Om ! Let my limbs and
speech, Prana, eyes, ears, vitality And all the senses grow in strength.
All existence is the Brahman of the Upanishads. May I never deny
Brahman, nor Brahman deny me. Let there be no denial at all: Let there
be no denial at least from me. May the virtues that are proclaimed in
the Upanishads be in me, Who am devoted to the Atman; may they reside in
Om ! Let there be Peace in me ! Let there be Peace in my environment
! Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !
1. Now we shall expound the Upanishad on
renunciation. He who in due order (of the stages of life) gives up (the
primary inclinations such as the desire for wealth, etc.,) becomes one
who has renounced (worldly life). What is this called renunciation ? How
does one renounce ? One who guards himself by the (following)
activities, who has (for his renunciation) the approval of mother,
father, wife, sons and kinsmen should assemble all the officiating
priests known to him and as before (with their approval) perform the
Vaishvanara sacrifice (for the welfare of all people).
He shall (after
partition) give away all his wealth to the officiating priests. For the
priests are the singers (of the Vedic hymns, deserving the gift). The
(five) vital airs, Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana, shall be
(symbolically) placed in all the sacrificial vessels over the (five)
sacred fires, the ahavaniya, garhapatya, anvaharyapachana, sabhya and
avasathya. Shaving off his hair along with the tuft, snapping the sacred
thread and seeing his son, he shall consecrate (himself) with the
mantras ‘You are the god Brahma, you are the sacrifice, you are
everything’. If he has no son he should consecrate himself thus and not
minding (anything) proceed as a mendicant monk eastward or northward.
He may receive alms from (people of the) four castes. He should eat
from the vessel of his hands. He shall consider food as medicine. He
should take food as medicine (i.e. in great moderation). He should eat
as and when he gets (food, without discontent and not asking for more,
like Oliver Twist) for bare sustenance and in such a way that there is
no increase of fat. Having grown lean he may shelter one night in a
village, five nights in a town; he may reside during the four rainy
months in a village or town. (Interpreting) fortnights as months, he may
reside (in a fixed abode) for two months. If he is unable to endure
(heat or cold) he may accept as gift a tattered garment or bark dress.
He shall not accept any other. For penance is to suffer pain (with
What then is the sacred thread, the tuft and the ceremonial
sipping of water to one who thus renounces in the prescribed manner and
who thus views it (in the correct perspective) ? To him (the questioner)
is this reply. This is his sacred thread (namely) that he meditates on
the Atman; the (practice of) Brahma-vidya is the tuft; that he quenches
his thirst with the vessel of his belly accomplishes (the ceremonial)
duty with water that is present everywhere. His residence is at the bank
of (a reservoir of) water. When the sun has set, how can he
(ceremoniously) sip water ? As (he touches water) during day, so at
night; (for) he has neither night nor day. (The enlightened ascetic is
above the restrictions of time). This has been said by the Vedic sage
(in a mantra): ‘To him there is (only) one (time), the day.’ He who
knows thus realizes the Atman through this (renunciation).
1. That person alone is entitled to renunciation
who has undergone the forty purificatory rites (samskaras), has
detachment from all (worldly) things, has acquired purity of mind, has
burnt out desires, envy, intolerance and egotism, and is equipped with
the four disciplines of spiritual life (sadhanas).
2. Having resolved on renunciation he who does not embrace it shall
perform the penance (Prajapatya) alone (as an atonement); thereafter he
is entitled to renounce (the world).
3. One who (having resolved on renunciation, later) denounces it, one
who supports a fallen ascetic (as if he were genuine), and one who
throws obstacles (in the path of those desiring renunciation) – these
three (classes of people) are to be known as fallen.
4. Now these (persons, though possessing dispassion, are not entitled
to renunciation – a eunuch, a fallen man, a maimed person, women, a deaf
person, a child, a dumb person, a heretic, an informer, a student (who
has not completed his study), a Vaikhanasa anchorite (belonging to a
Vaishnava sect), an ardent Saivite (Haradvija), a salaried teacher, a
man without prepuce and one without ritual fire. Even if they renounce
the world they are not entitled to instruction in the great scriptural
texts (such as 'That Thou Art').
5. The son of one who has fallen from ascetic grace, one having
disease of the nails, one who is brown toothed, a consumptive, as well
as a deformed person – these are never entitled to renounce.
6. One should never allow renunciation to those who have just settled
as house-holders, those who have committed great sins, those who have
lost caste due to non-performance of the principal purificatory rites (vratyas)
and the accursed.
7. (Again) one should never allow renunciation to one who is devoid
of religious observances, religious acts (yajnas), penance, charity,
offering, oblations in ritual fire and study of scripture; and those
fallen from truth and purity. These do not deserve to renounce; (and no
one) can dispense with the due order except one sorely afflicted.
