From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Swami Harshananda
Sanyāsopaniṣad is a minor Upaniṣad belonging to the Atharvaveda. There are two chapters in which the first chapter consists of only one prose passage and the second is a long one comprising 123 sections, mostly in anuṣṭubh verses, interspersed with passages in prose also.
This describes how a householder who has successfully completed all his duties should proceed to take sanyāsa.
- The various steps are:
- Taking the approval of wife and children for his sanyāsa
- Performing Vaiśvānara sacrifice and gifting away his possessions
- Withdrawing the Agnidevatā from the Vedic fires
- Giving up the śikhā
- Going away either towards the east or towards the north
- He can accept bhikṣā from all castes, using the cupped hands as the bowl.
- He should not hanker for tasty food nor live in any place for more than one to five days.
- During the rainy season, however, he can stay in one place for two to four months.
- He should manage with minimum possessions like a bowl for alms, kaupīna, kanthā, kamaṇḍalu, pavitra, daṇḍa and pādukā.
Acquiring spiritual wisdom and meditation on the ātman or God should be his only concern.
This is a very long section. The subjects dealt with are:
- Persons who are fit and unfit for sanyāsa
- Method of accepting sanyāsa by giving up the śikhā and the yajñopavita and taking the accessories like the daṇḍa and kamaṇḍalu
- Categories of sanyāsins like vairāgya sanyāsins and jñāna sanyāsins as also kuṭīcaka and bahudaka
- Method of meditating on the unity of one’s ātman with Brahman
- Praise of citiśakti or pure consciousness
- Experience of the abheda-anubhava or the non-dual state
- Method of taking ātura-sanyāsa or sanyāsa by a dying person
- Meditation on one’s own true nature as the only duty of a sanyāsin
- Code of conduct including the methods of bhikṣā
- Prohibited things, behavior and actions
- Six kinds of sins like sleeping by day and acquiring disciples
- Expiations like prānāyāma for transgressions
- Continuous japa of Om leading to illumination
Commentary on Sanyāsopaniṣad
The only commentary available now is that by Upaniṣad-brahmendra-yogin. There is another Sanyāsopaniṣad which is much smaller comprising five sections in prose.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore