Every Soul is in One of the Four Asramas




sa hovaca yajnavalkyo brahmacaryam

isamapya grhi bhavet grhi bhutva vani bhavet.

vani bhutva pravrajet.

yadi' vetaratha brahmacaryadeva pravrajed-grhad vavanad va.

atha punara vrati va vrat vasnatako va snatako va utsannagnir anagniko va

yadahareva virajet tadahareva pravrajet


            [Janaka, the sage amongst kings, asked Yajnavalkya, the sage among rsis,

"O great souled sage, please instruct me on the qualifications of sannyasa and

the rules and regulations for following that asrama]. Yajnavalkya said, "Upon

completing one's life as a brahmacari, one should accept the grhastha-asrama.

Having completed one's life as a grhastha, one should accept the asrama of

vanaprastha. After living for some time as a detached vanaprastha, one should

accept the sannyasa asrama.

            Of course, if renunciation awakens in a person earlier in his life, he may

take sannyasa directly from the brahmacari asrama, or even from the gnhastha

asrama, without having to first pass though all the asramas and become a

vanaprastha. In any asrama, when one becomes anxious to renounce material

enjoyment and render exclusive service to the Lord in divine love, then whether

he has completed the religious practices that should be performed in the asrama

or not, whether he has completed his Vedic study or not, whether he has comp-

leted the studies or not, and whether he has performed the fire sacrifice or

not as soon as that powerful tendency to renounce material enjoyment and

serve the Lord awakens in his heart that very day let him give up his family,

that very day let him accept the life of a wandering mendicant and go away as a

sannyasi. (Jabalopanisad 4.1)


Definition of the Four Asramas



grhasramo jaghanato brahmacaryam hrdo mama

vaksah-sthalad vane-vasah sannyasah sirasi sthitah


Out of My universal form the grhastha asrama originated from the loins,

brahmacarya from the heart, vanaprastha from the chest, and sannyasa from

the head. (Bhag. 11.17.14)


Rules for the Different Asramas



savitram prajapatyam ca brahmam catha brhat tatha

varta sancaya-salina-siloncha iti vai grhe


            Then the thread ceremony for the twice-born was inaugurated as were the

rules to be followed for at least one year after acceptance and study of the

Vedas, including rules for observing brahmacmrya, vocations in terms of Vedic

injunctions, various professional duties in household life, and the method of

maintaining a livelihood by picking up rejected grains left behind in the fields.

(Bhag. 3.12.42)



vaikhanasa valakhilyau-dumbarah phenapa vane

nyase kuticakah purvam bahvodo hamsa-niskriyau


            The four divisions of vanaprastha, or retired life, are the vaikanasms

who retire from active life and live on half-boiled meals), valakhilyas (those

who quit their former stock of grains upon receipt of more), audumbara (those

who live on what they get from the direction towards which they start after

rising from bed), and phenapas (those who live on fruits that fall from the trees).

The four divisions of sannyasa, or the renounced order of life are kuticakas

(one who has just left the family, but who lives nearby in a kutira or hut, without

attachment to his family), bahvodas (those who give up all material activities

and engage in transcendental service), hamsas (swanlike souls) and ninriyas

(those whose actions are completely spiritual). (Bhag. 3.12.43)


Rules for Brahmacaris



dvitiyam prapyanupurvyaj janmopanayanam dvijah

vasan guru-kule danto brahmadhiyita cahutah


            Having undergone all the necessary purificatory rites since conception,

and having attained the status of the twice-born by initiation in the gayatri mantra

and investment with the sacred thread, brahmana boy should reside in the

gurukula (as a brahmacari), control his senses and mind, and carefully study the

Vedas as explained by the guru. (Bhag. 11.17.22)



acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit

na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruh


            [Krsna said] The acarya is My very Self. One should never envy the acarya

or never blaspheme him or consider him an ordinary man, for he is the sum

total of the demigods. (Bhag. 11.17.27)



sayam pratar upaniya bhaiksyam tasmai nivedayet

yac canyad apy anujnatam upayunjita samyatah


            In the morning and evening one should collect foodstuffs and other ar-

ticles and deliver them to the spiritual master. Then, being self-controlled, one

