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Who Is Yati In Hinduism? – Ascetic

In Hinduism, Yati is an ascetic. The Sanskrit word ‘yati’ has the following meanings according to context – an ascetic who has renounced the world and controlled his passions; a pause in music; a cesura in prosody; a symbol for the number seven; and a widow.

In Dharmashastra, this is a technical word indicative of yati-ashrama (unique lifestyle). This is the final stage of social life. The word is found in Vedic lore, indicating high merit achievable by severe penance. It is distinguished from various stages of progress and achievement like those of rishi and muni.

In Hindu social context, a yati is highly respected: he is believed to have powers to pronounce curses or boons. Though we have references to women mendicants, this order was not very well appreciated in the medieval and modern traditional circles.

In Santana Dharma (Hinduism), only men take to this order of life. Such yatis are also considered torchbearers of unbroken religious, mystic, and tantric paramparas (philosophical traditions), and they head religious institutions. Rules and guidelines relating to this stage of life are detailed in Dharmashastras, and tradition prescribes a code of conduct to be followed by a yati. Arthashastra and Smritis prescribe the punishments for violations of the code.

Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, and Madhvacharya are three of the important Yatis of Hinduism.