Sanyasa - Renunciation

From The Bhagavad Gita
He should be known  a perpetual sanyasi who neither hates nor desires; for, free from the pairs of opposites, O mighty armed Arjuna, he is easily set free from bondage.
-Gita  Ch.5, verse 3
Mentally renouncing all actions and self-controlled, the embodied one rests happily in the nine-gated city (human body with nine openings), neither acting nor causing others (body and senses) to act.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 13
Their intellect absorbed in That, their self being That, established in That, with That for their supreme goal, they go whence there is no return, their sins dispelled by knowledge.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 17
Resting in Brahman, with steady intellect and undeluded, the knower of Brahman neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 20
With the self unattached to external contacts he finds happiness in the Self; with the self engaged in the meditation of Brahman he attains to the endless happiness.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 21
The enjoyments that are born of contacts (through senses with sense-objects) are only generators of pain, for they have a beginning and an end, O Arjuna. The wise do not rejoice in them.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 22
He who is able, while still here (in this world) to withstand, before the liberation from the body, the impulse born out of desire and anger- he is a Yogi, he is a happy man.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 23
He who is happy within, who rejoices within, and who is illuminated within, that Yogi attains absolute freedom or moksha, himself becoming Brahman.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 24
The sages (Rishis) obtain absolute freedom or moksha - they whose sins have been destroyed, whose dualities (perception of dualities or experience of the pairs of opposites) are torn asunder, who are self-controlled, and intent on the welfare of all beings.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 25
Absolute freedom (or Brahmic bliss) exists on all sides for those self-controlled ascetics who are free from desire and anger, who have controlled their thoughts and who have realised the Self.
-Gita, Ch.5, verse 26
Shutting out all external contacts and fixing the gaze between the eyebrows, equalising the outgoing and incoming breaths moving within the nostrils.
-Gita Ch.5, verse 27
With the senses, the mind and the intellect (ever) controlled, having liberation as his supreme goal, free from desire, fear and anger, the sage is verily liberated for ever.
-Gita , Ch. 5, verse 28
He who knows Me as the enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities, the great Lord of all the worlds and the friend of all beings, attains to peace.
-Gita, Ch.5, verse 29
Rites of Sannyasa
From Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master
By Swami Saradananda, Belur Math
A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna
Tota Puri comes to Dakshineshwar
Desirous of bathing in the confluence of the sea and the Ganga (Ganges river), and of having the vision of Sri Jagannath at Puri, the itinerant teacher Tota came, wandering at will, from Central India to Bengal. He was merged in spiritual practices on the banks of the holy river Narmada, where he lived alone for a very long time and attained the immediate knowledge of Brahman (Supreme Reality) by practising disciplines leading to Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The old monks of that place bear witness to this fact even now.
When he realised Brahman in this way, a desire to wander at will arose in his mind and under the impulse of that urge, he now came to Eastern India and travelled from one place of pilgrimage to another. A knower of Brahman is ever content in the Self. When he is in Samadhi, (super conscious state) he is merged in Brahman. At other times he sees the whole universe as a manifestation of Brahman through Maya and engages himself in visiting temples, holy men and places of pilgrimage, experiencing Brahman in them. He came to Dakshineshwar on his way back to the northwestern parts of this country after visiting the two places of pilgrimage mentioned above.
It was not customary with him to spend more than three days at one place. He, therefore, came to the Kali temple to spend there three days only. He did not at first understand that, in Her inscrutable sport, the Mother of the universe brought him there in order to complete his own knowledge and to make Her own child (Sri Ramakrishna) practice Vedantic discipline with his help.
Arriving at the Kali temple, Tota Puri came first of all to the big open portico of the Ghat (river bank). Wearing only one piece of cloth, the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) was then sitting in an absent-minded mood looking like any ordinary person. As soon as Tota’s eyes fell on the Master’s face, radiant with austerity and beaming with the surge of devotion, he was attracted towards him and felt in his heart of hearts that this was not an ordinary person and that there were few who were so fit for Vedantic Sadhana (austerity). Filled with curiosity and astonishment, Tota stepped forward and came up to the Master, thinking, "Ah, can there be such a fit aspirant for Vedantic discipline in Bengal, which is saturated with Tantric practices?"
