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For other uses, see Swami (disambiguation).

A swami (Sanskrit: स्वामी svāmī [sʋaːmiː]), sometimes abbreviated “sw.”, is an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into the religious monastic order, founded by some religious teacher.[1] It is believed to be originally used for the ones who were initiated into to the Advaita Vedanta movement, started by Adi Shankara.[2][not in citation given] The usage of this word is not just for a yogi but also used for a religious guru, with or without disciples.

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.[3]

In Bengali, the word (pronounced [ˈʃami]), while carrying its original meaning, has a dual meaning of "husband". The word also means " husband" in Malay, where it is spelled "Suami".[4]

Swami also means husband in Khmer and Odiya.


  1. ^ Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. London: Chambers Harrap, 2009. s.v. "Swami," OL 2527037W.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Religion, page 958.
  3. ^ "swami, n.". OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. (accessed August 31, 2011).
  4. ^ "Istilah Malaysia". Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Malaysia. Retrieved 31 May 2013.