should accept only what the acarya permits. (Bhag. 11.17.28)



susrusamana acaryam sadopasita nica-vat

yana-sayyasana-sthanair nati-dure krtanjalih


            The brahmacari, should always serve the acarya and follow him in walk-

ing, in resting, standing by with folded hands when he sits, and by attending him

humbly in all circumstances. (Bhag. 11.17.29)



evam-vrtto guru-kule vased bhoga-vivarjitah

vidya samapyate yavad bibhrad vratam akhanditam


            Behaving in this way, and strictly following a vow of celibacy, the brahmacari

should avoid sensual pleasures and reside in the asrama of the acarya to the end

of his studies. (Bhag. 11.17.30)



evam brhad-vrata-dharo brahmano 'gnir iva jvalan

mad-bhaktas tivra-tapasa dagdha-karmasayo 'malah


            Observing the principles, such a brahmana and life-long brahmacari, who

is My devotee, burns all the seeds of karma to ashes by his devotional austerity.

Spotless and pure, free of material contamination, such a devotee brahmacari is

as brilliant as fire. (Bhag. 11.17.36)


All Asramas are Meant for Serving Hari



brahmacaryam tapah saucam santoso bhuta-sauhrdam

grhasthasyapy rtau gantuh sarvesam mad-upasanam


            Chastity, penance, purity, peacefulness, and kindness to all living beings

constitute grhastha-dharma. A grhastha who approaches his wife for procreating

children only on those days sanctioned by scripture is considered chaste.

Worship of Hari should be practiced by everyone, regardless of their position

society; it is the duty of all varnas and asramas. (Bhag. 11.18.43)


Scriptures Make Concessions for Materialistic People



loke vyavayamisa-madya-seva nitya hi jantor na hi tatra codana

vyavasthitis tesu vivaha-yajna-sura-grahair asu nivrttir ista


            Everyone is naturally inclined to have sex, eat meat, and drink wine. There

is no need for the scripture to encourage these things. The scriptures do, how-

ever, give concessions to people who are determined to do these things. They

grant license to enjoy sex by allowing sexual intercourse with one's lawfully

wedded wife at the proper time of the month. They grant a license to eat meat

to those who perform a certain kind of sacrifice, and a license to drink wine to

those who perform the Sautramari sacrifice. The purpose of granting these

licenses for sense gratification is only to restrict these activities and encourage

people to give them up altogether. The real intention of the Vedic injunctions

regarding sex, meat-eating, and wine-drinking is to make one abstain from these

activities. (Bhag. 11.5.11)


Grhasthas Should Not Get Bewildered by Family Life



kutumbesu na sajjeta na pramadyet kutumby api

vipascin nasvaram pasyed adrstam api drsta-vat


            One should not become attached to one's family members, nor should one

become bewildered trying to maintain them. Even though one may be a house-

holder, he should not be negligent in his devotion to the Lord. An intelligent

householder should realize that even the unseen enjoyments promised in the

future, are as temporary as the so-called pleasures he has already seen.

(Bhag. 11.17.52)



putra-darapta-bandhunam sangamah pantha-sangamah

anu-deham viyanty ete svapno nidranugo yatha


            Relationships of wife, sons, relatives, and friends are like the relationships

of pilgrims who meet by chance at a resting place for a few hours before going

on their way. When one leaves his body to accept another body, such friends

and relatives are forgotten, just as upon waking one forgets the characters in a

dream. (Bhag. 11.17.53)



ittham parimrsan mukto grhesv atithi-vad vasan

na grhair anubadhyeta nirmamo nirahankrtah


            Having realized the truth of such transitory relationships, the grhastha lives

in his house like a pilgrim, a guest, or a stranger in a strange land. Dedicating

himself entirely to Krsna and giving up attachment to his body, his relatives, his

house and home, he is liberated even in this lifetime. (Bhag. 11.17.54)


A Grhastha May Live at Home, in the Forest, or on the Road



karmabhir grha-medhiyair istva mam eva bhaktiman

tisthed vanam vopaviset prajavan va parivrajet


            Having satisfied Me by executing his family duties properly while dedicat-

ing himself to Me, My devotee may continue to remain at home, he may go to

the forest as a vanaprastha, or if he has a son, he may take to wandering about

as a sannyasi. (Bhag. 11.17.55)


The Character of Those too Attached to Family Life



yas tv asakta-matir gehe putra-vittaisanaturah

strainah krpana-dhir mudho mamaham iti badhyate


            On the other hand, a grhastha whose heart is attached to hearth and home,

who is always worried about money and children, and who is obsessed with sex,

is a fool. Such a person is bound by the misconceptions of "I and mine."

