Swami Saranyananda Saraswati profeseure de yoga au Montreal

What is a Swami? 

Swami is a Sanskrit word that literally means one who knows, who is master of himself.

Generally, the word Swami is a title of honor which is awarded to masters and spiritual teachers in many different traditions, philosophies, schools, and doctrines, such as Vedanta, yoga, etc.., Or to different religions, such as Hinduism.

There is great confusion about the definition and interpretation of the word Swami due to a lack of information above the various traditions and philosophies. There are different types of swamis or different types of people who have the title of Swami. We must clarify that Swami is not necessarily a monk, priest, or need to be religious or be part of a cult or sect. Being a swami is more a way of life, a philosophy, rather than a religion.

The word Sannyasa comes from two Sanskrit roots: Sam “complete” and Nyasa “renunciation” or “abandonment” and the person who follows the way of life of a sannyasa is called sannyasin.

This ancient yogic tradition of sannyasa in India rises to VIII century by the great Yogi Shankaracharya, it leads to self-realization and spiritual awakening (sadhana) and this tradition are also quite suited to the Western world today.

In the Sivananda lineage, there are two types of Sannyasin, “Purna Sannyasa” and “Karma Sannyasa.” The Purna Sannyasa (Purna = complete submission) is a Sannyasin who remains unmarried and dedicates all of his life to a spiritual quest and the “Karma Sannyasa” is someone who can marry, work, be active in business and follow the spiritual development while fulfilling their role, and normal life in society.

When Sannyasin are initiated, their heads are shaved as part of their initiation and as a symbol of renunciation to their attachments. Also, saffron-robed (ocher, orange, red) are given to them. The robed means that they are dedicated to the practice of yoga and that they are on a spiritual path. Purna Sannyasin uses saffron clothes all the time, while the Karma Sannyasin uses them for their daily practice of yoga or when they visit their spiritual master. The saffron color also has other special qualities, it is the color of the sunrise, it evokes the vital energy of the sacred fire.

What is karma sannyasa?

Karma sannyasin has nothing to do with religions or sects. They are absorbed in the contemplation and observation; a condition resulting in a profound awareness and acceptance of the present moment.

The first goal of a Karma Sannyasa is to work for the welfare of humanity, offer selfless service to the community (Seva) and to guide the community on the path of growth and wellbeing.

The purpose of a Karma Sannyasa is also about freedom and renunciation concerning their own definitions of themselves, their mental conditioning, false beliefs, dogmas, and their past. They are master of their own life and face life with detachment and equanimity.

They develop an awareness of their karmas (the concept of “action” or “act”, understood as resulting in the entire cycle of cause and effect), their actions and ego.

Karma sannyasa is a way of life in harmony with the universe by living the here and now, by being able to let go without regret and by having faith in the future.

It is clear that sannyasa is not made for everyone. This call comes from the mystical nature of the person and it is the spiritual master who knows intuitively and decides whether a person is ready or not for sannyasa.

Renunciation and Karma Sanyasa. 

 Renunciation has nothing to do with giving up life or materials things, on the contrary to popular belief is about to face life with equanimity, with a calm and detached emotional attitude toward any feelings of pleasures or suffering, pleasant or unpleasant, in good health or with an illness.

Renunciation also means letting go and to disconnect from the past, from mental and emotional harmful patterns. It is a state of consciousness, an inner understanding and an attitude where the attention is turned into the transcendental aspect of life.

Being a Sanyassa is to be in the present without regret from the past and to devote full attention and energy to our actions, tasks and not to the results or gain of those actions, while at the same time performing those actions to the best of our capabilities.

A Sannyasa has to do with the renunciation of expectations, obsession with reputation, with the sense of the need of things and people.

Renunciation has nothing to do with giving up comfort or material possessions, but to have the ability to be in the same inner attitude of happiness with or without them. If we have then we are happy and if we don’t, we’re still as happy.

There you have, the best explanation I can offer you about what am I and why.

I’m in a spiritual journey and I face life with equanimity, with a calm and detached emotional attitude toward any pleasant or unpleasant feeling. Be reassured that I am not in a sect or a religious cult, that I don’t have to give up comforts, material possessions or pleasures from life; I just renounce to the common fact of being emotionally attached to them.

A happy life is not about what we have or what we are, but what we make of it.