Self-Realization Fellowship Blog

Recent SRF Sannyas Vows — Following an Ancient Tradition

May 07, 2024


In July 1915, Paramahansa Yogananda was initiated into India’s ancient swami monastic order when he received the vows of sannyas (renunciation of the world) from his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, in Serampore, India. This event not only marked a turning point in the life of the twenty-two-year-old Mukunda Lal Ghosh — who at that moment became Swami Yogananda Giri — but presaged his influence on the awakening global spirituality of the 20th century and beyond, not least because of the monastic tradition he established as part of his lasting legacy.

The ancient Swami Order to which Paramahansa Yogananda belonged thrives today in Self-Realization Fellowship monastic communities consisting of monks and nuns from countries all over the world. This monastic order sustains the global growth of SRF and helps the wider dissemination of yoga among all nations.

Recent Sannyas Vow Ceremonies

On Thursday, March 21, 2024, in a ceremony held in the main chapel at the Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters in Los Angeles, eleven Self-Realization Fellowship monks and two monks from Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (the name by which Paramahansaji’s work is known in India and several surrounding countries) received initiation in the final vows of sannyas from SRF/YSS President Brother Chidananda.

When a monk or nun takes the final vows of sannyas (after many years of monastic training and self-discipline), he or she is given a new name signifying the aspiration to attain union with God, or Infinite Bliss, through a particular divine quality, as Paramahansaji explained in his Autobiography of a Yogi (in the chapter “I Become a Monk of the Swami Order”).

Below is a picture of the new sannyasis on March 21, shortly after the vow ceremony concluded. While in the West, monks who have taken the vows of sannyas are referred to as “Brother,” and while in East they are referred to as “Swami.”

Monks Sannyas March 21 2024 web
Standing, from left: Brothers Asimananda, Ganeshananda, and Bodhananda; SRF/YSS President Brother Chidananda; Brothers Sanjayananda, Shantimoy, and Punyananda. Seated, from left: Swami Shankarananda; Brothers Sharanananda, Yogeshananda, Sakhyananda, Vidyananda, and Maitrimoy; and Swami Nirmalananda.

On June 20, 2023, the most recent sannyas vow initiation ceremony for Self-Realization Fellowship nuns was conducted for twelve SRF nuns by SRF/YSS President Brother Chidananda at the International Headquarters. We are also happy to share the image that was taken after the completion of that ceremony, which pictures Brother Chidananda and the new sannyasinis. While residing in the West, the nuns are referred to as “Sister”; when in India, their monastic name would be followed by the title “Mai,” which means “mother.”

Nuns Sannyas June 20 2023 web
Standing, from left: Sisters Nishtha, Chetana, and Shankari; SRF/YSS President Brother Chidananda; Sisters Veena, Meenakshi, and Pranavamayi. Seated, from left: Sisters Bhagavati, Jahnavi, Kalyani, Yashoda, Anjali, and Radhika.

The Meanings of the New Names of the Sannyasis and Sannyasinis

For the monks:

Brother Asimananda: Bliss through oneness with the Infinite; Brother Ganeshananda: Bliss through devotion to the Lord of wisdom and success, “the Remover of Obstacles”; Brother Bodhananda: Bliss through the awakened awareness of the Lord; Brother Sanjayananda: Bliss through the complete victory over oneself that is bestowed by divine introspective insight; Brother Shantimoy: One who is (or aspires to be) permeated with shanti, divine peace; Brother Punyananda: Bliss through virtuous actions; Swami Shankarananda: Bliss through the benevolent Lord; Brother Sharanananda: Bliss through taking shelter or refuge in the Divine; Brother Yogeshananda: Bliss through mastery of Yoga; Brother Sakhyananda: Bliss through loving the Lord as one’s intimate Friend; Brother Vidyananda: Bliss through divine wisdom and knowledge of God; Brother Maitrimoy: Permeated with loving kindness; Swami Nirmalananda: Bliss through purity.

