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Usually, during taking Sannyasa, a Sannyasi discards his sacred thread by throwing it into the fire pit. Similarly, he discards his crown tuft (the Shikha).

1.Does that mean he has lost his caste (by birth)? Or does he still retain it?
2. Does the caste-system dissolve upon taking Sannyasa? Or in other words, are there any differences between a Brahmin Sannyasi and a Kshatriya Sannyasi (as far as their castes are concerned)?

  • sannyas means the renouncing of caste. no caste is recognized among sadhus. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 11 '17 at 9:22
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    @RakeshJoshi there are shudras that have been given sannyas... – Swami Vishwananda Dec 12 '17 at 5:25
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    @SwamiVishwananda dashanami sampradaya don't allow it. Maybe offshoots allow.it – Rakesh Joshi Dec 12 '17 at 9:26
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    But when you are affiliated to that. Mutt you cant have own rules as.per your wish... – Rakesh Joshi Dec 14 '17 at 17:28
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    I think Sri Vaishnava Sanyasis don't discard their thread. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Nov 26 '18 at 14:46
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Self answering.....

First of all, the caste (of the would be Sannyasi) does matter. A person who's not performing the duties of his caste (Varna) is declared unfit to renounce.. As also persons who do not have the Vedic fire..So, by this, the lowest caste persons are clearly ruled out..

  1. One should never allow renunciation to those who have just settled as house-holders, those who have committed great sins, those who have lost caste due to non-performance of the principal purificatory rites (vratyas) and the accursed.--- From the Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad

But during the Sannyasa rituals the aspirant sacrifices the symbols of his caste- the top-knot or the Shikha and the sacred thread or the Yajnopavita.

Now, when a man has come to know the highest truth, the eternal Brahman, let him then take a single staff and discard the topknot together with the sacred string --From the same Upanishad.

Now, after taking Sannyasa the ascetic does not seem to have a caste, because if he had, he would have been bound by the mandatory duties that are his Varna Dharmas. But, he does not seem to have anything of that sort.

"Fools, tied to customs of class and order, get their rewards according to their deeds. Men who abandon the duties of class and the like become sated by their own bliss.

  1. "Classes and orders contain subdivisions and have a beginning and an end. They are nothing but a great torment. Free from attachment to the body and to sons and the like, let a man live in supreme and endless bliss."

Maitreya Upanishad's chapter 4 (linked to the Sama Veda)

Few more verses from the same Upanishad's 1st chapter:

I-16. How can the danger (of duality) approach me, resorting as I do to the inner bliss of the Self, who despise the female goblin of desires, who view the phenomenal world as in illusion and who am unattached to it ? I-17. Those ignorant people who stick to castes and orders of life obtain the (worthless) fruit of their respective actions. Those who discard the ways of caste, etc., and are happy with the bliss of the Self become merged in Brahman (lit. Purushas). I-18. The body consisting of various limbs and observing the (rules of) castes and orders has a beginning and an end and is only a great trouble. Free of attachment to one’s children, etc., and the body, one should live in the endless supreme happiness.

So, as per these verses, Sannyasi discard the rules of caste.. and they do so by renouncing.

Also, for the Sannyasi, the caste is like any other bondages, and which they have renounced.

  1. Bondage consists in imagining a plunge into the flux of existence with its possessive claims on fields, gardens, houses, children, wives, brothers, mothers and fathers.
  2. Bondage is the conceit of egoistic agency in regard to actions, etc.
  3. Bondage is the imagination prompted by the desire for the eight powers, anima, etc.
  4. Bondage is the imagination prompted by the yearning for adoring gods, men, etc.
  5. Bondage is the imagination (leading to) the practice of Yoga with its eight limbs, Yama, etc. 24. Bondage is the planning of action and duties bound up with castes and stations of life.

From Niralamba Upanishad (linked to Shukla Yajurveda)

But a minor conflict arises when we see the following verse from another minor Upanishad:

"A mendicant thus should neither accept nor even look at such things as gold. One may respond that there is no harm in merely looking at them. [53] On the contrary, it is truly harmful, because if a mendicant looks at gold with longing he becomes a murderer of a Brahmin; if a mendicant touches gold with longing he becomes an outcaste;

Paramhamsa Upanishad's chapter 4

Now, how can one become an outcaste, who do not have any caste at all?

But, besides that, it's safe to conclude that the Sannyasis don't retain any caste.

  • Wth! Vratyas cannot become Sannyasis??? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Feb 8 '18 at 7:01
  • Does that mean also that sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, etc of Vratyas cannot take Sannyasa? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Feb 8 '18 at 7:04
  • Yes Vratyas are apparently not allowed... I am writing an answer to this Q: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/18993/….. See the answer after i am done.. @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury – Rickross Feb 8 '18 at 7:06
  • And even their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons? Basically I mean, no Kshatriya-Bandhus can take Sannyasa? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Feb 8 '18 at 7:08
  • If we go by these scriptures then NO, coz a Vratyas son is also a Vratya.. unless Vratyasoma is done.. But many people had taken Sannyas without following these rules..like Swami Vivekanada.. @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury – Rickross Feb 8 '18 at 7:18

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