(Bhag. 11.17.56)


The Destination of Attached Householders



aho me pitarau vrddhau bharya balatmajatmajah

anatha mam rte dinah katham jivanti duhkhitah

evam grhasayaksipta-hrdayo mudha-dhir ayam

atrptas tan anudhyayan mrto 'ndham visate tamah


            [At the time of death such a fool thinks] "Alas! My mother and father

have reached old age. In my absence who will care for them? My wife and

children are helpless without me. How can any of these poor souls survive with-

out me?" With his heart thus overwhelmed by family sentiment, and filled with

anxieties because of attachment to house and home, such a fool, filled with

worries, dies unhappy and dissatisfied with his inability to realize his plans. He

enters the blinding darkness of hell. (Bhag. 11.17.57-58)


Both Men and Women Should Avoid Family Attachment



tvak-smasru-roma-nakha-kesa-pinaddham antar


jivac-chavam bhajati kanta-matir vimudha

ya te padabja-makarandam ajighrati stri


            The stupid woman who has not savored the aroma of the nectar of Your

lotus feet will become the lover of a "man" a live corpse made of flesh, blood,

bones, stool, bile, germs and air covered with skin, hair, beards, and mus-

taches. (Bhag. 10.60.45)


Enjoyment of Conjugal Pleasures in Household Life is Condemned



ye mam bhajanti dampatye tapasa vrata-caryaya

kamatmano 'pavargesam mohita mama mayaya


            [In condemnation of materialistic devotees, the Lord said] Those who

worship Me the giver of liberation in order to enjoy conjugal happiness, who

perform all kinds of penance and sacrifice to that end, are fools deluded by

sensual pleasure and ensnared by the illusions of maya. (Bhag. 10.60.52)


The Purpose of Household Life



adhana api te dhanyah sadhavo grha-medhinah

yad-grha hy arha-varyambu-trna-bhumisvaravarah


            [Pnthu Maharaja told the four Kumaras] A person who is not very rich and

who is attached to family life becomes highly glorified when saintly persons are

present in his home. The master and servants engaged in offering the exalted

visitors water, a sitting place and paraphernalia for reception are glorified, and

the home itself is glorified. (Bhag. 4.22.11)


The Unholy Household



vyalalaya-druma vai tesv ariktakhila-sampadah

yad-grhas tirtha-padiya-padatirtha-vivarjitah


            On the other hand, even though full of all opulence and material property,

any householder's house where the devotees of the Lord are never allowed to

come in, and where there is no water for washing their feet, is to be considered

a tree in which venomous serpents live. (Bhag. 4.22.12)


The Duty of Vanaprasthas



vanaprasthasrama-padesv abhiksnam bhaiksyam acaret

samsidhyaty asv asammohah suddha-sattvah silandhasa


            A vanaprastha should live by begging. He may accept food prepared

grains left behind in the fields and markets. By such a practice, he will become

purified, free from delusion, and spiritually perfect. (Bhag. 11.18.25)


Homes are in Different Modes



vanam tu sattviko vaso gramo rajasa ucyate

tamasam dyuta-sadanam man-niketam tu nirgunam


            In order to attain pure devotional service, one's faith, residence, eating,

and activities should all be pure. From the mode of goodness, one can develop

to the mode of pure goodness; therefore it is important to live in a place which

is pure. The following is a description of residences in the different modes of

nature: A hut in the forest is in the mode of goodness, an apartment in the city

is in the mode of passion, and a room in a gambling den is in the mode of

ignorance. (Bhag. 11.25.25)


