Kula means family, and when the word guru is added, gurukul means family of the guru. An ashram is known as a gurukul. It is a place where people who share the same vision, the same lifestyle, who follow the same discipline, live a life as per the mandate of the teacher. This is necessary because in a gurukul you receive a different kind of education.
The modern concept of education is feeding the intellect with information, which may or may not be useful. When we simply cram our intellect with information: history, science, the arts and so on, then only one aspect of our personality is stimulated. In a gurukul you don't cram the intellect with information, rather you try to experience what you know, you try to harmonize and discipline the inner personality. The harmonization of the inner personality and development of personal discipline is a by-product of living in, and becoming part of that disciplined environment.
When you become part of the environment you also experience a different type of energy internally. That energy which you experience awakens the dormant dimensions of your mind. You begin to see not just with your intellect but with your heart. You begin to experience not just with your heart but with your psychic personality. You begin to perceive not just through the senses but through intuitive perceptions.
Therefore, a gurukul is a place where people, for a period of time, create an environment, share the vision, and live with discipline under the direction and the mandate of the guru, which is specifically made to help one evolve or grow spiritually and mentally.
Ganga Darshan is a gurukul. It is not just an ashram, or a university. This is a very important point for students to understand. Do not behave like you would in a university anywhere else in the world. The moment you begin to do that you should know that you have failed. In a gurukul you have to live for some time by changing your pattern of thought, by changing your lifestyle and by being open and receptive.
Think of this as an extended family. Not a family that is just confined to brothers and sisters, father and mother, but many unknown people, who have come together in the gurukul, should become part of your family for the duration of your stay. You should feel for them, you should care for them, you should have a sense of affinity and closeness with them. Then you will realize the validity of the teachings of an ashram and when you return home, you will carry a special memory which you will retain till the end of your days.
Ganga Darshan August 1998