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I want to know from scripture or from saints why Vidvat Sannyasa (sannyasa taken after self-realization) is considered superior to Vividhisha Sannyasa (sannyasa taken with the desire to gain knowledge related to Brahman)?

I also want to know some names from the Itihasas who took Vidvat Sannyasa.

For example- Sage Yajnavalkya.

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  • Vividisa is taking Sannyasa before self realization?
    – Rickross
    May 8 at 6:34
  • @Rickross yes sanyaas taken for the pursuit of gaining knowledge of brahman.
    – Harsh
    May 8 at 6:52
  • Okay thanks Harsh
    – Rickross
    May 8 at 6:54
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    never heard of this delineation as you describe. Perhaps you are referring to sannyasins who have not attained Jnana (Self-realization) and those sannyasins who have not yet attained Self-realization (Jnana) but have jnana (knowledge of the scriptures). By way of reference, Adi Shankaracharya says that sannyas (both inward and outward) is necessary for Self-realization... May 8 at 9:47
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    @SwamiVishwananda this bifurcation is provided by abhinava vidyatirtha ji(sankaracharya of sringeri) and i also heard about it in sanyas nirnay(work of vallabhacharya)
    – Harsh
    May 8 at 10:44

2 Answers 2

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The OP claims - "Vidvat Sannyasa is considered superior to Vivdhisha Sannyasa".

However, to my knowledge, it seems no Swami or acharya or Saint makes such a distinction, at least in terms of the "superiority/inferiority" of one type of Sannyasa over another.

But, it might be helpful to get an idea about the definition of these two types of Sannyasas, if we are to reach an answer.


1. Swami Vivekananda

X (Translated from Bengali) From the Diary of a Disciple

The Shâstras are found to speak of four kinds of Sannyasa: (1) Vidvat, (2) Vividishâ, (3) Markata, (4) Âtura.

  • The awakening of real renunciation all at once and the consequent giving up of the world through Sannyasa is something that never happens unless there are strong Samskâras or tendencies, developed from previous birth. And this is called the Vidvat Sannyasa.
  • Vividisha Sannyasa is the case of one who, out of a strong yearning for the knowledge of the Self through the pursuit of scriptural study and practice, goes to the man of realization and from him embraces Sannyasa to give himself up to those pursuits.

Conversations and Dialogues, Volume 6, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

However, nowhere does Swami Vivekananda explicitly say that the Vidvat Sannyasa is superior to the Vivdhisha Sannyasa.




2. Swami Sivananda

In his commentary on Srimad Bhagavad Geeta 18.2, Swami Sivananda (of the Divine Life Society) talks about these two types of Sannyasas.

Sannyasins alone who have renounced the desire for the fruits of actions will not get the fruits? but other persons will have to reap the fruits of the ordinary and occasional actions.

  • If one renounces all actions after the attainment of Self-realisation and enters into the fourth order of life (Sannyasa) it is called Vidvat Sannyasa.

  • If one renounces all actions and enters into the order of Sannyasa for the sake of doing Vedanta Vichara (or reflection on the truths of the Vedanta philosophy and on the true significance of the great sentences of the Upanishads which reveal the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Being) and for thus attaining Self-realisation, is called Vividisha Sannyasa.




3. Swami Vidyaranya

In his work Jivanmuktiviveka, Swami Vidyaranya talks about this in quite a detail. I'm giving some relevant portions from the summary of the chapter.

A summary of Chapter 1, Scriptural authority on Jivanmukti

  • Sannyasa is of two kinds, known as Vividisha Sannyasa and Vidvat Sannyasa, or, renunciation of the seeker and renunciation of the knower. (These terms will become clear as we proceed further). The first is the cause of liberation after death (Videhamukti) and the second of liberation while still living in the body (Jivanmukti).

  • The desire for Self-realization arises to a person as a result of the study of the Vedas and the performance of the rites enjoined by the Vedas in this life or in previous lives. The renunciation consequent on such desire is known as Vividisha Sannyasa or 'the renunciation of the seeker'. (Vividisha means 'the desire to know'). This Sannyasa is the means to the knowledge of Brahman.

  • The entry into the Sannyasa order by those who have already attained Self-realization through hearing, reflection and meditation is known as Vidvat Sannyasa. Sage Yajnavalkya is an example of this. Having already realized the highest truth he declared his intention to renounce the world to his wife Maitreyi. He then became a Sannyasin. (See Br.Up. 4.5.2 and 4.5.15). This kind of Sannyasa is also mentioned in the Kahola Brahmana in Br.Up. 3.5.1.

  • While the Vividisha Sannyasin should devote himself to the study of the scriptures, reflection thereon and meditation for the realization of the Self, the Vidvat Sannyasin should strive for the destruction of the mind and the elimination of Vasanas in order to attain Jivanmukti. This matter will be dealt with in detail later on.

