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Vedanta and Sannyasins

by Swami Sivananda

IT IS only the ignorant and faithless, who are followers of the philosophy of flesh, carp and say, The Sannyasins who lead the path of renunciation or Nivrittimarga are idlers. They are of no use to the society. They are like drone bees. They simply waste their time in forests, caves and hills, there is nothing in Vedanta. It is the philosophy of dreamers only. There is no need for the order of Sannyasa. Where is Brahman? Can you show your Brahman? If there is really one Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman, will He not shine now and here? There is no such thing as Brahman. Brahman is only an imaginary phantom of the so-called Vedantins. There is no use in renunciation, Tapas and control of the senses. Let us eat and drink and rejoice in this world. There is nothing beyond these senses. There is nothing beyond this world. There is nothing beyond sensual pleasures. This is a beautiful and soul-stirring philosophy indeed! This is the sublime philosophy of Charvakas, materialists, epicureans, gluttons, followers of Virochana and worshippers of flesh and body. The followers of this school are countless in this world.

Every religion has a band of anchorites who lead the life of seclusion and meditation. There are Bhikshus in Buddhism, Fakirs in Mohammedanism, Sufistic-Fakirs in Sufism, Fathers and Reverends in Christianity. The glory of a religion will be absolutely lost, if you remove these hermits or Sannyasins or those who lead a life of renunciation and divine contemplation. It is these people who maintain and preserve the religions of the world. It is these people who give solace to the householders when they are in trouble and distress. They are the harbingers of divine wisdom and peace. They are the messengers of Atmic knowledge and heavenly messages. They are the disseminators of Adhyatmic science and Upanishadic revelations. They tend the sick, comfort the forlorn and nurse the bed-ridden. They bring hope to the hopeless, joy to the depressed, strength to the weak, and courage to the timid by imparting the knowledge of Vedanta and the significance of 'Tat Tvam Asi' Mahavakya.

Vedanta is that bold philosophy which teaches unity of life or oneness or consciousness. It is that supreme philosophy which boldly proclaims, with emphasis and force, that this little Jiva or human being is identical with the Eternal or the Absolute. It is that sublime philosophy which elevate the mind at once to magnanimous heights of Brahmanhood, divine splendour and glory, which makes a man absolutely fearless, which destroys all barriers that separate man from man and which brings concord, unruffled peace and harmony to the suffering humanity at large. It is the only philosophy that can really unite on the basis of one common Self in all, a Hindu and a Mohammedan, a Catholic and a Protestant, an Irishman and an Englishman, a Jain and a Parsi, on a common platform and in the core of their hearts also. It is the only philosophy that, when properly understood and practised, can put a definite stop to the world wars and all sorts of dissension, splits and skirmishes that exist in different nations and communities. All philosophers should bow down their heads, with implicit obedience and perfect submissiveness, before this grand philosophy. Sankara, Dattatreya, Yajnavalkya and others preached and expounded this unique philosophy. Rama Tirtha and Vivekananda also preached this profound philosophy in America.

Brahman cannot be demonstrated. He is beyond the reach of mind and speech. He cannot be seen by these physical eyes but He can be reached through meditation, through the eye of intuition, by one who has purified himself and who is endowed with the four means of salvation. Brahman is not an imaginary phantom. Brahman alone exists. He is the only solid Reality. He is Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute and Bliss Absolute. He is the living Truth. There is no world apart from Brahman. This world has no independent existence. Brahman is the support for this world.

When one is hopelessly sunk in the quagmire of Samsara, when he is burnt by the three fires of this terrible world of names and forms, when he is in a hopeless state of being drowned in the ocean of phenomena, when he is suffering from fearful tribulations, torments and dreadful diseases, when all his friends, relations and parents have deserted him on account of his chill penury and poverty, when death dances its formidable dance before him, then there comes forth the Vedanta philosophy with its all-loving, all-inclusive and all-embracing hands to lift the distressed soul from abject helplessness, bondage, ignorance and suffering to the magnanimous heights of freedom, perfection, independence and suzerainty. Then he drinks the nectar of immortality and tastes the delicious cup of experience of the inherent divinity and ineffable splendour of Brahman. Glory, glory to the Vedanta philosophy!

Thought moves. Thought is a great force. A Yogi or sage can purify the whole world with his powerful thoughts though he remains in a solitary cave in the Himalayas. It is not necessary that he should appear on the platform and deliver lectures and discourses to help the people. Sattva is intense activity. A wheel that revolves very rapidly appears to be at rest. So is Sattva. So is a Sattvic man.

Just as coloured water penetrates freely and nicely a piece of pure white cloth, so also the instructions of a sage can penetrate and settle down in the hearts of aspirants only when their minds are calm, when there are no desires for enjoyments and when the impurities of their minds are destroyed. That is the reason why an aspirant is expected to possess the qualifications of Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, Dama, Uparati, Sraddha, Samadhana, Mumukshutva, before he practises hearing of Srutis, reflection and meditation. Discipline and purification of the mind and the Indriyas are the prerequisites of the aspirant in the path of Truth and God-realisation.

Even when God is explained, those who have not been purged of their faults and impurities, either disbelieve or misbelieve it, as was the case with Indra, Virochana, etc. Therefore, knowledge as inculcated, arises in him who has purified himself by Tapas, etc., performed either in this birth or in any previous births. The Sruti says, To that high-souled man whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his preceptor is as great as that to the Lord, these secrets explained become illumined.

Sannyasins live on a few pieces of bread, and in exchange move from door to door and spread the sublime teachings of Vedanta, Upanishads, Ramayana and Bhagavata throughout the length and breadth of India. The world is under a great debt of gratitude to them. Their writings still guide us. Study a few Slokas or verses of the Avadhuta-Gita. You will at once be raised to the magnanimous heights of divine splendour and glory. You will become a changed man. Depression, weakness anxieties and tribulations will vanish at once.

A real Sannyasin is the only mighty potentate of this earth. He never takes anything. He always gives. It was Sannyasins only who did glorious sublime work in the past. It is Sannyasins only who can work wonders in the present and in the future also. Sankara's name can never be obliterated so long as the world lasts. It was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Rama Tirtha, Dayananda and Vivekananda who disseminated the sublime teachings of the scriptures and preserved Hindu religion. A Sannyasin alone can do any real Lokasangraha, because he has divine knowledge; he is a whole-timed man. One real Sannyasin can change the destiny of the whole world. It is one mighty Sankara who established the doctrine of Kevla Advaita philosophy. He still lives in our hearts.
Just as there are research scholars or postgraduate students in science, psychology, biology, philosophy, so also there should be post-graduate Yogins and Sannyasins who will devote their time in study and meditation, in research of the Atman. These post-graduate Yogins will give to the world their experiences and realisations in the field of religion. They will train students and send them into the world for preaching. It is the duty of householders, zamindars. Rajas and Maharajas to look after the wants of these Sannyasins. In turn these Sannyasins will take care of their souls. Thus the wheel of the world will revolve smoothly. There will be peace in the land.

May Sannyasins, the repositories of divine knowledge, to torch hearers of Truth, the beacon-lights of this world, the corner stones of spiritual edifice and the eternal pillars of the eternal Dharmas of religion, guide the different nations of the world!

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