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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Adhikaradhikaranam: Topic 11 (Sutras 41-42)

Expiation for one who has broken the vow of Sannyasa.

Na chadhikarikamapi patananumanattadayogat III.4.41 (466)

And there is no fitness for expiation in the case of a Naishthika Brahmacharin (who is immoral), because a fall (in his case) is inferred from the Smriti and because of the inefficacy (in his case) of the expiatory ceremony.

Na: not; Cha: and; Adhikarikam: (expiation) mentioned in the chapter that deals with the qualification; Api: also, even; Patananumanat: because of a fall (in his case) is inferred from the Smriti; Tadayogat: because of its (of the expiatory ceremony) inefficiency in his case.

The previous discussion is continued.

The present Sutra expresses the view of the Purvapakshin.

The opponent maintains that there is no expiation for such transgression in the case of a Naishthika Brahmacharin who has taken the vow of life-long celibacy, because no such expiatory ceremony is mentioned with respect to him. The expiatory ceremony which is mentioned in Purvamimamsa VI.8.22, refers to ordinary Brahmacharins and not to Naishthika Brahmacharins.

Smriti declares that such sins cannot be expiated by him any more than a head once cut off can again be fixed to the body, "He who having once entered on the duties of a Naishthika again lapses from them, for him a slayer of the Self, I see no expiation which might make him clean again" (Agneya XVI.5.23).

Further the expiatory ceremony referred to in Purvamimamsa is not efficacious in his case, because he will have to light sacrificial fire and therefore have to marry. In that case he will cease to be a Naishthika Brahmacharin thereafter.

But the Upakurvana (i.e., who is a Brahmacharin for a certain period only, not for life, one who is a Brahmacharin till marriage) about whose sin Smriti makes no similar declaration, may purify himself by the ceremony mentioned. If he is immoral there is expiation.

Upapurvamapi tveke bhavamasanavattaduktam III.4.42 (467)

But some (consider the sin) a minor one (and therefore claim) the existence (of expiation for the Naishthika Brahmacharin also); as in the case of eating (of unlawful food). This has been explained (in the Purvamimamsa).

Upapurvam: (Upapurvaka-patakam, Upapatakam) a minor sin; Api tu: but, however; Eke: some (say); Bhavam: possibility of expiation; Asanavat: as in the eating (prohibited food); Tat: this; Uktam: is explained (in Purvamimamsa).

The previous discussion is continued.

Some teachers, however, are of opinion that the transgression of the vow of chastity, even on the part of a Naishthika is a minor sin, not a major one excepting cases where the wife of the teacher is concerned and so can be expiated by proper ceremonies just as ordinary Brahmacharins who take prohibited food such as honey, wine, flesh, are again purified by expiatory ceremonies. They plead that that sin is not anywhere enumerated among the deadly ones (Mahapataka) such as violating a teacher's bed and so on. They claim the expiatory ceremony to be valid for the Naishthika as well as the Upakurvana. Both are Brahmacharins and have committed the same offence.

It is only sexual intercourse with the wife of the Guru or spiritual preceptor that is a Mahapataka (major sin). That Upapataka, a minor sin is an expiable sin has been explained in the Purvamimamsa of Jaimini in Chap. I.3.8.

The Smriti passage which declares that there is no expiation for the Naishthika must be explained as aiming at the origination of serious effort on the part of Naishthika Brahmacharins. It puts him in mind of the serious responsibility on his part so that he may be ever alert and vigilant and struggle hard in maintaining strict unbroken Brahmacharya and thus achieving the goal or summum bonum of life, i.e., Self-realisation.

Similarly in the case of the hermit and the Sannyasin. The Smriti does prescribe the purificatory ceremony for both the hermit (Vanaprastha) and the mendicant (Sannyasi). When the hermit has broken his vows, undergoes the Kricchra-penance for twelve nights and then cultivates a place which is full of trees and grass. The Sannyasi also proceeds like the hermit, with the exception of cultivating the Soma plant, and undergoes the purifications prescribed for his state.