Table of contents:
- Why do people go to ashrams
- Composition of pilgrims and karma yoga
- Types of Ashrams
- Classic Ashrams
- Ashrams for tourists
- How to get to the ashram
- Osho Ashram
- Sai Baba Ashram
- Aurobindo Ashram
- Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram
- Art of Living Foundation
- In closing
Many spiritual practitioners dream of visiting an ashram. What is it and why should you go here? What are the types of ashrams, what is their history? You will learn about all this by reading the article. We will also talk about the five main ashrams in India.
"Ashram" is a word that has several translations from Sanskrit. One of the most popular is "a place without pain" ("scar" means "pain" and "a" means "denial"). Indeed, the essence of these communes is getting rid of bad emotions, calming down. According to another version, this word in translation means "work". This is also true, because work is the basis of life in the commune. Another popular option is "hermitage", "solitude".
So, ashrams are meditation and yoga training centers, teaching and educational schools. Sannyasins, practitioners, people who are looking for answers to questions about enlightenment and the meaning of life gather here. For everyone, the Indian ashram is ready to open its doors. What it is can be better understood by studying the history of these communes.
Ashrams originally appeared around a guru - an enlightened teacher. Over time, the fame of such places began to spread, and pilgrims began to come here. The infrastructure of the camp was created by the students themselves: the extraction of water, cooking, construction - everything is on the shoulders of those who inhabit the ashram.
India is a country that is not without reason associated with spiritual development. They are interested not only in tourists, but also in local residents. In many Indian families, the tradition of sending children to the ashram has been preserved to this day. What it is, every child knows. Children are sent here for some time, at least for a couple of months. Here they learn to help others, to work, to improve spiritually.
The way to the ashrams for Americans and Europeans was paved by the Beatles, whose members in 1968 visited the guru Maharashi Mahesh Yogi. The popularity of travel has steadily increased since that time. 15,000 people visited Indian ashrams in 2005, and this number more than tripled last year. India ranked fifth in the world among tourist destinations.
Why do people go to ashrams
In the row of pilgrims during the period of economic instability, there were many businessmen. After earning enough money, they went to the ashram to work on themselves. Ashrams have become a real salvation during the global crisis. They took in many jobless and confused people from around the world. Housing and food here are practically free, so why not go here for compensation,received upon dismissal, in order to live some time in nature for the benefit of the soul and body? Of course, the main goal pursued by those who go to ashrams is spiritual development.
Composition of pilgrims and karma yoga
Ashrams are very heterogeneous in composition. Both international bohemia and ordinary students come here. Any ashram, however, is a place where you can engage in self-improvement and self-knowledge, completely renouncing worldly fuss. You can take care of animals, work in a greenhouse or in a garden. Some ashrams have schools where you can try yourself as a teacher. The socially useful work that is done here is called karma yoga.
Types of Ashrams
There are thousands of ashrams in India. They are both strictly classical, entirely dedicated to spiritual practices and yoga, and democratic, focused on tourists. Let's briefly talk about both of them.
Classic Indian ashrams are a great place for those who are seriously engaged in spiritual practices and yoga, and for whom it is very important to constantly be among like-minded people, communicate with gurus and meditate. As a rule, living conditions in such places are Spartan, one might even say ascetic. Bedrooms are arranged for 6-10 people, and you have to sleep on the floor on a mattress. Of course, in any hostel, even the most modest, there are always bathrooms and toilets. In some ashrams, those who choose to practice complete silence are given a special badge expressing their desirerenounce.
Ashrams for tourists
Ashrams are less strict and more comfortable for tourists. There are a lot of them, and the most famous ones are more like large cultural centers with hotels. For example, the Osho Center, known throughout the world, was founded as a classic ashram, but now it has the status of a meditation resort, where people flock from all over the world. There is a university, a library, internet halls, conference rooms and even non-alcoholic bars and discos. But even in such institutions there is always something that makes them ashrams: a famous guru. Several times a day, he appears in public to mingle with the pilgrims.