Observing him carefully, he asked the Master of his own accord, "You seem to be well qualified aspirant; do you like to practice Vedantic discipline?"
The Master said in answer to the tall, naked mendicant with matted hair: "I know nothing of what I should do or not do; my Mother) knows everything; I shall do as She commands."
Tota replied: "Then go, ask your mother and come back; for I may not be staying here for long."
Without saying anything in reply, the Master went slowly to the Divine Mother’s temple. There in a state of ecstasy he heard the Divine Mother’s words of advice, "Go and learn; it is in order to teach you that the monk has come here."
Tota Puri at first did not believe
in The Mother of the universe
In a divine state of semi-consciousness, the Master then returned to Tota, his face beaming with joy, and informed him of his Mother’s instruction. On knowing that what the Master meant by ‘Mother’ was not his earthly mother but the image of the Devi (goddess) installed in the temple, Tota, though charmed with his childlike simplicity, thought that the attitude of his mind was due to ignorance and superstition. We can very well imagine how at this thought the corners of Tota’s lips curved in a smile of pity and derision. For, his keen intellect did not permit him to have any great regard for deities. He accepted only the idea of an Isvara of God spoken of in the Vedanta as the distributor of the fruits of the Karmas of the Jivas. According to him, beyond entertaining a faith in Him, there was no need for worshipping and practising devotion to Him as far as an aspirant endowed with self-control and given to the practice of meditation on Brahman was concerned.
If this was his conception of Isvara, we can well guess his idea about Maya, the power of Brahman, consisting of the three Gunas (Sattwa, Rajas & Tamas). That is why the learned monk looked upon Her as but a delusion and did not feel any necessity for admitting the experience of Her personally, far less for worshipping or propitiating Her. He felt in his heart of hearts that the aspirant’s personal effort alone was what was necessary to liberate himself from the bondage of ignorance, and there was not the least utility in prayer for the benign grace of Brahman united with Its power, otherwise called Isvara. Consequently, he considered such persons as offer prayers, to be labouring under the influence of impressions born of ignorance.
He however did not say anything about it to the Master and introduced other topics, thinking that the above-mentioned impressions of the Master’s mind would very soon vanish when, initiated by him, he would begin practising the discipline of the path of knowledge. He said that the Master would have to give up his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on his head before the scriptural initiation into Sannyasa (renunciation). The Master hesitated a little and said that he had not the least objection if it could be done privately. But he would by no means be able to do it publicly, as it would deal a terrible blow to the heart of his old grief-stricken mother.
The itinerant teacher understood the reason why the Master wanted to be initiated privately and said: "Very well, I shall initiate you in private when the auspicious moment comes."
Then with a view to spending a few days in a suitable place, he came to the beautiful Panchavati situated to the north of the temple garden and spread his seat there.
Rites of Sannyasa (Renunciation)
Later, when the auspicious day arrived, Tota asked the Master to perform the Sraddha and other ceremonies for the satisfaction of the souls of his forefathers, and when those rites were finished, Tota made him offer Pinda (made from rice, flour etc) according to scriptural injunctions for the satisfaction of his own soul. For, from the time of being initiated into Sannyasa, the aspirant totally renounces the hope of, and the right to the attainment of any of the worlds such as Bhuh, Bhuvah, and Swah. That is why the scriptures enjoin his offering Pinda to himself.
The Master submitted himself without reserve to any one whom he ever accepted as his spiritual teacher and did his bidding with absolute faith. Therefore, it is needless to say that he followed to the letter what Tota now asked him to do. He performed the Sraddha and other preliminary rites, kept the necessary fast, collected at the Sadhana Kutir (hut) near the Panchavati all the articles, as instructed by his teacher, for the rites connected with the initiation into Sannyasa, and waited for the arrival of the auspicious time for the ceremony.
When about two hours before daybreak, the auspicious moment of Brahma-muhurta arrived, the Guru and the disciple met in the hut. The preliminaries finished, the Homa-fire was lighted. And the woods and the gardens round the Panchavati reverberated with the sound of the holy and profound Mantras chanted before taking the vow of utter renunciation for God- the vow that has come down in an unbroken line from the Guru to the disciple from the beginning of time till today and has maintained India as the foremost country in the field of Brahman realisation.
