The True Meaning of Sannyasa

Brahmacharya, or abstention from sex is a very important part of Sannyasa. Most “modern thinkers” look down upon celibacy. Because they cannot live without sex – they assume no one can! Many modern gurus have come to downplay or ridicule celibacy, calling it “optional”. They usually don’t give importance to Sannyasa either. Driven by a desire for fame, publicity, accolades and adoration – they may resort to Adharmic conduct and fall into the trap of the Arishadvargas. Because of this, we see gurus fighting with each other to gain more disciples and ending up with more problems than ordinary people.

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Was Prince Siddhartha justified in leaving his wife and children to become Lord Buddha? Was it right for Adi Shankaracharya, as a young boy, to leave his widowed mother to become a renunciate? Narendranath’s family was in abject poverty when he chose to be a renunciate and became Swami Vivekananda. How can people who haven’t lived life of a householder guide those who live normal life? Questions like these often arise every time there is a discussion about the great gurus of India and those who join their monastic traditions. People who are attached to the material world often question the value of such renunciation altogether.

According to Vedic teachings, human beings pass through five stages, or Ashrams, in life, namely: Baalya (infancy), Brahmacharya (learning), Grihastha (householder) and Vanasprastha (hermitage/retirement) and Sannyasa (Renunciation).

Sannyasa, however, can be taken up by individuals at any stage of life, if they have the calling as well as the qualifications to do so. It can be adopted even at the stage of Brahmacharya to skip Grihastha and Vanasprastha. Sannyasa is a state in which the individual works towards letting go all the six detrimental qualities (Arishadvargas) in oneself, namely, Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (infatuation), Mada (ego) and Matsarya (envy) for the greater good and truth – Paramartha.

By this definition, none of those qualify to be called as a Sannyasi, who are driven by Arishadvargas even if they call themselves Guru, Swamis or yogis.

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March 26, 2019

6 responses on "The True Meaning of Sannyasa"

  1. Excellent article! Highly informative and adhering to scriptures. Thank you.

  2. Nice article.Thanks for sharing.

  3. An excellent compression of the essentials into a very useful reference as to both what constitutes Sannyasa, and why. Thank you for all the articles and other works put out by The Vedic Management Centre and The AIVS.

    London UK

  4. Excellent article relevant to generation .
    Prophets and philosophers of west are to par Rishies . An individual having a third eye to see the past and could foresee the future , began to lead Bramachaiya (learning) for inner enlighten . They began to search for wisdom. They spend prolong years for acquiring wisdom . They began to emancipate them self from common folk . We know nothing about Jesus for 20 yrs precedent his preaching . Adi Sankaras 20 yrs precedent to ascending Sarvagna Peedom used for learning . Prince Sidhartha done the same .

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