Indian Philosophy

Why Certain Indian Sages Or Sanyasis Reject Cloth As Part Of Their Renunciation

A Common Character Of Indian And Greek Philosophy:-

Ancient philosophy, be it Indian or Greek, generally regarded pleasures as hindrance to the attainment of Moksha or Liberation. The Vedas and Upanishads contains many pronouncements to renounce worldly pleasures. Similarly, in Greek Philosophy, Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates, et all gave importance to the liberation of Soul, by overcoming worldly pleasures.

They all advocated limited or no involvement in pleasurable activities. They limited the importance of pleasure given activities in the relative realm only. For the attainment of highest realm or truth, pleasure have null significance, according to them.

Pleasure consists of both worldly and bodily pleasures; external and internal respectively. While bodily pleasures originate inside us, former is caused by external factors. Thus, sexual pleasure is marked by it internal origin and pleasures from the consumption of good food, cloth etc, are from external realm.

In addition to these, in a deep analysis we can recognize a third type pleasure that we enjoy from our interactions in the society.

Pleasure Originating From The Social Interactions: –

Suppose, somebody has solitary imprisoned or confined to a room/cell, and is not able to interact with anyone else outside, what will happen to him after 2-3 weeks, or even earlier? Answer is clear – He/She will become totally upset and body will become restive. If this solitary confinement continues further, the impact will become more lethal, and his/her mind may even slip out of control. This is why solitary imprisonment is considered as a a kind of severe punishment.

The unrest of our mind, as mentioned above, is actually caused not by the imprisonment itself, but by the total cut off, that the person experience, from the outside world. In other words, when the interaction with other/outside people stop, imprisoned person became restive. This is not the case with normal imprisonment, where imprisoned person can converse with other such ones.

Now, It is very clear that social interactions give common men great pleasure; perhaps the best kind pleasure. In the absence of this, he will become quite unrest. This fact has direct connection with the behavior of certain Indian Sages to renounce cloths and become ascetic.

Why Certain Indian Sages Shun Cloths As Part Of Sanyas / Renunciation?

Now, what is one of the important characteristic of Indian Sages? Answer is clear — ‘abstinence from all kinds of pleasures’. This ‘all kind of pleasures’ include not just worldly and bodily pleasures, but also the pleasure that arise from the social interactions. Then, How Indian sages abstain from Social pleasures? It may not be possible for him/her to sit somewhere and tell others not to visit him, so that he can avoid social interactions. People may still visit him occasionally, or he may be lured by the social pleasures that is around him. So, they found a new method – abandon the cloths!

By abandoning cloth, an Indian sage is abandoning his social life and thus social pleasures. He/She cannot live in a society from the moment he/she abandon dress. Proper dress code is a requirement to be included in the society. Rejection of the same will invite social boycott.

So to abandon the all kinds of pleasures, including social, that will hinder him from the attainment of Moksha or liberation, certain Indian sages abandon cloths completely and live nude. They will withdraw from the social life afterwards, thereby renouncing social pleasures. In their opinion, no one will become completely sagely unless they renounce cloths.


*There is also a philosophical reason for abandoning all possessions like cloth. I hope to write another article on this topic, later.

Categories: Indian Philosophy

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s