The sensitive and affectionate bosom of the Bhagirathi (Ganges) of holy waters, vibrating with the delightful touch of that sound, felt the extraordinary infusion of a new life. She flowed dancing with joy, as it were, through her murmurs to all quarters the message that, after the lapse of ages, a true Sadhak (aspirant) of India was once again undertaking the vow of total renunciation for the good of the many of this country and of the world at large. The Guru was now ready to recite the Mantras and the disciple to repeat them carefully and to offer oblations in the lighted fire. The prayer-mantras (the Trisuparna-mantras) were first uttered.
"May the truth of the Supreme Brahman reach me! May the Reality having the characteristics of supreme bliss reach me! May the indivisible, homogeneous, sweet reality of Brahman manifest itself in me! O Supreme Self, who art eternally co-existent with Thy power of revealing the Brahman-consciousness of all Thy children- Devas (gods), human beings and others- to Thee may I, Thy child and servant, be an especial object of compassion! O great Lord, the destroyer of the evil dream of the worlds, destroy all my evil dreams, the perception of duality! O Supreme self, I offer as oblations my vital forces, and controlling my senses, I set my mind on Thee alone. O shining One, who directs every being, remove from me all blemishes that are obstacles to right knowledge and ordain that the knowledge of Reality, free from absurdities and contraries, arises in me! May all the things of the world- the sun, the air, the cool pure water of rivers, grains like barley and wheat, trees etc., ordained by Thee, illumine and help me to attain the knowledge of Truth! Thou art manifest in the world, O Brahman, as various forms with especial potency, I offer oblation to Thee who art fire, with a view to achieving , through the purity of body and mind, the capacity to retain the knowledge of Reality. Be Thou gracious to me!"
Then began the Viraja homa:
"May the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space in me be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna (Rajas), may I, by virtue of offering oblation, attain the nature of the Light of Consciousness Itself-Swaha!
May the vital airs, Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana in me, be purified! Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, May I, by virtue of offering oblation, attain the nature of the Light of Consciousness Itself – Swaha!
May the five sheaths of gross body, vital air, mind, intellect and bliss be purified! Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, may I, by virtue of offering oblation, attain the nature of the Light of Consciousness Itself – Swaha!
May the impressions produced in me by the objects, sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell be purified! Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, May I, by virtue of offering oblation, attain the nature of the Light of Consciousness Itself – Swaha!
May my mind, speech, body, actions, be purified! Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, May I, by virtue of offering oblation, attain the nature of the Light of Consciousness Itself – swaha!
O person of red eyes, dwelling in the body of fire and capable of destroying the obstacles to the attainment of Knowledge, do thou wake up! O fulfiller of desires, ordain that all obstacles to my attainment of Knowledge be destroyed and the knowledge heard from the lips of the Guru arise in my mind! May everything that is in me be completely purified! Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, may I, by virtue of offering oblation, attain the nature of the Light of Consciousness Itself – swaha!
A reflection of Consciousness, I, who am of the nature of Brahman Itself, offer as oblation in fire- all my desire for wife, son, wealth, honour, beauty and other objects! I renounce them all – swaha!"
Many oblations were thus offered and the Homa was brought to an end by the disciple, saying, "I give up from this moment the desire of attaining the Bhuh, and all other worlds; I assure all beings of the universe, of freedom from fear on account of me."
He then offered as oblation his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on his head, according to scriptural injunctions. Then putting on a pair of Kaupina and ochre cloth given by the Guru according to the custom followed by successive generations of Sadhakas from the beginning of time, he sat beside Tota to receive instruction from him.
Tota, a knower of Brahman, now encouraged the Master to practise the contemplation of "Not this, not this" (neti-neti), a well known discipline in the Vedanta, and remain identified with Brahman Itself.
