XI Vaisnava Sannyasis

>> “Srila Prabhupada Quotes” > Vaisnava Sannyasis

1. Do not claim to be narayana
2. As followers of vaisnava acaryas
3. Tridandi sannyasi’s staff
4. Tridandi bhikshu title explained
5. Bless everyone with the greeting: krsne matir astu
6. Keep sacred thread and sikha (tuft)
7. Vaisnava and mayavadi sannyasis described
8. Do not associate with mayavadi sannyasis
9. Their duty is to eternally remember Krsna

1. DO NOT CLAIM TO BE NARAYANA (top)

A VAISNAVA SANNYASI DOES NOT FALSELY CLAIM TO BE NARAYANA

TRANSLATION: The Supreme Lord, Narayana, is present among devotees who are engaged in hearing and chanting the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Narayana is the ultimate goal of sannyasis, those in the renounced order of life, and Narayana is worshiped through this sankirtana movement by those who are liberated from material contamination. Indeed, they recite the holy name again and again.
PURPORT: In this verse it is said that Narayana is nyasinam gatih, the ultimate goal of the sannyasis. The goal of those who have renounced the material world is the attainment of Narayana. A Vaisnava sannyasi therefore dedicates his life to serving Narayana; he does not falsely claim to be Narayana.
(Bhag. 4.30.36 , purp.)

EVEN A SANNYASI IS PART AND PARCEL OF THE COMPLETE WHOLE

TRANSLATION: “A sannyasi in the renounced order is certainly part and parcel of the complete whole, just as a shining molecular particle of sunshine is part and parcel of the sun itself. Krsna is like the sun, full of six opulences, but the living entity is only a fragment of the complete whole.
(Cc. Madhya 18.112 )

 

2. AS FOLLOWERS OF VAISNAVA ACARYAS (top)

TRIDANDI SANNYASIS ARE FOLLOWERS OF VAISNAVA ACARYAS LIKE RAMANUJACARYA, MADHVACARYA AND SO ON, AND TAKE THE TROUBLE TO ENLIGHTEN HOUSEHOLDERS

Generally the sannyasis, or those in the renounced order of life, take trouble to enlighten the householders. There are ekadandi sannyasis and tridandi sannyasis. The ekadandi sannyasis are generally followers of Sankaracarya and are known as Mayavadi sannyasis, whereas the tridandi sannyasis are followers of Vaisnava acaryas–Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya and so on–and they take trouble to enlighten the householders. /…Wherever he goes, a Vaisnava immediately makes that place a tirtha, a place of pilgrimage. The Vaisnava sannyasis travel all over the world to make every place a place of pilgrimage by the touch of their lotus feet. It is mentioned here that any house which does not receive a Vaisnava in the manner already explained in the previous verse is to be considered the residential quarters of venomous serpents.
(Bhag. 4.22.11 , purp.)

3. TRIDANDI SANNYASI’S STAFF (top)

TRIDANDI SANNYASIS CARRY THREE DANDAS (RODS), SIGNIFYING SURRENDER TO KRSNA WITH BODY, MIND AND WORDS

TRANSLATION: Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words)–these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.
One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge. PURPORT: After performing sacrifices, sometimes a person engaged in fruitive activity customarily offers the results to Visnu. But here it is said, bhagavaty addha: one must directly offer everything to Visnu. This is called sannyasa (not merely nyasa). A tridandi-sannyasi carries three dandas, signifying kaya-mano-vakya–body, mind and words. All of these should be offered to Visnu, and then one can begin devotional service. Fruitive workers first perform some pious activities and then formally or officially offer the results to Visnu. The real devotee, however, first offers his surrender to Krsna with his body, mind and words and then uses his body, mind and words for the service of Krsna as Krsna desires.
(Bhag. 7.5.23-24 )

THE SANNYASA DANDA (STAFF) SIGNIFIES FULL ENGAGEMENT OF MIND, SPEECH AND BODY IN DEVOTIONAL SERVICE

All the previous acaryas, being induced to engage themselves fully in the service of the Lord, gave up attachment for material life and thus accepted the staff, which signifies full engagement of the mind, speech and body in the service of the Lord.
(Cc. Madhya 5.158 , purp.)

