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It is said that, when one becomes a Sannyasin, he renounces all possessions. He lives alone on alms and spends his time in meditation. When he attains the sublime state of deep meditation he rejoices in the Self. He is quite indifferent to sensual pleasures. He is free from likes and dislikes, desires, egoism, lust, anger, greed and pride. He has equal vision and balanced mind. He disseminates Brahma Jnana or Knowledge of the Self. And is the same in honour and dishonour, praise and censure, success and failure. At this stage he becomes Ativarnashrami, i.e., above Varna and Ashrama. He is quite a free man, not bound by any social customs and conventions. Such a Sannyasin is referred to as an ideal. The Bhagavata Purana describes the ideal nature of a Sannyasi as follows:
सुशीलो मितभुग्दक्षः श्रद्दधानो जितेन्द्रियः । यावदर्थं व्यवहरेत्स्त्रीषु स्त्रीनिर्जितेषु च ॥ ६॥ suśīlo mitabhugdakṣaḥ śraddadhāno jitendriyaḥ । yāvadarthaṁ vyavaharetstrīṣu strīnirjiteṣu ca ॥ 6॥
Meaning: He should be of a good character, moderate in eating, alert and prompt (in work), of reverential faith in shastras and self-controlled. It is only when absolutely necessary and to that much extent only that he should deal with women (eg. for getting alms) or with those who are influenced by women.
A sannyasin is essentially a renouncer. The word sannyasa or sannyasin occurs for the first time in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (10.10.3). (?) The other words equivalent to Sannyasin include Parivrajaka or Parivraj, Yati, Shramana and Bhikshu.
The word Samnyasa occurs in the Mundaka Upanishad as Samnyasayogat.
वेदान्तविज्ञानसुनिश्चितार्थाः संन्यासयोगाद् यतयः शुद्धसत्त्वाः ।
ते ब्रह्मलोकेषु परान्तकाले परामृताः परिमुच्यन्ति सर्वे ॥ ३.२.६ ॥
When should one adopt Sannyasashrama ?
वनी भूत्वा प्रव्रजेत् । यदि वेतरथा ब्रह्मचर्यादेव प्रव्रजेद्गृहाद्वा वनाद्वा । अथ पुनरव्रती वा व्रती वा स्नातको वाऽस्नातको वा उत्सन्नाग्निरनग्निको वा यदहरेव विरजेत्तदहरेव प्रव्रजेत् ॥ ५ ॥
Janaka, the King of Videha, came upto Yajnavalkya and said, ... After he has been a forest hermit, he should renounce. Or, rather, he may renounce directly from Vedic studentship, or home, or from forest. Let him even renounce on the very day that he ecomes detached, regardless of whether he has taken the vow (vedic initiation) or not, whether he has graduated or not, and whether he has kindled the sacred fire or is without fire ie. whether he is married or not.
Bhagavata Purana (1.2.2) exemplifies the condition wherein the renouncer need not have undergone even Vedic initiation.
स खल्वेवं यो विद्वान्सोपनयनादूर्ध्वमेतानि प्राग्वा त्यजेत् ।
Verily who grasps the meaning of the Veda may after his initiation by the preceptor or even before that, renounce all this - his father and his son, the sacrificial fire and the sacrificial thread, his work and his wife and everything in this world.
Motives for renunciation:
- As the last stage of life organized on the basis of the Ashrama theory in its finished form.
- Renouncing on the very day one becomes detached from the worldly affairs; no matter in what stage of life one is in.
Types of Sannyasa (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad ?)
एतं वै तमात्मानं विदित्वा ब्राह्मणाः पुत्रैषणायाश्च वित्तैषणायाश्च लोकैषणायाश्च व्युत्थायाथ भिक्षाचर्यं चरन्ति ।
The brahmanas having known that Self, having overcome the desire for sons, the desire for wealth, the desire for worlds, live the life of mendicants. This renunciation after knowing the Self is termed as Vidvatsamnyasa.
- Vividisha Samnyasa
एतमेव प्रव्राजिनो लोकमिच्छन्तः प्रव्रजन्ति ॥ बृह. ४,४.२२ ॥
It is when they desire him (this immense unborn self) as their world that wandering ascetics undertake the ascetic life of wandering. This is termed as Vividisha Samnyasa or renunciation undertaken in order to know the ultimate reality.
A vidvat-samyasin is essentially a muni. This is reinforced from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad which states that only after knowing the (real) self, one becomes a muni.
एतमेव (आत्मानमेव) विदित्वा मुनिर्भवति ।
While Manu connotes muni as vanaprastha which is brought out in his description of the food fit for a vanaprastha as munyannam.
