The Eternal Varna Asrama Dharma – Part 7


Before I move on to Aryan society evolution, I thought I would share some modern data on innovators and also some thoughts on real Sanyasa Asrama.

Synopsis – Past Chapters

The three Varnas based on acquired gunas (through formal learning) and one Varna based on work done along with four Asramas are present at all times in a society. People who evolve Knowledge, provide service, provide goods/materials and labor are present at all times in a society.

Similarly people need to live in four stages of life. In the first stage they go through formal learning. In the second stage they get into a stable profession and family. In the third stage they quit their regular profession and spend time in innovating and providing service with very minimal needs on society. In the fourth stage they live on remnants of society, being a neutral person belonging to society as a whole and not a family.

These four asramas are tuned to brain developmental needs in human beings and also to societal needs. These asramas do happen now also and are extremely relevant.

In the materialistic way of living, more young people need to work at any time to support the older population (apart from themselves) and this means ever increasing population, which the planet earth cannot support.

Asrama dharma solves the problem by prescribing simple living to half of the population and facilitating innovation and research in Vanaprasta stages of life. It produces balanced thinking neutral people in Sanyasa stage who live on remnants of food eaten by others while living stress free happily in the old age after giving up all the relationships.

Vanaprastha – Ideal stage for high valued innovation

The third stage of Vanaprasta can be entered from first stage or second stage. But in Vanaprastha people need to be austere and simple living. They need to get pleasure in their innovation and services, have minimal needs on society or self-surviving. They should not be going after wealth. Innovation has to be done for the pleasure of innovation and services and not for monetary reasons.

Let’s look at a study titled ‘Who Invents?: Evidence from Japan-US Inventor Survey” conducted in 2009 by John P.Walsh and Sadao Nagaok1

The study says older inventors generate patents of higher value compared to younger inventors. The study also found that average age of inventors in US is around 47. Most high valued patents comes from people above 55 years of age.

The below figure shows percent of patents rated in the top 10% (domestic economic value), by age, Japan and US.


Though the reasons for this have not been studied, it is highly possible that a wider experience and exposure contributes to innovation.

In the same study, it was found in both US and Japan, that monetary rewards were not the inventor motivation factor.


As could be seen from above satisfaction from solving tech problems, contribution to science etc are on the top of the motive for inventions and not monetary rewards.

No wonder Vanaprastha, the age for innovations, is defined in the third stage of life and combined with austerity. As shown, it is applicable even today.

If more and more people really go out looking for innovations, simplicity and austerity, then world will be a better place to live in.

Blurring the line between Vanaprastha and Sanyasa

The fourth stage of Sanyasa needs to be entered only from third stage. In Sanyasa asrama one has to give up all the relationships, wander as a beggar, live on the remnants of society. This is important in very old age as brain needs a stress free life in this age. The mental and physical maturity to give up relationships of all kinds would also be possible in very old age.

Often Sankara is ‘credited’ with diluting this and his Geeta Bhashya is used to justify Sanyasin’s straight out of teens or one becoming Sanyasin by just ‘claiming’ to give up desires or being focused on ultimate knowledge. Sometimes Sanyasa is differentiated into Sarva Karma Sanyasa, Paramartha Sanyasa et al and is used to indicate Sanyasins even in Grhastasrama!!

My readings of Geeta Bhashya indicate otherwise.

That Sankara went into ‘Sanyasa’ from teenage has become the pre-cursor for several sanyasins later, which has lead to flurry of spiritual and business swamijis of the day. They miss the point that while Sankara lived the life of an ascetic, he prescribed clear definitions on who is a Sanyasin. Let’s see them.

Readings of Geeta Bhashya of Sankara

Shankara in Geeta Bhashya explains

“saNyAsena samyagdarshanena tatpUrvakena vA sarvakarma saNyAsena”.

This means that Sanyasa is (developing) right insight (samyag darshana) that is prior to giving up all actions.

What is samyag darshana..?

Sankara says

“sarva kAryakAryakaraNa cheshtAsu karmasu akarma eva pashyataH samyagdarshinaH”

It means being conspicuous all actions, reasons for actions, behavior/manner of actions, inactions is the right insight.

How can one be conspicuous of all actions, reasons for actions, manner of actions and inaction..? It needs a 360* view. It needs a big thinking. It needs a balanced thinking. How can one develop it..?

Sankara says

“Karmayogasya pravrtti lakshanasya (Practising Karmyoga the symbol of action/movement) tad vipareetena (turns around/ reverses) nivrrti lakshanena (into symbol of cessation of action)”

which means Practising Karma yoga reverses the symbol of action into symbol of inaction, which means Karma yoga leads to being in the state of inaction which is required for a Sanyasin.

Karma Yoga, in which we do not get attached to the fruits of our actions would lead us to samyag darshana (right insight), which would make us aware of all actions, reasons for actions, manner of actions and inaction. Having Samyag darshana (after being 360* aware) one should proceed to Sanyasa the state of inaction.

How to practice Karma Yoga..?

Krishna tells Arjuna in Mahabharata

sukha-duhkhe same krtva labhalabhau jayajayau tato yuddhaya yujyasva naivam papam avapsyasi

Fight for the sake of fighting without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat. You will never go wrong.

esa te ‘bhihita sankhye buddhir yoge tv imam srnu buddhya yukto yaya partha karma-bandham prahasyasi

This is the Sakhya way. Listen to use Common-Sense way to perform work without getting attached.

nehabhikrama-naso ‘sti pratyavayo na vidyate svalpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat

Following this way there is neither loss nor dimunition. With a little learning of it removes our greatest fears.

In a Grhastasrama it is difficult to practice karma yoga. That’s why Arjuna was finding it difficult to follow Krishna. He needed the advice of Krishna.

But Karma Yoga is much easier to practice in Vanaprastha. In a stage of life where we focus on innovations and services to others, where the risks of such a step is minimal, we can easily develop the Karma Yoga mind-set in us, where we are not attached to the result of the work we do.

Hence Vanaprastha where we practice Karma Yoga and move towards samyag darshana is the stepping stone for Sanyasa.

Sankara also says

“samyagdarshiinah tasya sarvakarmasannye eva adhikarah”

which mean one who has the right insight (as defined above) only is fit to renounce all the actions.

How do we practice this sanyasa..?

aksharOpAsakAnAM (One who Worships ever the Imperishable) nivrutta sarvaishaNAnAM (who have renounced all desires) saNyAsinAM (that Sanyasi) paramArthajnAna nishTAnAM (focussed on the utlimate jnana) dharmajAtaM (dutifully) prakrAntaM (begins, sets out on the journey) upasaMharati (on the act of withdrawing).

That is, a Sanyasin who is focused on ultimate jnana (wisdom/knowledge) dutifully begins the act of withdrawing by worshipping ever the imperishable and by renouncing all the desires.

According to Sankara that Sanyasin should live as

“jeevan matraartha cheshtah’

which means his behaviors/manners are tuned to just maintain life in the body.

With these above definitions one can evaluate our modern swamijis and check for ourselves if they are sanyasins of Sankara type.

Next in Series

Evolution of Aryan society – The Aryan society then..


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