On March 13, 2020 the Mata Amritanandamayi Math held its first brahmacharya and sannyasa initiation in 22 years. Approximately 270 disciples received initiation; more than 50 into sannyasa and more than 200 into formal brahmacharya.
The initiation ceremonies began at 11:00 a.m. in Amritapuri, the headquaters of Mata Amritanandamayi Math, with a special Vedic homa, marking a divine and radiant new beginning. Indian as well as foreign disciples received sannyasa and brahmacharya initiation.
Along with senior sannyasa disciples of the Math, sadguru Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Amma, personally graced the ceremony. Amma formally gave each new sanskrit name to the initiates, which is an integral part of this ancient tradition. These were moments of quiet reverence and joy to witness the men and women entering this new stage of spiritual life.
Initiation into sannyasa was only given to those who had undergone decades of spiritual training under Amma, who understand and are living the teachings of Amma, and who have gained profound knowledge of Vedanta and the other sagacious Indian philosophical systems.
“A sannyasi is a person who has renounced selfish desires and works for the benefit of the world. Amma has been initiating her disciples into sannyasa since 1989. Sannyasa at Amma’s ashram is given in the Puri order of Shankara lineage. The ochre colour of the new robes indicates the flame of renunciation.
The celibate disciples who have given up the pleasures of a material lifestyle and who are engaged in the life long exercise of practicing Amma’s teachings in their own lives are called brahmacharis. Women are referred to as brahmacharinis The formal initiation into brahmacharya involves the donning of yellow robes and the acceptance of new names suffixed with Chaitanya (consciousness). The yellow colour of the robes indicates the beginning of the flame of renunciation.
“For a genuine Sannyasi, the whole world is a garden and each individual is a flower therein. Such a person belongs to the whole world and has no particular caste, creed, sect or religion. Everyone is equal in their eyes.“
The Mata Amritanandamayi Math belongs to the “Puri” order of the 10 monastic lineages established by Jagadguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya. Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri is the senior-most sannyasi disciple of Amma, having received initiation in 1989. Following Swamiji, dozens of other Indian and foreign disciples also received initiation.
Sannyasis take ochre-coloured robes, symbolic of the inner fire of renunciation and self-sacrifice. Apart from the sannyasis, Amma also initiated disciples into formal brahmacharya. These disciples took yellow-coloured robes, indicating the beginning of that fire of renunciation. Formal brahmacharis and brahmacharinis received new names ending with “Chaitanya,” meaning “consciousness.”
Prior to initiation into sannyasa, the disciples finished all karmas and obligatory duties, broke all relationships and conducted their own funeral rites. Through Viraja Homa, the initiates removed all symbols of brahmacharya ashrama—such as sikha [hair tuft] and yajnopavitam [sacred thread]. They then received initiation into sannyasa, taking up the ochre robes. Thus, they became ordained into the most ancient monastic lineage of great sages and monks. As per the most supreme view envisioned by the Vedas—atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya ca—the sannyasi thereafter lives, exclusively for liberation and to uplift the world.
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