One of the members posted that "for those who renounce worldly life (sanyasins) self alone is the sacred thread So they can do any Vedic rituals also"

  1. How can someone perform vedic rites like Yajnas and other rituals without a Sacred thread and wife?
  2. If he is willing to perform vedic rites then why there is a need to renounce itself?
  • 2
    Only Adivita Ekadandi Sanyasis remove their sacred thread, Japa Yagna can be performed without wife and Japa Yagna is greatest amongst all yagnas. If Vedic duties are neglected then it is categorised as Tamasic tyaga.
    – Yogi
    Feb 20, 2017 at 10:37
  • 1
    Japa yajna is not limited to Vedas , even non vedics do japa. I am talking here about shrauta and smarta karmas for which sacred thread is essential. Feb 20, 2017 at 14:38
  • 1
    Jabala upanishad is not authentic Upanishad . Only major upanishads can be considered as shruti vakya. Feb 20, 2017 at 15:25
  • 4
    Jabala is authentic Upanishad. It is referred to in Brahma Sutra 1.2.32 and also in Sankara's commentary on the verse. Feb 20, 2017 at 15:31
  • 3
    Badarayana - the author of the Brahma Sutras - refers to it in the verse quoted. Additionally, again, additionally, Sankara refers to it in his commentary on the verse. Feb 20, 2017 at 15:40

5 Answers 5


There is a Sannyasa Upanishad called the Maitreya. It gives two interesting reasons as regards why a Sannyasi can not perform rituals ordained by the Vedas. See verses 4 and 5 given below.

"To meditate on the One is alnisfood and on the many is proscribed food. For almsmen is prescribed almsfood that is in accord with the directions of the teacher and of the scriptures.

  1. "A sage should leave his native land right after he has re- nounced. He should live far away from his own, like a thief just released from jail.

  2. "Pride is his son and wealth his brother. Delusion is his house and lust his wife. A man is freed, there is no doubt, as soon as he abandons these.

  3. "Delusion, our mother, has died. Enlightenment, our son, is born. With a double impurity at hand, how can we per- form the twilight worship?

  4. "The sun of consciousness always shines brightly in the sky of our hearts. It does not set and it does not rise. How can we perform the twilight worship?

Maitreya Upanishad Chapter 3.

So, in other words, this Upanishad is saying that NO, they can not perform rituals and the reasons are quite interesting.

But, i did not understand why a Sannyasi is always being affected by the impurity caused by delusion's (his mother's) death and that caused by his son's (enlightenment's) birth.

In usual conditions, such impurities exist but only for few days. Then, why are they ever lasting for the Sannyasis?


Also note that this Upanishad is just saying that Sannyasis are unable to perform twilight worship i.e Sandhyavandanam due to those 2 reasons. But since without performing Sandhya, one does not become fit for performing other Dvija karmas including Vedic rituals, so it is automatically implied that they can not perform Vedic rituals either.

  • The reasons given by them are.just like.consolation but real.reason.is they themselves abandon vedic rites via sanyasa then there is no point.in doing it. Further vedas.and shrauta.sutras give clear reasons that who is eligible and who.is not Dec 11, 2017 at 11:04
  • I do not believe that it's they themselves who composed this text. Anyways it is a Sannyasa Upanishad and it is confirming itself that they can not perform Vedic rituals. So, what more do u need? @RakeshJoshi
    – Rickross
    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:14
  • but see the other answers. I was not convinced with them and did some research to.find out some references. But others still think otherwise Dec 11, 2017 at 11:16

Sri Vidyaranya Swami says in his Pancadasi Chapter 9 (Swami Swahananda translator):

  1. All these injunctions and prohibitions are meant for those who believe themselves to belong to a certain caste or station and stage of life.

  2. The knower is convinced that caste, station, stc. are creations of Maya, and that they refer to the body and not to the Self whose nature is pure consciousness.

  3. The clear sighted knower from whose heart all attachment has vanished is a liberated soul whether he performs or not concentration or action.

  4. He whose mind is free from all desires or former impressions has nothing to gain from either action or inaction, meditation (Samadhi) or repetition of holy formulas.

  5. The Self is associationless and everything other than the Self is a display of the magic of Maya. When a mind has such a firm conviction, wherefrom will any desire or impression come in it?

  6. Thus when for an illumined sage there is no injunction or prohibition, where is his violating them? Only for him can violation be possible who is bound by them.

See Gita 3.20-22 and 25-26 for further reference. A householder does rituals because he is bound by the vedas to perform them; hence a householder must perform them as prescribed by the vedas. A sannyasin is not bound by the vedas; as Sri Vidyaranya says in verse 105, he is not in violation since he is not bound by the vedas. So Yes, sannyasins can perform vedic rituals. It should be noted, however, they that do not do them for their own gain as verse 103 says, he has nothing to gain from either action or inaction or repetition of holy formulas.

  • 1
    please mention clearly in your answer that a sanyasin CAN PERFORM VEDIC RITES OR NOT ? Feb 20, 2017 at 15:28
  • 1
    Yes, I agree with you. Same thing is spoken by Shankara to Padmapada while entering Kings body "The commandments and prohibitions of scriptures are applicable to men in ignorance who live with the deep-rooted conviction that their body is their self."
    – Tezz
    Feb 20, 2017 at 15:37
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    How can be pancadashi become authority on rituals ? further I have confirmed from mutt that Sanyasins are not allowed to do fire rituals which is a rule for dashanami tradition. Feb 20, 2017 at 15:48
  • 2
    The author is a venerated Shankaracharya of the Sringeri Math, and many sannyasins over the centuries have followed his instructions as an authority for sannyasins. What is the scriptural source for what the Mutt says? Hearsay from a 'Mutt' is not a reference. As one who has received his sannyas in the dashanami tradition I have personally witnessed many dashanami sannyasins doing fire pujas. Feb 21, 2017 at 4:37
  • 1
    I believe mutt as a higher authority than you. There are rules for a dashanami if someone can get that book then it will be easier to understand. Feb 21, 2017 at 6:05

Yes, those Sanyasi who have removed Yajnopavitam can also perform Vedic rituals like Homam and chant Vedic mantras.

Shiva Purana Kailasha Samhita chapter 13 deals about the method of renunciation. Relevant verses from that chapter are as:

प्राच्यां दिश्यप उद्धृत्य प्रक्षिपेदंजलिं ततः ।
शिखा यज्ञोपवितं च यत्रोत्पाट्य च पाणिना ।।
गृहित्वा प्रणवं भूश्च समुद्रं गच्छ संवदेत् ।
वह्निजायां समुच्चार्य सोदकांजलिना ततः ।।
अप्सु हूयादथ प्रेषैरभिमंत्र्य त्रिधा त्वपः ।
प्राश्य तीरे समागत्य भूमौ वस्त्रादिकं त्यजेत् ।। (Shiva Purana Kailash Samhita chapter 13)

Then filling the hand cups with water it should be released to the east. Then he should remove the tuft and yajnopawita, from his hands, should recite the mantras, holding the water in his palm thus : “vahni jayam svaha" Then he should speak out “om bhuh samudram svaha ’ Reciting the aforesaid “Praisa mantras should drop the yajnopavita and the Sikha in the water. Then performing the acamana (sipping water) should remove his clothes and drop them on the ground.

Then the same chapter after mentioning the above process also mention the things Sanyasi should do in the latter verses. Relevant portion is as:

कर्मारम्भात्पूरवमेव गृहित्वा गोमयं शुभम् ।
स्थूलामलकमात्रेण कृत्वा पिण्डान्वशोषयेत् ।।
सोरैस्तु किरणैरेव होमारम्भाग्निमध्यगान् ।
निक्षिप्य होमसम्पूर्तौ भस्म संगृह्य गोपयत् ।।
ततो गुरुः समादाय विरजानलजं सितम् ।
भस्म तेनैव तं शिष्यमग्निरित्यादिभिः क्रमात् ।।
मन्त्रैरंगानि संस्पृश्य मूर्द्धादिचरणान्ततः ।
ईशानाद्यैः पञ्चमन्त्रैः शिर आरभ्य सर्वत ।।
समुद्धृत्य विधानेन त्रिपुण्ड्रं धारयेत्ततः ।
त्रियायुषैस्त्र्यम्बकैश्च मूर्ध्न आरभ्य च क्रमात् । (Shiva Purana Kailasha Samhita chapter 13)

Before the start of work, he should collect the cow-dung and prepare bells of the size of the big myrobalam and dry them up. When the long balls are dried up with the sun rays, he should place then over the fire of the homa. After the homa is over, he should collect the ashes and keep them carefully. Then the preceptor, take the ashes which are made from the Viraja fire should sanctify reciting the mantra Agniriti bhasma. Repeating the mantra Agniriti bhasma he should apply the sacred ashes over the body of the disciple from head to foot. Repeating the five mantras Ishana, Tryayusa, Tryambakam, he should apply the Tripundra marks too beginning with head.

