YSS

The Yogoda Satsanga Monastic Order

A community of monastics dedicated to seeking God and serving the spiritual and humanitarian work of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

YSS_Monastics_Ranchi

Introduction

The way of complete renunciation is embraced joyously by those who want to see God, and naught else but God. He reveals Himself to those who live by the renunciant’s creed: ‘God is my life. God is my love. God is the temple that calls my heart to unceasing worship. God is my Goal. No duty can be performed without the power borrowed from God, so my highest duty is to find Him.’

— Paramahansa Yogananda

At the heart of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS) is a dedicated monastic order established by Paramahansa Yogananda.

The monastics of YSS serve the society’s spiritual and humanitarian work in many capacities in India and surrounding countries — from publishing the writings and recordings of Paramahansaji and his direct disciples, providing spiritual counsel, and conducting satsangas, retreats, and lecture tours, to maintaining the buildings, meditation gardens, and ashrams; overseeing the distribution of the YSS Lessons and books; and fulfilling many administrative, office, and other duties required for carrying on the work of a spiritual and charitable organization.

However, the principal calling of every Yogoda Satsanga monastic is to grow daily in pure love and longing for God — surrendering all lesser desires of the ego so that God becomes the all-consuming Reality of his existence, every moment, every day, until final liberation in Spirit is achieved.

Paramahansa Yoganandaji with Daya Mataji

Paramahansa Yogananda with Sri Daya Mata, one of the earliest of his disciples to take monastic vows. Soon after she entered the SRF Ashram in 1931, the Guru told her: “You are my nest egg. When you came, I knew that many other true devotees would be drawn to this path.”

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 desires in order to give themselves single-heartedly to that divine quest.

Following this centuries-old tradition, Yogoda Satsanga monastics embrace a fourfold vow of renunciation: simplicity, brahmacharya (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 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 renunciants 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. There are 10 subdivisions of the Swami Order, including the Giri (“mountain”) branch to which Swami Sri Yukteswar and Paramahansa Yogananda belong.

YSS monastics who take their final sannyas vows are members of the Swami Order.

Paramahansa Yogananda established the first SRF/YSS monastic community in the early 1930s with the arrival of Sri Daya Mata (1914–2010) and other dedicated disciples who wished to renounce worldly life and give their lives completely to God. After Paramahansaji’s passing in 1952, the monastic communities at SRF and YSS continued to grow under the leadership of the disciples who succeeded him as president and spiritual head of his society.

Sri Daya Mata played a key role during her long tenure, taking a very active interest in developing the renunciant training programme at the YSS/SRF ashram facilities in India, USA, and Europe. She was assisted in these efforts for many decades by Sri Mrinalini Mata (1931–2017), who served as vice president of SRF and succeeded Sri Daya Mata as president of YSS and SRF in 2011. In 2017 Sri Swami Chidananda Giri was named president and assumed the responsibility of guiding the monastic communities of YSS/SRF. These communities continue to thrive today, filled with hundreds of monastics who have felt called to devote their lives to seeking God and serving humanity.

Daily Life in the Ashram

As a monk, my life has been offered in unreserved service to God and to the spiritual awakening of hearts with His message….The organizational work that God and my Guru and Paramgurus have started through me is carried on by those who have dedicated their lives to the highest objectives of renunciation and love for God.

— Paramahansa Yogananda

Diverse Backgrounds United

The time-honoured ideal of the renunciant is to love God with all one’s heart; and to love one’s fellow beings, not only in abstract theory but in all the interactions of daily life — seeing in each person the image of God, and feeling for each one’s needs as we would for our own. “Once we were strangers,” said Paramahansaji, “but when we love God we become brothers and sisters.”

YSS monastics come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds — of diverse cultures, religious upbringings, educational development, and career experience. But what all monastics have in common is an ardent desire to live for God alone.

Through self-discipline, introspection, devoted meditation and a total giving of one’s self in loving service, the monastic seeks to experience the deeper joys of the soul and the supreme love that only God can give.

YSS Monastics Daily Life in the Ashram

Daily Life in the Ashram

YSS Monastics Daily life in Ashram

‘‘Life in the ashram has been simple and honest, and at the same time so greatly rewarding, with a real and enduring feeling of happiness, contentment, and a deep sense of security and nourishment for my innermost being.’’

— Monk in the ashram for nine years

The renunciant’s daily schedule may vary depending on the particular ashram and area of work to which he is assigned, but it always includes the basic elements Paramahansaji stressed for a balanced spiritual life: meditation and prayer, service, spiritual study and introspection, exercise and recreation, and time for solitude and silence.

Serving the Guru's Mission

YSS monastics serve the society’s spiritual and humanitarian work in many capacities:

  • Publishing (in all media) the writings and recordings of Paramahansaji and his direct disciples
  • Providing spiritual counsel
  • Conducting satsangas, retreats, and lecture tours
  • Guiding more than 200 kendras and mandalis in the Indian subcontinent
  • Maintaining YSS buildings, meditation gardens, and ashrams
  • Overseeing the distribution of the YSS Lessons, books, ebooks, and recordings
  • Performing the many administrative, office, and other functions required for carrying on the work of a spiritual and charitable organization
A YSS sannyasi providing Spiritual counsel to devotees

While modern methods are used in these diverse activities, the guiding principle is always to preserve the purity and spirit of the special dispensation that Paramahansa Yogananda was ordained to bring to the world by the YSS/SRF line of Gurus. The supreme calling of every YSS monastic is to grow daily in attunement with God, which makes it possible to serve with understanding and compassion toward all.

‘‘More and more I realize what a blessing it is to live, to serve, and to be free to seek God in my Guru’s ashrams, surrounded by sincere and dedicated souls.’’

— Monk in the ashram for seven years

The Four Stages of Monastic Life

Here I lay at Thy feet
My life, my limbs, my thoughts and speech.
For they are Thine; for they are Thine.

— Paramahansa Yogananda

There are four stages of monastic life in the YSS ashrams, representing a gradual deepening of one’s commitment to the renunciant life and monastic vows. These stages are not of any fixed length. Rather the spiritual growth of each monastic and the readiness of that renunciant to dedicate himself more fully to this life, are always considered on an individual basis.

Have You Heard the Divine Call?

The Monastic Vocation

Absorb thy mind in Me; become My devotee; resign all things to Me; bow down to Me. Thou art dear to Me, so in truth do I promise thee: Thou shalt attain Me! Forsaking all other dharmas (duties), remember Me alone!

— Paramahansa Yogananda

Does your heart feel drawn to a life devoted wholly to God and Guru, and to serving Their divine mission?

Have you yearned to be part of a community of God-seeking souls striving together to attain the ultimate Goal?

If so, you may want to consider renunciant life as an answer to that inner call.

General Requirements (individual consideration is given to each applicant’s circumstances and qualifications):

  • Single
  • In good physical and mental health
  • Free of family and other obligations
  • A student of the Yogoda Satsanga Lessons
  • Between the ages of 18 and 40
  • Able to understand and speak English well


Living in a YSS ashram offers a blessed opportunity for deepening your personal relationship with God while serving the humanitarian work of Paramahansa Yogananda in a spiritually supportive community.

Invitation to Contact Us

To learn more about the opportunity to live a life dedicated to self-improvement, meditation, and service to humanity in Paramahansa Yogananda’s ashrams, we invite you to contact us.

Sannyas: A Life of Dedication and Devotion to Monastic Ideals

YSS/SRF President Sri Sri Swami Chidananda Giri with new initiates into the Swami Order in the Smriti Mandir at the YSS Ranchi ashram in 2019
YSS/SRF President Sri Sri Swami Chidananda Giri with new initiates into the Swami Order in the Smriti Mandir at the YSS Ranchi ashram in 2019

More than one hundred years ago, in July 1915, Paramahansa Yogananda was initiated into India’s ancient swami monastic order when he received the vows of sannyas from his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, in Serampore, India. This event not only marked a turning point in the life of the twenty-two-year-old Mukunda Lal Ghosh — who at that moment became Swami Yogananda Giri — but presaged his influence on the awakening global spirituality of the 20th century and beyond, not least because of the monastic tradition he established as part of his lasting legacy.

The ancient Swami Order to which Paramahansa Yogananda belonged thrives today in Yogoda Satsanga Society of India monastic communities consisting of sannyasis from different parts of India. This monastic order sustains the growth of YSS and helps the wider dissemination of yoga in the Indian subcontinent.

Invitation

Single men, between the ages of 18 and 40, in good physical and mental health, free of family obligations, and who have a sincere desire to dedicate themselves to finding God and serving Him as a renunciant in the monastic communities are invited to contact Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, Ranchi, for further information.