Friday, July 30, 2010

The Ashram

In India I live at my guru’s ashram, the Yoga-Vedanta Kutir, in the holy city of Prayag (Allahabad). The ashram was founded by the Great Yogi His Holiness Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati (1904-1997) who lived there continuously for the last 65 years of his long life, practicing his austerities and sharing his realizations with his disciples. Upon Guruji’s passing, his physical body was buried in lotus posture in the ashram and a life-size statue in his likeness was consecrated on the spot. This samadhi (consecrated tomb) is now the spiritual heart of the ashram. The ashram is now run by Guruji’s dear servant and disciple Swami Omananda Saraswati.

Swami Omananda manages the ashram as a loving service to his master, training his own disciples in the practices of yoga and dharmic living.

Sadhana (spiritual practice)

The ashram’s emphasis is on the sublime spiritual philosophy of Vedanta and the daily practice of yogic asanas(postures), kriyas (purification),pranayama (breath control), japa(mantra), meditation and puja (ritual worship). Devotees come daily from the surrounding cities for instructions in yoga and guidance in spiritual life.

"Yogic exercise is the king of all systems of physical culture. The practice of yogic asanas keeps the weight of the body moderate and its structure normal. They give the practitioner an elastic spine and supple body. By yogic exercise blood circulates throughout the whole body and one’s vital energy is preserved and increased. The daily practice of asanas helps one lead an energetic life with a youthful mind and eradicated laziness and lethargy—the great enemies of discipline." ~ Swami Vishnudevananda

"Practice is the only means to success. Practice makes man perfect. Do not change the method or object of meditation until success is achieved. If you do you will sustain a loss of energy and lose the ground that you have developed through so many days of culture. Do not slacken your practice until you attain Self-knowledge. Be sincere in your practice. You will eventually succeed. He realizes quickest whose yearning and meditation are the greatest." ~ Swami Vishnudevananda

The Sangam

The ashram is located near the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the holy Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. The Prayag Sangam is mentioned in ancient scriptures as Tirtharaja, the king of all holy places. Every twelve years it is the location of the largest human gathering in the world known as the Kumbha Mela, as well as smaller yearly gatherings during the Hindu month of Magh (Magh-Mela). At these auspicious occasions millions of sadhus, yogis, and devotees come to this spot to bath in the purifying waters of the sacred rivers.

The Children of Yoga-Vedanta Kutir

The ashram also supports many poor boys, taking full responsibility for their food, lodging and traditional Sanskrit education. The ashram has a computer room where each child learns on his own computer, preparing them to thrive in the modern age.  At present there are around ten boys, growing up in an atmosphere of love and discipline. This year a sister ashram is being opened across the Ganga for the training and care of poor girls, run by Guru Mata Shraddhananda Saraswati, a senior disciple of Swami Omananda.


Hari Om Tat Sat

“Desire God alone. God-realization is your goal. Do not forget your goal for even a moment.” ~Swami Vishnudevananda


  1. Hi Trevor. Blessings to you guys, I heard about how your van got broken into again; my prayers are with you all and your friends in India... Just remember there's always someone who's got it worse, if that comforts you at all. Also I just want to let you know that every song you sing or piece of poetry you say speaks to me in a different way. I don't know how you manage to do it, but I love it. Please keep doing what you do.
    -lexi :)