By Swami Harshananda
Beginning of Monastic Life
After completing the first stage of brahmacarya by studying the Vedas under a competent teacher, a person has to marry a suitable girl and settle down as a householder. Once the various duties of the householder’s life are fulfilled, he has to distribute his property among his sons and take to the life of a vānaprastha or forest-recluse. In this stage, he has to lead a very austere life depending upon air, water or roots and fruits of the forest for living.
Regulations for Monastic Life
Once his vairāgya or spirit of renunciation becomes ripened, he should decide to embrace the monastic life. In this way of life, he should totally give up all the actions including the Vedic fires. He should follow the lifestyle mentioned belows:
- He should dedicate himself to the realization of the ātman/Brahman (the Self of all) by the repetition of the well-known Upaniṣadic Mahāvākyas.
- He must also adopt the monk’s way of life by wearing the red-robes and keep only a few necessary things like:
- Kuṇḍikā or kamaṇḍalu (water-pot)
- Cup made of the coconut shell
- Cloth for filtering water
- Upper cloth
- When not travelling, he should stay at temples or river-banks and other (deserted) places.
- He should never care for the comforts or discomforts of the body nor for the praise or blame of people.
- If he cannot follow the path of jñāna as described in the Vedas, he can practice the yoga for rousing the Kuṇḍalinī.
- If he realizes the ātman here and now, he will become a jivanmukta and enjoy great bliss.
- Otherwise he gets kramamukti or gradual liberation by leaving the body through the brahmarandhra and passing through the devayāna.
This Upaniṣad ends with a brief description of the brahmajñāni’s subjective experience.
- Brahmarandhra means aperture in the cranium.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore