Babaji Sannyasa

Dec 2 2002 - Krishna Talk 39

Devotee: On this past Radhastami you gave Babaji Sannyasa (initiation) to a disciple of one of your Godbrothers (Srila Turya dasa Prabhu Mahasaya). But as per my understanding the Babaji Sannyasa is not authorized in the disciplic succession of your Guru Maharaja (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada). So why have you done something so unprecedented as this?

Swami Narasingha: Actually the precedence is there. My Guru Maharaja gave Babaji-vesa (babaji-sannyasa) to two of his disciples (each on separate occasions). Normally Srila Prabhupada gave tridandi-sannyasa to his disciples for the purpose of preaching work, but on two occasions he gave babaji-sannyasa. This was also the standard of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Generally tridandi-sannyasa was given to the majority of disciples who were fit for renunciation and for preaching work. In a few cases the babaji-sannyasa was given. Sarasvati Thakura told that babaji-vesa is the dress of the paramahamsas, the top-most class of Vaisnavas. He told that it is better to take the dress of a tridandi-sannyasi and serve the higher Vaisnavas, rather than to imitate the dress of the higher Vaisnavas and thus become a hypocrite. But on occasion he did award babaji-vesa.

Our Guru Maharaja gave babaji-sannyasa to his disciples only under special circumstances. It so happened that these disciples of our Guru Maharaja thought that they would die and leave the world very soon due to some incurable disease. So they were given babaji-sannyasa and instructed to absorb themselves in chanting of the Holy Name of Krsna.

Devotee: But those devotees were given babaji-sannyasa under very special circumstances. Those devotees thought that they would die soon!

Swami Narasingha: Yes, they were young men and they thought that they might die soon. But when you pass fifty years of age you should no longer think that you 'might die soon', you should know it for a fact! After fifty, death is certain! And at that stage of life every man should prepare himself for the next life by taking sannyasa - pancasordhvam vanam vrajet. After fifty years of age (pancasordhvam) one should go to the forest (vanam). This must be done. It is obligatory (vrajet). This is the injunction of the sastra. Either tridandi-sannyasa or babaji-sannyasa, the difference is very small but in any case one must get out of the family attachment after fifty years of age.

My Guru Maharaja had the following to say about the matter.

"Ultimate goal of life is to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because in your busy life, you have very little time; therefore after grhastha life, fifty years, up to, not more than that, pancasordhvam vanam vrajet, then you must retire. It doesn't matter whether you have finished your duty or not. It doesn't matter. You must retire. And then, after being trained for some time, being retired from the family life, living secluded life-not exactly secluded, but detached from family life-let the elderly sons, daughters, they can take care of the family, and the husband, wife, they travel in different places of pilgrimage. Again they come for some time, but without any attachment, as guest in the house of his son. In this way, when he is trained up, then he says to the wife, "Now you live with your sons. They will take care of you. I am taking sannyasa."

"So everyone has to take sannyasa. It is not that a particular man, simply Caitanya Mahaprabhu has to take sannyasa. No. That is obligation. You must. In Buddha philosophy, everyone has to take sannyasa and live as a sannyasi for some years. That is their duty. So Maharaja Yudhisthira prepared himself for becoming sannyasi. Sannyasi means renounced. No more family responsibility or any responsibility. Simply to become pure devotee of the Lord, that is sannyasa."

"Pancasordhvam vanam vrajet. You show your all nonsense ability up to fifty years. Don't go more than that. Because you are rascal, you will never be able to do anything, but jump like monkey up to fifty years, not more than that. Monkey jumping may be continued up to fifty years. Then retire. They will continue monkey jumping up to the last point of death."

There are two types renunciation in Gaudiya Vaisnavism; gosthi-anandi and bhajan-anandi. Both these classes are 'anandi' that is they take pleasure in seeking the perfection of life. The gosthi-anandi class (the tridandi-sannyasis) takes to the path of preaching Krsna-nama to achieve perfection while the bhajan-anandi class takes to the path of absorbing themselves in the chanting of Krsna-nama. Some are suited for one path while others are suited for the other. In the end both these classes of devotees arrive at the same destination, Krsna-prema.

The tridandi-sannyasis are in the public eye and they are expected to lead the assembly of devotees in all manners of devotional service. Especially they are to defend the dignity of the devotional school by defeating all opposing philosophical opinions. For this the tridandi-sannyasi accepts some pratistha or position in the service of the Supreme Lord. The babajis however avoid all types of position and simply instruct others by their example of being absorbed in humble service and Krsna-nama.

In many ways the tridandi-sannyasi and the babaji-sannyasi share the same dharma. Both are to live their life free from the association of women, both are to eat, sleep, and dress simply, both are to chant Krsna-nama, both study the Vaisnava sastra, and most importantly both are to serve the lotus feet of Guru and Krsna. This is the way to cross over the ocean of material existence.

etam sa astaya paratma-nistham
adhyasitam purvatamair maharsibhih
aham tarisyami duranta-param
tamo mukundangri-nisevayaiva

"I shall cross over the ocean of material existence, which is extremely difficult to cross by becoming fixed in serving the lotus feet of Mukunda and by taking complete shelter of Him. This is approved by the previous great saints and sages who were fixed in devotion to the Supreme Lord." (Bhag.11.23.57)

A man should take sannyasa with only one intention and that is to dedicate his full energy to serve Guru and Krsna. At the time of taking sannyasa both the tridandi-sannyasi and the babaji-sannyasi receive the same mantra, gopi-bhava mantra. This mantra is sometimes called the raga-marga mantra and this gives one entrance into the service of Sri Sri Radha Krsna in the mood of the residents of Vraja. In this way there is practically no difference between the tridandi-sannyasi and the babaji-sannyasi.

Another consideration as to what path of renunciation one will take may largely depend upon one's nature and capability. Those who have got more energy, who are comfortable with being in the forefront of an assembly etc may find that they are more suited for tridandi-sannyasa, while those with a less assertive nature, who do not feel confident leading the Vaisnava assembly may find that they are more suited for babaji-sannyasa. In any case, after the age of fifty a man must seriously make plans to accept the renounced order of life.

Devotee: Since the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is there any other precedence for babaji-sannyasa in our parampara?

Swami Narasingha: Yes. As we know it Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja initiated some twenty or so babaji-sanyasis and to my knowledge Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja initiated many more babaji-sannyasis than that. I think also that in other branches of the Gaudiya Matha you will find that babaji-sannyasa is also there.

So either you accept tridandi-sannyasa or you accept babaji-sannyasa but the point is that every man after the age of fifty must prepare for the next life by accepting sannyasa. That is compulsory.