Vedantins consider Sanyasa the path of liberation and most of their acharyas have taken up sanyasa in order to attain jnana.

If so then are shudras also allowed to take up sanyasa for the pursuit of moksha?

If yes then which are the vedanta schools/ sects which allow shudras for sanyasa

if no, what are the reasons behind it?


Exception - Nothing can prevent a true brahma jnani from renouncing everything (including his body, food to nourish the body, medicine to preserve it, or any relationships arising from the body), irrespective of his varna, if he is simply going to sit under a tree as aja-gara vritthi and let his body drop off like a dried leaf. That means he has reached stage of stitha-pragna, and no rules are going to stop him.

Rule - for normal people, if they live in a society and are a brahma jignasa and want to take up sanyasa for path of liberation, Baudhayana smriti gives the rituals that a brahmachari or gruhastha needs to perform in order to renounce. These are all Veda mantras and rituals, which imply that the doer must be a dvija.

Also, from personal experience, there are complex pre-requisites for sanyasa:

  • ensure 3 runas (deva,pitru,manushya) are repaid

  • take permission from one's dharmapatni before renouncing (or permission from mother in case of brahmachari renouncing - you might have heard Adi Shankara story)

  • extinguish the aupasana agni that they have been kindling since marriage

  • symbolically perform one's own shraddha ceremony, thereby declaring that they are dead to the world

Detailed rules here - http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/manu/manu06.htm

Since these rites are only prescribed for those who know Vedas, one can infer that Shudras are not allowed. Nowadays almost nobody does this or wants to, so not much point in talking about who can or cannot renounce.

When Vivekananda took up sanyasa, brahmanas questioned his practice since he was not a dvija. He replied saying that his lineage traced back to Chitragupta (Yama's assistant), and since he is the rule-keeper, he has as much right to renounce as the people whose rules were being overseen. But I'm not aware of any Shastras that explicitly allow it.

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  • So in short vedantin schools do not allow shudras for sanyasa even though there is no relation with this and jnana. – Rakesh Joshi Jun 18 '17 at 8:05
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    there is relation between this and jnana because jnana cannot shine or stand steady without doing karma yoga, otherwise vasanas will inevitably pull you down. maybe for 1 person out of a billion trillion lives to have lived on earth, it doesn't matter, but even that person would have done karma yoga in his previous lives to attain that state as a shudra. Now, karma yoga has to be done according to dharma shastras, and no they do not allow shudras to renounce. I don't see what the big deal is.. it is like asking why brahmins are not allowed to drink liquor - each varna has its restrictions. – ram Jun 18 '17 at 8:09
  • @RakeshJoshi, didn't mention ur alias in above comment – ram Jun 18 '17 at 14:42
  • @Yogi - When I said 'these rites', I mean the 'rites' like extinguishing aupasana.. paying off debts is a duty for everyone, but that doesn't entitle them for sanyasa rites. Also, anyone can just decide to leave his family and go to the forest, but that doesn't mean he is a sanyasi, and if he goes to houses to beg food, they may treat him like a beggar. Like i said, to be called a 'sanyasi' by society, u have to follow certain rites, and those are only prescribed for dvijas. – ram Jun 18 '17 at 15:20
  • @ram Nothing can stop true jnani from renouncing that line makes a wrong impression. – Yogi Jun 18 '17 at 15:59

Shudras are not allowed... Whether, even the Kshatriyas or Vaishyas are also allowed, is something that is unclear, if we go by the minor Upanishads called the Sannyasa Upanishads.

The Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad (NPU) and the Brihat Sannyasa Upanishad (BSU), both discuss, the question- Who are all fit to renounce?

From NPU-Chapter3:

Thereupon Narada asked the Grandfather: "Lord, [136] how does a man renounce? And who is entitled to renounce?"

"I shall first explain who is entitled to renounce and then describe the procedure of renunciation. Listen attentively. "The blind, eunuchs, outcastes, cripples, the effeminate, the deaf, the childish, the dumb, heretics, discus-bearers, phallusbearers, Vaikhanasas, Haradvijas,10 mercenary teachers, bald men, and people without a sacred fire: these, even though they are detached, are unfit for renunciation. If they have already renounced, they are not entitled to receive instruction in the Great Sayings.11 An elder renouncer12 is entitled to become a Paramahamsa.

So, Sudras are clearly not allowed, as they don't have the Vedic fire and likewise the Vratyas are also disallowed..

Similarly, from BSU Chapter2:

Sanctified by the forty sacramentary rites, he becomes indifferent toward everything; attains purity of mind; and burns away desire, jealousy, envy, and egotism. [250] Only such a man, endowed with the four aids, is fit to renounce

One should never admit to renunciation apostate renouncers, mortal sinners, Vratyas, and the infamous.3 One should never admit to renunciation those who have neglected vows, sacrifices, austerity, liberality, fire offerings, and Vedic recitation, and those who have fallen from truth and purity.

Now, Sudras do not have all the 40 Samskaras, they are not allowed to recite Vedas either. So, they are clearly not allowed..

Vratyas (i.e who are born in Dvija families but did not receive sacraments within prescribed time) are also similarly not allowed.

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  • But Shudras are allowed in Kali-Yuga if I'm not wrong? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Feb 8 '18 at 7:33
  • As per Mahanirva Tantram they are allowed... @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury I am not sure what other scriptures allow them.. – Rickross Feb 8 '18 at 8:06
  • @Rickross sanyasa is not a tantric concept as cleared by KulArnava hence MNT is interpolation. Do you consider sanyasa upanishad as genuine ? – Rakesh Joshi Feb 8 '18 at 11:06
  • MNT is not an interpolation..it's talking about Avadoota Sannyas not the Danda dhari Sannyasis.. such Sannyas is forbidden as per MNT.. I am no one to say if certain scriptures are genuine or not.. But they are minor Upanishads and they deal with the subject.. Sudras are definitely not allowed if scriptures are to be followed.. @RakeshJoshi – Rickross Feb 8 '18 at 11:33
  • @RakeshJoshi KT simply says for a Kaula Sadhaka, Sannyas is forbidden, that does not mean, Sannyas does not exist or it is forbidden for everyone or that a Tantric scripture can not discuss it's rules.. Do u know about Tantra Lakshanas? A Tantra is supposed to be a very "complete scripture" it has to cover a lot of things.. – Rickross Feb 8 '18 at 12:11

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