>> “Srila Prabhupada Quotes” > Sannyasa In Kali Yuga
1. Not recommended or favored by the lord
2. Only for exalted persons
3. Some accept for cheating purposes
4. Easily deviated from path
5. Lord Caitanya’s acceptance
6. Ksetra sannyasa as preferred Vanaprastha situation
7. Practically none qualified
8. Materialists’ idea of sannyasa
9. Demons in sannyasa dress.
10. Kali yuga sannyasis and animal killing
1. NOT RECOMMENDED OR FAVORED BY THE LORD (top)
SANNYASA IN KALI YUGA NOT FAVORED BY THE LORD
Five hundred years ago the condition of society was not as degraded as it is today. At that time people would show respect to a Sannyasi, and the Sannyasi was rigid in following the rules and regulations of the renounced order of life. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was not very much in favor of the renounced order of life in this age of kali, but that was only for the reason that very few sannyasis in this age are able to observe the rules and regulations of Sannyasa life.
(Bhag. Intro., page 15)
IF ONE IS NOT IN THE TRANSCENDENTAL POSITION, ARTIFICIALLY TAKING SANNYASA IS NO GREAT CREDIT. THEREFORE IN KALI YUGA SANNYASA IS NOT RECOMMENDED
In the fighting between the elephant and the crocodile, the difference was that although the elephant was extremely powerful, he was in a foreign place, in the water. During one thousand years of fighting, he could not get any food, and under the circumstances his bodily strength diminished, and because his bodily strength diminished, his mind also became weak and his senses less powerful. The crocodile, however, being an animal of the water, had no difficulties. He was getting food and was therefore getting mental strength and sensual encouragement. Thus while the elephant became reduced in strength, the crocodile became more and more powerful. Now from this we may take the lesson that in our fight with maya we should not be in a position in which our strength, enthusiasm and senses will be unable to fight vigorously. Our Krsna consciousness movement has actually declared war against the illusory energy, in which all the living entities are rotting in a false understanding of civilization. The soldiers in this Krsna consciousness movement must always possess physical strength, enthusiasm and sensual power. To keep themselves fit, they must therefore place themselves in a normal condition of life. What constitutes a normal condition will not be the same for everyone, and therefore there are divisions of varnasrama– brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa. Especially in this age, Kali-yuga, it is advised that no one take sannyasa.
kalau panca vivarjayet
From this we can understand that in this age the sannyasa-asrama is forbidden because people are not strong. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed us an example in taking sannyasa at the age of twenty-four years, but even Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya advised Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be extremely careful because He had taken sannyasa at an early age. For preaching we give young boys sannyasa, but actually it is being experienced that they are not fit for sannyasa. There is no harm, however, if one thinks that he is unfit for sannyasa; if he is very much agitated sexually, he should go to the asrama where sex is allowed, namely the grhastha- asrama. That one has been found to be very weak in one place does not mean that he should stop fighting the crocodile of maya. One should take shelter of the lotus feet of Krsna, as we shall see Gajendra do, and at the same time one can be a grhastha if he is satisfied with sexual indulgence. There is no need to give up the fight. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore recommended, sthane sthitah sruti- gatam tanu-van-manobhih. One may stay in whichever asrama is suitable for him; it is not essential that one take sannyasa. If one is sexually agitated, he can enter the grhastha-asrama. But one must continue fighting. For one who is not in a transcendental position, to take sannyasa artificially is not a very great credit. If sannyasa is not suitable, one may enter the grhastha-asrama and fight maya with great strength. But one should not give up the fighting and go away.
(Bhag. 8.2.30 , purp.)
IMMATURE SANNYASA IS NOT RECOMMENDED; ESPECIALLY IN KALI- YUGA
Sannyasa does not mean begging from door to door to accumulate money for sense gratification. However, because in Kali-yuga people are more or less prone to sense gratification, immature sannyasa is not recommended.
(Bhag. 7.13.34 , purp.)
