
> is probably more worried about gaining wealth, rather than renouncing
> what little he has. On the other hand, there is nothing to prevent a poor
> man from developing vairAgya of a high order and renouncing whatever
> little he can claim as his wealth. The same holds true for a woman also.

It also goes unopposed. I've no problem in accepting that women and others
can shun their little wealth, i.e. kAmya-laukika-karma.

>  > Q: Do you mean that sulabhA was not a bhikshukI ?
> > A: No. I'm just saying that if she really did it, she was definitely not
> > doing it according to veda-s. She may be following any other path.
> Please note that in the brahmasUtra bhAshya, citing the mahAbhArata
> reference, Sankara bhagavatpAda calls sulabhA a brahmavAdinI. This
> is certainly an indication that he did not categorize her as being outside
> of a vaidika path.

She may not be outsider regarding philosophy, i.e. vedAnta. But, her
tridaNDa shows that she was not following norms of vaidika-s.

>  > Q: How could you say that ? She is mentioned in an itihAsa, so she was
> > definitely a vaidika-saMnyAsinI.
> > A: No. As there is no rule that only people following veda-s are
> mentioned
> > in itihAsa, etc. If this is so, buddha, chArvAka, tAntrika, etc. will
> > become vaidika.
> It is not just a mention of a person. There are almost 200 verses
> describing
> the janaka-sulabhA saMvAda and the episode itself is recounted by bhIshma
> to yudhishThira in response to a question about gRhasthASrama, saMnyAsa,
> jnAna and moksha. If you read through the chapter in SAntiparvaN, it will
> be
> clear that sulabhA holds great honor in the context of vaidika moksha
> SAstra.

That's what I just said. She was a brahmavAdinI, a knower of philosophy of
vedAnta, but not respectful to other aspects of veda-s.
It may be : that she didn't do rituals to shun karma-s, she vowed to
renounce kAmya-laukika-karma without ritual and her tridaNDa-s, which are
signs of vAg-daNDa, etc., were also taken without ritual. In this case,
I've no problem. I accept that anything in this world can happen without
mantra-s and ritual-s.

> In practical contemporary terms, there are quite a few examples of women
> who have been invested with the external symbols of saMnyAsa by some of
> the most orthodox and learned leaders of the vedAnta traditions.

Those who gave saMnyAsa in such manner are subject to the doubt of

There is no
> hard and fast rule that can be cited in opposition to this.

Let me say something here:
If 'being not negated in clear words' is the only criteria to bar women
from saMnyAsa, then people outside varNAshrama-dharma and animals will
become eligible for saMnyAsa on the account of being not negated in clear
As 'lack of vidhi' doesn't mean 'prohibition', so 'lack of prohibition'
doesn't imply 'validity'.

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