He said to the Master: "Brahman, the one substance which alone is eternally pure, eternally awakened, unlimited by time, space and causation, is absolutely real. Through the influence of Maya, which makes the impossible possible, it seems that It is divided into names and forms. Brahman is never really so divided. For, at the time of Samadhi, not even an iota, so to say, of time and space, and name and form produced by Maya, is perceived. Whatever, therefore, is within the bounds of name and form, can never be absolutely real. Give up this unreal world of name and form. Break the firm cage of name and form with the overpowering strength of a lion and come out of it. Dive deep into the reality of the Self-existing in yourself. Be one with It with the help of Samadhi. You will then see the universe consisting of name and form vanish, as it were, into the Void; you will see the consciousness of the little ‘I’ merge in that of the immense ‘I’, where it ceases to function; and you will have the immediate knowledge of the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as yourself.
The consciousness, with the help of which a person sees another, knows another or hears another, is little or limited. Whatever is limited is worthless; for the supreme bliss is not here. But the knowledge, established in which a person becomes devoid of the consciousness that one is seeing another, knowing another, and hearing another, is ‘Bhuma’, the immense or the unlimited. With the help of that knowledge, one gets identified with the Supreme Bliss. That immense and unlimited consciousness who is the Knower in all beings and whose light reveals everything, - how can It be known by the limited mind and intellect? How can the Knower at all be the known?"
Tota tried to make the Master attain Samadhi (super-conscious state) on that day with the help of various arguments and conclusive quotations from the scriptures. We were informed by the Master that Tota strove his best on that occasion to put him immediately into the state of non-dual consciousness to which he himself had attained through life-long Sadhana.
The Master said, "After initiating me, the naked one taught me many dicta conveying the conclusions of the Vedanta, and asked me to make my mind free of function in all respects and merge it in the meditation of the Self. But, it so happened that when I sat for meditation, I could by no means make my mind go beyond the bounds of name and form and cease functioning. The mind withdrew itself easily from all other things, but, as soon as it did so, the intimately familiar form of the universal Mother consisting of the effulgence of pure consciousness, appeared before it as a living presence and made me quite oblivious of the renunciation of name and forms of all description. When I listened to the conclusive dicta and sat for meditation, this happened over and over again. Almost despairing of the attainment of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi (supreme transcendental state of consciousness in which the spiritual aspirant becomes completely absorbed in Brahman so that all sense of duality is obliterated), I then opened my eyes and said to the naked one. ‘No, it cannot be done; I cannot make the mind free from functioning, and force it to dive into the Self.’
Scolding me severely, the naked one said very excitedly, ‘What! It can’t be done! What nonsense!’
Nirvikalpa Samadhi
He then looked about in the hut, and finding a broken piece of glass, took it in his hand and forcibly pierced my forehead with its needle-like pointed end between the eyebrows and said, ‘Collect the mind here at this point.’
With a firm determination I sat for meditation again, and as soon as the holy form of the Divine Mother appeared now before the mind as previously, I looked upon knowledge as a sword and cut the form mentally in two with that sword of knowledge. There remained then no function in the mind, which transcended quickly the realm of names and forms, making me merge in Samadhi.
Tota remained sitting for a long time beside the Master who entered into Samadhi in the manner mentioned above. Then coming out of the hut, he locked up the door lest some one should enter the hut without his knowledge and disturb him. He took his seat under the Panchavati, not far from the hut, and was awaiting the Master’s call to open the door.
The day passed into night. Slowly and calmly days rolled on. At the end of three days, when Tota did not still hear the Master’s call, he was filled with curiosity and astonishment, and left his seat to open the door. With a view to knowing the condition of his disciple, he entered the hut and saw that the Master was sitting in the same posture in which he had left him and that there was not the slightest function of the vital force in his body. His face, however, was calm and serene and full of effulgence. He understood that the disciple was completely dead to the external world and that his mind, merged in Brahman, was calm and motionless like an unflickering lamp in a windless place.
Being versed in the mystery of Samadhi, Tota became astounded and exclaimed within himself, "Oh, wonderful! How can I believe my eyes? Has this great soul actually realised in a day what I could experience only as the result of forty years of austere Sadhana?"
