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In the Hindu philosophical system, a sannyasin is a person who has achieved the fourth stage of their life, called sannyasa. Generally, a person achieves this level after they have progressed through the following stages:

  1. Brahmacharya
  2. Grihastha
  3. Vanaprastha
  4. Sannyasin

This is typically achieved when a person reaches the elder stage of their life, but it is not impossible for a younger person to move more rapidly through the other phases of life. Sannyasa is a form of asceticism, wherein a person gives up all worldly possessions and desires, as well personal indulgences or biases. The goal is to live in a perfect state of harmony and love, projecting these emotions to others in the process.

There is not one set of rules or requirements of sannyasins, but there are several components that most have in common. Usually they are dressed in shades of yellow or orange; they can often have long hair and appear unkempt. They do not maintain a permanent residence, and do not carry any possessions with them save a book, walking stick, and a container for food or drink. They move from place to place, maintaining a life of pacifism, poverty, and kindness towards all individuals. The ultimate goal, ideally achieved through constant meditation and self-reflection, is liberation; this is a connection with the divine and a separation from the constant cycle of rebirth. By breaking one's bonds with society and possessions, one is able to work toward achieving this goal.

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