A Centuries-old Tradition

Throughout all ages, the most profound impulse of the human spirit has been the longing for perfect love, understanding, joy, completeness — for Truth itself. In all the great religions of the world, there have been those who have chosen to forgo family life and worldly responsibilities in order to give themselves singleheartedly to that divine quest.Paramahansa Yogananda at Mt. Washington ashram

Following this centuries-old tradition, monks and nuns of the Self-Realization Fellowship Order embrace a fourfold vow of renunciation: simplicity, celibacy, obedience, and loyalty. In the religious orders of both East and West, such vows are the very foundation of the monastic life.

India’s Ancient Swami Order

Paramahansa Yogananda and his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, are a part of the ancient monastic Swami Order of India, reordered in its present form centuries ago by Adi Shankaracharya and continuing to the present through an unbroken line of venerable teachers. All monks of the Swami Order trace their spiritual lineage to the first Shankaracharya. They take vows of poverty (nonattachment to possessions), chastity, and obedience to the head or spiritual authority. In many ways the Catholic Christian monastic orders resemble the more ancient Order of Swamis. There are 10 subdivisions of the Swami Order, including the Giri (“mountain”) branch to which Swami Sri Yukteswar and Paramahansa Yogananda belong.

Monks of the Order meditating in chapelMonks and nuns of the Self-Realization Fellowship Order who take their final renunciant vows are also members of the Swami Order. Paramahansa Yogananda established the SRF monastic order in the early 1930s with the arrival of Sri Daya Mata and other dedicated disciples who wished to renounce worldly life and give their lives completely to God. After Paramahansaji’s passing in 1952, care and nurturing of the growing monastic order became one of Daya Mata’s responsibilities.

As spiritual head of the organization, she personally oversaw the development of the Self-Realization Fellowship Order. Today the Order is comprised of monks and nuns residing in the USA and also in Europe and India, who have felt called to devote their lives to seeking God and serving humanity through the work of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India.

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