Chapter 10: Let Us Die
Sannyas means to inform ourselves, to understand and to tell ourselves that, “The church bell tolls for me. The corpse being taken to the graveyard is my body. The body burning in the crematorium is my body.” This is why the sannyasin’s head used to be clean-shaven, as was done to the heads of the dead. Formerly there were certain rites and religious observances prescribed for a man’s initiation as a sannyasin. His head was clean-shaven, and his relatives used to weep and take a last bath on his account, just as they do for other people after their deaths.
Even now some of these rituals are observed, because the person entering sannyas is dying to his worldly relations and connections. The weeping of the relatives will cease in a day or two, as they see that though this man has decided to die to the worldly relatives, he is still living. This is good in a way. The sannyasin allows his relatives to pass through the pain and misery of his death in his presence; when he actually dies he will not be there to console them in their misery.
In those ancient days they used to put a new initiate on a funeral pyre. Those were very innocent days. After putting him on the pyre they set fire to the pyre. Then the guru would shout, “You are dead! Remember, you are dead!” Then the man was lifted away from the burning pyre and given a new name, and this rite declared that the old man and his old name were gone forever. Those were very innocent days, so the person who passed through this small ceremony believed that his old self was dead and he was now a new person.
Today that innocence is not there. If you are placed on a pyre you will immediately climb down. If your head is clean-shaven, you will get yourself photographed and keep the photo in your album along with your other photos. You will maintain the continuity. Man has become very clever and cunning today, so real renunciation has become rare. But there is no other way than sannyas to know the unmanifest brahman. Even a worldly person can know the manifest brahman, but only the sannyasin can know the unmanifest brahman.
Enough for today. We shall meet again at night.
Now let us begin our journey to the unmanifest. Let us die.