So, it is very clear that the Purana is stating these things to do those who have removed Yajnopavitam also:

1) Performance of Homa ie. Fire Ritual.

2) Chanting of mantras from Vedas.

All the mantras refrenced above are mentioned from Vedas. For eg. The 'Agniriti Bhasma... ' mantra is from Atharvasiraas Upanishad. The five mantras referred above are the PanchaBrahaman mantras from Taittariya Aranayka. Trayusha Mantra is the mantra present in Vajasaneyi mantra 3.62 and the Trayambakam mantra ie. 'Trayambakam Yajãmahe... ' is from Rig Veda and YajurVeda Samhita.

One may wonder how is one eligible to chant Veda mantras without Yajnopavitam. But it is ordained by Vedas themselves that for Sanyasi self alone acts as sacred thread. Here is excerpt from Jabala Upanishad (which I also discuss here.)

V-1. Then the (sage) Atri asked Yajnavalkya: ‘May I ask you Yajnavalkya, how is one without the sacred thread a Brahmana ?’ Yajnavalkya replied: (‘The conviction I am the) Self alone is his sacred thread. He shall then sip water (ceremoniously thrice). This is the method enjoined on those who renounce worldly life.

  • Homa need not be a vedic ritual ... Vedic yajnas is primarily vedic. Further, from which section of SYV this jabala is taken from ? Does it match with the language and chhandas of that Veda? Apr 22, 2017 at 6:03
  • Kindly check my and Rickross answer Dec 11, 2017 at 11:08

It is mandatory for sanyasis(who have taken up sanyasa in satvika mode) to perform daily vedic rituals like Sandyavandanam,agnihotra

How can someone perform vedic rites like Yajnas and other rituals without a Sacred thread and wife?

Removal of sacred thread is clearly tamasic tyaga(you cannot perform nitya karma without it). There is no need of wife for daily rituals which are mandatory(nitya karma), other rituals for E.g. Soma Yagna(which requires wife) can be renounced as they are not necessary.

If he is willing to perform vedic rites then why there is a need to renounce itself?

Renunciation is for those who cannot do tyaga in Grihasta life or if they are fed up with daily life, so they generate vairagya from samsara and turn their focus solely towards bramhan to attain moksha.

Example Bhagwad Yamunacharya(there are many other sages I've used this because its the best example I know).

If one can lead life of a karma-yogi then there is no need of Sanyasa.

Definition(s) of Sansaysa amongst men

श्रीभगवान उवाच

काम्यानां कर्मणां न्यासं सन्यासं कवयो विदु: ॥

सर्वकर्मफलत्यागं प्राहुरस्त्यागं विचक्षणा: ॥१८.२॥

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The giving up of activities that are based on material desire is what great learned men call the renounced order of life [sannyasa]. And giving up the results of all activities is what the wise call renunciation [tyaga]. BG 18.02

त्याज्यं दोषवदित्येके कर्म प्राहुर्मनीषिणः।

यज्ञदानतपःकर्म न त्याज्यमिति चापरे॥१८.३॥

Some learned men declare that all kinds of fruitive activities should be given up as faulty, yet other sages maintain that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should never be abandoned. BG 18.03

Concrete Definition of Sanyasa according to Bhagwan

निश्चयं श्रृणु मे तत्र त्यागे भरतसत्तम।

त्यागो हि पुरुषव्याघ्र त्रिविधः संप्रकीर्तितः॥१८.४॥

O best of the Bharatas, now hear My judgment about renunciation. O tiger among men, renunciation is declared in the scriptures to be of three kinds( the three types are according to mode/nature of tyaga viz sattva, rajas and tamas read BG 18.7-18.9). BG 18.04

यज्ञदानतपःकर्म न त्याज्यं कार्यमेव तत्।

यज्ञो दानं तपश्चैव पावनानि मनीषिणाम्॥१८.५॥

Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up; they must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls. BG 18.05

एतान्यपि तु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा फलानि च।

कर्तव्यानीति मे पार्थ निश्चितम् मतमुत्त्मम्॥ १८.६॥

All these activities should be performed without attachment or any expectation of result. They should be performed as a matter of duty, O son of Pritha. That is My final opinion. BG 18.06

Sattvika tyaga or Sanyasa which leads to bramhan:

कार्यमित्येव यत्कर्म नियतं क्रियतेऽर्जुन।

सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा फलं चैव स त्यागः सात्त्विको मतः॥१८.९॥

O Arjuna, when one performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all material association and all attachment to the fruit, his renunciation is said to be in the mode of goodness. BG 18.09

If one renounces prescribed duties such renunciation is categorized as Tamasic Renounciation by Bhagwan and it is useless.

