Education and Ashram Life

Swami Paramananda Saraswati, a teenage sannyasin of BSY

In my early years at school my classmates and I used to listen to our teachers with great interest and respect. But as we grew older and more mature, this relationship grew steadily worse until we found that we didn't like our teachers any more and preferred to spend our time outside in more pleasurable pursuits. Although my school had some of the best trained teachers by society's standards, still they were unable to handle us. The situation became so intolerable that I began to think about the purpose of my life and came to the conclusion that it was totally pointless. I wanted something more than a high salary to live for.

Luckily for me, swamis from India visited my family several times, and to my surprise I found their lifestyle more interesting than mine. They had a purpose. Then I began to study the lives of great saints and swamis, and was go impressed with their spiritual work in the world that I decided to come to BSY where I now live. Educators of today think only of intellectual development whereas ashram life emphasises self-discipline and responsibilities through karma yoga (work with awareness). In the ashram you form our ideas and habits from the guru rather than from teachers whom we no longer respect. What could be better than learning to think and act in the way of a realized master? Here we live a pure life and thus are able to practice the different yogic technique which lead to an awakening of kundalini. This is usually quite impossible to do while living amidst modern society.

When kundalini awakens and rises to manipura chakra, the aspirant can become a great poet or orator, an inspired artist, etc. Such geniuses as Einstein had awakened this chakra, and thus were able to discover and accomplish extraordinary things beyond the ken of most people. When kundalini reaches anahata, one becomes master of all knowledge without reading. For example, a young Indian girl, Saroj Bala, started giving lectures in front of thousands of people when she was only four years old. She used to speak on all the scriptures with such accuracy that even the greatest scholars and pundits were amazed at her knowledge. It seemed as if all the books were open before her.

One in a million is born with an awakened kundalini. But through correct training and education, this latent force can be aroused if we have sufficient determination and are fortunate enough to live in the right atmosphere. Ashram life accelerates this evolutionary process in children, a point of which most modes schools are totally ignorant. While a partial kundalini awakening can easily make one great, when kundalini awakens fully, enlightenment of union with supreme consciousness is attained.

But, Ashram life is not so easy or acceptable for most people, sannyasins included. Those who come here usually feel that the ashram is definitely the right place for their spiritual growth. However, as soon as their old desires for sensual pleasures are ignored, they become very uncomfortable here and end up leaving with a distressed body and mind.

In my opinion ashram life imparts the best education to both children and adults. Those who want real knowledge can come here, but they must be prepared to face many difficulties and crises, for these are part of true education.