Friday, 13 March 2020, Amritapuri Ashram
On this blessed day, at Amritapuri, 28 male and 30 female long-time disciples of Amma were formally initiated into Sannyasa (ochre-coloured robes), along with more than 112 male disciples and 99 female disciples being initiated into Brahmacharya (yellow-coloured robes). The ceremonies began in the early morning hours with special Homas and Vedic chantings.
This was the first such initiation ceremony held by Amma in 22 years, but due to the unfortunate threat of coronavirus, acknowledging the efforts by Government and other organizations to tackle the problem, the initiation ceremony was restricted to Ashramites and those present at Amritapuri during the present period.
The Sannyasa ceremony involves fasting, silence, Japa & Meditation for five days, shaving head and a series of ritual steps (Tarppanam) which symbolize the cutting of all relations and the final performance of all the obligatory duties of an individual. The penultimate day of the ceremony, they performed Tharppanam (paying the gratitude to all the living and non-living beings of this and other worlds, 7 generations of their forefathers and their relatives and Rishis’ and finally his own own funeral rites) which symbolize the cutting of all relations with the world.
After the morning Homas and Chantings, those who were about to receive the Sannyasa Diksha participated in the sacred Viraja Homa, behind closed doorsAmma personally graced that private ceremony and bestowed the newly initiated monastics with their robes and new names–– an integral part of this ancient tradition. 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.
Initiation into Sannyasa is only given to those who have undergone decades of spiritual training under Amma, who have understood and are living her teachings, and who have gained profound knowledge of Vedanta and the other sagacious Indian philosophical systems.
Amma and the new Sannyasis then walked to the main hall where everyone was seated and welcomed them with a huge uproar of love and respect. Amma asked everyone to join in unified prayers and to participate in a special meditation for World peace. Each new Sannyasi was then introduced by Amma to the public, as she asked everyone to repeat loudly their new name three times…
Speaking on the occasion, Amma said, “Sannyas is a state of total renunciation, where one overcomes even the mind and the multitude of thoughts. But one doesn’t reach this state just by wearing robes. Each moment should become filled with alertness, love and faith as the sannyasin strives to reach that goal. We need to develop awareness in each and every word, every look, every thought and every action.” She also asked everyone to pray for the new sannyasins, adding that “while serving the world as a Sannyasi, everything should begin and end in compassion.”
The Sannyasins then walked around the crowds, begging for alms, signifying that they have become servants of the world and henceforth rely on God for everything.
After that, the other 200 male and female disciples were formally initiated into brahmacharya and accepted the yellow-coloured robes from Amma, while lovingly receiving their new name from her.
Following the traditions of the Puri order, the Sannyasis proceeded in a walk to the beach, to break the sticks that were given to them at the time of initiation and cast them into the sea. They then cooked the alms they had received and shared it with their newly initiated brahmachari brothers and sisters. Here are some highlights from this very auspicious occasion.
The ochre robes, symbolize the inner fire of self-sacrifice. The yellow robes indicate the beginning of that fire of renunciation. The male Sannyasins are given a new name that starts with ‘Swami’ and ends with ‘Ananda Puri’. The female Sannyasins are given new names that start with ‘Swamini’ and end with ‘Prana’. The male Brahmachari new names start with ‘Brahmachari’ and end with ‘Chaitanya’ and the female Brahmacharinis new names start with ‘Brahmacharini’ and also end with ‘Chaitanya’ (meaning “consciousness”).
The Mata Amritanandamayi Math belongs to the “Puri” order of the 10 monastic lineages established by Jagadguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya. Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri was the first sannyasin disciple of Amma, having received his initiation in 1989. Following him, dozens of other Indian and foreign disciples also received initiation.