In sarana-gamana, the refuges are:
- Buddha – The nature of what Buddha represents varies, but generally refers to a respected
teacher and role model, as well as the ancient sage, Gautama Buddha.
- Dharma – Likewise, dharma
has multiple meanings, but in the context of Buddhism, refers to
nirvana, or the ultimate state of happiness. Dharma is the right way to
act, knowledge and virtues – anything that paves the way to
- Sangha – This refers to a
group or community of people who have attained insight and have
reached or come close to nirvana.
Once the yogi makes the commitment or
establishes sarana-gamana by reciting a pledge in front of a holy
person, a Buddha image or a holy place, sarana-gamana remains in
place. Only conversion to another belief system or renouncing the
pledge will remove it.
Sarana-gamana has similarities to the
eight-fold path of yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras. According to the texts, the
ultimate goal is a state of enlightenment and unification with the
yogi's highest nature, analogous to nirvana.