ONE SHOULD ADD THE JIVA DANDA TO THE TRI-DANDA (STAFF)

In addition, according to the exact regulative principles, one should add the jiva- danda to the tri-danda. These four dandas, bound together as one, are symbolic of unalloyed devotional service to the Lord.
(Cc. Madhya 3.5-6 )

TRIDANDI SANNYASIS ACCEPT A FOURTH DANDA (STAFF)

Those who are completely dedicated to the lotus feet of Krsna in service are actually sannyasis. As a matter of formality, the devotee accepts the sannyasa dress as previous acaryas did. He also accepts the three dandas. Later Visnusvami considered that accepting the dress of a tri-dandi was parat-ma-nistha: Therefore sincere devotees add another danda, the jiva-danda, to the three existing dandas.
(Cc. Madhya 3.5-6 )

WHEN A SANNYASI REACHES THE PARAMAHAMSA STAGE HE NO LONGER REQUIRES TO CARRY THE SANNYASA DANDA (STAFF)

TRANSLATION: When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to the temple of Lord Siva known as Kapotesvara, Nityananda Prabhu, who was keeping His sannyasa staff in custody, broke the staff in three parts and threw it into the River Bharginadi. Later this river became known as Danda-bhanga-nadi.
PURPORT: The mystery of the sannyasa-danda (staff) of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has been explained by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the order of sannyasa from a Mayavadi sannyasi. The Mayavadi sannyasis generally carry one staff, or danda. Taking advantage of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s absence, Srila Nityananda Prabhu broke the staff into three parts and threw it into the river now known as the Danda-bhanga-nadi. In the sannyasa order there are four divisions–kuticaka, bahudaka, hamsa and paramahamsa. Only when the sannyasi remains on the kuticaka and bahudaka platforms can he carry a staff. However, when one is elevated to the status of hamsa or paramahamsa, after touring and preaching the bhakti cult, he must give up the sannyasa staff. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is therefore said, sri-krsna-caitanya, radha-krsna nahe anya: “Two personalities–Srimati Radharani and Sri Krsna–are combined in the incarnation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” Therefore, considering Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be and extraordinary person, Lord Nityananda Prabhu did not wait for the paramahamsa stage. He reasoned that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is automatically on the paramahamsa stage; therefore He does not need to carry the sannyasa-danda. This is the reason Sri Nityananda Prabhu broke the staff into three pieces and threw it into the water.
(Cc. Madhya 5.143 )

A SANNYASI SHOULD NOT GIVE UP THE STAFF BEFORE ATTAINING THE STAGE OF PARAMAHAMSA

Sri Nityananda Prabhu considered Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s acceptance of sannyasa to be useless. He therefore relieved the Lord of the trouble of carrying the staff. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu expressed anger because He wanted to teach all other sannyasis that they should not give up the staff before attaining the platform of paramahamsa. Seeing that the regulative principles could be slackened by such action, Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to carry the staff personally. However, Nityananda broke it. For this reason Caitanya Mahaprabhu displayed a little anger. It is said in Bhagavad-gita, yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah: Whatever great people do, others follow. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to follow the Vedic principles strictly in order to save inexperienced neophytes who try to imitate paramahamsas.
(Cc. Madhya 5.152 , purp.)

IN THE PARAMAHAMSA STAGE THERE IS NO NEED TO ACCEPT THE DANDA

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the regulative principles of the renounced order of life. That is completely clear. However, in the paramahamsa stage there is no need to accept a danda (staff), and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was certainly in the paramahamsa stage. Nonetheless, to indicate that everyone should take sannyasa at the end of life in order to engage fully in the service of the Lord, even paramahamsas like Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His confidential devotees follow the regulative principles unfailingly. Indeed, that was His purpose. Nityananda Prabhu, who was His eternal servitor, believed that there was no need for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to carry the staff, and to declare to the world that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was above all regulations, He broke it into three pieces. The pastime known as danda-bhanga-lila is thus explained by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
(Cc. Madhya 5.158 , purp.)

TRIDANDI SANNYASIS ACCEPT THREE RODS

The tridandi-sannyasi of the Vaisnava school accepts three rods, representing the vow to engage in the service of the Lord with body, mind and speech, whereas the ekadandi-sannyasi takes the vow to become one with the Supreme.
(Bhag. 3.6.36 , purp.)

The Mayavadi sannyasis take one danda, or one rod, whereas the Vaisnava sannyasis take three danda, or three rods. The three rods, or tridanda, indicate that a Vaisnava sannyasi vows to render service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead by his body, mind and words. The system of tridanda-sannyasa has been in existence for a long time, and the Vaisnava sannyasis are called tridandis, or sometimes tridandi-svamis or tridandi-gosvamis.
(Krsna Book Vol. III Ch. 17, The Kidnapping of Subhadra, p. 121 )

