The old type of Sannyas was very complicated; the seekers had to pass through lots of austerities, vows of celibacy and renounce the world. The wife, the parents, brothers, sisters, and children of the seekers were aggrieved by this happening. It was not something very pleasant for anybody. It was an escape and cowardice–and the seekers also lived like beggars or parasites, dependent on the wealthy worldly people.
In contrast, the phenomenon of Neo-Sannyas is very simple. It is rejoicing in the world–not renouncing the world. It is a creative way of living, contributing to the world, and not exploiting the world. The seeker drops the extremes and lives a balanced life of working and meditating. Meditation transforms everything and brings about a qualitative change in life.
This beautiful neo-sannyas was conceived by Osho on 28th September 1970, when he was talking on “Krishna The Man and His Philosophy” during a meditation retreat in Manali. On this historical day, Osho gave birth to a new Sannyas of life-affirmation, joy, freedom, and celebration. He brought the spirit of Krishna, his dance and playfulness into the 21st century. He wanted to give Sannyas a fresh lease of life infusing it with new vigour, vitality, colour and creativity.
“Sannyas has to be invested with a new meaning, a new concept. Sannyas has to live; it is the most profound, the most precious treasure that mankind has. But how to save it, preserve it, is the question. I would like to share with you my vision on this score,” declared Osho in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Osho added: To me, sannyas does not mean renunciation; it means a journey to bliss. To me, Sannyas is not any kind of negation; it is positive attainment. But up to now, the world over, sannyas has been seen in a very negative sense, in the sense of giving up, of renouncing. I, for one, see sannyas as something positive and affirmative, something to be achieved, to be treasured. In fact, Sannyas is an attainment of the highest in life; it is life’s finest fulfillment. And if sannyas is a fulfillment, it cannot be sad and somber, it should be a thing of festivity and joy.
Osho invited the whole world of the seekers to his Neo-Sannyas and said:I want to take Sannyas to every hamlet and every home. Only then can sannyas survive. We need millions of sannyasins; just a handful won’t do. And millions can take sannyas only if Sannyas is positive and life affirmative. We cannot have many sannyasins if you cut sannyas off from the world. Who will feed them? Who will provide them with clothes and shelter? Sannyas of the old kind, which was a haven for idlers and recluses, cannot produce the millions of sannyasins that we need. Those days are gone when society bore the brunt of a vast army of recluses.
He said: “My sannyasins celebrate everything. The celebration is the foundation of my — not renunciation but rejoicing; rejoicing in all the beauties, all the joys, all that life offers, because this whole life is a gift of God… The old religions have taught you to renounce life. They are all life-negative; their whole approach is pessimistic. They are all against life and its joys. To me, life and God are synonymous. In fact, life is a far better word than God itself, because God is only a philosophical term, while life is real, existential. The word ‘God’ exists only in scriptures; it is a word, a mere word. Life is within you and without you — in the trees, in the clouds, in the stars. This whole existence is a dance of life. I teach love for life.”