[Advaita-l] Women and Paramahamsa sannyasa

Venkatesh Murthy vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 16 21:53:44 CDT 2012

Namaste Sri Vidyasankara

Recently I got one book called as Paramahamsa Dharma Nirnayaha written
by Ramananda Saraswati. This book is by Chandrasekhara Bharati Trust.
In that-
 प्रकरणम् ३- अधिकारिनिर्णयः
पूर्वमेवोक्तं लिंगधारणप्रयुक्तसंन्यासाश्रमे ब्राह्मणा एव अधिकारिण इति
। ब्राह्मणेष्वपि तीव्रतरवैराग्यवन्तः मुमुक्षव एवाधिकृताः
परमहंसाश्रमस्वीकारे ।
It is saying only Brahmins having very much Vairagya can become
Sannyasis. No mention of other Dvijas and Stri and Sudras.

I think Sri Lalitalalitaha is correct.

On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 9:25 PM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan
<svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> > छत्रादिषु विमुक्तस्य *मुक्तायाश्च त्रिदण्डके*॥ 12-320-19
>> >
>> > Though the practice of women taking up the paramahamsa sannyasa (with
>> > tridanDa) is not encountered today,
>> 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.
>> > 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. 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.
>> 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.
> 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.
>> 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.
>> 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.
> 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. There is no
> hard and fast rule that can be cited in opposition to this.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
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