Sannyasa is BELIEVED to be the so called "fourth stage" of life, i.e after brahmacharya, grihastha, and vAnaprastha. However, when one has ALREADY moved to the forest in seclusion after retiring from household duties with wife. What is there to be renounced and for what?
Sannyasa (most popular is dashanaami tradition of sankara), for many of those who do not know, involves renunciation of or giving up
sacred fire worship (agnihotra, yajnas and any fire rituals)
wife or patni
children and family
yajnopavita or sacred thread
shikhaa or tuft of hair on head
burying the dead body and not cremating
some other sanyasa sects have a little different requirements from above but many of the core processes are same.
kAlidAsa when talking abt various stages in life of the raghu clan says,
शैशवेभ्यस्त विद्यानां यौवने विषयैषिणां वार्धके मुनिवृत्तीनां योगेनान्ते तनुं त्यजाम्
Learn all vidyAs in childhood, indulge in youthful pleasures in youth "involve in munivRtti" in old age & at last quit the mortal coil by way of yoga. This is what ordained for everyone
munivRtti is asceticism & involves talking less and doing tapas. That's why in oldage people went to vAnaprastha.
‘In the world, one should desire to live a hundred years, but only by performing karma. Thus, and in no other way, can man be free from the taint of karma.’ (Isha upanisad 2)
The Taittiriya Brahmana has it that to extinguish the agnihotra fire is to earn the demerit of killing a hero.
While vedas preach self realization in tune with the nature and prescribe brahmacaryaM, grihastham, shikhaa, sacred thread, progeny, etc , if a an individual or a system , renounces all these , do we call it vedic or avedic, so is the answer..
Vedas start with "Agni meele purohitham" and glorifies Agni and
Sannyasins after death are buried under the ground rather than offering the body to the agni.
"UTTISHTATA MAA SVAPTA, AGNIMICHCHADVAM BHAARATAA:” Yajurveda
Meaning: “O people of Bharat! awake, don’t be asleep, yearn for Agni”.
1) can the same vedas suggest a life that sheds this very agni?
All the RShi-s including the saptaRShi-s were establishers of their respective gotra-s which means they led a family life. If indeed there existed something called renunciation of shikhA, kaccha, yajJopavIta, agnyupAsanA and one's own wife,
2) someone kindly provide proof that these great mahariShi-s did that?
When asked about reference of sannyasa or renunciation from the vedas, the vedantins usually cite the verse from munDaka upanishad to support their claim,
vedāntavijñānasuniścitārthāḥ saṁnyāsayogādyatayaḥ śuddhasattvāḥ | te brahmalokeṣu parāntakāle parāmṛtāḥ parimucyanti sarve || 3.2.6 ||
However, if we see the meaning of above verse, it says that the fruits of vedAnta and sannyasa is attainment of brahmaloka after death on this planet. But we know that so called vedanta and sannyasa is not for attainment of brahmaloka but moksha.
Then a question arises so as to what is the exact meaning of sannyasa? From Vedic point of view,
"nyAsa iti brahma" nyAsa ityAhur manIShiNo brahmANaM".. so say the shrutis..
nyAsa is brahmaa (hiraNyagarbha).
3) Then how can saMnyAsa be derived as "renunciation" ?
it can only mean the upAsanA of hiraNyagarbha
Then there is also a conception that "yati" also necessarily means sannyasin or renunciates. However,
A sanyAsi can be a yati but a yati need not be a sanyAsi. People believe that yati = sanyaasi. yati is one who has restrained his mind and body. Even a gRhastha for that matter is restrained in his mind and body if he sticks to his dharma. Moreover, the word yati is actually derived as "yatate iti yatiH". i.e. one who puts effort. in that case, the word yati would aptly fit only a karmayogi and not a sanyAsi who says he has renounced karma.
Another such word is parivraja which is usually considered synonymous with sannyasa. However it only means a wanderer and not someone who has renounced everything. A wanderer may or may not be a sanyasin.
I am also aware that there are texts which are called sannyasa upanishads which are followed by them for their sannyasa and code of conduct. However, they are not authentic in the sense that they are not the part of vedas. I have also posted a question about these here. This includes like of jabaala upanishad, kaivalyopanishad and so on.
If someone likes to provide any authentic reference then I would like to ask,
4) Is there any reference of sannyasa ashrama as a life style in vedas? (the word sannyasa in mundaka upanishad does not speak about ashrama but sanyasa as an upasana of lord brahmaa to attain brahmaloka)
Note: By Vedas I am expecting direct reference from vedas i.e samhitas. And also from aranyaka, brahmana, and ten authentic upanishads. Also grhya and shrauta sutras.
P.S: Please provide the references in moola shlokas with translation and not commentaries by mutt people like gambhirananda, nikhilananda etc.