From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Though the smṛtis, the dharmaśāstra and also the purāṇas, deal with the duties and responsibilities of persons belonging to the four varṇas[1] and āśramas,[2] there are only a few works that deal exclusively with Yatidharma or sanyāsa. The Yatidharmasañgraha is also known by two more names. They are:

  1. The Yatidharmaprakāśa
  2. The Yatidharmasamuccaya

The Yatidharmasamuccaya of Viśveśvara-sarasvatī is perhaps the best among such treatises. He was a disciple of Sarvajña-viśveśa and lived earlier than A. D. 1600. Nothing more is known about the author.

Overview of Yatidharmasaṅgraha[edit]

Though the work is in prose, it has been profusely quoted from the Upaniṣads, the purāṇas and the smṛtis. Some of them are:

  1. Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad
  2. bāla Upaniṣad
  3. Katha Upaniṣad
  4. Mundaka Upaniṣad
  5. Bhagavadgitā
  6. Viṣṇupurāṇa
  7. Skandapurāṇa
  8. Smṛti of Atri
  9. Smṛti of Bṛhaspati
  10. Smṛti of Dakṣa
  11. Smṛti of Devala
  12. Smṛti of Gobhila
  13. Smṛti of Manu
  14. Smṛti of Parāśara
  15. Smṛti of Yājñavalkya
  16. Smṛti of Yama

Contents of Yatidharmasaṅgraha[edit]

The number of topics dealt with exceeds 90. The more important ones from among them are as follows:

  • When to take sanyāsa
  • Śrāddhas to be performed
  • Certain rites to be performed by the āhitāgni[3] and others who have not
  • Repetition of the praiṣa mantra three times, this being central to the whole process of taking sanyāsa
  • Accepting the external insignia of sanyāsa like:
  1. Doraka - girdle
  2. Kaupīna - loin-cloth
  3. Wearing-cloth
  4. Kantha - quilt of rags
  5. Daṇḍa - staff
  • Approaching a competent guru[4] to acquire ātmajñāna[5]
  • Receiving the mahāvākya[6]
  • Few things of necessity that a yati or a sanyāsin can keep for the maintenance of the body
  • Code of conduct
  • Service to the guru
  • Japa or repetition of praṇava[7] and Rudra[8]
  • Upāsanā[9] on the Ātman/Brahman
  • Sanyāsin has no karma[10] to perform
  • Rules about ablutions, bath and other daily activities
  • Bhikṣācaryā or begging
  • How to observe the vows of cāturmāsya[11]
  • Method of honoring guest-sanyāsins, the processes called paryaṅkavidhi and yoga-patta
  • Things forbidden for a sanyāsin
  • Prāyaścittas or expiations for transgressions
  • Mādhukaribhikṣā[12]
  • Saṅyāsa purifies him and his family
  • Characteristics of a jivanmukta, the liberated soul.


  1. Varṇas means castes.
  2. Āśramas means stages of life.
  3. Āhitāgni is the one who is keeping the Vedic fires.
  4. Guru means preceptor.
  5. Ātmajñāna means knowledge of the Self.
  6. Mahāvākya means great Vedic sentence like tat tvam asi.
  7. Pranava means Orh.
  8. Rudra means a Vedic passage.
  9. Upāsanā means meditation.
  10. Karma means rituals.
  11. Cāturmāsya means ritual staying in a place during the rainy season.
  12. Mādhukaribhikṣā means collecting alms just as a bee collects honey, from not more than seven houses.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

Contributors to this article

Explore Other Articles