Sannyasa is, of course, forbidden in Kali Yuga yet our preachers take it to spread the glory of the Holy Name. Ordinary people are attracted by spiritual labels and tend to trust sannyasis more than ordinary missionaries.
In India the dress makes all the difference, in the West the vow of celibacy impresses people more. Otherwise our sannyasis live lifestyles that are envied by many ordinary people – flying across the globe, being greeted by adoring disciples and having all their needs served before they even announce them.
Our sannyasis manage big sums of money, build temples, run preaching programs and even sponsor other people if necessary.
The genuine spirit of sannyasa, however, is somehow getting lost among this flurry of activity. That is not a bad thing, however, because preaching beats sannyasa every time. Renunciation has no practical value in Kali Yuga anyway, it’s all about engaging everything in service.
A devotee who is engaged in preaching on a 24/7 basis does not need to renounce anything, it’s already the perfection of human existence. Those of us not so fortunate as to be at the forefront of the preaching effort, however, still need to think in terms of renunciation, for without it we can’t make any spiritual progress.
As I see it, renunciation shouldn’t be about eating less or sleeping less or any other artificial restrictions but about gradually losing interest in all material pursuits.
It’s very hard to achieve with all our senses and the mind making grand plans every minute but there’s a certain wisdom in prescribing sannyasa for people over 75 years old.
I’ve just seen a 74 year old man who has completely lost his mind to Alzheimer. He keeps eating or sleeping but his interest in these things is not even secondary – he lives in a world of its own, completely separated from reality.
Maybe that’s what sannyasa should look like – an old man with severely damaged brain who only thinks of Krishna.
If I go around without making any sense and only asking people to chant Hare Krishna I’be quickly stopped and consigned to a mental asylum but some old geezer can get easily get away with doing all kinds of crazy things as long as he doesn’t poze danger to himself and to others.
Actually, this won’t be sannyasa, this would be an uttama adhikari behavior.
Old men relinquish all responsibility for their behavior due to damaged brains, but a devotee should consciously do it, knowing full well that Krishna would take care.
If it is possible for an Alzheimer patient to forget his physical needs, why wouldn’t it be possible for a devotee?
This particular men walks around asking for smokes but with little faith I can hope to walk around asking people to chant if I ever get the similar condition.
Then my life would be perfect, too. That would be “my” kind of sannyasa.
There’s only one question – why would anyone listen to the ramblings of a crazy man? Wouldn’t it cast Krishna in a negative light? Wouldn’t it be counterproductive?
Perhaps the clue lies in preserving mental faculties like Shukadeva Goswami who appeared as an avadhuta and didn’t even bother to wear clothes, yet when necessary he recited Srimad Bhagavatam.
I guess by Krishna’s grace that is not an insurmountable task, I don’t need to recite Bhagavatam, I only need to have an actual level of realization corresponding to the level of renunciation.
Bhagavatam or not, people would appreciate genuine lack of interest in physical needs and, by Lord Chaitanya’s mercy, appreciate the value of the Holy Name. Unlike the ramblings of an ordinary crazy men, the Holy Name has real power and is supremely attractive.
It’s all lies in the faith in the Holy Name, all my speculations rest entirely on this premise – I will have enough faith to pull this through. If there’s faith, there’s a way – if old crazy people can do it, so could I.