4. TRIDANDI BHIKSHU TITLE EXPLAINED (top)

TRIDANDI BHIKSHU TITLE EXPLAINED

The words bhiksor marga, “the path of the renounced order,” are very significant in this regard. A sannyasi is called tridandi-bhiksu because his duty is to beg alms from the homes of grhasthas and to give the grhastas spiritual instructions. A sannyasi is allowed to beg from door to door, but a grhastha cannot do so….Unless one becomes a brahmana, one cannot take sannyasa. sannyasis and brahmacaris may beg alms door to door, but a grhastha cannot. Prajapati Daksa condemned Narada Muni because Narada, a brahmacari who could beg from door to door, had made sannyasis of Daksa’s sons, who were being trained to be grhasthas. Daksa was extremely angry at Narada because he thought that Narada had done him a great injustice. According to Daksa’s opinion, Narada Muni had misled Daksa’s inexperienced sons (asadhv akary arbhakanam). Daksa regarded his sons as innocent boys who had been misled when Narada showed them the renounced order of life. Sometimes a saintly person is misunderstood by grhasthas, especially when he instructs their young sons to accept Krsna consciousness. Generally a grhastha thinks that unless one enters grhastha life he cannot properly enter the renounced order. If a young man immediately adopts the path of the renounced order in accordance with the instructions of Narada or a member of his disciplic succession, his parents become very angry. This same phenomenon is occurring in our Krsna consciousness movement because we are instructing all the young boys in the Western countries to follow the path of renunciation. We allow grhastha life, but a grhastha also follows the path of renunciation.
(Bhag. 6.5.36 , purp.)

5. BLESS EVERYONE WITH THE GREETING: KRSNE MATIR ASTU (top)

VAISNAVA SANNYASIS BLESS EVERYONE WITH THE WORDS ^KRSNE MATIR ASTU’

TRANSLATION: Offering his obeisances to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya said, “Namo narayanaya” [I offer my obeisances to Narayana]. In return, Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Krsne matir astu” [Let your attention be on Krsna]. Hearing these words, Sarvabhauma understood Lord Caitanya to be a Vaisnava sannyasi.
PURPORT: It is the etiquette among sannyasis, those on the fourth platform of spiritual life, to offer respects by saying om namo narayana (“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Narayana”). This greeting is used especially by Mayavadi sannyasis. According to the smrti scriptures, a sannyasi should not expect anything from anyone, nor should he consider himself identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vaisnava sannyasis never think of themselves as being one with the Lord; they always consider themselves eternal servants of Krsna, and they want to see everyone in the world become Krsna conscious. For this reason, a Vaisnava sannyasi always offers his blessings to everyone saying krsne matir astu (“May you become Krsna conscious”).
(Cc. Madhya 6.48-49 )

6. KEEP SACRED THREAD AND SIKHA (TUFT) (top)

VAISNAVA SANNYASIS KEEP THE SACRED THREAD AND TUFT OF UNSHAVEN HAIR

To date, all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, following in His footsteps, accept the sannyasa order and keep the sacred thread and tuft of unshaved hair.
(Cc. Madhya 3.6, purp.)

7. VAISNAVA AND MAYAVADI SANNYASIS DESCRIBED (top)

VAISNAVA AND MAYAVADI SANNYASIS DESCRIBED

The sannyasis accept a rod as the sign of the renounced order of life. There are two types of sannyasis. Those who follow the Mayavada philosophy, headed by Sripada Sankaracarya, accept only one rod (ekadanda), but those who follow the Vaisnavite philosophy accept three combined rods (tri-danda). The Mayavadi sannyasis are ekadandi-svamis, whereas the Vaisnava sannyasis are known as tridandi-svamis, or more distinctly, tridandi-gosvamis, in order to be distinguished from the Mayavadi philosophers. The ekadandi-svamis are mostly fond of the Himalayas, but the Vaisnava sannyasis are fond of Vrndavana and Puri. The Vaisnava sannyasis are narottamas, whereas the Mayavadi sannyasis are dhiras. Maharaja Dhrtarastra was advised to follow the dhiras because at that stage it was difficult for him to become a narottama.
(Bhag. 1.13.30 )

MAYAVADI AND VAISNAVA SANNYASIS STUDY DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHIES AND PERFORM DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES

There are two classes of sannyasis, or persons in the renounced order of life. The Mayavadi sannyasis are engaged in the study of sankhya philosophy, whereas the Vaisnava sannyasis are engaged in the study of Bhagavatam philosophy, which affords the proper commentary on the Vedanta-sutras. The Mayavadi sannyasis also study the Vedanta-sutras, but use their own commentary, called Sariraka- bhasya, written by Sankaracarya. The students of the Bhagavata school are engaged in devotional service of the Lord,according to pancaratriki regulations, and therefore the Vaisnava sannyasis have multiple engagements in the transcendental service of the Lord. The Vaisnava sannyasis have nothing to do with material activities, and yet they perform various activities in their devotional service to the Lord. But the Mayavadi sannyasis,engaged in the studies of sankhya and Vedanta and speculation, cannot relish transcendental service of the Lord. Because their studies become very tedious, they sometimes become tired of Brahman speculation, and thus they take shelter of the Bhagavatam without proper understanding. Consequently their study of the Srimad-Bhagavatam becomes troublesome. Dry speculations and impersonal interpretations by artificial means are all useless for the Mayavadi sannyasis. The Vaisnava sannyasis, who are engaged in devotional service, are happy in the discharge of their transcendental duties, and they have the guarantee of ultimate entrance into the kingdom of God. The Mayavadi sannyasis some times fall down from the path of self-realization and again enter into material activities of a philanthropic and altruistic nature, which are nothing but material engagements. Therefore, the conclusion is that those who are engaged in Krsna consciousness are better situated than the sannyasis engaged in simple Brahman speculation, although they too come to Krsna consciousness after many births.
(Bg. 5.6, purp.)

8. DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH MAYAVADI SANNYASIS (top)

LORD CAITANYA AVOIDED THE ASSOCIATION OF MAYAVADIS

All these criticisms were carried to Lord Caitanya when He was at Benares, and He was not at all surprised at them. He even smiled when the news was carried to Him. He did not associate with the Mayavadi sannyasis but remained alone and executed His own mission.
(TLC ch. 17, page 192 )

THE SANNYASIS OF THE HARE KRSNA MOVEMENT MUST FOLLOW THE PRINCIPLE OF NOT ASSOCIATING WITH MAYAVADI SANNYASIS

In other words, Vaisnava sannyasis do not at all like to associate with Mayavadi sannyasis, to say nothing of eating together. This principle must be followed by the sannyasis of the Krsna consciousness movement. That is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu given by His personal behavior.
(Cc. Madhya 17.102-103 )

ASSOCIATION WITH MAYAVADIS IS ONLY FOR PREACHING

All the sannyasis had been invited but Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and now the brahmana came to invite Him. Knowing that the Lord did not associate with Mayavadi sannyasis, the brahmana fell down at Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s feet and implored Him: “Although I know that You do not accept invitations, I will consider it a special favor.” The lord took this opportunity and accepted the brahmana’s invitation in order to meet the Mayavadi sannyasis. Actually this was an arrangement made by the Lord Himself.
(TLC ch. 18, page 196 )

PREACHERS OF THE KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS MOVEMENT SHOULD GENERALLY NOT WASTE TIME TALKING WITH MAYAVADI SANNYASIS, BUT COME FORWARD TO DEFEAT THEM PHILOSOPHICALLY

TRANSLATION: “You belong to our Sankara-sampradaya and live in our village, Varanasi. Why then do you not associate with us? Why is it that You avoid even seeing us?
PURPORT: A Vaisnava sannyasi or a Vaisnava in the second stage of advancement in spiritual knowledge can understand four principles–namely, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotees, the innocent and the jealous–and he behaves differently with each. He tries to increase his love for Godhead, make friendship with devotees and preach Krsna consciousness among the innocent, but he avoids the jealous who are envious of the Krsna consciousness movement. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself exemplified such behavior, and this is why Prakasananda Sarasvati inquired why He did not associate or even talk with them. Caitanya Mahaprabhu confirmed by example that a preacher of the Krsna consciousness movement generally should not waste his time talking with Mayavadi sannyasis, but when there are arguments on the basis of sastra, a Vaisnava must come forward to talk and defeat them in philosophy.
(Cc. Adi 7.67 )

VAISNAVA SANNYASIS CANNOT ACCEPT INVITATIONS NOR INTIMATELY MIX WITH MAYAVADI SANNYASIS

TRANSLATION: As a matter of principle, Lord Caitanya regularly accepted His food at the house of Tapana Misra. He never mixed with other sannyasis, nor did He accept invitations from them.
PURPORT: This exemplary behavior of Lord Caitanya definitely proves that a Vaisnava sannyasi cannot accept invitations from Mayavadi sannyasis nor intimately mix with them.
(Cc. Adi 7.46 )

9. THEIR DUTY IS TO ETERNALLY REMEMBER KRSNA (top)

IT IS THE DUTY OF A VAISNAVA SANNYASI TO REMEMBER KRSNA

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered obeisances to Ramacandra Puri in consideration of his being a disciple of Srila Madhavendra Puri, the spiritual master of His own spiritual master, Isvara Puri. When a Vaisnava sannyasi meets another Vaisnava sannyasi, they both remember Krsna. Even Mayavadi sannyasis generally remember Narayana, who is also Krsna, by saying om namo bhagavate narayana or namo narayana. Thus it is the duty of a sannyasi to remember Krsna.
(Cc. Antya 8.9, purp.)

VAISNAVA SANNYASIS REMAIN THE ETERNAL SERVITORS OF THE LORD

Since the Lord is the Absolute, there is no distinction between Him and His glories. The glories of the Lord as chanted by the Vaisnava sannyasi are as substantial as the Lord Himself, and thus while glorifying the Lord the devotee becomes one with Him in transcendental interest, although he remains eternally a transcendental servitor. This simultaneously one and different position of the devotee make him eternally purified, and thus his life becomes a complete success.
(Bhag. 3.6.36 , purp.)