Karma-sannyasa, Jnana-sannyasa, and Tridandi-sannyasa



jnana-sannyasinah kecid-veda-sannyasino 'pare

karma-sannyasi-nas-tvanye trividhah parikititah


            There are three kinds of sannyasa: karma-sannyasa, jnana-sannyasa, and

vedic-sannyasa. (Padma Purana, Svarga Khanda)


A Dhira Sannyasi



gata-svartham imam deham virakto mukta-bandhanah

avijnata-gatir jahyat sa vai dhira udahrtah


            A sannyasi is known as dhira, or undisturbed, sober, and a self-realized

soul when he goes to an unknown, remote place and freed from all obligations

and false ego, quits his material body when it has become useless. (Bhag. 1.13.26)


A Narottama Sannyasi



yah svakat parato veha jata-nirveda atmavan

hrdi krtva harim gehat pravrajet sa narottamah


            A narottama, or first class human being, is one who awakens and under-

stands, either by himself or from others, the falsity and misery of this material

world and thus leaves home and depends fully on the Personality of Godhead

residing within the heart. (Bhag. 1.13.27)


Prohibition Against Karma-sannyasa in Kali-yuga



asvamedham gavalambham sannyasam pala-paitrikam

devarena sutotpattim kalau panca vivarjayet


            In this age of Kali, the following five kinds of karma-kanda practices

forbidden: offering a horse in sacrifice, offering a cow in sacrifice, accepting

sannyasa, offering oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man begetting

children in his brother's wife. (Malamasattatva-dhnta, Brahma Vaivarta Purana,

Krsna-janma-khanda 4.115.113)


The Meaning of the Word Tridandi



vagdado'tha mano-dandah kaya-danda-stathaiva ca

yasyaite nihita-buddhau tridanditi sa ucyate


            One who accepts in his mind the rod of chastisement for his speech, mind

is known as a tridandi one who has accepted the threefold rod of chastisement.

(Manu-samhita 12.10)



damanam dandam yasya van-manah-kayanam dandah nisiddhabhidhanah

sat-sankalpa-pratisiddha-vyapara-vyapara-tyagena buddava-vasthitah sa

tridandity-ucyate na tu danda-traya-dharana-matrena


             The word danda means "punishment." One who "punishes"

speech, mind, and actions means one who gives up attachment for mate-

rial sense enjoyment and who accepts what is favorable for the truth and

rejects what is unfavorable for perfection. Such a person is called a tridandi.

It is not that anyone who carries around three sticks can be called a

tridandi. (Manu-samhita 12.10, Kalukka Bhatta commentary on the above

verse from Manu-samhita).


Rupa Gosvami's Definition of Tridandi



vaco vegam manasah krodha-vagam

jihva-vegam udaropastha-vegam

etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah

sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat


            One who can control the forces of speech, mind, anger, the tongue,

the belly, and the genitals is known as a Gosvami and is qualified to

accept disciples all over the world. (Upadesamrta 1)


Tridandi-sannyasa is Mentioned in the Ancient Vedas



tatra paramahamsa nama samvartakaruni-svetaketu-durvasa-

rbhu-nidagha-jada-bharata dattatreya-raivataka-

prabhrtayo'vyakta linga avyaktacara, anunmatta unmattavad

acarantastridandam kamandallum sikyam patram jalapavitram

sikham yajnopavitam cetyetat sarvam bhuh svahetyapsu



            In addition to the previously mentioned paramahamsas are these

famous wandering sannyasis (parivrajakas), Samvartaka,

Arurinandana, Audmlaka, Svetaketu, Durvasm, nbhu, Nidmgha, Jada

Bharata, Dattmtreya, Raivata, and so on. They are all paramahamsas;

none of them wear the outward signs of varnasrama the sikha and

sacred thread of a brahmana. They are not mad but behave like mad-

men. The paramahamsa, saying the mantra bhu-svaha (I offer you to

the earth) leaves aside all external paraphernalia of the renounced

order, including the tridanda, staff, the waterpot, the begging bowl

made from a gourd, the belt made of straw, the purifying cup for wa-

ter, the tuft of hair, the sacred thread, and dedicates himself solely to

following the order of the bona fide guru and the inner direction of

the Paramatma. (Jabalopanisad 6.1)