Filled with doubt, Tota applied his mind to the examination of the state of the Master and scrutinized minutely all the signs manifested in the disciple’s body. He examined especially whether his heart was beating and whether there was the least sign of breath in him. He touched repeatedly the disciple’s body which was in a steady posture, like a piece of wood, firm and fixed. But there was no change or modification, nor was there any return to normal consciousness. Beside himself with joy and astonishment, Tota cried out, "Oh, the divine Maya! It is indeed Samadhi –the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the ultimate result attained through the path of knowledge spoken of in the Vedanta! Ah, how very strange is the Maya of the Divine!"
Tota then undertook the process of bringing the disciple back to the consciousness of the external world. Profound sounds of the Mantra, "Hari Aum", filled the land, water and sky of the Panchavati.
There arose immediately after this event a strong determination in the Master’s mind to remain in unbroken Samadhi in the non-dual plane of consciousness. He could remain continually for six months in that high plane of non-duality where even the Adhikarikas who are only a little lower than the incarnations of God, cannot dwell for a long time, not to speak of the ordinary Sadhakas, the Jivakotis.
Attracted by the love of his disciple and desirous of making him firmly established in the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness, Sri Tota spent here day after day and month after month. With help of the Master, he had his own spiritual life made complete in all respects. Tota lived continuously at Dakshineshwar for eleven months.
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Tota accepts the Divine Mother
Swami Tota puri was a recipient of the grace of the Mother of the universe from his birth. He was in possession, from his childhood, of good impressions, a sincere mind, the company of a great Yogi, and a firm and strong body. Maya, the power of the Lord, did not show him her dreadful and all devouring form, horrible as the shadow of death; nor did she draw him into the snares of Her bewitching forms of spiritual ignorance. Therefore, it became an easy affair for him to go forward with the help of his individual effort and perseverance, attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi, realise God, and acquire Self-knowledge. How could he understand that the Divine Mother Herself had removed all obstacles and impediments with Her own hands from the path of his progress and Herself moved away from it? Now, after so long a time, the Mother was pleased to explain it to Swami Tota Puri. He now got the opportunity of detecting that mistake of his mind.
The revered Tota Puri had the robust physique found in the northwestern parts of India. He never knew what illness, indigestion and a hundred other kinds of bodily indispositions were. Whatever he ate he digested. He was never in want of deep sleep wherever he was. And mental bliss and peace arising from the knowledge and direct realisation of God flowed in his mind in incessant streams in a hundred channels.
Tota's illness
The water of Bengal, and its warm and dense air full of humidity told upon his health, and his firm body fell an easy prey to illness. He had a severe attack of blood dysentery. On account of the wringing pain in the intestines day and night, his mind, although calm and tranquil and accustomed to Samadhi, moved away from its abidance in Brahman and came down to body-consciousness. "Brahman has been caught in the net of the five elements"; what was the way out now except the grace of the Divine Mother, the ruler over all!
For sometime, before he fell ill, his watchful mind poised in Brahman had made it known to him that inasmuch as the body was not keeping well, it was not reasonable that he should remain any longer there (at Dakshineshwar). But should he go away out of love for his body, leaving behind the wonderful company of the Master? The body was a cage made of bones and flesh, full of blood and other filthy fluids and abounding in various kinds of germs and worms. Its very existence has been asserted in the Vedanta Sastra to be a delusion. And looking upon such a body as ‘mine’, should he go away hurriedly forsaking the company of that divine man, the source of infinite bliss? And what was the good of going elsewhere- was it not possible that the disease of the body and other kinds of trouble could occur anywhere? And what fear had he, even if diseases and other troubles came upon him? It was the body that would suffer, become emaciated, or at the most get destroyed. But what was that to him? He had, without the shadow of a doubt, seen and felt clearly that he was the Self-unattached and immutable, and he had never any relation with the body; what should he then be afraid of? These and other similar thoughts saved the revered Tota Puri from being restless.
Gradually as the pain increased a little, the strong Swami Tota Puri felt a desire to leave the place. He went to the Master from time to time to take leave of him, but absorbed in talks on divine topics, he forgot completely to mention that. And when he happened to remember to take leave of the Master, some one from within, he felt, stopped his mouth for the time being. Feeling hesitant to speak out, the Swami thought that he would better talk of it on the morrow and not on that day. After taking such a decision and having had a conversation on the Vedanta with the Master, the Swami Tota would return to his seat under the Panchavati.
