Some Qualities Expected from Sannyasa Candidates and Their Duties


This document is a guide for sannyasa candidates to understand what the Sannyasa Ministry expects from them.
It first offers an overview of some of the qualities an ISKCON sannyasi is expected to cultivate and exhibit based on the teachings of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Then it lists and explains the duties.


A. A Sannyasi should be fearless

For a sannyasi, the first qualification should be fearlessness. Because a sannyasi has to be alone without any support or guarantee of support, he has simply to depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one thinks, ‘After I leave my connections, who will protect me?’, he should not accept the renounced order of life. One must be fully convinced that Krishna or the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His localized aspect as Paramatma is always within, that He is seeing everything and He always knows what one intends to do. One must thus have firm conviction that Krishna as Paramatma will take care of a soul surrendered to Him. ‘I shall never be alone,’ one should think. ‘Even if I live in the darkest forest I shall be accompanied by Krishna, and He will give me all protection’. That conviction is called abhayam, fearlessness”.
(Bhagavad-gita 16.1, purport)

B. A Sannyasi should control sex desire

Then he has to purify his existence. There are so many rules and regulations to be followed in the renounced order of life. Most important of all, a sannyasi is strictly forbidden to talk with a woman in a secluded place. Lord Caitanya was an ideal sannyasi, and when He was at Puri His feminine devotees could not even come near to offer their respects. They were advised to bow down from a distant place. This is not a sign of hatred for women as a class, but it is a stricture imposed on the sannyasi not to have close connections with women. One has to follow the rules and regulations of a particular status of life in order to purify his existence. For a sannyasi, intimate relations with women and possession of wealth for sense gratification are strictly forbidden. The ideal sannyasi was Lord Caitanya Himself, and we can learn from His life that He was very strict in regards to women. Although He is considered to be the most liberal incarnation of Godhead, accepting the most fallen conditioned souls, He strictly followed the rules and regulations of the sannyasa order of life in connection with association with woman. One of His personal associates, namely Chota Haridasa, was associated with Lord Caitanya along with His other confidential personal associates, but somehow or other this Chota Haridasa looked lustily on a young woman, and Lord Caitanya was so strict that He at once rejected him from the society of His personal associates. Lord Caitanya said, ‘For a sannyasi or anyone who is aspiring to get out of the clutches of material nature and trying to elevate himself to the spiritual nature and go back home, back to Godhead, for him, looking toward material possessions and women for sense gratification—not even enjoying them, but just looking toward them with such a propensity—is so condemned that he had better commit suicide before experiencing such illicit desires’. So these are the processes for purification”.

C. A sannyasi should humbly preach Krishna consciousness with logic and understanding

The next item is jnana-yoga-vyavasthiti: being engaged in the cultivation of knowledge. Sannyasi life is meant for distributing knowledge to the householders and others who have forgotten their real life of spiritual advancement. A sannyasi is supposed to beg from door to door for his livelihood, but this does not mean that he is a beggar. Humility is also one of the qualifications of a transcendentally situated person, and out of sheer humility the sannyasi goes from door to door, not exactly for the purpose of begging, but to see the householders and awaken them to Krsna consciousness. This is the duty of a sannyasi. If he is actually advanced and so ordered by his spiritual master, he should preach Krsna consciousness with logic and understanding, and if one is not so advanced he should not accept the renounced order of life.
(Bhagavad-gita 16.1 Purport)

Om Visnupada Paramhamsa Parivrajakavarya Astottara-sata Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja Prabhupada was creating more brahmacaris and sannyasis for preaching work.
(Lecture Bombay, Bhagavad-gita 7.3 March 29, 1971)

So actually anyone in this institution, they are all acting for Krishna, but this sannyasa order is accepted in pursuance of the great acaryas, as we have already explained, great acaryas. So for preaching work, especially in India, preachers are generally sannyasi.
(Sannyasa Initiation of Sudama dasa, Tokyo, 30 April, 1972)

D. A sannyasi should possess brahminical qualities

Srila Prabhupada referred used the term brahmana-sannyasi indicating that a sannyasi is the leader
This system divides life into four asramas (brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra) and four varnas (brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa). The highest position is that of a brahmana-sannyasi, a platform from which one may best realize his original constitutional position, act accordingly, and thus attain deliverance, or mukti. of all orders of life, and must possess brahminical qualities.
(TQE 6: Discussions on Western Philosophy and Sciences)

Bhagavad-gita 18.42 list the qualities of a brahmana: “Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work”.

E. A sannyasi should be a preaching leader

A sannyasi must have the proper quality of leadership to train other under this direction.

F. A sannyasi should cooperate with and be submissive to his authorities

A sannyasi must accept fully the authority of the GBC and work under it directions.


1. Devotional History

The applicant for sannyasa becomes a sannyasa candidate by a majority vote of the plenary GBC body. After he has been placed on the sannyasa waiting list, the secretary for the ISKCON Ministry for Sannyasa will request the new candidate to send him within one month a ‘devotional history’. A ‘devotional history’ refers to a text written by the candidate in which he presents his own history since his joining ISKCON up to the present. To write this text the candidate should seek the help of an English editor. Examples of such texts can be viewed on the sannyasa candidate website: – – candidates – Present Candidates – Bio-presentations Sannyasa Candidates.

2. Sannyasa Candidate Travel Record

All sannyasa candidates are required to submit their travel record at latest two weeks after the end of each quarter. The data concerns a list of all places visited by the candidate and the period of visit and can be submitted via the website: – – Candidates – Reports – Travel Record Registration.

3. Visited ISKCON Centers

Each candidate is obliged to submit the data of the places they have visited after each visit. This can be done on-line: – Candidates – Reports – Database Input:
It is concerned with the following information:
Database of ISKCON Centers Visited by Sannyasa Candidates
Please fill in the below posted form for each center you have visited this year.
Name Sannyasa Candidate
Temple or place you have visited

Please mention hereafter the period of your visit and the number of days you spent at the concerned temple or place:

E-mail Address
E-mail Adddress
E-mail Address

Do the persons mentioned above understand and speak/write English? If not, please mention their native language(s) in the field for comments.
You can use this field to present reasons why you were not able to complete the data requested above or to mention the native language(s) of the contact persons if they do not speak English sufficiently for offering feedback on your performance

4. Annual Report

The Annual Report is a report submitted by the candidate, which states his activities performed as a sannyasa candidate during the last year. This report needs to be submitted before 15 November of current year. It is concerned with the following data and questions:
Sannyasa Candidate Annual Report
Your name
Report for the calendar year
Date of filling in form
Name of mentor
Your postal address
Your e-maill address(es)
Your telephone number(s)
List the countries and cities that you have visited this year
If you like you can make some comments about the temples or countries you have visited
Please let us know what were the services you rendered as a sannyasa candidate this year
What preaching projects are your planning to do in the future?
What were your realizations about aspiring for the sannyasa ashrama, or preaching, or ISKCON this year?
Anything else you would like the Sannyasa Ministry to know?

The candidate can submit this by downloading and filling in the standard form ( ? Downloads) and sending it to the secretary.

5. Mentor Report

The candidate should remind his mentor (preferably right after travelling with him) to submit the mentor report.The mentor can send the report by email as an attached file to the secretary. The document fill-in form can be downloaded from – – Downloads.

6. Financial Report

All sannyasa candidates need to keep track of their finances during the year. It is the duty of the sannyasa candidates to submit a financial report with regard to their income and expenses for the current year from the 1st of January up to October 15. They need to submit their report (by sending it to at latest by November of the current year. The report form for submitting the reports is downloadable from – Download
It can be downloaded either the Word or Excel format. The report needs to be submitted in US$ only. This means that there may be a need to convert local currency in US$. It is also important that they only use the categories available on the document.
Once the candidate graduates and has received sannyasa he will need to continue this duty. However, at that time the GBC Secretary will contact him and request him to send the report directly to him.
GBC members who are on the sannyasa waiting list are exempt. They already comply with this yearly duty as GBC members.

7. Report Recommending GBC

The candidate should remind every year their recommending GBC to submit his report before the 15th of November of the current year.9. Report Proposed Sannyasa Guru

8. Missions

The assignment of a mission is meant to present sannyasa candidates a special preaching opportunity outside the normal realm of their preaching area; an experience that offers them challenges and gives benefits to the local area. It also allows the ministry to receive an additional evaluation of the sannyasa candidate’s preaching performance. The secretary of the ISKCON Ministry for Sannyasa will inform the candidate of the attribution of an assignment.

9. ISKCON Leadership Seminar

Each candidate requires to attend the ISKCON Leadership Seminar at least once during his term as sannyasa candidate. The seminar is presented nearly every year in Mayapur after or before the GBC meetings.

10. Travelling with Another Sannyasi

Each candidate requires every year to travel at least two weeks together with another sannyasi (usually the mentor).