मुन्यन्नैर्विविधैर्मेध्यैः शाकमूलफलेन वा । एतानेव महायज्ञान्निर्वपेद्विधिपूर्वकम् । । ६.५ । ।
सन्न्यासधर्मः ॥ Code of Conduct
The dharma of sannyasahrama is pursuit of pacification of manas, which can only happen with jnana.
If a person is capable and fit (physically and mentally), he should take to the life of a wandering hermit (Sannyasi). Owning nothing else except his body, he should observe the rule of staying one night in a village, and thus wander over the earth, being totally desireless.
कल्पस्त्वेवं परिव्रज्य देहमात्रावशेषितः । ग्रामैकरात्रविधिना निरपेक्षश्चरेन्महीम् ॥ १॥ kalpastvevaṁ parivrajya dehamātrāvaśeṣitaḥ । grāmaikarātravidhinā nirapekṣaścarenmahīm ॥ 1॥
A person in the renounced order of life may try to avoid even a dress to cover himself. It he wears anything at all, it should only be a loincloth, and when there is no necessity, a sannyasi should not even accept a danda. A sannyasi should avoid carrying anything but a danda and kamandalu.
बिभृयाद्यद्यसौ वासः कौपीनाच्छादनं परम् । त्यक्तं न दण्डलिङ्गादेरन्यत्किञ्चिदनापदि ॥ २॥ bibhr̥yādyadyasau vāsaḥ kaupīnācchādanaṁ param । tyaktaṁ na daṇḍaliṅgāderanyatkiñcidanāpadi ॥ 2॥
According to the Bhagavata, a sannyasi should wander all alone as a mendicant subsisting on alms, delighted in his own Self and seeking no shelter. He should be friendly to all beings, serene and devoted exclusively to Narayana.
एक एव चरेद्भिक्षुरात्मारामोऽनपाश्रयः । सर्वभूतसुहृच्छान्तो नारायणपरायणः ॥ ३॥ eka eva caredbhikṣurātmārāmo'napāśrayaḥ । sarvabhūtasuhr̥cchānto nārāyaṇaparāyaṇaḥ ॥ 3॥
He should visualize this universe in the immutable atman who is beyond (and distinct from) cause and effect and should perceive the Self as the Supreme Brahman present everywhere in the Universe , (a product) of causes and consequences. 
पश्येदात्मन्यदो विश्वं परे सदसतोऽव्यये । आत्मानं च परं ब्रह्म सर्वत्र सदसन्मये ॥ ४॥ paśyedātmanyado viśvaṁ pare sadasato'vyaye । ātmānaṁ ca paraṁ brahma sarvatra sadasanmaye ॥ 4॥
During the mediate state between sleep and wakefulness, one should concentrate on the atman within, and should try to perceive the true nature of the Self. He should look upon bondage and emancipation as merely illusory and not real.
सुप्तिप्रबोधयोः सन्धावात्मनो गतिमात्मदृक् । पश्यन् बन्धं च मोक्षं च मायामात्रं न वस्तुतः ॥ ५॥ suptiprabodhayoḥ sandhāvātmano gatimātmadr̥k । paśyan bandhaṁ ca mokṣaṁ ca māyāmātraṁ na vastutaḥ ॥ 5॥
He should welcome neither death, which is inevitable, nor life that is transitory. But he should simply wait for the time which brings about the birth and death of beings (and that of one's body as well).
नाभिनन्देद्ध्रुवं मृत्युमध्रुवं वास्य जीवितम् । कालं परं प्रतीक्षेत भूतानां प्रभवाप्ययम् ॥ ६॥ nābhinandeddhruvaṁ mr̥tyumadhruvaṁ vāsya jīvitam । kālaṁ paraṁ pratīkṣeta bhūtānāṁ prabhavāpyayam ॥ 6॥
He should not be attached to Shastras dealing with topics other than atman. Nor should he try to maintain himself by following any profession (like astrology, medicine practised by him as a grhastha). He should avoid all form of disputation. He should not persistently adhere to any party.
नासच्छास्त्रेषु सज्जेत नोपजीवेत जीविकाम् । वादवादांस्त्यजेत्तर्कान् पक्षं कं च न संश्रयेत् ॥ ७॥ nāsacchāstreṣu sajjeta nopajīveta jīvikām । vādavādāṁstyajettarkān pakṣaṁ kaṁ ca na saṁśrayet ॥ 7॥
He should not attract students. Nor should he study numerous books (lest they should cause confusion or distraction). He should not undertake the exposition of some sacred text (other than those on Vedanta). Nor should he take up the establishment of any institution or monastery.