Time passed. The Swami’s body became weaker and the disease grew more acute. Seeing that the Swami’s body was thus daily becoming emaciated, the Master had in the mean time made arrangements for his special diet and a little medicine and other remedies. But, in spite of all that, the illness went on worsening. The Master began to take care of him and serve him to the best of his power. He asked Mathur to make a special arrangement for medicine and diet for him. Up till now it was only in the body that the Swami felt much pain. He had perfect peace of mind. He could forget all physical pains by merging the mind at will in Samadhi; for, up till then, he retained full control over his mind.
It was night. The pain in the intestines had very much increased. That pain did not allow the Swami even to lie quietly. He tried to lie down a little but could not, and sat up immediately. There was no relief even then.
He thought, "Let me merge the mind in meditation and let anything happen to the body." But scarcely had he brought the mind to rest by its withdrawal from the body, when it turned sharply towards the pain in the intestines. He tried again and again, but with little success. Hardly had the mind reached the plane of Samadhi where the body was forgotten, when it came down on account of the pain. He failed as many times as he attempted. The Swami then became terribly annoyed with his own body. He thought, "Even my mind is not under my control today on account of the trouble from this ‘cage of bones and flesh’. Away with this nuisance of a body! I have undoubtedly known that I am not the body; why do I then remain in this rotten body and suffer pain? What is the utility of preserving it any more? I will put an end to all suffering by immersing it in the Ganga at this dead of night."
Tota's vision of the Divine Mother
Thinking so and fixing the mind with great care on the thought of Brahman, the ‘naked one’ slowly got down into the water and gradually waded farther into deeper water. But was the deep Bhagirathi (Ganges) in truth dry that night? Or was it only the external projection of his mental picture? Who could say? Tota almost reached the other bank but could not get water deep enough for drowning himself in. When, gradually, at last the trees and houses on the other bank began to be visible like shadows in the deep darkness of the night, Tota was surprised and thought, "What strange Divine Maya is this? Tonight there is not sufficient water in the river even to drown oneself in! What a strange unheard-of play of God?"
And immediately some one, as it were from within, pulled off the veil over his intellect. Tota’s mind was dazzled by a bright light and he saw, "Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, the origin of the universe! Mother, the unthinkable power! Mother in land and Mother in water! The body is Mother and the mind is Mother; illness is Mother, and health is Mother; knowledge is Mother and death is Mother; everything I see, hear, think or imagine is Mother. She makes ‘nay’ of ‘yea’ and ‘yea’ of ‘nay’! As long as one is in the body one has no power to be free from Her influence, no, not even to die, till She wills! It is that Mother again, the supreme ‘Fourth’, devoid of all attributes! That one whom Tota has so long been realising as Brahman, to whom he has been offering his heart-felt love and devotion, is this very Mother! Siva and Sakti are One, ever existing in the form of Hara-gauri! Brahman and Brahma-sakti are one and the same!
Wading his way through the water in the same manner in which he had gone, Tota now started back to the shore. His heart was now full of devotion. He felt that all the quarters were reverberating with cries- Mother! Mother! At the dead of night he had directly realised the Mother of the universe in Her all-pervading form, beyond the ken of the senses and the sense-bound intellect. He had offered himself completely as an oblation at Her feet. Though there was pain in the body, there was now no feeling of it. His heart was now beside itself with an unprecedented bliss arising from the memory of Samadhi. The Swami came slowly to the Dhuni under the Panchavati, sat there, and spent the rest of the night in meditation and repetition of the name of the Divine Mother.
As soon as it was morning, the Master came to enquire about his health and found him a different person altogether. His face was beaming with bliss, lips blooming with a smile, and his body, free from all illness whatever. Tota asked the Master by a sign to sit near him and described slowly all the events of the night.
