Children's Experiences of Ashram

Below is a selection of experiences written by the children themselves during the Gurukul Shiksha Course held at Ganga Darshan in May 1983. These impressions are not only interesting, but provide an insight into ashram life.

Harshwardhan, aged 12 Bhagalpur (Bihar)

Ashram life is not just a life to train people how to live in hardships and to face all the difficulties that come to them, but it is also to give them good habits.

Just now I am in the ashram. We have to wash our own clothes and eating utensils. We have to clean our room and be ready for the classes on time. All this, in my opinion, will leave a very good impression on our minds with which we will grow up to be respected men, and we will be noble! All these qualities come from facing the hardships in life.

I hope that people will understand that it will mean a lot for both them and their children if they stay in the ashram. All my good wishes to those who are new in the ashram and also to those who will be coming in the future.

A. U. Shricharan, aged 17 Bombay

How holy a place our ashram is! This is the first time I have stayed in an ashram. I now realise how fortunate I am to have this opportunity. When I arrived here, I was excited to know what the program would be. The same evening I got tea without milk. I loved it so much that every time there was tea, I would drink not less than three glasses.

Throughout the day, from morning to night, we have a beautiful timetable. Even though we are always busy, I never feel tired or bored. The first day or two the food was not to my taste, but then I persuaded myself to take it by thinking it to be an experience. In a way, this helped me to adjust myself and to accept whatever I get. Of course, I like all the activities during the day, but what I personally like best is the afternoon satsang and the evening kirtans.

I never have anything against the swamis. I feel as if I am at home, and so the thought of my home never makes me feel sad. All the swamis are so friendly and playful that our respect for them has increased. During my stay I have made many friends from almost all parts of the country. If I ever get an opportunity to come and stay in the ashram again, I will do so without hesitation.

Sanjivan K. Dhumal, aged 11 Bombay

The swamis have taught us such asanas as will definitely keep our minds steady, calm and comfortable. They are most useful for concentration and meditation. I think by daily practice of asanas, my mind will become strong and able to endure pain.

The playing time is also good. It is for two hours altogether, which gives physical exercise and the ability to learn and teach new games. The best time is from 12 to 2 p.m. when the swamis tell us stories. At least I get some good morals through it. I will surely make use of them in my future. In satsang, I think nobody gets bored. The time passes too swiftly as it includes stories, jokes, kirtans, sloka chanting, etc. We can also do karma yoga, which is very good for the body and mind.

S. S. Anuradha, aged 11 Visakhapatnam (A.P.)

Yoga is very important, not only for big people, but also for the children. It purifies our body and keeps it healthy. By doing yoga we become strong, thin and tall. The life of the swamis is very simple. If they have any sickness, it can be cured. They work in the ashram and give lessons to the people who come to learn. The swamis treat all the children as one. They look after us very nicely.

In the ashram we have to bathe outside with Ganga water. The food is very simple and good for the health. It has little salt and no chilli powder. At first we found it very difficult to eat, but afterwards we got used to it and felt like eating more and more!

By coming here I experienced some improvement in my health. By doing yoga, all kinds of diseases can be cured- that I believe. So I do yoga ever more, and by doing this, I find myself relaxed.

There are many yogas such as karma yoga, hatha yoga, yoga nidra, and others. We should try to practise these and become perfect in body and mind.

Seema Bhandarey, aged 14 Thane (M.S.)

Bihar School of Yoga was founded in 1964 by Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Munger, Bihar. From far away people came to this ashram for treatment, learning asanas and pranayama, and for Swamiji's darshan. Some people have lots of tensions and, to release these tensions, they come to this place.

This year they have started a new Gurukul Shiksha Course for children between the ages of 7-14. By staying here for one month, we can throw away oar bad points and make use of the good ones. We can learn asana and pranayama, not only that, but also discipline and self-dependence. We can learn so many kirtans and different things from our friends and other people we did not know. We learn to co-operate with each other. And we get the habit of waking up early in the morning and doing some asanas, pranayama and meditation. We play in time, eat in time and do a little karma yoga, which is very good.

I was not in the habit of taking bath outside in cool Ganga water and drinking tea without milk. But now I realise that it is very good for my health and enjoy doing this. I realise that all the things in life cannot happen as I want. I have to bear some difficulties, then only will I get happiness.

I was really pleased to see my anger, which was so strong, coming down. I also used to have headache and that too has gone. I enjoy living in the ashram very much and think there is no other place where we can learn such good things. When we return home, surely there will be lots of change in us.

Yogita, aged 11 Dhanbad

Yoga is very important.

At the age of eight I was only about three and a half feet tall. So I was too short for my age. Some of my friends used to tease me. So I began to do tadasana. After eight or nine months I improved a lot and I was four feet. From short I became tall. This was the improvement I had.