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Four Different Types Of Sannyasins In Hinduism – Sages Or Rishis

The four categories of sannyasins (sages or rishis) in Hinduism represent different levels of renunciation and spiritual practice. There are four recognized ashramas: brahmacharya, garhasthya, vanaprastha and sannyasa. Those who are in sannyasa ashrama are known as sannyasins or mendiants or monks. Here is a look at the four different types of sannyasins.

Kuticara: This group consists of sages who beg for their food from the houses of their own sons. They have taken the path of renunciation but still maintain a connection to their family.

Bahudaka: Sannyasins in this category wear all the traditional insignias of their order, such as wooden sandals, loin cloth, and ochre robes. They beg for food from the houses of Brahmanas known for their good conduct. They also keep the tuft of hair and sacred thread, symbolizing their adherence to certain traditional practices.

Hamsa: The Hamsa sannyasins continue to wear the insignias of the Bahudaka but have given up the tuft of hair. They carry a staff and a water pot and are characterized by their itinerant lifestyle. They do not stay in one place for long, often moving every one to three days, and engage in rigorous spiritual practices and austerities.

Paramahamsa: This category represents the highest level of renunciation. Paramahamsa sannyasins do not carry any of the traditional insignias of their order. They live in secluded and desolate places such as abandoned buildings or temples, completely detached from worldly affairs. They have transcended societal norms and customs and exhibit supreme equanimity. Paramahamsas accept alms from anyone without discrimination and are solely focused on their spiritual journey towards realizing the Supreme Self, Brahman.

Each category of sannyasin represents a progressive stage of detachment and spiritual evolution, with the Paramahamsas being regarded as the pinnacle of spiritual attainment, embodying the highest level of renunciation and devotion to the divine.