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Chapter Thirteen
The Habit

One’s habit, in Western monastic terminology, signifies the garb of a monk or nun. A habit is a protection and a constant self-reminder of the way of life one has embraced. Paramhansa Yogananda, during his lifetime, was somewhat averse to the wearing of a monastic garb by his disciples. His message was for the world. He didn’t want to convey the message, therefore, that what he taught was only for the few. He did say, however, that it would become suitable in the future for his monastic disciples to indicate the special dedication of their spiritual calling by wearing suitable clothing.

I think it is time, now that his message has become widely known in the world, for monks and nuns — though perhaps cautiously at first — to wear that suitable habit.

Brahmacharis and brahmacharinis should dress in a golden yellow. I suggest that tyagis and tyaginis wear turquoise, and pilgrims, white. Since, however, those working in the world may find any habit inconvenient, I will leave to them the question of when, where, how, etc. Let them decide individually, or as a group.

Nayaswamis, as I said earlier, should wear a bright royal blue.

Pyjamas (the uncreased cotton slacks worn in India), and a kind of Indian kurta (Indian-style shirt) without buttons in the front, but buttoned or zipped up less visibly elsewhere, would be ideal. I personally am not in favor of the sari for women. Saris are too elegant, too feminine, and far removed from any true appearance of renunciation.

I am in the process of consulting people who are more expert in such matters than I. I therefore hesitate to say more on the subject until I have their input on this important issue.

As to when this garb should be worn, I would say that it depends on general custom and acceptability. Changes occur more naturally when they are introduced gradually. Ideally, however, the monastic garb should be worn wherever convenient, as a sign of a person’s sincere commitment, and as a personal protection from worldly influences.

More on this important subject, however, in the next chapter.


Chapter 14: The Widespread Need for Renunciation

Autobiography of a Yogi

A Renunciate Order for the New Age

Nayaswami Kriyananda

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