Three years ago Sushri Ananda made a decision that would forever be in the history books for Trinidad and Tobago. This was when she became the youngest person to be initiated as a Swami (a Hindu religious teacher) right here in Trinidad. The initiation was done by two holy men of India. With her initiation, Sushri got a new name – Sadhvi Anandamaiyee Giriji, which means the embodiment of blissfulness and one who is always trying to go upwards. Usually, becoming a Swami means an immense amount of control over the mind. As a Swami, the young woman has to remove ego, lust, anger, attachment, desire through mental strength, equilibrium and tolerance. Instead, she must maintain equilibrium, stability, inner peace, keeps compassion in the face of any odds and rejects affection, appreciation, recognition, praise and admiration.
As we join the Hindu community in celebrating the religious festival of Divali, the WE Mag team took some time to get to know a bit more about the young, female Swami and her decision to choose the life which she now leads. Here’s what she had to share with us:
Why did you make the decision to become a Swami?
Sannyas (complete renunciation) required intensive spiritual practices and in-depth study. This material world is full of so many complications. The daily pleasures and comforts of life never held any attraction to me. Further inspired by the life of my father, mentor and teacher Swami Brahma Swarupananda, in his life as a Swami and nurtured by him from the tender age of three, I always felt that there was a higher purpose to this human birth that went beyond the realms of physical and material comforts. There was always a burning fire and deep hunger in the depth of my being to find the real purpose of existence. Sannyas is the best way for inner peace, silence, happiness and contentment. Taking vows to become a Swami was not a decision but it was an evolution from one stage of life to the next for complete dedication for a higher purpose, in service to humanity towards divinity.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome and how did you deal with it?
Challenges are part of the ebb and flow of life but I look at challenges as opportunities, an avenue of learning and stepping forward. If there are no challenges, there is no scope for growth and development with maturity and the opportunity to develop into a balanced and integrated personality. “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky.”― Rabindranath Tagore.
Personal challenges are not too worrying to me but I’m gravely concerned about our social and national challenges. Society is so fragmented, stressed and struggling. I love our country, and hope that solidification would come in this society and nation and at all spheres, we would be amongst the top in the world. There is a great need to lift in
How did it feel having to shave your head, what did that represent for you?
Shaving my head was indeed a very emotional moment for me. It represented the spirit of renunciation and complete detachment. Indeed, I shed tears when I felt the first movement of the razor on my head not due to sadness or fear but I felt the heralding of a new birth and at last the burning agony of the heart was satiated with restful peace as the flowing river merges into the source of the ocean. It is part of the tradition when initiated into the path of Sannyas to clean your head and to take new, orange clothes which symbolises a lifestyle committed towards gaining self-knowledge. Orange represents the fire of selfless service, dispassion, renunciation and dedication.
Tell us something about you that people may not know?
Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Guru of Swami Vivekananda is my spiritual ideal. I find peace in planting and nurturing flowers and trees and my favourite place to meditate is when travelling alone on a long haul flight soaring in the sky.
What are you most grateful for?
The fact that I grew up in difficult situations in life. Childhood was not easy but in the midst of all of these (situations) I got courage, strength, inner confidence and developed compassion, understanding and value to help others to share, accommodate, adjust and tolerate; higher appreciation and value for life. Due to life’s strong roots there are many fruits. I am most grateful that I took birth in this country, this nation and at the early age of three, I found my guide and master.
Do you have any words to share with other women who may want to follow in your light?
I encourage women who want to give their lives in full service to society, humanity and divinity. The path as a sannyasin is a lifestyle, a philosophy, a mentality, a behaviour. The path is not easy. It requires control of sense organs and complete detachment from the material world. The mission and vision should be very clear and carried out with passion towards total human development for a better world order. Let us be ready to be bearers of ‘Plus Values’ wherever we go with the watchwords of Truth, Humility and Dignity.
watchwords of Truth, Humility and Dignity.