The Overcoat

From May I Answer That, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Why should a great saint like you, who has renounced everything, put on an overcoat in winter?

A saint or a sannyasin will not sleep on thorns, eat mud and stones, walk on his head and break through walls. His body, too, is subject to hunger and thirst, heat and cold. An overcoat is only a vertical blanket in bits and stitched in a convenient way to cover the body against cold without hampering the movement of the limbs for service. A blanket is a horizontal piece. I do not attach more importance or value to the coat.

After all, why should you look at the outer garb? Try to perceive the inner man, his thoughts, his ideas and his virtues. Not the external details. Only a real saint can understand another saint.

It is not a body besmeared with ashes, or a flowing beard or matted locks that determine a saint. Why should you attach much importance to this overcoat of mine? To indulge in dress by way of luxury is certainly not justified. But, for bare necessities, the body must be provided with proper dress and food.