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Yatidharmasamucchaya of Yadavaprakasa
Date: Tue Mar 13 2001 - 14:18:57 PST

Sri Yadavaprakasa, the teacher of Sri Ramanujacharya (d. 1137 CE) 
authored an excellent manual on the conduct of Sannyasins, named 
the 'Yatidharmasamucchaya'. It is a collection of relevant passages 
from the Dharmashastras (primarily) in various matters related to 
Sannyasadharma, arranged in 11 chapters. Signficantly, per the 
tradition, the manual was composed by the author as a repentence for 
following Advaitin modes of Sannyasahood, when he later became a 
student of his own ex-student Sri Ramanuja, the great teacher of 
Visishtadvaita Vedanta.

The Vaishnava mendicants are associated more closely with the 
householders, temple institutions compared to the 'ekadandin' Advaita 
monks (at least theoritically). They are very meticulous with regard 
to maintaining the sacred thread, shikhaa etc. Olivelle says:

Pg. 17 Reading Yadava's work closely, one gets he distinct impression 
that the Brahminical ascetic is a very exalted type of Brahminical 
householder rather than a figure who contradicts the value system 
represented by domestic life. Whatever is prescribed for a Brahmin in 
general applies also to an ascetic. 

Pg. 25-26 The ascetic is not an outsider to that community but a 
significant and integral part of it. The ascetic is not in the 
wilderness removed from the social group; he has truly reentered the 
village. This is what I have called the domestication of asceticism. 
This domestication was more thorough within the devotional (bhakti) 
traditions in general and in the Vaisnava tradition in particular. 
With its doctrine of total inner surrender to divine love (prapatti) 
and the supremacy of divine grace in the work of human salvation, a 
householder and an ascetic have equal access to God. Even though 
Yadava still speaks in hyperbolic terms about the superiority of the 
ascetic over the householder (see. Ch. 6.296-308), the Sri Vaisnava 
tradition would gradually drift away from the centrality assigned to 
mendicant asceticism. 

Following is a brief summary of the 11 chapters, based on the 
critical edition cum translation of Patrick Olivelle (see reference 
at the end). 


