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Swami Samayananda on Sanyas

December 17, 2009 by Swami Samayananda

SamayanandaJanet Gaston entered the sacred order of Sanyas on September 8th and emerged as Swami Samayananda. Samaya in Sanskrit means commitment or vow. The goddess Samaya is present in the Kundalini Mantras of the first and  second chakra, whose compassion, Swami Radha writes, ‘allows the aspirant to return and try again. This is Her most soothing service.’  Swami Samayananda shares her process of beginning her new life at the same time letting go of another.

•                      •                       •

On September 8, I stepped fully into a life of renunciation and was initiated as Swami Samayananda Saraswati. November 14, my Mother died. Initially I did not make a connection between these two, but at a certain point, they began weaving themselves together in my mind and practices.

Mom lived in California. We moved her there about 4 years ago so that she could be closer to my brothers. She had lived all of her life up to that point within the same small geographic radius in the Mid West. She didn’t know anyone on the west coast outside our family, so when she passed away there was not the usual funeral/memorial structure and service that had been so present for my father and sister. Instead, there was space and time simply to be with my feelings of grief, of letting go while at the same time connecting with her in gratitude.


Left to Right: Swami Sivananda, Swami Samayananda, Swami Radhananda, Swami Radhakrishnanda and Swami Lalitananda

Mantra and the Light have been my companions leading me through a deeply intimate and healing journey. They provided the steps, one after the other beginning with writing a long letter to Mom; listening to a recording of her play the church organ; composing her obituary and finally writing letters to her sisters and their families. Here at the Ashram, residents came together in the Temple and offered mantra and the Divine Light Invocation to support her journey. Each of these ‘suggestions’ slipped into my mind between the “Hari” and the “Om”, in the stillness that followed and while focused on the Light.

Another anchor for me in this time has been re-reading the manuscript for the new book by Swami Radha, On Sanyas: The Yoga of Renunciation. What does it mean to be a sanyasini and process all my feelings around my Mother’s death? In the new publication, Swami Radha says simply that, “Renunciation means attaining to non-attachment.” My very human feelings have ranged from deep sadness and a sense of loss to joy at Mom’s freedom from an ailing body and her journey into Light. When I watched my mind go and attach to memory and emotions especially of not having seen her much in the last few years, suddenly I was headed into a rather dark and heavy place – a place of ‘if only’ and ‘should or could I have?’  This second guessing of my choices held no clarity or genuine feeling.

“Renunciation will be necessary if you really love.” Mom and I had a very close relationship – always a deep underpinning of love even if understanding was not always apparent. Returning to this idea of love meant for me looking at the facts of this shared caring for each other and also the reality that “we are born alone and we die alone.” She lived a very full life, making choices that made sense to her. My choices have been quite different and it was as if in some way we spoke very different languages. Yet something was clearly communicated because she would often say, “Honey, you seem so happy.”

“As a sanyasi, you have to learn to be in your own company.” This process of physically losing my Mother has been a solo, inner journey: asking the practices to support me and knowing that they will; listening carefully for their direction and feeling awe at this call-response relationship that is so precious. This time has been a profound practice of surrender, in some ways like as small child holding my Mother’s hand again, fully trusting that she will take care of me.

Here is another excerpt from On Sanyas, The Yoga of Renunciation, by Swami Sivananda Radha


“Your Divine Committee goes to an enormous effort to create circumstance for your evolution.  And it is a mistake if you run against it. The path is not always obvious right way. It wasn’t obvious to me why I would come to Canada. But once I saw the Ashram property, the bay, the branches hanging into the water… It was just amazing.  Here was the same scene I had seen in my dreams since I was young. So it is up to us as individuals to see the divine plan, and to cooperate as much as possible.  You can make it very simple for yourself by asking the Divine, “Close the doors.” Then you will know that it is not the path. You can cooperate by accepting the open doors and renouncing your will to the Divine.”

Om Radha


  1. Thank you for this Swami Samayananda. How precious to share your process of connecting with your mother after her passing into the Light.
    Om, Om

    Comment by Joan Gamble — December 23, 2009 @ 8:50 am

  2. Much Light Swami Samayananda on your next steps!
    Sharon Haave

    Comment by Sharon Haave — December 23, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  3. Blessings Samayananda
    Around this time of year, I often come to a dark heavy place surrounding the death of my mother the sharing of your reflections has given new life to these arising preceptions, that they can be effectively used to awaken Light within, rather than be stuck sinking in a quicksand of darkness.
    Hari Om
    Doug Bauer

    Comment by Doug Bauer — December 23, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  4. Samayananda
    thank you for being a mirror where I can see myself at this present moment. By opening my heart to your words I receive now an important clue to overcome my obstacle at the present moment.
    Hari Om

    Comment by Jose Ivan — December 29, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  5. Swami Samayananda
    On December 2008 I decided to do the YDC course in 2010. My father was living with me, very dependent, and at that time I did not know how I could make it. On the next 18th of January my father passed away. Did I pushed him out with my decision? On reading your story I could see myself and find relive in your reflexions. Thank you.

    Comment by jovita Oliveira — January 1, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  6. Congratulations on taking the sannyasa initiation. The world needs your light. May the blessings of the Guru shine on you always.
    Hari Om
    New Zealand

    Comment by Sannyasi Vivekamurti Saraswati — January 12, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

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