8. The person (entitled to renounce) should discard his tuft reciting
‘Om Bhuh Svaha’. Saying the mantra ‘The sacred thread shall not remain
externally. Grant me fame, strength, spiritual wisdom, dispassion and
intelligence’, he shall snap the sacred thread and leave it in the
waters along with his garment and waist-band muttering ‘Om Svaha’; then
he should repeat thrice, ‘I have renounced’.
9. Seeing a Brahmana who has renounced the world the sun moves from
his place (thinking), ‘This person will reach Brahman breaking through
10. That wise man who says ‘I have renounced’ raises to glory sixty
generations of his family before him and sixty generations after him.
11. All the defects born of bad sons and all defects born of bodily
weakness, the Praisa fire (at the time of renouncing) shall burn out,
just as the fire of chaff does to gold.
12. (Reciting the mantra) ‘Friend, guard me’, he (the renouncer)
shall accept the (emblematic) staff.
13. The ascetic should bear a staff which shall be of bamboo, smooth,
whole (with the bark), of even joints, grown in holy ground and cleaned
of all defects;
14. It shall be unscarred (by forest fire), uninjured by worms,
shining with its joints, (of length) reaching upto the nose, head or the
15. Close association is always enjoined between the staff and the
person; a wise man shall not move without the staff a distance three
times that of an arrow-throw.
16. Reciting the mantra ‘You are the receptacle of water which
sustains the world; never say nay to me, you who are always agreeable to
all’, he should receive the water vessel; and invested with the yogic
garment (as aid to meditation) he shall go about in an agreeable frame
17. Give up (concepts of) righteousness and unrighteousness (dharma
and adharma), give up both truth and untruth; having given up both truth
and untruth discard that by which you abandon (all these) (i.e.
18. Ascetic due to dispassion, ascetic due to spiritual wisdom,
ascetic due to wisdom and dispassion and ascetic due to renunciation of
action; these are the four kinds (of ascetics) obtained.
19. This is how it is. He is the ascetic due to dispassion who has
become indifferent to sensory objects that are seen or heard of and who
has renounced (the world) due to the influence of good actions done
20. He alone is the ascetic due to Jnana, who, being dead to worldly
life due to the (true) knowledge of the scripture and listening to the
experiences of the people in sin and goodness and who, having discarded
lingering attachment to the body, scripture and the world and
considering as worthless like vomit all worldly actions, possesses the
fourfold discipline in spiritual life and then renounces the world.
21. Having studied in the prescribed manner all (scripture) and
experienced all (vicissitudes of) life he is the ascetic due to Jnana
and dispassion who has his body alone left to him by meditation on the
nature of the Self due to Jnana and dispassion and then renounces and
becomes unclad (as he was when born).
22. Having completed the period of celibate studentship, becoming a
house-holder and then embracing the stage of forest life (Vanaprastha),
he, who renounces (the world) only in order to observe the order of the
stages of life even though without dispassion, is the ascetic who
23. Renunciation is of six kinds: (and the ascetics are called)
Kutichaka, Bahudaka, Hamsa, Paramahamsa, Turiyatita and Avadhuta.
24. The Kutichaka ascetic has tuft and sacred thread, bears a staff
and water vessel, wears a loin-cloth and patched garment, is devoted to
the service of father, mother and preceptor, is equipped with a vessel,
spade, sling, etc., alone, is addicted to eating food in one place,
wears on the forehead a perpendicular mark of white sandal and holds a
threefold (emblematic) staff.
25. The Bahudaka ascetic wears tuft, etc., patched garment and three
(horizontal) lines of holy ash on his forehead and is similar in all
respects to the Kutichaka ascetic (except) that he subsists on eight
mouthfuls of food gathered (as alms from eight houses), as a bee (does
26. The Hamsa ascetic wears matter hair, puts on the forehead the
mark of either the horizontal lines of holy ash or the perpendicular one
of sandal, subsists on food gathered as alms without restriction and
wears a piece of loin-cloth.
27. The Paramahamsa ascetic is devoid of tuft and sacred thread,
alms in the vessel of his hands, wears a single loin-cloth, has
a single (patched) garment, one bamboo staff, either wears a single
garment or is smeared with holy ashes and has discarded all (possessions
28. The Turiyatita ascetic subsists of fruits receiving them in his
mouth like a cow; if he eats cooked rice (he receives them as alms) from
three houses. He has his body alone left to him (without any possessions
and attachment), is unclad (dressed by the points of the compass) and
treats his body as if it were a corpse.
29. The Avadhuta ascetic has no fixed rules. He eats food like a
python as and when he gets it, from persons of all castes except those
who are fallen or accursed and is ever intent on meditation on the
nature of the Self.
30. I am not surely of this world consisting of trees, grass and
mountains. How can I, the supreme Being, be this external (phenomenon)
which is intensely inert ? I am not the body which is non-sentient and
perishable in a short time.
Sannyasa Upanishad -