न शिष्याननुबध्नीत ग्रन्थान् नैवाभ्यसेद्बहून् । न व्याख्यामुपयुञ्जीत नारम्भानारभेत्क्वचित् ॥ ८॥ na śiṣyānanubadhnīta granthān naivābhyasedbahūn । na vyākhyāmupayuñjīta nārambhānārabhetkvacit ॥ 8॥
The duties etc. prescribed for the sannyasins are not meant for securing religious merit in the case of the paramahamsas who are of serene and equable minds. (The rules are to be observed till the sanyasi realizes the highest wisdom). Thereafter, he may continue to practise the rules (for setting up an ideal life before the public) or discard them.
न यतेराश्रमः प्रायो धर्महेतुर्महात्मनः । शान्तस्य समचित्तस्य बिभृयादुत वा त्यजेत् ॥ ९॥ na yaterāśramaḥ prāyo dharmaheturmahātmanaḥ । śāntasya samacittasya bibhr̥yāduta vā tyajet ॥ 9॥
The Bhagavata Purana further says,
अव्यक्तलिङ्गो व्यक्तार्थो मनीष्युन्मत्तबालवत् । कविर्मूकवदात्मानं स दृष्ट्या दर्शयेन्नृणाम् ॥ १०॥ avyaktaliṅgo vyaktārtho manīṣyunmattabālavat । kavirmūkavadātmānaṁ sa dr̥ṣṭyā darśayennr̥ṇām ॥ 10॥
Meaning: Although a wise person may not expose himself to the vision of human society, by his behaviour his purpose is disclosed. To human society, he should present himself like a restless child, and although he is the greatest thoughtful orator, he should present himself like a dumb man.
In this regard, the Bhagavata Purana enumerates a conversation between Raja Prahlada and the sage Dattatreya.
यत्रास्तमितशायी स्यान्निरग्निरनिकेतनः। यथोपलब्धजीवी स्यान्मुनिर्दान्तो जितेन्द्रियः।।12.60.8 (61.8)
निराशीर्निर्नमस्कारो निर्भोगो निर्विकारवान्। विप्रः क्षेमाश्रमं प्राप्तो गच्छत्यक्षरसात्मताम्।। 9
अथ परिव्राजः ७ अत एव ब्रह्मचर्यवान्प्रव्रजति ८ तस्योपदिशन्ति ९ अनग्निरनिकेतः स्यादशर्माशरणो मुनिः स्वाध्यायैवोत्सृजमानो वाचं ग्रामे प्राणवृत्तिं प्रतिलभ्यानिहोऽनमुत्रश्चरेत् १० तस्य मुक्तमाच्छादनं विहितम् ११ सर्वतः परिमोक्षमेके १२ सत्यानृते सुखदुःखे वेदानिमं लोकममुं च परित्यज्यात्मानमन्विच्छेत् १३ बुद्धे क्षेमप्रापणम् १४ तच्छास्त्रैर्विप्रतिषिद्धम् १५ बुद्धे चेत्क्षेमप्रापणमिहैव न दुःखमुपलभेत १६ एतेन परं व्याख्यातम् 
Next, the wandering ascetic. From that very state (ie. from the state of a novice student), remaining chaste, he goes forth. With regard to him they admonish,
He should live as a silent sage, without fire or house, without shelter or protection. Speaking only when he is engaged in the recitation of his Veda and obtaining food from a village to sustain himself, he should live without any concern for this world or the next, he should seek the Self. When he gains insight, he attains bliss. But that is contradicted by the scriptures. If a man attains bliss when he gains insight, moreover, he should not feel pain in this very world. This clarifies what will be said later on.
This exact passage is also quoted in the Hiranyakeshi Shrauta Sutra (27.5.116-126)
१,३.१० अनिचयो भिक्षुः ॥ १,३.११ ऊर्ध्वरेताः ॥ १,३.१२ ध्रुवशीलो वर्षासु ॥ १,३.१३ भिक्षार्थी ग्रामम् इयात् ॥ १,३.१४ जघन्यम् अनिवृत्तं चरेत् ॥ १,३.१५ निवृत्ताशीः ॥ १,३.१६ वाक्चक्षुःकर्मसंयतः ॥ १,३.१७ कौपीनाच्छादनार्थे वासो बिभृयात् ॥ १,३.१८ प्रहीणम् एके निर्णिज्य ॥ १,३.१९ नाविप्रयुक्तम् ओषधिवनस्पतीनाम् अङ्गम् उपाददीत ॥ १,३.२० न द्वितीयाम् अपर्तु रात्रिं ग्रामे वसेत् ॥ १,३.२१ मुण्डः शिखी वा ॥ १,३.२२ वर्जेयेद् बीजवधम् ॥ १,३.२३ समो भूतेषु हिंसानुग्रहयोः ॥ १,३.२४ अनारम्भी ॥
A mendicant shall live without any possessions, be chaste and remain in one place during the rainy season. Let him enter a vilage only to obtain almsfood and go on is begging round late in the evening, without visiting the same house twice and without pronouncing blessings. He shall control his speech, sight and action and wear a garment to cover his private parts using, according to some, a discarded piece of cloth after washing it. He should not pick any part of a plant or a tree unless it has fallen of itself. Outside the rainy season, he should not spend two nights in the same village. He shall be shaven-headed or wear a topknot, refrain from injuring seeds, treat all creatures alike whether they cause him harm or treat him with kindness and not undertake ritual activities.