SANNYASA IS PROHIBITED IN KALI-YUGA BECAUSE SUDRAS CANNOT FOLLOW THE RULES OF SANNYASA LIFE
In this age of Kali-yuga sannyasa is prohibited because persons in this age are all sudras and cannot follow the rules and regulations of sannyasa life. It is very commonly found that so-called sannyasis are addicted to nonsense–even to having private relationships with women. This is the abominable situation in this age.
Although they dress themselves as sannyasis, they still cannot free themselves from the four principles of sinful life, namely illicit sex life, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. Since they are not freed from these four principles, they are cheating the public by posing as svamis.
(Bhag. 3.24.35 , purp.)
FORMAL ACCEPTANCE OF SANNYASA IS NOT SUFFICIENT
TRANSLATION: “The words of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu are firm and convincing, and I accept them as true. In this age of Kali, one cannot be delivered from material clutches simply by formally accepting the renounced order.
(Cc. Madhya 25.28 )
2. ONLY FOR EXALTED PERSONS (top)
IN THIS AGE OF KALI ONLY A VERY EXALTED PERSON ADVANCED IN SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING SHOULD ATTEMPT TO TAKE SANNYASA. IT IS MEANT FOR SINCERE AND SERIOUS PERSONS AND NOT AS A MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD OR FOR SOME MATERIAL PURPOSE
TRANSLATION: When King Indra was taking away the horse, he dressed himself to appear as a liberated person. Actually this dress was a form of cheating, for it falsely created an impression of religion. When Indra went into outer space in this way, the great sage Atri saw him and understood the whole situation.
PURPORT: The word pakhanda used in this verse is sometimes pronounced pasanda. Both of these words indicate an impostor who presents himself as a very religious person but in actuality is sinful. Indra took up the saffron-colored dress as a way of cheating others. This saffron dress has been misused by many impostors who present themselves as liberated persons or incarnations of God. In this way people are cheated. As we have mentioned many times, the conditioned soul has a tendency to cheat; therefore this quality is also visible in a person like King Indra. It is understood that even King Indra is not liberated from the clutches of material contamination. Thus the words amuktam iva, meaning “as if he were liberated,” are used. The saffron dress worn by a sannyasi announces to the world that he has renounced all worldly affairs and is simply engaged in the service of the Lord. Such a devotee is actually a sannyasi, or liberated person. One who offers the results of his activities to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually a sannyasi and yogi. Cheating sannyasis and yogis have existed since the time of Prthu Maharaja’s sacrifice. This cheating was very foolishly introduced by King Indra. In some ages such cheating is very prominent, and in other ages not so prominent. It is the duty of a sannyasi to be very cautious because, as stated by Lord Caitanya, sannyasira alpa chidra sarva-loke gaya: a little spot in a sannyasi’s character will be magnified by the public (Cc. Madhya 12.51). Therefore, unless one is very sincere and serious, he should not take up the order of sannyasa. One should not use this order as a means to cheat the public. It is better not to take up sannyasa in this age of Kali because provocations are very strong in this age. Only a very exalted person advanced in spiritual understanding should attempt to take up sannyasa. One should not adopt this order as a means of livelihood or for some material purpose.
(Bhag. 4.19.12 )
IN KALI YUGA SANNYASA IS FORBIDDEN FOR ORDINARY MEN
In this age of kali, sannyasa is forbidden for ordinary men. One who changes his dress to make propaganda is a different man from the original ideal Sannyasi. One should, however, take the vow to stop social intercourse completely and devote life exclusively to the service of the Lord. The change of dress is only a formality.
(Bhag. 1.6.13, purp.)
IN KALI-YUGA ONE MAY TAKE SANNYASA TO DEDICATE HIS LIFE FOR THE SERVICE OF THE LORD
TRANSLATION: “My dear mother and father,” the Lord said, “it is very good that Visvarupa has accepted the sannyasa order, for thus He has delivered both His father’s family and His mother’s family.”
