Anchorites: Sanyasim, Monks, Digambaras, Swetambaras, Fakirs, Tzadiks, Saints

In every religion there are two forms of renunciation, primary and secondary. The majority of us fall in the secondary category, the in-betweeners, grihasthas, unable to renounce our mothers and fathers, our bank accounts, our social ties, our jobs, our identities but nevertheless are humbly called to revere and attempt to find and walk the middle way, continuously performing good works and engaging attitudinal renunciation of expectations, likes and dislikes that impede Self knowledge, knowledge of Love, knowledge of Truth. If one “tries to be” a primary renunciate, one is engaging escapism.

“A sanyasin is not a parasite as some people think. [S]He is a king of the world, the emperor of the three worlds. Even the very sight of him[her] will destroy one’s sins. Every religion has got this band of anchorites. Buddhism has got Buddhist monks. Jainism has got digambaras and swetambaras. Islam and Sufism have got fakirs. [Judaism has Tzadiks. Christianity has Disciples of Christ or Saints.] These anchorites are the glory of every religion. They have disciplined themselves. If you remove these people, there is no essence in religion. These people glorify the religions.

Some people bring the charge that a sadhu or sanyasin is unproductive, is a parasite, is a burden on this earth. They say that there are sixty lakhs of sadhus. This is a false census report. There may be one thousand or two thousand good sanyasins. People lying on the roadside in Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi have been considered as sanyasins by the census reporters, and thus they have given their report to the Government.

The sanyasins write articles. They give lectures. They hold classes. They impart instructions to the men of the world. They do work. They are not parasites. The whole world is maintained by the glory of the sanyasins. They serve them in a variety of ways. Their very existence is a glory, and splendour on the earth. When people are in distress, and when they do not know what to do, these sanyasins speak one word. This one word elevates them, removes their sufferings. The very sight of sanyasins destroys one’s sufferings. Such is the glory of sanyasins.”

from Satsang Bhavan Lectures of Swami Sivananda

In the Sanyasim vows “… subtler and yet subtler constituents of one’s own being are offered as though they are burnt like a cremation.  In the physical cremation, only the physical body is burned. Here, symbolically, one burns all psycho-emotional and psycho-spiritual identities.”

Swami Ritavan Bharati

Author: DrRachel

Rachel Magnell, Ph.D. is studied in Counseling Psychology, Neuroscience, Jungian Depth Psychology, Hypnosis, Yoga Philosophy and Meditation.

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