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Although I have asked multiple times on this forum if a man without having a son (and marrying) can take Sanyas or not, but it went unanswered. But still I will assume that they can (at least a brahmin man) as most Shankaracharyas are unmarried and Shankarachayas are considered to be the most orthodox and they follow scriptures in the most literal manner.

So, My question is - If a man takes Sanayas, does he still have Rina (debt) of his parents on him ? I am asking this most Sanyasis these days get completely cut-off from their family.

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    I have wondered about this too. How do those dvijas, who take saṁnyāsa without going through gr̥hastha phase, really discharge their pitr̥r̥ṇa? A dvija, who doesn't bear children, etc. and takes saṁnyāsa instead, by yearning for mokṣa, seems to go against Manusmr̥ti (6.36-37). Could anyone please help in reconciliation?
    – Bingming
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 20:08

4 Answers 4

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Yes, a sannyasi still has his duties towards his parents according to the Gita. Service to aged parents is a duty and should be done. A person who does not do this duty will not get the fruits of his relinquishment.

Abandonment of all desire-prompted actions is Samnyasa (renunciation) according to the wise. Men of discernment speak of the abandonment of the fruits of all actions as Tyaga (relinquishment).

Gita 18.2

Some wise men say that all action is to be abandoned as evil. Others maintain that good works like worship, charity and practice of austerity are not to be abandoned.

Gita 18.3

O the best of the Bharata race! Hear my conclusive view on this subject of Tyaga (relinquishment). It is said that there are three types of Tyaga.

Gita 18.4

Works like sacrifice, charity and austerity should not be abandoned. They should be performed; for sacrifice, charity and austerity are indeed purifying for the wise.

Gita 18.5

O Son of Prtha! Even these works are to be performed without attachment and desire for their fruits. This is My settled and decisive view.

Gita 18.6

It is not at all proper to renounce works that ought to be done as duty. Their abandonment out of delusion is considered to be of the nature of Tamas.

Gita 18.7

Those who give up work out of a dread of physical suffering, out of a feeling that it is painful, they, performing relinquishment of a Rajasa nature, do not obtain the results of true relinquishment.

Gita 18.8

But, O Arjuna! That relinquishment is considered as Sattvika, which consists in giving up attachment and thoughts of returns in respect of works, and which is done with the feeling that it is an obligatory duty that must necessarily be performed.

Gita 18.9

The relinquisher (Tyagi), if he is endowed with the qualities of Sattva, wisdom and conviction in regard to the spiritual ideal, never avoids duties merely because they are unpleasant, nor does he get attached to works that seem pleasant to him.

Gita 18.10

It is not indeed possible for any embodied being (i.e., one with body consciousness) to abandon works in entirety. So all that one can do is to abandon the fruits of action. One doing so is called a Tyagi (a relinquisher).

Gita 18.11

It ultimately boils down to compassion. Should a Sannyasi behave compassionately?

Need to feel for the afflicted

A Brahmana might be even-sighted and calm in disposition. But if he cannot sympathize with the afflicted, all the merits of his austerity come to naught like water kept in a broken pot.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana IV.14.41

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    This view has merit. Even after sanyasa, Sankara did the obsequies for his mother, despite the efforts and chastisement of the other Namboodiris around him. Even obtaining the fire for the pyre was a trial.
    – ajitdas
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 8:54
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    The ans. is as though Gita (antagonistic to sanyasa ashrama dharma) suggests, a sanyaasi is bound by duties . The above quotations from Gita neither imply a vyakthi of sanyaasa ashrama has duties for aged parents , nor does it hint about the fruitlessness of their renunciation..However a sanyaasi may or may not choose to look after their aged parents.../do obligatory duties
    – Athrey
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 11:04
  • 18.1 - 18.4 could be opinion of wise men of purva mimamsa , who opined karma must never be relinquished/derelicted at any cost.Nevertheless, In and through Gita , Sri Krishna seems to emphasize the futility of resorting asceticism without due self restraint/renunciation..So the renunciation which of tamasik(delusion) and rajasik(physical pain) nature will not lead to asceticism is the point to be taken.
    – Athrey
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 11:05
  • A true tyagi/renunciate(ज्ञेय: स नित्यसंन्यासी यो न द्वेष्टि न काङ् क्षति |निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते 5.3) is a yogaaruda(6.3) , candidate for sanyasa ashrama capable of engaging in relentless dhyana , for attaining Brahma nishta /Atma saakshatkara.Gita 6.3 says tranquility in meditation is said to be the means ,which must be the only pursuit of a sanyaasi., because karma yoga itself is not the culmination.So Sanyasi is free from obligatory duties .
    – Athrey
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 11:05
  • The context of Gita needs to be taken into account. Arjuna wanted to run away from fighting the battle and take to sanyaasa as an escapist mechanism. Krishna had to convince him to drop that idea and fight the battle. Hence Krishna had to use all tactics to steer away Arjuna from taking to escapist sanyaasa. At one point Krishna says karma sanyaasa is better than formal sanyaasa, and sort of denounces orthodox sanyaasa. However, this should all be taken only in the context of setting of Gita
    – mrbrahman
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 11:55
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When a person takes to sanyaasa ashrama formally, as a part of the rituals, he is required to remove the sacred thread and discard.