PURPORT: It is sometimes said that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not approve of the acceptance of the sannyasa order in this Kali-yuga because in the sastra it is said:
kalau panca vivarjayet
“In this Kali-yuga the performance of the asvamedha-yajna or gomedha-yajna sacrifices in which a horse or cow is offered, should be avoided, as should the acceptance of sannyasa, the renounced order of life.” (Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krsna-janma- khanda 185.180 ) Nevertheless we see that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself accepted sannyasa and approved of the sannyasa of His elder brother, Visvarupa. It is clearly said here; bhala haila,– visvarupa sannyasa karila pitr-kula, matr-kula–dui uddharila. Therefore, should it be thought that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu made statements that are contradictory? No, Actually He did not. It is recommended that one accept sannyasa to dedicate his life for the service of the Lord, and everyone must take that kind of sannyasa, for by accepting such sannyasa one renders the best service to both his paternal and maternal families. But one should not accept the sannyasa order of the Mayavada school, which has practically no meaning. We find many Mayavadi sannyasis simply loitering in the street thinking themselves Brahman or Narayana and spending all day and night begging so they can fill their hungry bellies. Mayavadi sannyasis have become so degraded that there is a section of them who eat everything, just like hogs and dogs. It is such degraded sannyasa that is prohibited in this age. Actually, Srila Sankaracarya’s principles for the acceptance of sannyasa were very strict, but later the so-called Mayavadi sannyasis became degraded because of their false philosophy, which propounds that by accepting sannyasa one becomes Narayana. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejected that kind of sannyasa. But the acceptance of sannyasa is one of the items of the varnasrama-dharma. How then can it be rejected?
(Cc. Adi 15.14 )
ONLY ONE WHO IS VERY SERIOUS, FOLLOWS THE REGULATIVE PRINCIPLES AND STUDIES VEDIC LITERATURES MAY ACCEPT SANNYASA IN KALI YUGA
When Caitanya Mahaprabhu was having His discussion with the Chand Kazi, the Mohammedan magistrate of Navadvipa, He recited a verse from Vedic literature to the effect that the order of sannyasa is prohibited in this age of Kali. Only those who are very serious and who follow the regulative principles and study Vedic literature should accept sannyasa.
(Cc. Madhya 6.127 , purp.)
THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE RULES MUST TAKE SANNYASA EVEN IN KALI- YUGA
In Kali-yuga the injunction is that no one should accept sannyasa. Of course, those who actually follow the rules and regulations must take sannyasa. Generally, however, people are unable to accept sannyasa life, and therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu stressed, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. In this age there is no other alternative, no other alternative, no other alternative than to chant the holy name of the Lord: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. (Bhag. 3.24.35 , purp.)
3. ACCEPTED FOR CHEATING PURPOSES (top)
THE VEDAS PRACTICALLY FORBID THE SANNYASA ORDER IN THE AGE OF KALI BECAUSE LESS INTELLIGENT PERSONS MAY ACCEPT IT FOR CHEATING PURPOSES
TRANSLATION: In this way, King Indra, in order to steal the horse from King Prthu’s sacrifice, adopted several orders of sannyasa. Some sannyasis go naked, and sometimes they wear red garments and pass under the name of kapalika. These are simply symbolic representations of their sinful activities. These so-called sannyasis are very much appreciated by sinful men because they are all godless atheists and very expert in putting forward arguments and reasons to support their case. We must know, however, that they are only passing as adherents of religion and are not so in fact. Unfortunately, bewildered persons accept them as religious, and being attracted to them, they spoil their life.
PURPORT: As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam, men in this age of Kali are short- lived, devoid of spiritual knowledge, and susceptible to accept false religious systems due to their unfortunate condition. Thus they always remain mentally disturbed. The Vedic sastras practically prohibit the adoption of sannyasa in the age of Kali because less intelligent men may accept the sannyasa order for cheating purposes. Actually the only religion is the religion of surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We must serve the Lord in Krsna consciousness. All other systems of sannyasa and religion are actually not bona fide. In this age they are simply passing for religious systems. This is most regrettable.