Tota said, "It is the disease that has acted as a friend to me. I had the vision of the Mother of the universe last night and am freed from the disease by Her grace. Ah, how ignorant I was for so long! Well, please persuade your Mother now to allow me to leave this place. I am now convinced that it was She who kept me confined here somehow or other in order to teach me this Truth. It cannot be otherwise; for I thought long ago of going away from this place, and went to you over and over again to take leave of you. But some one, as it were, diverted my mind to other topics and prevented me every time from mentioning it to you."
The Master said smilingly, "Well, you did not accept the Mother before and argued with me saying that Sakti was unreal! But you have now seen Her yourself, and direct experience has now got the better of your arguments. She has convinced me already of the fact that just as fire and its burning power are not different, so, Brahman and the power of Brahman are not different, but one and the same.
When they heard the morning tunes from the Nahabat, both the great souls, bound to each other in the relation of teacher and disciple like Siva and Rama, stood up, went to the temple of the Divine Mother, and prostrated themselves before Her holy image. Both of them felt in their heart of hearts that the Mother was pleased and had graciously given Tota permission to leave that place. A few days later, Tota took leave of the Master, left the Dakshineshwar Kali temple and started westward. This was his first and last visit to the temple. He never again went there.

Ideals of the Sannyasin
Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa
From ‘Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna’
Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore

The first birth of a man is from his father; Upanayan (Sacred Thread Ceremony of the Twice-born) marks his second birth, and Sannyasa the third.
The mind is much wasted while one is engaged in worldly pursuits. And that loss can be made good, only if one takes to the life of renunciation (sannyasa).
Who is a fit candidate for the holy order of Sannyasins? He who gives up the world altogether without having any thought of the morrow, as to how he will eat or how he will be clothed, is fit to be a true Sannyasin. His mentality must be like that of a man who can, if need be, let himself fall fearlessly from the top of a tall tree, without any thought of saving his own life or limbs.
Yogins and Sannyasins are like snakes. The snake does not dig out a hole for itself, but lives in the hole made by the mouse. When one hole becomes uninhabitable, it enters into another hole. Just so Yogins and Sannyasins make no house for themselves. They pass their days in other men’s houses- today in one house, tomorrow in another.
Sadhus (Monks) never settle down in a place where there are no ‘jungles’ nearby and where ‘food and drink’ is hard to get. ‘Jungles’ means solitary spots for answering the calls of nature; and ‘food and drink’ means alms. As Sadhus live on alms, they select only those places for their temporary residence where alms can be easily procured. When they get tired in the course of their journey they may halt at a place for a day or two, in spite of the difficulty of procuring alms. But they never stay anywhere if there is scarcity of water and of solitary spots for answering the calls of nature. Good Sadhus never attend to these matters of physical cleanliness in places where they may be observed by others. They finish these things in solitude, far away from the haunts of men.
If a white cloth is stained even with a small spot, the stain appears very ugly indeed. So the smallest fault of a holy man becomes painfully prominent.
A Sannyasin may himself be perfectly unattached and may have full control over his senses. Yet to set an example to mankind he must make a rigorous renunciation of ‘woman and gold’ (lust and wealth). For only when they notice the thoroughness of the Sannyasin’s renunciation, will men take courage; only then will they make efforts to renounce sex and riches. And who indeed will impart this lesson on renunciation, if not the Sannyasin?
What is the sign of a genuine Sannyasin and a Tyagi? (Tyagi = man of renunciation). Both must be entirely unconnected with lust and gold. Should they feel an attachment for gold, or be troubled by pollution even in a dream, all their spiritual exercises would come to naught.
When one has taken up the garb of a Sannysin, one has to conduct oneself precisely like a true Sadhu. Don’t you see in the drama how the person playing the part of a king always acts like a king and how he who is in the role of the minister always plays the minister?
Once a village clown put on the garb of a Sannyasin and appeared before the Zamindar (landlord) of the place. The Zamindar wanted to present him with a purse, but he refused to accept it and went away. After a while he came back, having washed himself and changed his dress, and asked for the money that the Zamindar wanted to give. When he dressed like a Sadhu, he could not even touch the money, but now he was ready to feel gratified even with a four-anna bit (four dimes).
A person went to a holy man to get some medicine for his sick child, carrying the little patient in his arms. The holy man asked him to come next day. Next day, when the man went, the Sadhu said, "Give no sweets to the child, and the child will soon be cured."