This is to symbolically indicate that the person need not spend any more time doing religions activities, since all religious activities (like sandhyavandane, pooja etc, including pitru tarpana/shraadha) need the scared thread. Instead, the focus shifts to obtaining Brahma jnanam if not already obtained, and then the singular goal is the preservation and propagation of the scriptural knowledge. This person is now expected to have a minimalistic living (only kaashaya vastra, no hairdo, alms for food etc), hence there is no bank balance even if the sanyaasi wanted to do rituals.

Thus with the formal acceptance of sanyaasa, the person is free from the all karmic debts or rina, not only with parents, but with the society at large. That doesn't mean his love for his purvaashrama parents is gone. On the contrary, due to Brahma jnanam, he has the same love and compassion with the entire world and all beings (not just human beings)

Then what about the parents? Who will do their shraadha etc after they are no more?

Shaastras say, the amount of punyam obtained by the parents by giving birth to such a nobel, selfless person who has dedicated himself to help the society (loka sangraha) far exceeds the punyam generated due to the performance of shraadha.

One more question may arise: If a sanyaasi is not required to do rituals and pooja, then why do Swamijis do pooja? For e.g we see Sri Bharati Teertha Maha Swamiji doing Pooja live every night on Sankara TV?

The answer to that is Swamiji does not need any rituals and is not doing the Pooja for his sake. He is doing it for our sake. The masses follow whatever their leader does. So if Swamiji stops doing pooja, the followers will think even they don't need to do any pooja! Hence Swamiji does religious activities only for loka sangraha.

(I'm not able to specifically quote sources for all this information, as this is something that I have gathered while listening to many many classes on Vedanta from my Guru, Swami Paramarthananda)

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According to Sannyasa Upanishads like Narada Parivrajaka Upanished (linked with the Atharva Veda), before renouncing itself the man has to clear the three debts. So, clearing the debts is a condition for renouncing.

From Chapter 3:

"Having observed steadfastly the tenfold Law and having duly studied the Vedantas, let a Brahmin renounce when he is freed from his debts (NpU Chapter 3)

The Manu Smriti also mentions the same:

6.34. He who after passing from order to order, after offering sacrifices and subduing his senses, becomes, tired with (giving) alms and offerings of food, an ascetic, gains bliss after death.

6.35. When he has paid the three debts, let him apply his mind to (the attainment of) final liberation; he who seeks it without having paid (his debts) sinks downwards.

6.37. A twice-born man who seeks final liberation, without having studied the Vedas, without having begotten sons, and without having offered sacrifices, sinks downwards.

Therefore, anyone renouncing following the above rules have already cleared their debts before taking Sannyasa and hence no debts remain after taking Sannyasa,

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  • But most Shankaracharya are/were unmarried. Adi Shankar was also unmarried. And Shanakrachyas are known to be orthodox type of people, who follow scriptures quite literally. On what basis they remain unmarried ? If reproducing sons is essential before sankyas.
    – river
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 10:00
  • Can it be possible that having a Shisya (student) is considered as equivalent to having a son ? Are they following this logic to take Sanyas before getting married ? I mean they think they will make a Shishya (student) after taking Sanyas and it will be considered as equivalent to having a son. B/c after taking Sanyas , they cut all contacts with their family. And their family becomes stranger to them. So, they have nothing to do with their family anymore and they become son of their guru. And then they make a Shishya (student) and consider him as his son. Is such a thing written anywher
    – river
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 10:05
  • You are right .. remaining unmarried is also an option found in Scriptures .. so we need to find out how they clear the 3 debts .. One thing I am sure about is that before renouncing only the debts are required to be cleared .. so after Sannyasa a Sannyasi is free from those debts @river
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:02
  • Can you cite the scripture where it is written that remaining unmarried (and reproducing no sons) is also okay.
    – river
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:28
  • Yes I have encountered few such verses .. like in Apasthambha Dharma Sutras we find the following (this despite this scripture praises the Grihasta Asrama as the greatest Asrama among all) -- [view of opponents] Now, they quote a couple of verses from a Purana: 4 The eighty thousand seers who desired off- spring went along the sun’s southern course. They obtained cremation grounds. 5 The eighty thousand seers who did not desire offspring went along the sun’s northern course. They, indeed, attained immortality. @river
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:49
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  1. SANYAASAM
  2. NAISHKARMYAM

are two methods to remove bondages and work for Good forgetting the older ancestry: their fames/sins/hardships/brutality/slavery/kingly freedom/wealth stories/health downfalls.

SANYAASAM is the easiest way to achieve though it is expecting perfectionist attitude till death of a person.

NAISHKARMYAM cant be achieved because a human is forced by competitive humans to acquire wealth of any sort (materialism) due to which mind may be constantly greedy.

          FREEDOM FROM TIES

BY SANYAASAM bondage is renounced and the sanyasi does not carry the sins/good fames of his ancestors.

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