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Swami (Sanskrit: स्वामी svāmī [sʋaːmiː]; sometimes abbreviated sw.) in Hinduism, is an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into a religious monastic order.[1] Swami (Bairagi) also refers to a caste of Hindus. 'Swami' is used as a title in the name of Bairagi caste people of Bakkarwala (located in Delhi) and other parts of India. The meaning of the Sanskrit root of the word is "[he who is] one with his self" (swa stands for "self").[2] The term is applied to religious gurus as well as yogis, with or without disciples. The term is also used in Advaita Vedanta.[citation needed] 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).

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology as:[3]

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.

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,[4] and in Khmer and Odiya. The Thai word for "husband", sami (สามี), like the Tagalog word for "spouse", asawa, are also cognates of the word. It is also used for landlords or zamindars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brewer, E. Cobham (2009). Rockwood, Camilla (ed.). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. London: Chambers Harrap. "Swami" entry. ISBN 9780550104113. OL 2527037W..
  2. ^ Yogananda, Paramhamsa (1997). Autobiography of a Yogi. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House. p. 14.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^ "swami". Oxford English Dictionary (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  4. ^ "Istilah Malaysia". Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Malaysia. Retrieved 31 May 2013.