1.	Chapter I. The Rule Sanctioning Itinerant Asceticism: It 
examines whether the Sruti really enjoins the order of Asceticism 
(Samnyasa Asrama). The views of certain opponents within the 
tradition are quoted to the effect that the Vedas enjoin only the 
householder's vocation for a complete discharge of the 3 debts that 
one is born with. Therefore, asceticism is anti-Vedic because an 
ascetic cannot discharge these three debts properly. Yadava quotes 
authoritative passages from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, Mahanarayana 
Upanishad (Taittiriya Aranyaka, Prapathaka X), Jabala Upanishad. He 
emphasizes that Moksa is the supreme goal enjoined by the Vedas, and 
this supreme goal is attained with the help of Samnyasa.
2.	Chapter II discusses the suitable age for a person to become 
an itinerant ascetic. Yadava quotes a multiplicity of views found in 
the Hindu scriptures in this regard, without choosing or preferring 
any. Thus, he quotes passages to the effect that asceticism should be 
resorted to only after the birth of one's children or grandchildren, 
or at any age (even before marriage), or that renunciation before 
marriage is permissible only for the handicapped or the detached 
people, or that renunciation  is also possible just before imminent 
3.	Chapter III relates to the external insignia of a mendicant, 
and deals with a hotly disputed topic within Hindu spiritual 
tradition. Yadavaprakasa firmly sides with the opinion that sacred 
thread, the triple staff, water strainer, the loincloth/waistband and 
the water pot cannot be abandoned by ascetics. However, there is an 
option with regard to the top knot or the Sikha. The 
Tattvasagarasamhita, a Pancaratra text, is cited at 3.48
4.	Chapter IV deals with the procedure whereby a person becomes 
an ascetic. The chapter takes the `Saunakiya Samnyasavidhi' as its 
basis, supplementing it with quotations from other Smrtis. The text 
of Saunaka, no longer extant today, is certainly an ancient one, and 
makes extensive use of Vedic mantras from Rigveda, Taittiriya 
Samhita, Brahmana and Aranyaka etc. At the end, he gives a special 
procedure for renunciation when death is imminent.
5.	Chapter V deals with the principal activities of an ascetic. 
It starts with a discussion of the classification of ascetics. 
Yadavaprakasa rejects the fourfold classification into Kuticaka, 
Bahudaka, Hamsa and Paramahamsa found in certain texts because 
according to some of his contemporaries, this classification was 
rooted only in Samkhya and Pancharatra texts. Manu, on the other 
hand, classified mendicants only into two divisions- those who were 
itinerant mendicants, and those who stayed at home but renounced the 
Vedic rituals. While discussing the duties of the former, he quotes 
the Kratu and other smrtis to the effect that Samkhya and Yoga ought 
to be adhered to, where Samkhya means a knowledge of the 25 
cosmological principles. Thereafter, he defines and discusses the 
various limbs (eg. Pranayama) and virtues (like truth) of Yoga with 
the help of various Smrti texts and concludes with a description of 
the rewards of practicing all these. It is clear that Yadavaprakasa 
here discusses a Sesvara variety of Yoga, against which he does not 
appear to have animosity at all. He ends the discussion of Samkhya 
with the words- 5.46: One should similarly explore also other texts, 
such as the Epics, the Puranas, the Dharmashastras of Manu etc. and 
also the Upanishads to learn about the Samkhyan categories, and also 
the meaning of the term `Samkhya'. (pg. 77)
6.	Chapter VI discuss the daily practices of ascetics, starting 
with their morning chores, adding that the duties of householders 
ought to be replicated where no description of similar duties for 
mendicants is available in the scriptures. He discusses the correct 
procedure for begging, the procedure of eating, rites following the 
meal, and evening duties. The chapter ends with a discussion on the 
appropriate behavior of a householder towards an ascetic who has 
approached for food.
7.	Chapter VII deals with the virtues and general code of 
conduct for mendicants  celibacy, speaking beneficial words, 
forgiveness etc. Significantly, one of the restrictions on a 
mendicant is that he should not expound the Puranas and Epics to the 
laity (7.99)- a restriction meant to prevent the mendicant from 
enhancing his popularity in the society.
8.	Chapter VIII discusses rules pertaining to insignia of a 
mendicant (like the triple staff) and other related penances. The 
chapter ends with the remarks that the mendicant should not be 
attached even to these articles that he possesses.
9.	Chapter IX: Since the Yatidharmasamuccaya is meant for 
itinerant monks, this chapter deals with rules pertaining to the 
wandering and residence of monks. An ascetic is not allowed to make a 
permanent residence (which rules out monasteries) except during the 
rainy season, when he can stay in one place for four months. A 
separate description is given on what ought to be done (or not ought 
to be done) by the mendicant during these 4 months.
10.	Chapter X deals with penances for sins that an ascetic might 
commit intentionally or otherwise. It is pointed out that penitential 
observances have to be performed for sins committed habitually or 
deliberately, while yogic practice is prescribed for sins committed 
11.	The last chapter deals with the procedure of cremation of 
monks by householders and post cremation ceremonies. It is emphasized 
that the salvation of monks is not dependent on performance or non 
performance of these ceremonies by anyone, and the post cremation 
ceremonies for a monk are fewer and simpler than that for a 
Among the texts cited by Yadavaprakasa are:
Dharmasutras of Gautama, Baudhayana, Apastamba, Vasishtha
Yogasutra of Patanjali
Mahabharata and Gita
Dharmasastras of Manu, Likhita, Sankha, Galava, Kratu, Sandilya, 
Satatapa, Jamadagni, Harita, Devala, Daksha, Dattatreya, Sumantu, 
Vishnu, Yajnavalkya etc. In many cases, different recensions of these 
texts are distinguished- for instance, Manu and Vrddha Manu
Dharma digests of Maskarin, Medhatithi
Vedic texts: Jabala, Bashkala sruti, Taittiriya Aranyaka, 
Brhadaranyaka Upanishad and so on. The metrical Bashkala Sruti is 
cited only in some manuscripts and 3 of the 4 verses are cited 
elsewhere in the Yatidharmasamuccaya with a different text designated 
as their source. It is clear that the `Sruti' is in reality a 
defective text rather than a passage from a lost Vedic text.

The Yatidharmasamucchaya exists in two versions- a short and a longer 
one. According to Olivelle, the latter is the authentic, original 
version of the text.


Olivelle, Patrick; Rules and Regulations of Brahminical Asceticism; 
SUNY; New York; 1995

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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