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Sannyasis can be divided into two groups:

• Ashastradhari Sannyasis: Ascetics who deal with the study of scriptures.

• Shastradhari Sannyasis: Ascetics who deal with warfare.

Shastradhari Sannyasis are known to have played a crucial role against Islamic invasion in mediaeval North India.

My question is do any scriptures talk about Sannyasis who actively bear weapons and engage in warfare? Are there examples of renowned Shashtradhari Sannyasis in any scriptures?

  • It was prescribed by Madhusudan Saraswati in 'Rajnam pratibodhah'. Do you consider that to be a scripture? – user17294 Apr 21 at 17:27
  • Um, I'm actually looking from Puranas, Sannyasa Upanishads and Itihasas. @commonman – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Apr 21 at 17:30
  • Btw, I don't mean any disrespect to Madhusudan Saraswati. @commonman – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Apr 21 at 17:34
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    What a coincidence that I see this today, when I was pondering the contrast of violence and peace earlier in the day. I never knew Shastradhari Sannyasis were a thing. I will have to look it up now. Meanwhile could you link any good material? – Weezy Apr 21 at 19:05
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    @Weezy I have only this for now: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhara – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Apr 21 at 19:16
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It is unlikely that scriptures will allow the concept of a "warrior Sannyasi" because dealing with weapons is mentioned as one of the reasons that brings about a Sannyasi's downfall.

A full meal given by one person, pride, envy, adorning with perfume and flowers, betel leaves, injunction, amusement, desire for pleasure, elixir, boasting, reviling, imparting blessings, astrology, buying and selling, rites, ritual disputes, violating the commands of the teacher, involvement in quarrels and reconciliations, vehicles, couches, white clothes, masturbation, sleeping during the day, metal begging bowls, poison, weapons, seeds, injuring, fierceness, sexual intercourse, observances, such as those of a householder, which were abandoned through renunciation, all social divisions such as lineage,father's and mother's families, and wealth—these are forbidden. He who resorts to them will sink downward.

Immovable and movable property, seeds, metal objects, poison, and weapons: these six an ascetic shall refrain from accepting, as he would urine and excrement.

Outside a time of distress, an ascetic shall never carry any provisions for a journey. During a time of distress when food is unavailable, he may take with him a cooked dish.

Brihat Sannyasa Upanishad

From here you can read the Upanishad I am quoting from. Translation is slightly different here and I'm giving it below.

  1. A wise man, though very old, shall not trust in women though very old. Even in very old patched garments old cloth will stick (when stitched).

  2. Immovable property, mobile things (servants), seed (for cultivation), gold, gum-myrrh and weapon these six an ascetic shall not take up as (though they were) urine and faeces.

Verses are from Adhyaya two of the text.

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