Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Paramarsadhikaranam: Topic 2 (Sutras 18-20)

Sannyasa is prescribed by the scriptures.

Paramarsam jaiminirachodana chapavadati hi III.4.18 (443)

Jaimini (considers that scriptural texts mentioning those stages of life in which celibacy is obligatory, contain) a reference (only to those stages; they are not injunctions; because other (scriptural texts) condemn (those stages).

Paramarsam: a passing allusion, mere reference; Jaiminih: Jaimini; Achodana: there is no clear injunction; Cha: and; Apavadati: condemns; Hi: because, clearly, certainly.

An objection to Sutra 17 is raised.

Jaimini says that in the text quoted in the last Sutra (Chh. Up. II.23.1), there is no word indicating that Sannyasa is enjoined on man. It is a mere reference only but not an injunction.

The Brihadaranyaka text quoted in the last Sutra declares that some persons do like Sannyasa. Sruti here makes a statement of fact. It does not enjoin Sannyasa.

Thus there is no direct Sruti for Sannyasa though there are Smritis and Achara (usage). But if we say that there is no Sruti for the householder's life, he (Jaimini) would reply that Karmas like Agnihotra are enjoined by Sruti.

Further, the text here glorifies steadfastness in Brahman. "But only one who is firmly established in Brahman attains Immortality." Sacrifice, study, charity, austerity, studentship and life-long continence bestow the fruit of obtaining heaven. But Immortality is attained only by one who is firmly established in Brahman.

Moreover, there are other Sruti passages which condemn Sannyasa. "Having brought to your teacher his proper reward, do not cut off the line of children" (Tait. Up. I.11.1). "To him who is without a son this world does not belong; all beasts even know that" (Tait. Br. VII.13.12).

Anushtheyam baadarayanah samyasruteh III.4.19 (444)

Baadarayana (holds that Sannyasa) also must be gone through, because the scriptural text (quoted) refers equally to all the four Ashramas or stages of life.

Anushtheyam: should be practised; Baadarayanah: Baadarayana, the author of the Sutras; Samyasruteh: for the scriptural text refers equally to all the four Ashramas.

The objection raised in Sutra 18 is refuted.

In the text quoted sacrifice refers to the householder's life, austerity to Vanaprastha, studentship to Brahmacharya, and one who is firmly established in Brahman to Sannyasa. So the text refers equally to all the four stages of life. The text that relates to the first three stages refers to what is enjoined elsewhere. So also does the text that relates to Sannyasa.

Therefore, Sannyasa also is enjoined and must be gone through by all.

Baadarayana holds that Sannyasa is an appropriate Ashrama like Grihastha Ashrama (householder's life), because both are referred to in Sruti. The word Tapas refers to a different Ashrama in which the predominant factor is Tapas.

Vidhirva dharanavat III.4.20 (445)

Or rather (there is an) injunction (in this text) as in the case of carrying (of the sacrificial wood).

Vidhih: injunction; Va: or rather; Dharanavat: as in the case of carrying (of the sacrificial wood).

The argument commenced in Sutra 19 to refute the objection raised in Sutra 18 is continued.

This Sutra now tries to establish that there is an injunction about Sannyasa in the Chhandogya text quoted. The passage is rather to be understood as containing an injunction, not a mere reference.

The case is analogous to that of 'carrying'. There is a scriptural text relating to the Agnihotra which forms part of the Mahapitriyajna which is performed for the manes. "Let him approach carrying the sacrificial wood below the ladle holding the offering; for above he carries it to the gods." Jaimini interprets the last clause as an injunction although there is no word in it to that effect, for such an injunction is nowhere else to be found in the scriptures. Following this argument, this Sutra declares that there is an injunction as regards Sannyasa and not a mere reference in Chh. Up. II.23.1, as it is not enjoined anywhere else.

Even if in the Sruti there is only Anuvada (declaration) of other Ashramas, the Purvamimamsika rules show that we must infer a Vidhi (injunction) of Sannyasa from the portion: "Brahmasamstho'mritatvameti", because there is no other separate injunction just as there is no command that the Samit should be kept on the upper portion of the Sruk and yet the Purvamimamsa says that such command should be inferred.

In the present case also the same rule of construction should be applied. Further, even if there is only a declaration and not an injunction as regards the other Ashramas, we must infer an injunction about Sannyasa as it has been specially glorified.

Further there are Sruti passages which directly enjoin Sannyasa, "Or else he may wander forth from the student's life, or from the house, or from the forest" (Jabala Upanishad 4). Hence the existence of Sannyasa Ashrama is undeniable.

The word Tapas in the Sruti refers to Vanaprastha whereas the speciality of Sannyasa is control of the senses (Indriya Samyama). The Sruti differentiates Sannyasa and says that those belonging to the other three Ashramas go to the Punya Lokas whereas the Sannyasin attains Amritatva (Immortality).

Jaimini himself says that even glorification must be in a complimentary relation to an injunction. In the text, steadfast devotion to Brahma is employed. Hence it has an injunctive value. "Brahma Samstha" means meditating always on Brahman. It is a state of being grounded in Brahman to the exclusion of all other activities. In the case of other Ashramas: that is not possible as they have their own Karmas. But it is possible to Sannyasins as they have abandoned Karmas. Their Sama (serenity) and Dama (self-restraint) help them towards it and are not obstacles.

Sannyasa is not prescribed only for those who are blind, lame, etc., and who are, therefore, not fit for performing rituals. Sannyasa is a means for the realisation of Brahman. It must be taken in a regular prescribed manner. The Sruti declares, "The wandering mendicant, with orange-coloured robe, shaven, wifeless, pure, guileless, living on alms, accepting no gifts, qualifies himself for the realisation of Brahman" (Jabali Sruti).

Therefore, Sannyasa is prescribed by the scriptures. As knowledge is enjoined on Sannyasins, it is independent of works.