Srimad Bhagavatam Mentions Tridanda-sannyasa



kecit tri-venum jagrhur eke patram kamandalum

pitham caike 'ksa-sutram ca kantham cirani kecana

pradaya ca punas tani darsitany adadur muneh


            Some took away his tridanda, some stole his begging bowl, and others

snatched away his waterpot. Some of them pulled away his asana, others ha-

rassed him by taking his japa-mala, his beads. Others grabbed at his clothing

and took away his cloth. (Bhag. 11.23.34)


The Tridandi Attains Perfection According to the Manu-samhita



tridandam-etan-niksipya sarva-bhutesu manavah

kama-krodhau tu samyamya tatah siddhim niyacchati


            One who disciplines his mind, speech, and body and controls his lust and

anger towards other living beings and thus gives up these bad qualities is a

tridandi and attains liberation. (Manu-samhita 12.11)


The Harita-samhita Glorifies Tridanda-sannyasa



tridanda-bhrd-yo hi prthak samacarecchanaih sanair-yastu bahir-

mukhaksah san-mucya samsara-samasta-bandhanat sa

visnoramrtatmanah padam


            The tridandi sannyasa gradually withdraws his senses from any connection

with sight, sound, taste, smell, etc., and becomes indifferent. His mind is gradu-

ally freed from any trace of involvement with material enjoyment, and his be-

havior becomes similarly pure. Such a sannyasi has freed himself from family

bondage and, becoming liberated, he tastes the nectar of spiritual bliss at the

lotus feet of Sri Visnu. (Harita-samhita 6.23)


Sridhara Svami Mentions Tridanda-sannyasa in his Bhagavatam Commentary



"evam bahudakadi dharman uktva paramahamsa-dharmanaha jnana-

nistha iti sardhair-dasbhih bahir-virakto mukmuksh san jnana-nistha va

mokse'py anapekso mad-bhakto va sa salingan

tridandadi-sahitan asramams-tad-dharmams-tyaktva tadasaktim tyaktva

yathocitam dharmam cared ity arthah" punaraya


            After explaining the duties of other sannyasis such as bahudaka the duties

of a paramahamsa are described in ten and a half verses begining with this one

A paramhamsa may be one desiring liberation and thus fixed in knowledge or

may be a devotee who disregards even liberation. He should perform proper

religious duties without any attachment to material desires. He can give up all

the external symptoms of varnasrama-dharma. He gives up the asrama duties

means he gives up attachment to them and performs them with no material

motive. (Bhavartha-dipika commentary on Bhag. 11.18.28)


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Opinion on the

Tridandi Verse of Bhagavatam



prabhu kahe,—sadhu ei bhiksura vacana

mukunda sevana-vrata kaila nirdharana

paratma-nistha-matra vesa-dharana

mukunda-sevaya haya samsara-tarana

sei vesa kaila, ebe vrndavana giya

krsna-nisevana kari nibhrte vasiya


            Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu approved of the ekam samasthaya paratma-

nintham verse on account of the determination of the mendicant sannyasi to

engage in the service of Lord Mukunda. He gave his approval of this verse,

indicating that is was very good. The real purpose of accepting sannyasa is to

dedicate oneself to the service of Mukunda. By serving Mukunda, one can actu-

ally be liberated from the bondage of material existence. After accepting the

sannyasa order, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu decided to go to Vnrdavana and en-

gage Himself wholly and solely in the service of Mukunda in a solitary place.

(Cc. Mad. 3.7-9)


A Tridandi-sannyasi Keeps his Sikha, Sacred Thread, and Sannyasi Dress



sikhi yajnopaviti syat tridandi sa-kamanduluh

sa pavitras ca kasayi gayatrin ca japet sada


            A tridandi sannyasi keeps his sikha as well as his sacred thread after re-

nunciation, He also carries a kamandalu. He wears saffron cloth, and remaining

fixed in purity, he chants the gayatri mantra and the japa of the holy name.

