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Uniqueness of our Ashram - small and without Religion or Guru - 6 Feb 12

06 Feb 2012  Vrindavan, India

Category: Ashram

Participants relaxing in the Ashram Garden

Participants relaxing in the Ashram Garden

At the moment the Ayurveda yoga Holiday is going on at the Ashram and the participants are visibly enjoying it very much. They have daily massages and yoga classes, they had their checkup with the Ayurvedic doctor and they eat healthy and delicious food that suits their body type. They relax in the sun and enjoy watching the children play. When I talked to one of the participants, she told me that she liked our Ashram very much because it is small and personal.

She continued that she loved exactly this about the Ashram. She had experienced other Ashrams, big ones which are like cities on their own, where hundreds or thousands of people live and there are hundreds of rooms. They have a big place for classes at which hundreds of people take part at the same time.

We don’t have huge grounds and big halls. We have a small Ashram. We don’t have hundreds of employees and Ashram members. We have a small family and our employees have become part of this family. We don’t have thousands of people staying with us at the same time. We have small groups. We even have a small school of which we know every child personally. And we love it.

You know, we cannot accommodate more than twenty people. For us, this is great because we can get to know everybody who stays here personally. In retreats, we can give personal attention to every participant and people feel welcome in our family because we all simply live together here. We eat together and we sit around the fire together in the evenings.

When people ask me if we would like to extend and make our Ashram bigger, we say no. We want to keep it small and personal. If we made it a huge place, it would not be possible to welcome people like this in our family because it would just be too many of them.

The fact that we only have space for twenty people also means that we are often booked out and have to tell people to come another time. It has happened many times that people then ask us if we could recommend any other Ashram which is like ours. An Ashram where they are free of any religion. It is usual in Ashrams in India that they are religious and that you are expected to take part in their ceremonies and rituals. They often have many rules to follow and a certain dress code. Women have to cover their heads and shoulders, there are places where only the higher Ashram members are allowed to go to and their Guru can be seen by everyone maybe once a day.

In our Ashram you are free to simply be yourself. You don’t need to wear anything specific, you are allowed to lie in the garden in the sun whenever you want, there are no activities that you have to participate in and we all are here around you to talk to. When people approach us, we let them know about who we are so that they are not disappointed and we are not disappointed. In the past I wrote about types of people who are welcome and types of people who are not welcome at the Ashram. After reading those pages, only those people will actually come here who like our ideas and philosophy.

When we are full however, we unfortunately have to tell people that we don’t know any other place like ours. Even in Vrindavan, a town full of Ashrams, where all our neighbours are Ashrams, there is no such place. I have travelled a lot, have seen a lot and know many Ashrams. Also if you go further north, to Haridwar and Rishikesh or if you go to South India, there are many big Ashrams but I don’t know of any that is free of religion and does not have a guru. It may be that they are more open towards other religions but usually it is a religious environment. Those where mainstream religion does not seem to play a role mostly belong to a guru or master who has founded his own sect – so they follow their own rituals, too.

We thus have big difficulties recommending any other place when someone asks us for an Ashram that is similar to ours. We hope that someday there will be more possibilities in future for people who don’t want to stay in a hotel and who don’t want to follow any religion or guru. They want to stay in India and experience this culture and I hope that there will be more places where they can do this freely and with love.

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Tags:: Ashram, Guru, Religion, Freedom

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Posted By Swami Balendu

Swami Balendu

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Comments

That's why i loved being at your Ashram! Sleeping until shortly before lunch and not having to worry about orange-robed Ashramites knocking at my door at four in the morning - expecting me to be up and showered for the morning service! NO, just a nice guy having a tea ready in the kitchen...

Reply By Sylvia on February 08, 2012 01:37


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