The Philosophy of Sannyasa
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
What is the philosophy of sannyasa? From the ancient times the rishis, the first seers, said the philosophy of a sannyasin is the Advaita philosophy. Advaita is not just a philosophy, but also points at a certain conduct. It is reflection and action. Philosophy is reflection and conduct is action. One who adopts the philosophy and conduct of Advaita is called a ‘sadhu’, a sannyasin. This is what Adi Shankaracharya believed. Saints and rishis who came before him believed the same, and sannyasins and sadhus of today also believe this.
The Advaita thought says there is only one Supreme Self, which is all-pervasive in this creation, just as air is all-pervasive on earth. In this entire creation, one tattwa is predominant. That tattwa, that element, has been called God. Not a manifest God, but an impersonal God. ‘G’ stands for generation, the quality of Brahma; ‘O’ for organization, the quality of Narayana; and ‘D’ for destruction, the quality of Shiva. As a result, in this word ‘God’, the three qualities of the Supreme Self are defined.
The realization of this oneness is the Advaita thought. It is that one Supreme Self which, according to vedic thought, manifests in different forms, in millions of forms. When it becomes many, the essence of that cosmic tattwa is also contained in all these millions of forms.
The realization of the Supreme Self without any distinction, division or categories is the philosophy of a sannyasin. Sri Swamiji also says in his satsangs, “Cultivate atmabhava. See yourself in others, see your reflection in others, let others see their reflection in you. Be one with them.” He is indicating at this idea, at this process of Advaita. This is the philosophy of Advaita.
When you experience the atma, soul, within you, you can realize that the same element which is within you in its all-pervasive form, is also called Paramatma, the Supreme Soul.
Yogis, siddhas and sannyasins identify with their inner state, atma. You have seen the life of Sri Swamiji, you have read about other people, you have heard of Swami Sivananda, you have heard of other saints and sages from different traditions, cultures and religions. What is the uniqueness in their life? They connected with the spirit, while normal beings connect with the mind. When you connect with the spirit, there is nothing good or bad; everything is an expression according to circumstances and situations. Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda believed in and lived by these same Advaita principles.