by Swami Veda Bharati

At a certain point in one’s spiritual life, God becomes the only reality one longs for.  Then, all other desires, emotions, and sentiments fall away. Or at least one takes the vow to devote one’s life totally to such purification that anything lesser than God may be finally renounced.

Then, one’s love extends as far as God’s love extends through His entire creation.  Being the children of God, all living beings become one’s siblings. In the same breath, no one person is less beloved than another.  This is the essence of the vows of renunciation.  The word “Swami” means “a master”, one who has mastered anything that might distract one from the full realization of such a potential within oneself.

In other words, all little things with which our limited egos identify cease to be tasteful and one seeks that only God should act through our being. Thus, all previous associations are abandoned by the wayside.  This does not mean that those who were loved ones are now less loved.  It only means that those who were not loved with the same intensity will now be loved with that same intensity. In taking the vows of renunciation, one then performs a ceremony of propitiation of the death of one’s ego and announces to the world that the three major desires, under the heading of which all the other desires fall, have been renounced, namely the reproductive desire, the desire for wealth and comfort, and the desire for honor, fame, and reputation.  The only sentiment entertained is the sentiment of the love of God and love of all beings in God.

One then announces reassurance to all living beings, saying: “Let no living being henceforth fear me.  I am a source of no fear, no danger to any.”  Thus, absence of anger becomes the norm and forgiveness comes naturally. Non-injuriousness and service to others becomes one’s primary nature. Thereafter, all homes are one’s own homes, all children are one’s own children, and one strives to serve them selflessly without seeking any recompense.

Traditionally in the Swami Order, which goes back to four or five thousand years, one wears saffron robes, the color of the rising sun, as a being of light, for wherever one stands one should be then a source of illumination to others. Any material objects or finances one owns are kept in trust for the service of others. Since the body is also for the service of others, one accepts food for one’s body, so the service may continue.  Service and worship become identical.  The three basic rules of the Swami order parallel the ones of the Benedictine order: poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Why would one choose to be a member of the Swami Order of India, instead of any other?  Because being a Swami, one rises above all confines of religious dogmas and nationalities. One must make no distinction among all the different groupings, and as with the followers of any religion, it is one’s duty to strengthen their faith in their own religion. [I wish all us were actually adhering to this ideal; sadly that is not so.]  As to oneself, one has taken the vow to experience God and to form one’s belief system on the basis of that experience alone.