Swami (Sanskrit: स्वामी svāmī [sʋaːmiː]; sometimes abbreviated sw.) in Hinduism, is an honorific title given to a male or female ascetic who has chosen the path of renunciation (saṃnyāsa), or has been initiated into a religious monastic order of Vaishnavas. It is used both as a prefix or a suffix to the subject's name.
The meaning of the Sanskrit root of the word swami is "[he who is] one with his self" (swa stands for "self"), and can roughly be translated as "he/she who knows and is master of himself/herself". The term is often attributed to someone who has achieved mastery of a particular yogic system or demonstrated profound devotion (bhakti) to one or more Hindu gods. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology as:
Hindi svāmī 'master, lord, prince', used by Hindus as a term of respectful address, < Sanskrit svāmin in same senses, also the idol or temple of a god.
Perhaps the best-known representative of Hinduism in the West to bear this moniker was Swami Vivekananda, chief disciple of the Bengali saint and mystic Ramakrishna. As a direct form of address, or as a stand-in for a swami's name, it is often rendered Swamiji (also Swami-ji or Swami Ji).
Swami is also the surname of Bairagis in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan. In Bengali, the word (pronounced [ˈʃami]), while carrying its original meaning, also has the meaning of "husband" in another context. The word also means "husband" in Malay, in which it is spelled suami, and in Khmer, Assamese and Odiya. The Thai word for "husband", sami (สามี) or sawami (สวามี), and the Tagalog word for "spouse", asawa, are cognate words.
- Boeving, Nicholas Grant (2014). "Swamis". In Leeming, David A. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion (2nd ed.). Boston: Springer Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_673. ISBN 978-1-4614-6087-9.
- Brewer, E. Cobham (2009). Rockwood, Camilla (ed.). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. London: Chambers Harrap. "Swami" entry. ISBN 9780550104113. OL 2527037W..
- Yogananda, Paramhamsa (1997). Autobiography of a Yogi. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House. p. 14.[unreliable source?]
- "swami". Oxford English Dictionary (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Istilah Malaysia". Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Malaysia. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
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