परिव्राजकः ।परित्यज्य बन्धून् अपरिग्रहः ।प्रव्रजेद् [K: परिव्रजेद् ] यथा-विधि ॥ अरण्यं ।गत्वा ॥ शिखा-मुण्डः ॥ कौपीनाच्छादनाः ॥ वर्षास्व् एकस्थः ॥ काषाय-वासाः ॥ सन्न-मुसले व्यङ्गारे निवृत्त-शराव-संपाते ।भिक्षेत ॥ वाङ्-मनः-कर्म-दण्डैर् भूतानाम् अद्रोही ॥ पवित्रं ।बिभ्रत्[K: बिभृयात् ]_शौच-अर्थम् ॥ उद्धृत-परिपूताभिर् अद्भिर् अप्-कार्यं कुर्वाणः [K: अद्भिः कार्यं कुर्यात् ] ॥ ।अपविध्य वैदिकानि कर्माण्य् उभयतः परिच्छिन्ना मध्यमं पदं ।संश्लिष्यामह इति वदन्तः ॥
A wandering ascetic should wander forth according to the rule, abandoning his relative and free of possessions. Going into the wilderness, he has his head shaven except for the topknot, wears a loin cloth resides in one place during the rainy season and wears ochre clothes. He should go out to beg when the pestle has been set aside, the coals have gone cold, and the plates have been put away (He therefore does not become a burden to the householders and eats their leftovers) without hostility to any creature by violent words, thought or deed carrying a cloth to strain water for use in purification and using water that has been drawn out and properly strained for ablutions and claiming "Rejecting Vedic rites and cutting ourselves off from both sides, we embrace the middle course."
The duties of a Parivrajaka (a wandering ascetic) are: complete control over his senses (ie. renouncing the temptation of all sensual pleasures); refraining from all active life; renouncing all possessions; giving up all attachment to worldly ties; living on the charity of the many, never staying in one place for long; living in forests; maintaining inner and outward purity (1.3.12).
स्त्रीषु व्यवहारः ॥ Behaviour with women
The Bhagavata Purana explains that so long as by self realization one has not firmly determined that his body, senses or the universe etc. are illusory and the jiva has not attained perfect mastery over himself by identifying himself with the Supreme being, the notion of duality (between a man and a woman) will continue to persist (provoking thereby the desire to enjoy) through false attribution of gunas (Bha.Pur.7.12.10).
Therefore, it says that a person other than a householder, who has taken the great vow of celibacy, should avoid all talk with young women. For, the senses are (by nature) so powerful and violent that they carry away the mind of even a Yati (recluse) who is expected to be perfectly self-controlled (Bha.Pur.7.12.7)
कल्पयित्वाऽऽत्मना यावदाभासमिदमीश्वरः । द्वैतं तावन्न विरमेत्ततो ह्यस्य विपर्ययः ॥ १०॥
वर्जयेत्प्रमदागाथामगृहस्थो बृहद्व्रतः । इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्त्यपि यतेर्मनः ॥ ७॥
kalpayitvā''tmanā yāvadābhāsamidamīśvaraḥ । dvaitaṁ tāvanna viramettato hyasya viparyayaḥ ॥ 10॥
varjayetpramadāgāthāmagr̥hastho br̥hadvrataḥ । indriyāṇi pramāthīni harantyapi yatermanaḥ ॥ 7॥
Being in control of the mind is emphasized in the life of a Sannyasi. In this regard, the Bhagavata Purana (Skandha 7, Adhyaya 15) says that he who has resolved to subjugate his mind should dissociate himself from all attachments and belongings; he should become a recluse and live alone in secluded place, eating moderately what he gets as alms.