(Bhag. 4.19.24-25 )
IRREGULAR SANNYASA ORDERS INTRODUCED BY KING INDRA TRANSLATION: Maharaja Prthu, who was celebrated as very powerful, immediately took up his bow and arrows and prepared to kill Indra himself, because Indra had introduced such irregular sannyasa orders.
PURPORT: It is the duty of the king not to tolerate the introduction of any irreligious systems. Since King Prthu was an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, certainly his duty was to cut down all kinds of irreligious systems. Following in his footsteps, all heads of state should themselves be bona fide representatives of God and should cut down all irreligious systems. Unfortunately they are cowards who declare a secular state. Such a mentality is a way of compromising religious and irreligious systems, but because of this citizens are generally becoming uninterested in spiritual advancement. Thus the situation deteriorates to such an extent that human society becomes hellish.
(Bhag. 4.19.26 )
ACTIVITIES OF FALSE SANNYASIS ARE ATTRACTIVE TO PEOPLE IN GENERAL
TRANSLATION: Just see how Indra, the king of heaven, was creating a disturbance in the midst of the sacrifice by stealing the sacrificial horse. These attractive sinful activities he has introduced will be carried out by the people in general. PURPORT: For his own sense gratification, King Indra thought to defeat Maharaja Prthu in the performance of one hundred horse sacrifices. Consequently he stole the horse and hid himself amid so many irreligious personalities, taking on the false guise of a sannyasi. Such activities are attractive to the people in general; therefore they are dangerous.
(Bhag. 4.19.36 )
IN KALI YUGA MENDICANTS WHO ADOPT SANNYASA TO SOLVE THEIR ECONOMIC PROBLEMS ARE IN ABUNDANCE
Similarly, all the acaryas who voluntarily accepted the renounced order of life aimed at benefiting human society and not at living a comfortable or irresponsible life at the cost of others. However, those who cannot give any contribution should not go to the householders for food, for such mendicants asking bread from the householders are an insult to the highest order. Sukadeva Gosvami gave this warning especially for those mendicants who adopt this line of profession to solve their economic problems. Such mendicants are in abundance in the age of Kali. When a man becomes a mendicant willfully or by circumstances, he must be of firm faith and conviction that the Supreme Lord is the maintainer of all living beings everywhere in the universe. Why, then, would He neglect the maintenance of a surrendered soul who is cent percent engaged in the service of the Lord? A common master looks to the necessities of his servant, so how much more would the all-powerful, all-opulent Supreme Lord look after the necessities of life for a fully surrendered soul? The general rule is that a mendicant devotee will accept a simple, small loincloth without asking anyone to give it in charity. He simply salvages it from the rejected torn cloth thrown in the street. When he is hungry he may go to a magnanimous tree that drops fruits, and when he is thirsty he may drink water from the flowing river. He does not require to live in a comfortable house, but should find a cave in the hills and not be afraid of jungle animals, keeping faith in God, who lives in everyone’s heart. The Lord may dictate to tigers and other jungle animals not to disturb His devotee. Haridasa Thakura, a great devotee of Lord Sri Caitanya, used to live in such a cave, and by chance a great, venomous snake was a copartner of the cave. Some admirer of Thakura Haridasa who had to visit the Thakura every day feared the snake and suggested that the Thakura leave that place. Because his devotees were afraid of the snake and they were regularly visiting the cave, Thakura Haridasa agreed to the proposal on their account. But as soon as this was settled, the snake actually crawled out of its hole in the cave and left the cave for good before everyone present. By the dictation of the Lord, who lived also within the heart of the snake, the snake gave preference to Haridasa and decided to leave the place and not disturb him. So this is a tangible example of how the Lord gives protection to a bona fide devotee like Thakura Haridasa. According to the regulations of the sanatana-dharma institution, one is trained from the beginning to depend fully on the protection of the Lord in all circumstances. The path of renunciation is recommended for acceptance by one who is fully accomplished and fully purified in his existence. This stage is described also in the Bhagavad-gita (16.5 ) as daivi sampat. A human being is required to accumulate daivi sampat, or spiritual assets, otherwise , the next alternative, asuri sampat, or material assets, will overcome him disproportionately, and thus one will be forced into the entanglement of different miseries of the material world.
