Chapter 22: Sannyas: A Journey to Joy and Bliss
That is how I am going to separate the sannyas of the future from the sannyas of the past. And I think that the institution of sannyas, as it has been up to now, is on its deathbed; it is as good as dead. It has no future whatsoever. But sannyas in its essence, has to be preserved. It is such a precious attainment of mankind that we cannot afford to lose it. Sannyas is that rarest of flowers that blooms once in a great while. But it is likely that it will wither away for want of proper caring. And it will certainly die if it remains tied to its old patterns.
Therefore, sannyas has to be invested with a new meaning, a new concept. Sannyas has to live; it is the most profound, the most precious treasure that mankind has. But how to save it, preserve it, is the question. I would like to share with you my vision on this score.
Firstly, it is a long time that sannyas has remained isolated from the world, and consequently it has been doubly harmed. A sannyasin living completely cut off from the world, living in utter isolation from the world, becomes poor, and his poverty is very deep and subtle, because the wealth of all our life’s experiences lies in the world, not outside. All our experiences of pain and pleasure, attachment and detachment, hate and love, enmity and friendship, war and peace, come from the world itself. So when a man breaks away from the world, he becomes a hothouse plant, he ceases to be a flower that blooms under the sun and the open sky. By now, sannyas has become a hothouse plant. And such a sannyas cannot live any longer.
Sannyas cannot be grown in hothouses. To grow and blossom, the plant of sannyas needs an open sky. It needs the light of day and the darkness of night; it needs rains, winds and storms. It needs everything there is between the earth and the sky. A sannyasin needs to go through the whole gamut of challenges and dangers. By isolating him from the world we have harmed the sannyasin enormously, be cause his inner richness has diminished so much.
It is amusing that those who are ordinarily called good people don’t have that richness of life their opposites have; they lack the richness of experience. For this reason, novelists think it is difficult to write a story around the life of a good person, that his life is flat and almost eventless. Curiously enough, a bad person makes a good story; he is a must for a story, even for history. What more can we say of a good man than this, that he has been good from the cradle to the grave?
Isolating him from the world, we deprive the sannyasin of experience; he remains very poor in experience. Of course, isolation gives him a sort of security, but it makes him poor and lackluster.
I want to unite the sannyasin with the world. I want sannyasins who world on farms and in factories, in offices and shops right in the marketplace. I don’t want sannyasins who escape from the world; I don’t want them to be renegades from life. I want them to live as sannyasins in the very thick of the world, to live with the crowd amid its din and bustle. Sannyas will have verve and vitality if the sannyasin remains a sannyasin in the very thick of the world.