यश्चित्तविजये यत्तः स्यान्निःसङ्गोऽपरिग्रहः | एको विविक्तशरणो भिक्षुर्भैक्ष्यमिताशनः ||३०|| yaścittavijayē yattaḥ syānniḥsaṅgō'parigrahaḥ | ēkō viviktaśaraṇō bhikṣurbhaikṣyamitāśanaḥ ||30||
Rajadharmanushasana Parva, Shanti Parva
प्राहुश्चतुर्थं ब्रह्मणेरितम्।।12.60.2 (61.2)
The fourth ashrama (Sannyasashrama) is upheld only by brahmanas.
चरितब्रह्मचर्यस्य ब्राह्मणस्य विशांपते। भैक्षचर्यास्वधीकारः प्रशस्तो देहमोक्षणे।।12.60.7(61.7)
The one who has upheld brahmacharya, if such a brahmachari wishes for moksha, then he is bestowed with the authority/eligibility to directly take to Sannyasa following the brahmacharyashrama.
यत्रास्तमितशायी स्यान्निरग्निरनिकेतनः। यथोपलब्धजीवी स्यान्मुनिर्दान्तो जितेन्द्रियः।।12.60.8(61.8)
A Sannyasi should live like a sage by keeping his sense organs and mind under control, not desire for an object, not construct a math or kutir for oneself, always keep wandering and stay wherever one is during sunset and lead life with whatever is obtained by fate.
निराशीर्निर्नमस्कारो निर्भोगो निर्विकारवान्। विप्रः क्षेमाश्रमं प्राप्तो गच्छत्यक्षरसात्मताम्।।12.60.9(61.9)
One should give up wants and greed and treat everyone equally. Should stay away from materialistic enjoyments and never let deflections arise in one's heart. Because of these dharmas Vanaprashthashrama is also known as Kshemashrama (the stage that helps attain prosperity). A brahmana in this ashrama attains oneness with the indestructible brahman.
Uma Shankara Samvada, Anushasana Parva, Mahabharata.
यतिधर्मास्तथा देवि गृहांस्त्यक्त्वा यतस्ततः। आकिञ्चन्यमनारम्भः सर्वतः शौचमार्जवम्।।13.208.51
सर्वत्र भैक्षचर्या च सर्वत्रैव विवासनम्। सदा ध्यानपरत्वं च देहशुद्धिः क्षमा दया। तत्वानुगतबुद्धित्वं तस्य धर्मविधिर्भवेत्।।13.208.52
Yati dharma states that a sannyasi should abandon his house and wander here and there. He should not collect anything for himself. He should stay away from starting or building karmans. He should establish within himself purity and simplicity from all perspectives. He should lead life by bhiksha. He should be detached from all places. He should always be engaged in meditation, be free from doshas, have kshama and daya towards all and always engage his mind in the contemplation of the essence - these are the duties of a Sannyasi.
वृक्षमूलचरो नित्यं शून्यागारिनिवेशनमम्।।13.211.56
नदीपुलिनशायी च नदीतीरमनुव्रजन्। विमुक्तः सर्वसङ्गेभ्यः स्नेहबन्धेन वै द्विजः। 13.211.57
आत्मन्येवात्मना भावं समायोज्येह तेन वै।13.211.58
A sannyasi dvija being free from all attachments and bonds of love should always live under a tree or empty house or bank of a river and contemplate on the Paramatma in his mind.
Rights of a Sannyasin
Ascetics called by various names in the text viz. Sannyasin, tapasvin, parivrajita, parivrajaka, etc, though often equated with brahmanas, they could have originally belonged to any varna.
They are allotted forest areas for their meditation and contemplation (2.2.2) but they had to live in harmony, make room for newcomers and not annoy each other (3.16.33-36). Their property could not be claimed as war booty (3.16.28).
Respect was to be shown to them; reviling, hurting or killing one was equated to similar offences against father, mother or teacher (4.11.13,14). Torture of ascetics was prohibited (4.8.19).
They could stay in lodging houses in the city (2.36.5) and take salt free of charge (2.12.38). As in the case of brahmanas, judges could look suo moto into their affairs and not dismiss their suits for want of jurisdiction etc (3.20.22). A wandering monk, pravrajita, could travel free on the ferries with a pass from the appropriate authority (2.28.18).
Since an ascetic had no family, his property passed on to his teacher, pupil, spiritual brother or fellow student (3.16.37). Theft of their property is mentioned as a separate crime meriting a hefty fine (4.10.6).
The wife of a man who became a parivrajita had the same rights of remarriage as if the man had died or gone on long journey (3.4.37). No one could become an ascetic without first providing for his wife and children (2.1.28,29).
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