नियतस्य तु संन्यासः कर्मणो नोपपद्यते।

मोहात्तस्य परित्यागस्तामसः परिकीर्तितः॥१८.७॥

Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If one gives up his prescribed duties because of illusion, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance. BG 18.07

Related : Why should one do his duty

  • I am sorry but its not true. None of the sanyasins of any vedanta sects perform fire rituals like agnihotra. Its forbidden. Feb 27, 2017 at 7:29
  • Giving up thread is bad by any means Nov 23, 2018 at 11:57

After going through the references from higher texts (Vedic) I have understood that a sanyAsin CANNOT perform the Vedic yajnas/sacrifices.

Let us understand this with various references.

The whole of Vedas revolve around sacrifices and they are so important that the grhya and srauta sutras are written for yajna and domestic rituals.

However, the sanyasa tradition totally neglects the vedic recommendations and renounce fire totally along with wife and family. In some tradition the thread and shikhA is also renounced. This is not what the Vedas advocate,

Let us see some of the important quotes,

Vedas say that performing yajnas is the main duty of every man. The life given to him by god is for purpose of following life as per vedas and perform yajnas whenever possible. Sat. Brah.

And, accordingly, in that he is born as (owing) a debt to the gods, in regard to that he satisfies (ava-day) them by sacrificing; and when he makes offerings in the fire, he thereby satisfies them in regard to that (debt): hence whatever they offer up in the fire, is called avadânam (sacrificial portion)

Yajna is a boat which helps one sail smoothly in the world. Ai. Brah. 1.3.2

It is also said that the heavenly gods attained their divine godhood by performing sacrifices. Sat. Brah.

  1. The sacrifice fled away from the gods. The gods called out after it, 'Listen (a-sru) to us 2! come back to us!' It replied, 'So be it!' and returned to the gods; and with what had thus returned to them, the gods worshipped; and by worshipping with it they became the gods they now are.

The purusha suktam of rigveda mentions gods themselves as sacrificers,

yajnena yajnam ayajanta devaha tani dharmani pradhamanyasan te ha nakam mahimanas sacante yatra purve sadhyah santi devaha

Unmarried man has no right for vedic sacrifices. The brahmachari (student) has very limited right to perform agni-adhAna which is the preparation for agnihotra after marriage.

It is mandatory for vedic yajna to have the wife accompanying him during the ritual.

Most of the vedic fire rituals contain a segment called patnIsamyAja which is related to the wife.

For example,

In the Isti yAgas, there is a portion patnIsamyAja which cannot be done without a wife.

In the highly celebrated soma yAga, there is a avabhrtha rite which is not possible without the wife.

In the chAturmAsya yaga also there are rites related to the wife. In the Varunapraghasas also wife is mandatory for some of the rites.

She takes the position at the sacrifice at the prescribed vedi.

Wife obtains half part of the yajna as stated in brAhmana.

ardho ho vA esha yajnasya yat patnI --- Sat.Brah.

Also, gods do not take ahuti from an unmarried/wifeless person hence sanyasins, bachelors, widowers CANNOT perform vedic yajnas.

na vai apatnIkasya hastAt deva balim grhanti - Sat. Brah.

Even for the agnihotra sacrifices, it is mandatory to have a wife else it cannot be performed.

From the above statements it is clear that vedic yajnas are not possible in absence of spouse.

  • 1
    Yes Vedic rituals can not be performed without Shakti (spouse). Actually nothing can be performed fruitfully unless the male and female principle support each other. Even Shiva is just a non-entity without Shakti, then who are these ascetics? They are just half-beings.
    – Rickross
    Dec 11, 2017 at 5:37
  • " hence sanyasins, bachelors, widowers CANNOT perform vedic yajnas" - Brahmacharis are supposed to perform samidhadhaanam twice everyday. That is considered as a yagna?
    – Ambi
    Nov 23, 2018 at 11:47
  • @Ambi no they can do something called agni adhana but not yajna. One must have a spouse who is alive Nov 23, 2018 at 11:55
  • @RakeshJoshi that is true. I was only trying to understand if the samithadhaana was considered a yagna technically.
    – Ambi
    Nov 23, 2018 at 12:43

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