(Bhag. 2.2.5, purp.)
KALI YUGA SANNYASIS WHO DO WHATEVER THEY LIKE ARE MORE ABOMINABLE THAN MATERIALISTIC GRHASTAS
TRANSLATION: Prajapati Daksa continued: If you think that simply awakening the sense of renunciation will detach one from the material world, I must say that unless full knowledge is awakened, simply changing dresses as you have done cannot possibly bring detachment. PURPORT: Prajapati Daksa was correct in stating that changing one’s dress cannot detach one from this material world. The sannyasis of Kali-yuga who change their robes from white to saffron and then think they can do whatever they like are more abominable than materialistic grhasthas. This is not recommended anywhere. Prajapati Daksa was right in pointing out this defect, but he did not know that Narada Muni had aroused the spirit of renunciation in the Haryasvas and Savalasvas through full knowledge.
Such enlightened renunciation is desirable. One should enter the renounced order with full knowledge (jnana-vairagya), for the perfection of life is possible for one who renounces this material world in that way. This elevated stage can be reached very easily, as supported by the statements of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.7) :
janayaty asu vairagyam
jnanam ca yad ahaitukam
“By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.” If one seriously engages in devotional service to Lord Vasudeva, jnana and vairagya are automatically manifest in one’s person. There is no doubt of this. Prajapati Daksa’s accusation that Narada had not actually elevated his sons to the platform of knowledge was not factual. All the sons of Prajapati Daksa had first been raised to the platform of jnana and had then automatically renounced this world. In summary, unless one’s knowledge is awakened, renunciation cannot take place, for without elevated knowledge one cannot give up attachment for materialenjoyment.
(Bhag. 6.5.40 )
4. EASILY DEVIATED FROM PATH (top)
IN KALI-YUGA SANNYASIS ARE EASILY DEVIATED FROM THE RIGID PATH
In this age, men are victims not only of different political creeds and parties, but also of many different types of sense- gratificatory diversions, such as cinemas, sports, gambling, clubs, mundane libraries, bad association, smoking, drinking, cheating, pilfering, bickering, and so on. Their minds are always disturbed and full of anxieties due to so many different engagements. In this age, many unscrupulous men manufacture their own religious faiths which are not based on any revealed scriptures, and very often people who are addicted to sense gratification are attracted by such institutions. Consequently, in the name of religion so many sinful acts are being carried on that the people in general have neither peace of mind nor health of body. The student (brahmacari) communities are no longer being maintained, and householders do not observe the rules and regulations of the grhastha-asrama. Consequently, the so-called vanaprasthas and sannyasis who come out of such grhastha-asramas are easily deviated from the rigid path.
(Bhag. 1.1.10, purp.)
5. LORD CAITANYA’S ACCEPTANCE (top)
LORD CAITANYA ACCEPTED SANNYASA IN KALI YUGA BECAUSE HE IS COMPLETE IN RENUNCIATION
In the feature of Lord Caitanya, the Lord is an ideal renouncer, just as Sri Rama was an ideal King. He accepted the order of Sannyasa and exemplified exceedingly wonderful principles in His own life. No one can compare to Him in the order of Sannyasa. Although in Kali-yuga acceptance of the Sannyasa order is generally forbidden, Lord Caitanya accepted it because He is complete in renunciation. Others cannot imitate Him but can only follow in His footsteps as far as possible. Those who are unfit for this order of life are strictly forbidden by the injunctions of the sastras to accept it. Lord Caitanya, however, is complete in renunciation as well as all other opulences. He is therefore the highest principle of the Absolute Truth.
(Cc. Adi 2.5, purp.)