(Skanda Purana, Suta Samhita)



ekavasa dvidvasatha sikhi. yajnopavitavan

kamandalukaro vidvams-tridando yati tat-param


            Wearing one or two pieces of cloth, maintaining the tuft of hair, and con-

tinuing to wear the sacred thread, with a waterpot in his hand, a learned sannyasi,

who is the best of men, attains the Supreme Lord. (Padma Purana, Svarga

Khanda Adi 13)


The Hundred and Eight Names of the Tridandi-sannyasis




sarasvati bharati ca puri namani vai dasa

gabhastinemir varahah ksamit-trparamarthinau

turyasrami nirihas ca tridandi-visnu daivatah

bhiksur-yayavaro vistho nyasi-rabhasiko munih

visthalalo mahaviro mahattaro yathagatah

naiskarmya-paramadvaiti suddhadvaiti jitendriyah

tapasvi yacako nagno raddhanti suddhadvaiti bhajanonmukhah

sannyasi maskari klanto niragnir-narasimhakah

audalomi-mahayogi-sruvak bhavaparagah

sramano'vahutah santas yatharho dandi-kesavau

nyastaparigraho bhakti-saro'ksri janardanah

urdhva manthi-tyakta-grhav-urdhvareto yatostha-dhrk viraktodasinau tyagi

siddhanti sridharah sikhi

bodhayano trivikramjo govindo madhusudanah

vaikhanaso yathasvo vai vamano paramahamasakah

narayana-hrsikesi parivrajaka-mangalau

madhavo padmanabhas caudupako bhrami vaisnavah

visnu-damodarau svami gosvami paramogavah

bhagavato hyakincanah santo niskincano yatih ksapanko'visaktascordhva

pundro mundi-sajjanay

nirvisayi harerjano srauti sadhu brhad-vrati

sthaviras-tat-paro paryatakacaryau svatantradhih

kathyante yatinamani prathitani mahitale

asthottara-satani tu vaidikakhyani tani hi


            There are one hundred and eight authorized Vedic names for

principle among which are these ten: Tirtha, anrama, Vana, ararya, Giri, Parvata,

Smgara, Sarasvati, Bharati, and Puri. In addition there are Gabhastinemi, Varaha,

Ksamitm, Paramarthi, Turyasrami, Nirtha, Tridandi, Visnudevata, Bhiksu,

Yajavara, Vintha, Nyasi, Rabhasika, Muni, Vinthalala, Mahavira, Mahattara,

Yathagata, Naiskarmya, Paramadvaiti, Suddhadvaiti, Jitendriya, Tapasvi, Yacaka,

Nagna, Raddhanti, Bhajanonmukha, Sannyasi, Maskari, Klmnta, Niragni,

Narasiaha, Audalomi, Mahayogi, Sruvaka, Bhavapmraga, Sramara, Avadhuta,

Santa, Yatharha, Dandi, Kesava, Nyataparigraha, Bhakti-smra, Aksari, Janardana,

Urdhva-manthi, Tyakta-gnha, Urdhvareta, Yatontha-dhnk, Virakta, Udasina,

Tyagi, Siddhanti, Sridhara, Sikhi, Bodhayana, Trivikrama, Govinda,

Madhusudana, Vaikhanasa, Yathasva, Vamana, Paramahamsa, Narayana,

Hrsikesa, Parivrajaka, Mangala, Madhava, Padmanabha, Audupaka, Bhrami,

Vaisnava, Visnu, Damodara, Svami, Gosvami, Parmagava, Bhagavata, Akiscana,

Santa, Niskiscana, Yati, Ksaparako, Avinakta, Urdhva-pundro, Mundi,

Sajjana.Nirvinayi, Harijana, Srauti, Sadhu, Bnhad-vrati, Sthavira, Tatpara,

Paryataka, Acarya, and Svatantri. (Muktikopanisad and Sattvata-samhita)


A Tridandi-sannyasi is Worshipable by all Asramas



devata-pratimam drstva yatim caiva tridandinam

namaskaram na kuryacced upavasena suddhyati


            One who does not offer obeisances upon seeing gods and sannyasis should

fast all day for his purification. (Ekadasi-tattve trisprsaikadasi-prakarana-dhrta-