The man replied, "Sir, you could have told me this yesterday even."
The Sadhu said, "Yes, I could have, but yesterday I had a quantity of sugar lying before me, and seeing that, your child would have thought that the Sadhu who advised others not to take sugar but ate it himself was a hypocrite.
The man who becomes an ascetic owing to some misunderstanding with his father, or mother, or wife may be called an ‘ascetic-by disgust’. His asceticism is momentary; he gives up the ascetic way of life as soon as he gets a good lucrative job in a wealthy family.
Question by a disciple, "How can we recognise a truly pious man (sadhu)?"
The Master replied, "He is truly pious whose heart and soul are wholly dedicated to God. Truly pious is he who has renounced ‘woman and gold’. The truly pious man never views women in the ordinary worldly light. He always remains at a distance from them, and if they happen to come near, he looks on them as his mother and shows respect to them. He thinks constantly of God, and serves all creatures knowing that He resides in all. These are the general traits of the truly pious.
Trust not a Sannyasin, who practises medicine, uses spells and incantations, receives money, and displays his piety with the signboards of elaborate external marks.
Forgiveness is the true nature of the ascetic.

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Sannyasa-Its Ideals and Practice
By Swami Vivekananda
The foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa

On the eve of his leaving for the West for the second time, Swami Vivekananda addressed the junior Sannyasins of Belur Math on 19-06-1899.]

This is not the time for a long lecture. But I shall speak to you in brief about a few things, which I should like you to carry into practice. First, we have to understand the ideal, and then the methods by which we can make it practical. Those of you who are Sannyasins must try to do good to others, for 'Sannyasa' means that. There is no time to deliver a long discourse on ‘Renunciation’, but I shall very briefly characterise it as "the love of death". Worldly people love life. The sannyasin is to love death.
Are we to commit suicide then? Far from it. For suicides are not lovers of death, as it is often seen that when a man trying to commit suicide fails, he never attempts it for a second time. What is the love of death then? We must die, that is certain; let us die then for a good cause. Let all our actions – eating, drinking, and everything that we do- tend towards the sacrifice of our self. You nourish your body by eating. What good is there in doing that if you do not hold it as a sacrifice to the well being of others? You nourish your minds by reading books. There is no good in doing that unless you hold it also as a sacrifice to the whole world. For the whole world is one; you are rated a very insignificant part of it, and therefore, it is right for you that you should serve your millions of brothers rather than aggrandise this little self.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Ch. 13, verse 13) it is stated:
"With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads, and mouth everywhere, with ears everywhere in the universe, That (God) exists pervading all."
Thus you must die a gradual death. In such a death is heaven, all good is stored therein- and in its opposite is all that is diabolical and evil.
Then as to the methods of carrying the ideals into practical life. First, we have to understand that we must not have any impossible ideal. An ideal, which is too high, makes a nation weak and degraded. This happened after the Buddhistic and Jain reforms. On the other hand, too much practicality is also wrong. If you have not even a little imagination, if you have no ideal to guide you, you are simply a brute. So we must not lower our ideal, neither are we to lose sight of practicality. We must avoid the two extremes. In our country, the old idea is to sit in a cave and meditate and die. To go ahead of others in salvation is wrong. One must learn sooner or later that one cannot get salvation if one does not try to seek the salvation of his brothers.
You must try to combine in your life immense idealism with immense practicality. You must be prepared to go into deep meditation now, and the next moment you must be ready to go and cultivate these fields (pointing to the meadows of the Math). You must be prepared to explain the difficult intricacies of the Shastras (scriptures) now, and the next moment to go and sell the produce of the fields in the market. You must be prepared for all menial services, not only here, but elsewhere also.
You must stand on your own feet. You must have this new method- the method of man making. The true man is he who is strong as strength itself and yet possesses a woman’s heart. You must feel for the millions of beings around you, and yet you must be strong and inflexible and you must also possess obedience; though it may seem a little paradoxical- you must possess these apparently conflicting virtues.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble salutations to  Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swamy Vivekananda  and Swamy Ghambirananda  jiand Hinduism com  for the collection)


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