6. AS THE PREFERRED VANAPRASTHA SITUATION (top)
KSETRA SANNYASA AS PREFERRED VANAPRASTHA SITUATION IN KALI YUGA
TRANSLATION: When Gadadhara Pandita started to go with the Lord, he was forbidden to come and was asked not to give up the vow of ksetra-sannyasa. PURPORT: When one takes ksetra-sannyasa, he leaves his household life and goes to a place of pilgrimage devoted to Lord Visnu. Such places include Purusottama (Jagannatha Puri), Navadvipa-dhama and Mathura-dhama. The ksetra-sannyasi lives in these places alone or with his family. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura considers ksetra- sannyasa to be the preferable vanaprastha situation in this age of Kali. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya lived in this way, and he has been called a ksetra- sannyasi–that is, a sannyasi living in Jagannatha Puri.
(Cc. Madhya 16.130 )
7. PRACTICALLY NONE QUALIFIED (top)
SANNYASA IS ACCEPTED ACCORDING TO THE PARAMPARA SYSTEM AND PRACTICALLY SPEAKING NONE OF THE SANNYASIS IN KALI YUGA ARE BONA FIDE
TRANSLATION: Whatever different forms Indra assumed as a mendicant because of his desire to seize the horse were symbols of atheistic philosophy.
PURPORT: According to Vedic civilization, sannyasa is one of the essential items in the program of the varna-asrama institution. One should accept sannyasa according to the parampara system of the acaryas. At the present moment, however, many so-called sannyasis or mendicants have no understanding of God consciousness. Such sannyasa was introduced by Indra because of his jealousy of Maharaja Prthu, and what he introduced is again appearing in the age of Kali. Practically none of the sannyasis in this age are bona fide. No one can introduce any new system into the Vedic way of life; if one does so out of malice, he is to be known as a pasandi, or atheist. In the Vaisnava Tantra it is said:
yas tu narayanam devam
samatvenaiva vikseta sa
pasandi bhaved dhruvam
Although it is forbidden, there are many pasandis who coin terms like daridra- narayana and svami-narayana, although not even such demigods as Brahma and Siva can be equal to Narayana.
(Bhag. 4.19.23 )
8. MATERIALISTS’ IDEA OF SANNYASA (top)
MATERIALISTS DO NOT APPRECIATE SANNYASA
In the vedas it is distinctly said that the perfection of life is never to be attained either by voluminous work, or by accumulation of wealth or even by increasing the population. But it is so attained only by renunciation. The materialistic men do not care for to listen to such injunctions. According to them, the so-called renounced order of life is meant for those who are unable to earn their livelihood because of some corporeal defects, or for persons who have failed to achieve prosperity in family life.
(Bhag. 1.5.15, purp.)
9. DEMONS IN SANNYASA DRESS (top)
DEMONS TAKE THE DRESS OF SANNYASA AND ENGAGE IN NONSENSE
Sometimes such demons take up the role of preacher, mislead the people, and become known as religious reformers or as incarnations of God. They make a show of performing sacrifices, or they worship the demigods, or manufacture their own God. Common men advertise them as God and worship them, and by the foolish they are considered advanced in the principles of religion, or in the principles of spiritual knowledge. They take the dress of the renounced order of life and engage in all nonsense in that dress.
(B.g. 16.17, purp.)
DEMONS DO NOT CARE FOR RESTRICTIONS IN THE RENOUNCED ORDER
Actually there are so many restrictions for one who has renounced this world. The demons, however, do not care for such restrictions. They think whatever path one can create is one’s own path;there is no such thing as a standard path one has to follow.
(B.g. 16.17, purp.)
10. KALI YUGA SANNYASIS AND ANIMAL KILLING (top)
BY THE GRACE OF KALI, SANNYASIS SPRING UP TO PREACH ANIMAL KILLING
Maharaja Parikshit said that only the animal-killer cannot relish the transcendental message of the Supreme Lord. Therefore if people are to be educated to this path of Godhead, they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal- killing as above mentioned. It is nonsensical to say that animal-killing has nothing to do with spiritual realization. By this dangerous theory many so-called Sannyasis have sprung up by the grace of Kali-yuga who preach animal-killing under the garb of the Vedas.
(Bhag. 1.3.24, purp.)