  • The Paramahamsa who is a Vidvat Sannyasin is described as one who is like a new-born baby, whose mind is free from the effects of the pairs of opposites, devoid of all possessions, who is firmly established in the path to Brahman, whose mind is free from desires, who, just to maintain life without being under obligation to any one, goes about begging at the prescribed time, using his belly as the begging bowl, and is unperturbed whether he gets it or not, without a fixed dwelling, lives in places such as a derelict house, a temple, a hay-stack, under a tree, in a pottery, in a house where sacrificial fire is kept, on the riverside, in a mountain cave, in the hollow of a tree, or a place for the performance of sacrifices built near a spring. He is free from all striving, devoid of the feeling of "I and mine", ever meditates on the pure Self, is established in the supreme Self, gives up all actions and ultimately gives up his body with total detachment.

  • A Vidvat Sannyasin is free from all rules regarding external symbols, social norms, and conventions. He ever remains established in the realization that he is Brahman.

  • A doubt now arises. Since Vividisha Sannyasa itself leads to the attainment of knowledge of the Self, which itself prevents future birth and the remaining portion of this life has to be lived because of Prarabdha karma, what is the need for Vidvat Sannyasa? The answer is-- Vidvat Sannyasa is necessary for the attainment of Jivanmukti or liberation in life. Vividisha Sannyasa leads only to the attainment of Knowledge.


So, as I made it clear earlier, no qualified receptor, in my knowledge, makes a "superiority distinction" between the two types of Sannyasas.

However, from the above three excerpts from three qualified Saints, we may, for the sake of OP's argument conclude that since the Vidvat Sannyasa leads to Jivanmukti, unlike the Vivdhisha Sannyasa which is said to lead to Videhamukti thus, the former maybe called superior to the latter, since 'liberated while being alive' is believed to be a rarest of the rare accomplishments, in the Advaita, compared to the liberation after death.

As regards examples of people who too who took Vidvat Sannyasa, that would be seeking opinions mostly because not all sects might believe in the concept of Jivanmukti. Swami Vidyaranya only gives the example of Sage Yajnavalkya.

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Bhagavad Gita expounds/delineates, the predicament of vividhisha sanyaas (renunciation for the practice spiritual perfection ) in chapter 6 (Dhyan yog). Here (as the name vividhisha implies desire/aspiration) , vividhisha sanyaasi is only an ardent aspirant of the spiritual perfection , may/may not have acquired the necessary precursors (such as sadhana chatushtayam).

Bhagavad Gita 6.37

arjuna uvācha ayatiḥ śhraddhayopeto yogāch chalita-mānasaḥ aprāpya yoga-sansiddhiṁ kāṅ gatiṁ kṛiṣhṇa gachchhati
Arjuna said: What is the fate of the unsuccessful yogi who begins the path with faith, but who does not endeavor sufficiently due to an unsteady mind and is unable to reach the goal of Yog in this life?
(Translation Swami Mukundananda)

Bhagavad Gita 6.41,6.42

prāpya puṇya-kṛitāṁ lokān uṣhitvā śhāśhvatīḥ samāḥ śhuchīnāṁ śhrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣhṭo ’bhijāyate atha vā yoginām eva kule bhavati dhīmatām etad dhi durlabhataraṁ loke janma yad īdṛiśham
unsuccessful yogis, upon death, go to the abodes of the virtuous. After dwelling there for many ages, they are again reborn in the earth plane, into a family of pious and prosperous people. Else, if they had developed dispassion due to long practice of Yog, they are born into a family endowed with divine wisdom. Such a birth is very difficult to attain in this world.
(Translation Swami Mukundananda)

Unlike a vividhisha sanyaasi (aspirant to achieve Jnana), Vidwat sanyaasi is one who had already attained the spiritual perfection (Brahma nishta) and takes up sanyaas to attain the steadiness of the same.

Vidwat sanyaasi is one who can reach the pinnacle of what is means to be a yogi,so it is self evident that this state is truly superior to vividhisha sanyaas.

Bhagavad Gita 6.46

tapasvibhyo ’dhiko yogī jñānibhyo ’pi mato ’dhikaḥ karmibhyaśh chādhiko yogī tasmād yogī bhavārjuna
A yogi is higher than men of austerity; he is considered higher even than men of knowledge.

The yogi who is engaged in manonāśa and väsanā-ksaya after the rise of tattvajñäna is adhikah, higher; tapasvibhyah, than men of austerity, those who are engrossed in austerities such as Krcchra (penances), Cāndrāyaņa, etc.-as the Sruti says, Commentary by Swami Madhusudhana Saraswati (translation by Swami Gambirananda)

Lord Krishna, euoligizes Karma yoga in several verses throughout BG as BG 5.6 states, it the cornerstone to attain any spiritual progress.

Perfect renunciation (karm sanyās) is difficult to attain without performing work in devotion (karm yog), O mighty-armed Arjun, but the sage who is adept in karm yog quickly attains the Supreme.(5.6)

The number of revered Vidwat/Vividhisha sanyasis of Vedic culture went on unabated since time immemorial. To mention few , Shuka Rishi , Swami Vivekananda . et al.

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