Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religious Sciences


J.G. Arapura


The aim of this dissertation is to present a systematic exposition of Renunciation (Samnyāsa) as a philosophico-religious category within Indian tradition with special reference to Advaita Vedānta of Śamkarācarya. This study dealing with the implications of renunciation in its personal and social dimensions is so all-embracing as to touch almost every popular spiritual conviction of the Indian mind and it overlaps almost every province of Indian philosophy. I have tried to justify this category as a spiritual technique systematically worked out and developed by Advaitins particularly Śamkara with a view to classifying and systematizing values in terms of the different forms which renunciation and its object may be found to assume. This dissertation also highlights not only lives of the enlightened persons but also principles of human behaviour in the Indian tradition implicitly clarifying therby such concepts as dharma (socio-religious duties), the good life, obligation and responsibility etc.

In elucidating these concepts within the Advaitic ideal of renunciation, we are driven to conclude that this theory is not confined to the spiritual dimension of life representing the concept of Moksa (Release or Freedom) but is also the ground upon which a coherent and positive social philosophy can be raised. The attempt seems worth making in view of profound misunderstandings pertaining to the spirit of Indian philosophy in this respect especially Advaita Vedānta. The author believes that Advaita Vedānta, seemingly the most unworldly, is itself capable of generating social thought of a positive kind. The principle of renunciation is central to providing social order not irrelevant to such a task. This investigation seemed to me to be of special significance especially in the context of the present situation when renunciation has acquired an image of moral irresponsibility and hence has fallen into disrepute. To such critics I humbly give a Berkeleyian reply: "in such things we ought to think with the learned and speak with the vulgar", and contrariwise -- not quoting Berkeley -- we must avoid thinking with the vulgar but speak with the learned.

This effort is to think with the great acārya (Śamkara) and some of his eminent followers with a view to clearing up misunderstandings about the matter prevailing among those who have not had the opportunity or even patience to examine the renunciation questions from the holistic perspective which those learned teachers have sought to inculcate.

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