How to get to the ashram
Many classical ashrams in India can be visited without prior arrangement. Anyone who knocks on the gate will find a place in the commune. However, if you do not consider yourself a strict ascetic, it is better for you to call or write to the chosen institution in advance. Major ashrams have websites, and many others have phones.
If you decide to go to the commune to do yoga, remember that some centers require you to sign up for a course in advance. Courses are both advanced and introductory. By paying for classes, you automatically get a place in a hotel or hostel. Not all establishments have prices for services. However, that doesn't mean you don't have to pay for them. Usually you are asked to make a donation, the approximate amount of which you will get from the ashram resident who will accompany you on the first day. It is usually abouta small amount.
We invite you to get acquainted with the five main ashrams of India.
He is located in Pune (Maharashtra). This is a very popular Indian ashram (its photo is presented above). To get here, you need to pay a pass. It will cost you about $10 (550 rupees). For this money you will be able to participate in all the meditations of the day. A month of living in the ashram with expenses for housing, food, training courses and purchases will cost you between $600 and $2,000.
This place is a real Mecca for followers of the teachings of Osho (Bhagwan Rajneesh) and esoteric practices. Anyone can sign up for one or more courses - from yoga and meditation to the development of sexual techniques. To gain access to the ashram, you must have a medical certificate with you confirming that you do not have AIDS.
Currently, the Karegaon Park area where this commune is located is no longer the sparsely populated green area that it was as recently as several decades ago. Bank offices, expensive hotels and various businesses are rapidly springing up around the ashram. That is why prices are so high in this area. If solitude is your main goal, then the Osho Ashram may disappoint you. A lot of tourists come here. In addition, more than 10 million people live in Pune today. It has long been a major industrial center. However, many people who are interested in the teachings of Osho come to the ashram and stay here for a long time. In the community you can meetinteresting people, meet gurus, participate in various practices. Of course, the followers of Osho should visit this ashram. Reviews about him are the most positive.
Sai Baba Ashram
It is located in the state of Andhra Pradesh (in Puttaparthi). A hotel-type room, designed to accommodate 2-4 people, can be rented here for $ 2 per day. The Sai Baba Ashram is the most popular among foreigners. Many people come here hoping to see the miracles that the guru supposedly performs. Ashram of Sai Baba is actively engaged in charitable activities. You can come here for a maximum of 60 days.
This commune is located in the state of Tamil Nadu (Pondicherry). Accommodation here will cost you from 2 to 12 dollars per day. According to the founder's intention, this ashram is a real spiritual city. Currently, about 2 thousand people live in it. The ashram does not have any separate practice or program for visitors. The rules that apply to everyone are the search for harmony and freedom of religion. The main attraction of the ashram is the Matrimandir. This is a huge sphere that houses a meditation hall.
Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram
In the state of Tamil Nadu (Madras) there is another interesting ashram. Accommodation is by arrangement. The ashram provides lessons in pranayama, asanas, Vedic hymns, as well as individual consultations. Also here you can getinstructions on the philosophy of yoga, meditation and yoga therapy. The ashram does not accept visitors who have not warned about their visit.
Art of Living Foundation
It is located in the state of Karnataka (Bangalore). Living here will cost you between $4 and $12 per day. Tuition must be paid separately. The introductory course costs $10 (2 evenings and 1 day), for $20 you can take the advanced course. The founder of this ashram is Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The commune is actively involved in charitable activities, teaching meditation and yoga. In the ashram, you can learn the system of releasing toxins and saturating the body with oxygen, as well as taking Sudarshana-kriya courses.
Every person interested in spiritual development, of course, should visit the ashram. What is it, you now know. Ashrams in India are diverse and numerous, so everyone will find a place to their liking.
By the way, there are such communes not only in India. You can also visit ashrams in Russia. There are not many of them, but some are worthy of attention. One of the most famous is the Omkar Shiva Dham Ashram. It is located in the Omsk region (the village of Okunevo, Muromtsevsky district).