A Paramahamsa Vaisnava Surpasses all the Asramas



vaisnavera bhakti ei dekhana saksat

mahasrami o vaisnavere kare dandavat

sannyasa-grahana kaile hena dharma

tanra pita asi' putrere kare namaskara

ata eva sannyas-asrama sabara vandita

"sannyasi-sannyasi" namaskara se vihita

tathapi asrama-dharma chadi' vaisnavere

siksa-guru sri krsna apane namaskare


            Seeing the great devotion of a Vaisnava, even those in the highest asrama

as well as other devotees offer their obeisances. To one who has accepted the

order of sannyasa, one must bow down as would a son to his father.

must bow down to a sannyasi, and offer them respect, saying, "O saintly one, O

sannyasi." Nevertheless, devotees give up all concern for asrama-dharma, and

simply bow down before their instructing guru and Krsna. (C.Bhag.Antya 8.150-153)


Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya's Example



sarvabhauma balena, "asrame bada tumi

sastramate tumi vandya, upasaka ami"


            Sarvabhauma said to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, [who appeared before him

as a sannyasi], "Your asrama is great. In the opinion of the sastra, You are

worshipable by one such as myself. (C.Bhag.. Antya 3.76)


Impersonalist Sannyasis are Condemned



sannyasi haiya niravadhi "narayana"

baliveka prema-bhakti-yoge anuksana

na bujhiya sankaracaryera abhipraya

bhakti chadi matha mudhaiya duhkha paya


            Sannyasis always say the name of Narayana and worship him in prema-

bhakti-yoga. Not understanding the position of Narayana, the followers of

Sankaracarya give up the path of bhakti; such fools attain only trouble and

misery. (C.Bhag. Antya 3.54,55)


Only Unmotivated Devotional Service Gives

Complete Satisfaction to the Soul



sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje

ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati


            The supreme dharma for all humanity is that by which men can attain to

loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service

must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self. (Bhag. 1.2.6)


Fallen Sannyasis are Compared to Vomit-eaters



yah pravrajya grhat purvam tri-vargavapanat punah

yadi seveta tan bhiksuh sa vai vantasy apatrapah


            One who renounces worldly things, gives up the life of a grhastha, and

leaves his home to be a mendicant, a sannyasi, and who then leaves the sannyasa

asrama to again pursue sex and money is like someone who vomits up a bad

meal and then eats it again, for he is eager to taste what has already been rejected.

Such a brazen sinner and condemned man is certainly shameless. (Bhag. 7.15.36)



yaih sva-dehah smrto 'natma martyo vit-krmi-bhasmavat

ta enam atmasat krtva slaghayanti hy asattamah


            Sannyasis who at first consider that the body is subject to death, when it

will be transformed into stool, worms, or ashes, but who again give importance

to the body and glorify it as the self, are to be considered asat-tamah, un-saintly,

ignorant, and the greatest rascals. (Bhag. 7.15.37)



grhasthasya kriya-tyago vrata-tyago vator api

tapasvino grama-seva bhiksor indriya-lolata


            It is abominable for a person living in the grhastha-asrama to give up the

regulative principles of householder life. It is abominable for a brahmacari not

to follow the brahmacari vows while living under the care of the guru. It is

abominable for a vanaprastha to live in the village and engage in so-called social

activities, and it is abominable for a sannyasi to be addicted to sense gratifica-

tion. (Bhag. 7.15.38)



asramapasada hy ete khalv asrama-vidambanah

deva-maya-vimudhams tan upeksetanukampaya


            One who acts in this way is to be considered the lowest renegade. Such a

pretender is bewildered by the external energy of the Supreme Personality of

Godhead, and one should either reject him from any position, or taking com-

passion upon him, teach him, if possible, to resume his original position.

(Bhag. 7.15.39)


Sannyasis Should Not Become Vantasis



sannyasira dharma nahe sannyasa karina

nija janma-sthane rahe kutumba lana


            After taking sannyasa, a sannyasi should not remain in his home town,

surrounded by family and relatives. (Cc. Madhya 3.177)


