In the wake of the recent announcement of the continuation of the Guru parampara at Sringeri, I am impelled to pen a few thoughts on the Sanyaasa Ashrama as I see it.
1. The goal of all Ashramas (Brahmacharya, Gaarhastya, Vaanaprastha, Sanyaasa) is Brahma Jnaana. Brahma jnaana is gained through Sanyaasa, whether internal or external.
2. The immature see Sanyaasa as renunciation of family and worldly pleasures. The mature ones see it as leaving behind stuff one has grown out of to aspire for something of immeasurable value. For this very reason, the immature grieve when they see their dear ones take up Sanyaasa. The wise ones rejoice for they know the treasure at hand.
3. The idea of “I am X’s child”, “I am Y’s relative”, “Z alone are dear to me”, are born out of the idea that “I am the body”. To take up Sanyaasa is to give up this idea, and with it all physical relationships are also given up. Uprooting the tree of samsaara right along with its root – the “I am the body”idea – is Sanyaasa.
4. Sanyaasa does not mean irresponsibility towards family or society. In fact it is the most responsible Ashrama. It means being a non-competitor to all, being a reservoir of compassion towards all, being open to give perfect happiness to all.
5. “Abhayam sarva bhutebhyah mattah swaaha” – “May all beings develop an attitude of fearlessness towards me” – is the vow taken during Sanyaasa. “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” is most appropriate to Sanyaasa alone.
6. Sanyaasa means marriage to all. The ignorant think of marriage as mainly physical. The wise think of it as a purely adhyaatmic relationship for the purpose of seeing Ishwara in each other and in all. Thus, Sanyaasa means marriage to all.
7. To think Sanyaasa means – doing nothing and getting free food – is ignorance, though such hypocrites may exist. Sanyaasa entails the hardest and the greatest dharma of all – turning the mind away from the world and towards one’s nature, the real source of happiness.
8. The dog in its ignorance rejoices in its tasting its own blood thinking that it comes from the bone it sucks so desperately. Such are the people of the world, in trying to derive happiness which is their own nature from worldly objects. When a person understands this, he is moved to sit quietly and introspect about the real cause of happiness. Sanyaasa is the outcome of such introspection.
9. Zero strength is possessed by anyone who is immersed in body-consciousness irrespective of how much ever physical resources one may command. There comes infinite power to the one who has given up the I-am-the-body-mind idea. Such a person is all powerful even without a penny in the hand or a piece of cloth to wear. But most people in the world will miss it for their mind is turned away from themselves. Nevertheless this is a logically justifiable fact and also intimately experienced by all Sanyaasis.
10. Glory be to the Sanyaasa Ashrama which serves as a mirror to the real nature of all beings constantly reminding of the real purpose of human life which is independence from the body-mind-idea and the understanding of one’s infinite nature.