Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi About Sannyasam  (Read 1033 times)


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Ramana Maharshi About Sannyasam
« on: February 19, 2010, 01:25:28 PM »
This fact was behind Ramana Maharshi’s somewhat enigmatic reply to a question as to whether the questioner should embrace sannyasa:

“If you should, you would not have asked.”

The traditional idea about sannyasa is explained in Narada’s sermon to ‘Yudhisthira in Bhagavatam, book 7, chap. X... XII: “The sannyasi’s whole endeavour should be directed towards the discovery of the true Self at the point of contact between deep sleep and the waking state. He should look upon both bondage and freedom, birth and death, as unreal. He should not read profane books nor live by any profession, nor indulge in polemics, nor take side in a partisan spirit, nor accept disciples, nor do much reading, which would divert his mind from his spiritual practice, nor make speeches, nor undertake any responsible work. After attaining enlightenment he may continue to behave as before or alter his ways as will suit his convenience. To give no signs by which other can recognise his attainment, he retains his usual mode of life or pursuit...”

Sri Ramana Maharshi never encouraged people who thought of assuming formal sannyasa, though he hereby seemingly contradicted himself. When pointed out that he himself had cut all connections with his family life and home, he simply replied that it is a matter of karma. Discussing the subject, he saw the most cases it is escapism, due to disappointment with a weary and unsuccessful life. Almost as often it is a matter of self-importance. Being in modest or even poor circumstances, you are nobody; as a sannyasi you are least in the eyes of some people. There might be a third motive with a minority...impatience. They are not satisfied with the slow rate of their spiritual progress.

All three kinds of motivation, and all others as well, respond to the promptings of the ego-I. Therefore Ramana Maharshi gave the typical reply:

“Why do you think you are a householder? If you go out as a sannyasi, a similar thought that you are a sannyasi will haunt you. Whether you continue in the household, or renounce it and go to the forest, your mind haunts you. The ego is the source of thoughts. If you renounce the world, it will only substitute the thought ‘sannyasi’ for ‘householder’ and the environments of the forest for those of the household.

But the mental obstacles are always there. They increase in new surroundings. There is no help in the change of the environment. The obstacle is the mind. It must be gotten over whether at home or in the forest. If you can do it in the forest, why not in the home? Therefore why change the environment? Your efforts can be made even whatever environment you may be.

“The environment never abandons you according to your desire. Look at me. I left home. Look at yourselves. You have come here leaving the home-environment. What do you find here? Is this different from what you left?” (Talks, 34).

As an answer to another question he replied:

“Sannyasa is to renounce one’s individuality. This is not the same as tonsure and ochre robes. A man may be a householder; yet, if he does not think he is a householder, he is a sannyasi. On the contrary a man may wear ochre robes and wander about; yet if he thinks he is a sannyasi he is not that. To think of sannyasa defeats its own purpose.” (Talks, 427).

“Sannyasa is meant for one who is fit. It consists in renunciation not of material objects but of attachment to them. Sannyasa can be practised by any one even at home. Only one must be fit for it.” (Talks, 588).

It is the sovereign wisdom of this mysterious land, lost in the sea, in the 20th century just as it was millenniums ago, when it was expressed in ‘Manu’s Law for Sannyasins’:

“He should not wish to die, nor hope to live,
But await the time appointed, as a servant awaits his wages.
He must not show anger to one who is angry.
He must bless the man who curses him.
He must not utter falsehood.
Rejoicing in the things of the spirit, calm,
Caring for nothing, abstaining from sensual pleasure,
Himself his only helper,
He may live on in the world, in the hope of eternal bliss.”

Thus sannyasa is neither showy, nor brilliant, nor very attractive a path, but just the one on which Truth is likely to meet the wanderer, provided he is a true sannyasi.