If you have the idea of I want to live in an ashram, you should first of all get some informations about what is an ashram and what you can expect there. What are the requirements to live in an ahram? What is important to know in the apron before visiting an ashram? Here are some informations that should make the decision easier.
Important notice: Kindly acknowledge that our jahnavi Kunja Ashram in Mayapur is not able to receive any guest for free of cost. We are hard working people and we are not running any business. We maintain our ashram from generous contributions of our visitors.
If you are considering to live in our ashram in West Bengal, you might like our article on Mayapur: Stay in Mayapur
An ashram is a monastery-like meditation center, a spiritual hermitage. It is a place where people live together to share a contemplative life of meditation and dedication to a higher, spiritual aim. An ashram is under the guidance of a spiritual master or teacher of a certain spiriual direction.
The meaning of ashram is originated from Sanskrit. The word ashram comes from the Sanskrit root srama and means „to toil“. Asram in English means „not to toil“. Thus in an ashram no one has to slave away or struggle hard like in the material world for earning money.
Yet there is work to do and the daily life is structured and requires a certain discipline. The work in an ashram can be helping in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, organizing meetings and festivals, garden work and so on.
There are rules and regulations that everybody, who wants to live in an ashram, has to respect. The basic condition for staying at an ashram ist o be ready for it. Ashram life style means participating in the life of the ashram.
Very important condition for staying in ashram is that no any kind of intoxication is allowed in an ashram. This means any visitor must stay away from drugs of any kind, like ganja, alcohol or cigarets. This helps to keep a clear mind for meditation and prayer.
Also cleanliness is important, visitors should take a daily shower or wash themselves daily and wear clean clothes.
Furtermore it is necessary to be eager to participate in the daily programs of the ashram called Sadhana. Sadhana describes a spiritual discipline that one undergoes to attain a spiritous goal like meditation, Mantra singing or prayer.
If you say I want to live in an ashram, make sure that is really what you want! Get all information about the ashram you are going to visit, about the rules there, the expectations towards visitors, the cost and so on.
You should know about the contents of the ashram. For exemple, what kind of meditation or yoga form is practised there, or who is leading the ashram. If you feel an inner coherence, something that calls you, then you should not hesitate to visit the ashram.
Unless you try it, you will never know if you like it or not. Personal experiences about the life in an ashram is much more worth than thousand descriptions.
As mentioned above the daily life in an ashram is structured and regulated. Caracteristic for ashrams is the waking up early. In some ashrams the temple program starts at 5 a.m. or even 4.30 a.m.
Of course nobody is going to punish anyone if one time you have to sleep longer, but generally especially the morning programs and the evening programs are giving the structure for the start and the end of a day in the ashram comunity.
It is important to know that ashrams serve strictly vegetarian food and non vegetarian food is not allowed to bring with you.
Some ashrams are gender mixed. Some are only for ladies, some are only for males. The sleeping rooms however are always strictly separated. The residents of an ashram live abstemious and keep the atmosphere of a monastery.
Living in an ashram in India is a big dream of many people. As mentioned above, every ashram, especially in India, demands a vegetarian diet. In the Bhakti tradition the food is cooked with love and devotion and than offered to the residing Deity, the Godhead of the specific ashram. It is then served as prasad, which means mercy of God. So even eating becomes a meditation, that one does with care and attention.
In most ashrams it should be possible to get a vegan diet, but the ashrams in India serve milk as well. Due to the Indian tradition of considering the cow holy, there are a lot of cow goshalas, protective shelters, where cows are treaten well and will not be slaughtered.
Important to mention, if you want to live in an ashram in India, is that the comfort is different than at home. For exemple the toilets and showers can be outside the room and shared with other inhabitants. Some showers may have no warm water. Some days the electricity doesn’t work. This requires patience and can be a real renunciation.
If after considering seriously about all the above informations you still think you want to live in an ashram, then do not hesitate to choose the right ashram for you. To visit an ashram and to live there for some time can be a very valuable and enriching experience for your whole life. Good luck and lots of inspiration!