For the nuns:

Sister Nishtha: One who adheres single-mindedly and devotedly to one’s spiritual endeavors; Sister Chetana: One who strives to manifest God’s omniscient consciousness and all-pervading love; Sister Shankari: An aspect of Divine Mother exemplifying benevolence; Sister Veena: One who yearns to be an instrument in tune with the Divine — the Cosmic Musician; Sister Meenakshi: Aspect of Divine Mother; also, a devotee who exemplifies loyalty and unswerving love for the Lord; Sister Pranavamayi: Aspect of Divine Mother as Cosmic Nature, permeated with, and yet beyond, the Aum vibration​; Sister Bhagavati: One who strives to express the love of Divine Mother; Sister Jahnavi: One who undergoes Guru-guided transformation, and helps to uplift others; Sister Kalyani: Aspect of Divine Mother as the bestower of welfare and auspicious blessings; Sister Yashoda: One who loves the Divine in the form of the child Krishna; Sister Anjali: One who offers herself entirely to the Divine; Sister Radhika: An ardent worshipper of the Divine and one who is cherished by the Divine​.

Furthering the Work of Paramahansa Yogananda

In addition to their daily sadhana of Kriya Yoga meditation, monastics of Self-Realization Fellowship further Paramahansaji’s work by serving in various capacities — including conducting public lecture tours and classes in various parts of the world; giving talks at Convocation; hosting the public at outreach events; doing office work; administering the society’s temples, centers, and meditation groups worldwide; overseeing the publication and distribution of SRF books and recordings; and counseling seekers on spiritual matters.

You can learn more about the different steps of the monastic journey in the ashrams of Paramahansa Yogananda, as well as view videos that introduce the daily life of the SRF monks and nuns, on the “Monastic Order” section of our website.

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Leave a comment
Steve

What a blessing. Congratulations! Think of how happy Master and our paramgurus are about this. 🙏

Amanda

Congratulations 🧡🤍 Thank you for your devotion and service to God and mankind. Om Shanti

Amy

Congratulations to all the Nuns and Monks. What a wonderful achievement. Many blessings to all.

Shyamala

Blessings to Master’s little ones. May your journey to mastery be filled with joy and peace that passeth all understanding. Jai Guru Jai Mā!

Surendran

Congratulations to all monks and nuns. May God and Guru bless and guide all of them always.
Jai Guru

Nisha

What joy it brings to me to read this! Congratulations to all the nuns and monks. This ancient pure tradition goes on. You do very important work in the world and we appreciate your Seva very much. Jay Guru!

Teena

Blessing and gratitude for your loving commitment to continuing our Beloved Guru's great work! Thank you! What a beautiful celebration of Devine Love and devotion you all are! 🙏❤️🪷

山形博美

新しい尼僧方のお名前と記念の写真を拝見し、とても嬉しく思います。心からおめでとうございます。弟子の手本として、これまでも、そしてこれからも私達の努力を刺激し導いてくださることに感謝します。ジャイグル!

Arti

Jai Guru! Congratulations to all the blessed souls!! 🕉️☮️🙏🏽

Terrie.M.

Many heartfelt congratulations.
Thank you for your ongoing work and inspiring examples of perfect living.
You make this world a better place for all of us .
God Bless you all

Velia Ontiveros Reyes

!Que felicidad tan grande siento por esas almas liberadas!. Con su ejemplo nos motivan, nos inspiran y nos dan esperanzas para seguir esforzándonos más y más hasta alcanzar la Meta Divina. Mis mejores deseos y pranams para todos.

Rosalba

Es muy inspirador y me enorgullece que los monjes y monjas hayan alcanzado este grado de desarrollo espiritual.
Es un estimulo para avanzar en las practicas que el Gurú nos ha dado. Siento que ahora tengo mas hermanos mayores que nos dicen "Yo pude".... " Tu puedes".

Charles

These incredible Souls have sacrificed everything to serve God and Guru. Master’s devotees are truly blessed to have such wonderful examples.

Sue

Congratulations to all the monks and nuns! Thank you so much for your devoted service.

Nancy Pakdel

A heartfelt congratulations to all the new sannyasis in our monastic order! It's so inspiring to see they have reached their goal of Self-realization, and they encourage us onward and upward on this soul journey. How fortunate we are to be connected with such noble soul instruments of our Guru. This is truly a blessed path!

Lou Dubnow

What an absolute blessing this is! I feel overwhelming gratitude, seeing that Master has so many beautiful souls assisting others and furthering the work! Sending loving prayers to all!!! Jai Guru!

Martin Madsen

Congratulations to all the monks and nuns! And my deepest gratitude for the beautiful service you render us all. Jai Guru!

Jo-Anne Skinner

Congratulations to all of the Monks and Nuns on your divine achievement.

Arvind

We feel extremely joyful and inspired by welcoming new monks/nuns in Swami Order.Wi5h bestbwishes and Pranams 5o All.

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