Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Sarana-Gamana Mean?

Sarana-gamana means “going for refuge” and refers to the commitment to the path of enlightenment in Indian religions and yoga, but is most often associated with Buddhism. The term derives from Sanskrit and the related language of Pali. Sarana translates as “residence” or “shelter,” while gamana translates as “going” or “moving.”

Specifically, sarana-gamana is the recognition of the “Three Refuges” or “Three Jewels” as a way to eliminate suffering and bring happiness and spiritual prosperity.


Yogapedia Explains Sarana-Gamana

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 nirvana.
  • 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.

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