Svaroopavidya Vowed Order
Commitment to Self-Realization
If you are called to deepen your commitment to your own Self-Realization, you may want to consider taking a yogic vow within the ancient order of Saraswati monks.
Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram makes five levels of commitment available, depending on your interest and readiness. These levels reflect the organic process of upliftment, specifically as it unfolds within a Shaktipat tradition. They are designed to support your spiritual development while you continue living a Western lifestyle.
No vows are required for anyone. Once you have received Shaktipat, your spiritual development continues whether you take vows or not. Shaktipat guarantees continued inner revelations, whether you do the recommended practices or not. The Divine Gift you have received, the gift of your own Self arising within you, will benefit you for your whole life, and even unto future lifetimes if you do not become enlightened in this life.
Most vowed communities, within yoga as well as other traditions and religions, offer multiple levels of vows. Dominican nuns begin with a trial period where the aspirant does not take vows, but tries out the lifestyle. Moving through four more stages takes at least six years. Trappists have six stages, taking about eight years. Some Buddhist traditions have three levels taking four years to complete, while others have many more levels, extending over a decade or more.
Similarly, moving through our levels guarantees your spiritual progress, while getting support and guidance in a structured manner. Your participation within the community of similarly committed yogis further enhances your experience.
Each level requires that you submit an application and gain Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s approval before beginning your preparatory studies and practices, as well as Gurudevi’s final approval before taking your vow. At each level, you increase your commitment and support for SVA, while you enjoy receiving more Ashram benefits as well as additional opportunities for your studies.
Levels of Commitment
Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram offers five levels of commitment, ways to deepen your practice under Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s guidance. You may continue to live where you are, as well as continuing your current work and relationships, though you may want a period of residency in the Ashram.
Brief descriptions are listed below:
Shishya means “disciple,” so it begins with you accepting Gurudevi Nirmalananda as your spiritual teacher or as an important teacher for you. Shishya level is available to you now, with no vows involved. You may stay at this level for the rest of your life or for as long as it serves you.
After 6 or more months as a Shishya, you may apply to become a sadhaka (one who practices). This level does not involve a vow; instead you are making a commitment to doing daily practice of both yoga and meditation, wearing light colored clothing and offering monthly Ashram dakshina (donations). You may stay at this level for the rest of your life or for as long as it serves you. Click for more details on this level.
After 6-12 months as a Sadhaka, you may apply to become a vratin (one who is vowed). Preparation includes taking our Vows Preparation Course and getting Gurudevi’s approval for vows. You vow to meditate daily and to practice the yamas and niyamas, which are studied in the preparation course. You also include Ashram seva and dakshina in your practices. You begin to wear white by including it in your wardrobe every day, while excluding black and leather from your clothing. You may stay at this level for the rest of your life or for as long as it serves you. Click for more details on this level.
Having completed one year or more as a vratin, you may be interested in taking the classic yogic vow of brahmacharya (celibacy). Special rules apply for married couples. As a brahmachari, you wear yellow and continue to meditate daily as well as practice the yamas and niyamas. The level of your dakshina and seva increase commensurate with your new level of commitment. You may stay at this level for the rest of your life or for as long as it serves you. Click for more details on this level.
Additional studies, seva and personal practice prepare you to become a swami, taking the classical, permanent, lifetime vows of renunciation. You become a member of the ancient Saraswati order. This is available only to unmarried, independent yogis or to married couples where both are becoming swamis. You wear orange, while still providing for your own financial needs and dedicating your life to service. Click for more details on this level.
The inner calling is the highest form of Grace, your own Self calling you to look for your own Self.