Q&As: women sannyasis
12 November 2008

November 12 2008

We sometimes hear outlandish stories attributed to Srila Prabhupada. Here’s a curious question I received some months ago from Laksmana Prana dasa:

“I heard one story that may have serious conclusions, and therefore I would like to ask your either to confirm or to refute.

One mataji who preached a lot begged Shrila Prabhapada to give her sannyasa, referring to Jahnava Ma. Prabhupada gave her sannyasa and in one month that mataji left the movement forever and got married to a karmi.”


 I never heard this before. As far as I know Srila Prabhupada never gave sannyasa to a woman. It would have been completely contradictory to everything he ever said on the topic. I think this is a completely bogus story.

In 1976 requests for sannyasa were becoming frequent. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada gave sannyasa to seven men at the Gaura Purnima festival:

7 new sannyasis

But he never gave sannyasa to a woman even though he was asked:

[TD Vol 1] February 4, 1976 – Mayapur

The acceptance of sannyasa has become so popular recently that even some of the ladies are asking about it. Aditya dasi sent an enquiry from Bombay. “I am writing this letter on behalf of myself, as well as the other women in our Society. Sometimes the question has come up, but no one seems to know the real answer, about sannyasinis. I know that sannyasa is the highest order of spiritual life, therefore is it not possible that we can be eligible? Myself, I do not feel like a woman, although I am in this body.”

Prabhupada’s reply was concise and clear. Quoting from Bhagavad-gita, he told her the soul is neither man nor woman, and for those engaged in Krsna’s service, there is no distinction between man and woman. “Anyone acting for Krsna, he is a sannyas or sannyasini. Spiritually everyone is equal. But materially a woman cannot be given sannyasa. But you should not be bothered because you are serving on the spiritual platform.”

One Comment
1. Babhru
November 14th, 2008 at 1:58 am

Prabhu, could you remind us who those sannyasis were?

Yes, here we go: Ramesvara Swami, Satadhanya Swami, Pramana Swami, Jagat Guru Swami, Drstadyumna Swami, Hansaduta Swami and Adi Kesava Swami. Out of these, one remains.

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