The Nature and Possibility of Christian Sannyāsa

  • Peter Tyler St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London
Keywords: Stages of Spiritual Development, Ancient Indian tradition, Sannyāsi, Christian Sannyāsa, Henri le Saux, Swami Sadanand, Francis Vineeth CMI


The article begins by comparing the ‘Western’ and traditional Indian views of the stages of spiritual development during the life-cycle. The former is characterized as a period of education,
work and activity finally ending in retirement and relative inactivity. The latter, drawing upon the ancient Indian tradition as re-evaluated by writers such as Tagore and Thottakara, envisages the life-cycle as comprising four elements: the periods of education, householder, the forest-dweller and, ultimately, the renouncer or Sannyāsi. The article will concentrate on this latter stage, in particular, asking the question: is a Christian Sannyāsa possible? To answer this question case studies are explored from the contemporary and recent history of Christianity in India. In particular, the article concentrates on three main figures: Henri le Saux (‘Abhishiktananda’), Fr Francis Vineeth CMI and Swami Sadanand.

Author Biography

Peter Tyler, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London

Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London


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Abhishiktananda/ Henri le Saux, 1975, The Further Shore, ISPCK, New Delhi.

Tagore, R., 1924/1996, ‘The Fourfold Way of India’. Reprinted in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol III, ed S. Kumar Das, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

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