The Behavior of the Great Souls Who are Transcendental to all the Asramas



yada yasanugrhnati bhagavan-atma-bhavitah

sa jahati matim loke vede ca parinistitam


            When the completely opulent Supreme Lord sees the total surrender of a

devotee, He is pleased to award that soul His personal service; thus He bestows

His causeless mercy upon that soul, and at that time the devotee rises above the

ordinary material considerations of the Vedas. He thus shakes off all attach-

ments to the external strictures of the Vedas (such as those recommending karma-

kanda) which are meant for people in general. (Bhag. 4.29.46)



ajnayaivam gunan dosan mayadistan api svakan

dharman samtyajya yah sarvan mam bhajeta sa tu sattamah


            [Krsna said] Having taken complete shelter of My lotus feet, a saintly per-

son renounces mundane religious and social duties and worships Me alone. In-

deed, he is the best of men. (Bhag. 11.11.32)


The Vedic Explanation of Paramahamsa



asau sva-putra-mitra-kalatra-bvandhvadinchikha-

yajnopavite yagam satram svadhyayan

ca sarvakarmani sannyasyayam brahmandam

ca hitva kaupinam dandam acchadanan

ca sva sariropabhogarthaya lokasyopakararthaya ca

parigrahet. tacca na mukhyo'sti ko'yam mukhya iti ced

ayam mukhyah. na dandam na kamandalum na sikham

na yajnopavitam na cacchadanam carati paramahamsah


            A paramahamsa gives up the following as being material and irrelevant:

his children, wife, friends, relatives, sikha, sacred thread, yajna, charity, study of

the Vedas, social and Vedic duties. These things are all of this world, they have

a connection with the fallible and temporary. Such a paramahamsa accepts only

the bare necessities required to keep body and soul together. The paramahamsa

may sometimes accept the danda, sikha, sacred thread, and dress of a sannyasi

in order to benefit the fallen souls of this world. For a paramahamsa the danda,

sikha, sacred tread, cloth etc. are not important. (Paramahamsa Upanisad 1-2)


The Supreme Lord, a Paramahamsa,

is Transcendental to all Material Considerations



ahe danda, ami yare bahiye hrdaye

se tomare bahiveka e ta' yukta nahe

eta bali' balarama parama-pracanda

phelilena danda bhangi "kari" tina khanda


            O danda, within my heart, I find you to be external and useless. [since Sri

Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a devotee, He

is the topmost paramahamsa. What need has He to carry a symbol of elevated

status within the varnas and asramas of human society? A sannyasa danda in

His hands is redundant] Saying this, Sri Balarama, with great violence, broke

into three pieces the tridandi staff of renunciation belonging to Sri Caitanya.

(C.Bhag. Antya 2.205-206)



tina khanda kari' danda dila bhasana


            Nityananda Prabhu broke Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sannyasa danda in

three places. (Cc. Madhya 5.143)



danda-bhanga-lila ei parama gambhira

sei bujhe, duohara pade yanra bhakti dhira


            The pastime of the breaking of the staff is very deep. Only one whose

devotion is fixed upon the lotus feet of the two Lords can understand it.

(Cc. Madhya 5.158)


For Those who are Paramahamsas, and are Therefore

Transcendental to all Considerations of Asrama,

the Red Cloth of a Sannyasi is Inappropriate



rakta-vastra 'vaisnavera' parite na yuyaya


            Red cloth is unfit for a paramahamsa Vaisnava to wear. (Cc. Antya 13.61)


Bhagavatam Gives the Characteristic Behavior of a Paramahamsa



evam-vratah sva-priya-nama-kirtya jatanurago druta-citta uccaih

hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty unmada-van nrtyati loka-bahyah


            When a person is actually advanced and takes pleasure in chanting the

holy name of the Lord, who is very dear to him, he is agitated and loudly chants

the holy name. He also laughs, cries, and chants just like a madman, not caring

for outsiders. (Bhag. 11.2.40)


The Mentality of a Paramahamsa



naham vipro na ca nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro

naham varni na ca grha-patir no vanastho yatir va

kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramananda-purnamrtabdher

gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah


            I am not a brahmana, I am not a ksatriya, I am not a vaisya or a sudra. Nor

am I a brahmacari, a householder , a vanaprastha, or a sannyasi. I identify My-

self only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the maintainer of the

gopis. (Cc. 13.80 from Padyavali 63)


Thus ends the Fifteenth Jewel of the Gaudiya-Kanthahara, entitled Asrama-dharma-tattva.

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