Sannyasis in Modernity


The full title of this book is : The Lives and Challenges of Vaishnava Sannyasis in Modernity

Subtitle: A study of the renounced order in ISKCON

Over the last several years, as the Hare Krishna movement has persisted in extending its reach across the world, practitioners have produced a remarkable number of books in a variety of genres and a range of subjects related to Krishna consciousness. A large proportion of such publications – ranging from vegetarian cookbooks to translations of the tradition’s Sanskrit and Bengali sacred texts and commentaries – have been written and published with present-day practitioners in mind, and hence they have tended to assume a certain level of familiarity with the tradition. There are also a substantial number of books written by Western Vaishnavas with wider audience in mind, usually with the aim to attract potential practitioners to become committed practitioners of the tradition, engaging seriously in the practice of bhakti-yoga.

What is much rarer to find among current works on Gaudiya Vaisnavism is a book as this one. This is a book by a senior Vaisnava practitioner with an eye to address to distinctive audiences, namely practitioners and scholars.

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The particular focus of this work – the practice and challenges in practice of the renounced order (sannyasa, as designated within the traditional ashrama system of brahminical India) – calls critical attention to an important social dimension of the Caitanyaite tradition.Truth be told: the Gaudiya Vaisnava sannyasa order of renunciants is of particular interest today largely because of its unchecked history within the western missionary horizon. And it is this history which Yadunandana Swami aims to face squarely in these pages, with the intention to contribute significantly and positively to the change in direction of that history toward  a brighter future of exemplary Vaisnava sannyasa praxis and culture.

The excerpt above is from the backcover of the book.

This book is divided into eight chapters and three appendixes. First five chapters constitute the core academic study conducted by Yadunandana Swami while researching this subject for his MA dissertation at the University of Wales Trinity, St. David, UK.

Chapter One introduces the subject and the research methodology that was used.

Chapter Two provides a historical analysis of the practice of sannyasa from classical times to modernity, with the aim of contextualizing the practice of sannyasa in order to help the reader to better understand the topic.

Chapter Three explains how the practice of sannyasa has been applied in ISKCON and how it has evolved.

Chapter Four identifies and explains, on the basis of the answers given by the interviewees in the study, ten challenges found by sannyasis in sustaining their monastic vows and lifestyle.

Chapter Five summarizes the findings of the initial study.

Chapter Six contains the transcriptions of many of the interviews that were conducted by Yadunandana Swami Originally these were not part of the MA dissertation, but are included here in this book, anticipating that these will be of interest and of good use to the ISKCON members.

Chapter Seven is called Learning from experience, which includes positive suggestions that could be cosidered and perhaps implemented by ISKCON leaders and community members in regards to the practice of sannyasa in the worldwide society of devotees.

Chapter Eight explains the meaning of sannyasa according to Srila Prabhupada.

Appendix One deals with methodology that was followed and other technical information concerned with this research.

Appendix Two elaborates on Sri Caitanya’s practice of renunciation based on sacred biographies written about him.

Appendix Three is a reproduction of an interesting online article referring to a letter written  by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta on rules he expected Gaudiya Math sannyasis to follow.

Additional information

Weight0.55 kg
Dimensions14 × 25 × 2.5 cm


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