Ashram Life

From Janani, Understanding Prakriti, Swami Prembhava Saraswati

Ashram life is centred around seva and karma yoga. Through karma yoga one is able to purify the mind and ego and pull oneself out of the selfish, self-centred awareness; to become aware of one's place within this world and the impact one has on it. Through karma yoga all aspects of one's personality are transformed from the tamasic to the sattwic state.

Karma yoga encourages people to go out into the garden, to sweep leaves and weed the flower beds burying hands deep in the soil. Through karma yoga one learns to mix and relate with people of all cultures, languages and beliefs. These interactions teach the vastness and variety of Mother Earth and all her people. There is respect and understanding for people of all walks of life, and the selfish individualistic attitudes begin to fade away.

The science of karma yoga has to be understood not as the yoga of action but as the yoga of rearranging the personality for the better; not as a method of submitting to somebody's will, but as a method of knowing the visible and invisible actions taking place within the personality.

—Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Jnana yoga

An important and essential aspect of ashram life is jnana yoga. Observation of one's reactions and interactions during daily seva and karma yoga is one aspect of jnana yoga. The ashram routine and allocated seva allow one to constantly observe oneself and find ways to improve. In ashram life, due to personal likes and dislikes situations arise that one normally does not face in daily life. However, in the ashram, rather than running away from the situation, one is encouraged to observe oneself, take responsibility for the part in the problem and improve it, instead of blaming others and expecting the world to change. This is an important training for harmony and balance in everyone's life.

Mouna, silence, from 6 pm to 6 am and during meal times, allows a time for people to observe themselves, observe their mind and its reactions. Mouna creates an environment of peace and tranquillity, a change from the constant chatter and noise pollution of the human species.

True jnana yoga is realizing how to apply the wisdom, how to use the understanding to create a better you and a better world in which there is harmony and union with the cosmic and the inner powers.

—Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati