There are many thousands of ashramas and learning centers throughout India, both large and small. What follows is a list of the most noted ashramas where you can practice and further your studies in whichever of India's spiritual paths most attract you.
Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, has many ashramas from which to choose. These are a few of the most noteworthy.
Sivananda Ashrama, The Divine Life Society: One of the best ashramas in Rishikesh. Anyone can attend the lectures (10 AM & 5 PM) and meditations, and enroll in classes. Offers 3 month courses. However, advance permission is required for lengthy stays. Write: Sivananda Ashram, Divine Life Society, P. O. Sivanandanagar, Dist. Tehri- Garhwal, 249 192, Phone: 91-1364-31190.
International Vishwaguru Yoga Vedanta Academy, or Ved Niketan as it is known locally. It's a temple complex with numerous rooms around a courtyard. You can stay as long as you want, like a hotel, and attend whatever functions, pujas, or lectures you'd like that go on regularly. Write: Sri Ved Niketan Dham, P. O. Swargashram, 249 304, Phone: 91- 135-430279.
The Yoga Study Center, on Haridwar Road: A nonresident center that offers lessons in hatha-yoga for the serious student. Taught by Brahmacharya Rudra Dev, an advanced student of B. K. S. Iyengar. Write: The Yoga Study Center, Br. Rudra Dev, Ganga Vihar, Haridwar Road, (Dist. Dehradun) Rishikesh 249 201, Phone: 91-1364-31196.
Swami Dayananda Ashram: On the banks of the Ganges, teaches traditional Vedanta. Has 50 guest rooms with daily arati, prayers & meditation. Swami Dayananda was a former student of Swami Chinmayananda, and divides his time between this and his other ashramas. Write: Dayananda Ashram, Purani Jhadi, Rishikesh 249 201, Uttar Pradesh, Phone: 91-0135-430769.
Neem Karoli Ashrama: This is another ashrama you can visit while in Rishikesh of Neem Karoli Baba, located along the main road before you get to Rishikesh from Haridwar, under the 40 foot image of Hanuman. Open for daily devotions, but not for lengthy stays.
Naini Tal, Uttar Pradesh, Kainchi Ashrama: This is another of the ashramas of Neem Karoli Baba. Here you can come to spend the day and participate in the aratis and devotional chanting in the Vaishnava tradition. Write: Sankata Mochana Hanuman Mandir, P. O. Kainchi, via Bhawali, Dist. Naini Tal, Uttar Pradesh 26313. In the United States you can write: Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, P.O.Box W, Taos, NM 87571, Phone: 505-751-4080.
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Satsang Bhavan: The house ashrama of the students of the late H. W. L. Poonja, or Poonjaji, who was a student of Ramana Maharshi and taught his own style of Advaita Vedanta. Offers no residential facilities, but open daily to visitors. Write: Satsang Bhavan, A 306, Indira Nagar, Lucknow, 226 016, Phone: 91-522-381189.
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives: Offers many courses in the study of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama speaks at some of these in March. Write: The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, (Centre for Tibetan Studies) Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala 176 215, Himachal Pradesh. Phone: 91-1892-22467
McLeod Ganj, above Dharamsala, The Tushita Meditation Center: Offers regular courses in Tibetan Buddhism as taught mostly by Tibetan and western teachers. Write: Tushita Meditation Center, P. O. McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, Dist. Kangra, Himachal Pradesh 176 219, Phone: 91-1892-21866.
Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh, Chinmaya Mission: Established by Swami Chinmayananda, teaches Vedanta in the Adi Shankaracharya tradition in regular training camps, mostly in Hindi. Write: Chinmaya Mission, Chinmaya Tapovan Trust, Sandeepany Himalayas, Sidhbari 176 057, Phone: 91-1892-22121.
Beas, Punjab, Radha Soami Satsang Beas: The community and headquarters of the huge Radha Soami movement, an offshoot of Sikhism. Teaches meditation on the inner energy and light and sound. Write: Radha Soami Satsang Beas, P. O. Dera Baba Jaimal singh, Dist. Amritsar 143 204, Punjab, Phone: 91-1853-72345.
New Delhi, Vijay Nagar, Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission (Kirpal Ashrama), Science of Spirituality: Headquarters of the Science of Spirituality, an offshoot of the Radha Soami sect, attracts nearly 20,000 for Sunday satsang programs, with facilities to house up to
400 guests. Teaches meditation to perceive the inner light and sounds and reach higher dimensions. Address: Kirpal Ashram, Attn: Secretary, 2 Canal Road, Vijay Nagar, Delhi 110 009, Uttar Pradesh, Phone: 91-11-722-2244.
Gaidapur, New Delhi, on Mandi Road, Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion: The ashrama and working farm and community of Baba Virsa Singh. He is a Sikh but teaches the universality of all religions. You can visit but write for
long stays. Write: Gobind Sadan, Gadaipur, Via Mehrauli-Mandi Road, New Delhi 110 030, Phone: 91-11-680-1653.
New Delhi, Sri Sri Radha-Partha Sarathi Mandir, The Glory of India Temple, at Sant Nagar Main Rd, (Garhi), behind Nehru Place Complex (mail: P. 0. Box 7061), 110065 / Tel (011) 623-5133 / Fax: (011) 621-5421 or 628-0067 /E-mail: email@example.com;
(Guesthouse) firstname.lastname@example.org. A beautiful temple with multi-media exhibits, very nice grounds, gorgeous Radha-Krishna Deities, with Sita-Rama and Hanuman, offering classes on Bahagavad-gita and Bhagavatam, and facilities to stay and participate in the Vaishnava tradition of bhakti-yoga.
Vrindavana, Uttar Pradesh: This town has numerous temples and ashramas. One of the main centers here is the Hare Krishna Temple, the Krishna-Balarama Mandir at Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg, Raman Reti, Mathura Dist, 281124 /Tel. (0565) 442478 or
442355 / E-mail: email@example.com; (Guesthouse) firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers regular classes and devotional chanting and other programs in the Vaishnava tradition of bhakti-yoga. Residence is available in the guesthouse, and many other ashramas throughout the town. A few other ashramas in Vrindavana include the following:
Neem Karoli Baba Ashrama: Near the main road on the parikrama path. His samadhi shrine, along with temples to Hanuman, Sita-Ram and Durga are here.
Ananda Mayi Ma Ashrama: Ashrama of the renown woman saint, on the main road.
Jagadguru Dham along Raman Reti Road: Ashrama of Swami Prakashananda Sarasvati, when he's not staying in his Austin, Texas ashrama. Also has places in Barshana, near Vrindavana, called Rangeeli Mahal and Vishwa Kalyan Kendra.
Mount Abu, Rajasthan, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University: A large complex with regular introductory lectures to their version of spiritual truth based mostly on Raja Yoga meditation. Local tour buses stop by here. It has 4500 centers worldwide. Visitors can
take free courses. Write: Brahma Kumaris World spiritual University, P. O. Box No. 2, Mt. Abu, 307 501, Rajasthan, Phone: 91-2974-38788.
Mumbai, Maharashtra (Bombay) -Hare Krishna Land, Juhu 400049 / Tel (022) 620-6860 Fax (022) 620-5214 / E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. A great and beautiful temple visited by many people with guesthouse (sometimes full), nice restaurant, and facility to participate in numerous classes, worship, arati, devotional chanting and projects in the Vaishnava tradition of bhakti-yoga. A festival everyday in the evening.
Mumbai, Maharashtra - League of Devotees, at 7 K. M. Munshi Marg, Chowpatty, 400 007/Tel\022) 369-7228 /E-mail: email@example.com. For serious devotees and all visitors who look for a wonderful atmosphere for devotional chanting, arati, puja, and classes in the Vedic tradition of bhakti-yoga.
Pune, Maharastra, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute: Offers classes in asana postures and pranayama in hatha-yoga by the famous B. K. S. Iyengar, author of "Light on Yoga," and his son and daughter. However, there is a three-year waiting list to study here. Write at: 1107-B1, Shivaji Nagar, Pune 411 016, Phone: 91-212-356134.
Pune, Maharastra, Osho Commune International: The home of the controversial (and deceased) Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers. Located at: 17 Koregaon Park, Pune 411 001, Maharashtra, Phone: 91-212-660963.
Varanasi: One of those places in which if you merely walk around the town, through the network of alleys, you will find numerous signs at any corner informing one of a local yoga class, ashrama, or course in music or something else that you can take. Some are
a little too positive, like a seven day course to learn how to play the sitar, or something similar. So one has to be careful, and shop around. However, I will mention a few places.
Kriya Yoga Center: I mention this center because lessons are taught by the great grandson of Lahiri Mahasay, the guru of Yukteshwar, who was the teacher of Paramahamsa Yogananda. This center is not far from the Chauthasi Ghat. If you want to find it, ask around for the exact location.
Yoga Sadhana Kendra (Center for Yoga): If you want to take a nonreligious affiliated course on hatha-yoga given by professors, you can find a one-month certificate course, and a four-month diploma course at the Banaras Hindu University at the Malaviya Bhavan building. Write: Yoga Sadhana Kendra, Malaviya Bhavan, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221 005, Phone: 91-542-310291.
Bodhgaya, Bihar, International Meditation Center: For the study of Buddhism. Write at: International Meditation Center, Attn: The general Secretary, Buddhagaya P.O., Bodh Gaya 824 231, Dist. Gaya, Bihar, Phone: 91-631-400707.
Bodhgaya, Root Institute for Wisdom Culture: Another place for the study of Tibetan Buddhism. Write: Root Institute for Wisdom Culture, Attn: Reception Manager, Bodh Gaya, Dist. Gaya 824 231, Bihar, Phone: 91-631-400714.
Bodhgaya, Wat Thai Bodhgaya: For Vipassana meditation retreats in the Thai tradition, led by a British Buddhist, Christopher Titmuss, held in January. Write: Wat Thai Bodh Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Dist. Gaya 824 231, Bihar.
Monghyr, Bihar, Bihar School of Yoga: Teaches yoga with Tantric aspects as developed by Swami Satyananda and now under Swami Niranjanananda. Write at: Ganga Darshan, Fort, Monghyr, Bihar 811 201, Phone: 91-6344-22430.
Calcutta, West Bengal, Lokenath Divine Life Mission, at P-591 Purna Das Raod: If you would like to volunteer for helping the poor in ways of schools, small industries, medical facilities, and other programs in villages in the area, Swami Shuddhananda can use your help. The one room temple does have daily lectures, pujas and meditation classes. You will need to stay at a nearby hotel.
Calcutta, Missionaries of Charity, at 54 A. J. C. Bose Road: This is the continuation of Mother Teresa's work. It's another place where you can volunteer your service in any number of ways for as long as you want.
Mayapur, West Bengal, Shree Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir at Shree Mayapur Dham, Dist Nadia (mail: P.O. Box 10279, Ballyganj, (north of) Calcutta 700 019) /Tel (03472) 45239, 45240, or 45233 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A huge complex near the birthplace of the great devotee and incarnation of the Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This place offers residence, classes in the classic Vedic texts, devotional chanting, aratis, pujas, educational displays, restaurant, and many other opportunities to engage in bhakti-yoga.
Puri, Orissa, Karar Ashram: Offers classes in meditation and kriya-yoga under the guidance of Swami Hariharananda Giri, at least when he's not in the U.S. Write: Karar Ashram, c/o Swami Yogesvarananda Giri, Swargadwar, Puri 752 001, Orissa. Phone: 91-6752-23004.
Puri is another place where there are many ashramas and temples.
Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, Prasanthi Nilayam: The famous main ashrama of Sathya Sai Baba is located here. Write: Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram, P. O. Dist. Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh 515 134, Phone: 91-8555-2036.
Bangalore, Karnataka, The Hare Krishna Temple, at Hare Krishna Hill, 1 'R' Block, Chord Rd., Rajaji Nagar 560 010 /Tel (080) 332-1956 / E-mail: email@example.com. A huge and beautiful temple offering classes in Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, devotional chanting, educational displays, worship, arati, and more.
Bangalore, Karnataka, Sri Kailash Ashram, off Mysore road: An ashram offering teachings in the worship of the Divine Mother.
Bangalore, Sri Mathrudevi Vishvas Shanti Ashram, at 14/5, 6th Cross Ashoknagar, Banashakari, 1st Stage, Bangalore 560 050, Karnataka, Phone: 91-80-609-588: The ashrama of Sri Vijayeshvari Devi, known as Mother Karunamayi, and accepted as an incarnation of the Divine Mother in the form of Lalitha Devi. Offers daily meditation classes and lectures on mantras, and Vedic truths every evening when she is not at the forest ashrama or touring in the West. There are no residential facilities, but a hotel is nearby. The forest ashrama is at Sri Penusila Kshestram, Penchila Kona Area, Andhra Pradesh.
Bangalore, Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaja Trust: For studies in "dhyana meditation" with kirtan and bhava samadhi, offers reseidential facilities, morning meditation, with temple for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Located 32 kilometers outside of Banagalore. Write: Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaja Trust, 1?a, III Phase, J.P.Nagar, Bangalore 560 078, Phone: 91-80-648-242.
Bangalore, Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation: Dedicated to the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. Offers dormitories, rooms and cottages, lecture halls, and dining. Write at: Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Prashanti Kuteeram Residential Campus, Jigani, Anekal Taluk, Bangalore, Phone: 91-80-425-535. Or write: City Coordinating Center, Eknath Bhavan, 19, GavipuramCircle, Bangalore 560 019, Phone: 91-80-6608645.
Bangalore, Art of Living Foundation: The main headquarters of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, 21 kilometers south of Bangalore. Offers his version of Vedic philosophy and the yogic and breathing techniques of "sudarshan kriyas." Wrtie: Ved Vignan Mahavidyapeeth, Udayagiri, 21st KM, Kanakapura Road, Bangalore South Tulaq 560 062. Or contact the city center at: Vyakti Vikas Kendra, 19, 39th A Cross, 11th Main, IV T Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore 560 041, Karnataka, Phone: 91-80-6645106.
Mysore, Karnataka, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute: Offers training in hatha-yoga. Write at: 876/1, 1 Cross, Lakshmipuram, Mysore 570 004, Phone: 91-821-25558.
Mysore, Sri Patanjali Yogashala, at Jaganmohan Palace Circle: Offers practical training in ashtanga or hatha-yoga.
Mysore, Ganapathi Sachchidananda Ashram: Teaches kriya-yoga with a focus on music. Write at: Nanjanguda Road, Datta Nagar--Ooty Road, Mysore 570 004, Karnataka, Phone: 91-821-22662.
Madras, Tamil Nadu, Krishnamurti Foundation Vasanta Vihar Study Center, at 64 Greenways Road, Madras 600 028, Tamil Nadu, Phone: 91-44-4937803: The ideal retreat for the study of the teachings of Krishnamurti.
Madras, Adyar, Theosophical Society Headquarters of the world famous organization. Daily visiting hours, 8:30 to 10 AM and 2 to 4 PM. Has a huge library of 250,000 books and 17,000 rare or palm-leaf manuscripts. Has temples for almost every major faith. Residential facilities for members only. Phone: 91-44-4912815.
Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Auroville: The utopian community started in 1968 by the Mother (Mira Alfassa), the senior disciple of Sri Aurobindo. All people of goodwill are accepted. Affiliated with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which is mostly for established devotees, yet where guests can stay up to two weeks, but for longer visits one should go to Auroville. Write: Auroville, Visitors Center, Auroville 605 101, Tamil Nadu, Phone: 91- 413-6227, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Rue De La Marine, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, 605 002, Phone: 91-413-34836.
Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, Sri Ramanashram: The ashrama of the famous Sri Ramana Maharshi at Arunachalla Hill. Staying here is open for most anyone, as long as there is space. Otherwise, you can stay outside and still visit. Located on the west side of town at the base of the hill. Write: Sri Ramanashram, Ramanashram P.O., Tiruvannamalai 606 603, Tamil Nadu, Phone: 91-4175-23292.
Kulittalai, Tamil Nadu, Saccidananda Ashram: The former home of Father Bede Griffiths. It is still an ashram of Benedictine monks who act similar to Hindu sannyasis and also study Vedanta and yoga. Has basic accommodations, and offers sessions for meditation, prayer, discussions on yoga, study of the Bhagavad-gita and Upanishads, arati worship, and evening satsang exchanges. Write: Shantivanam, Tannirpalli P.O., 639 107, Kulittalai, Dist. Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, Phone: 91-4323-22260.
Trivandrum, Kerala, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanvanthari Ashram: Offers training in hatha-yoga. Write at: P.O. Neyyardam, Trivandrum DT, 695 576, Kerala, Phone: 91-471- 290493.
Kanhangad, Kerala, Anandashram: teaches the chanting of the Lord's holy names of Ram, and to learn to see God everywhere in service. Has beautiful location, rooms and dormitory halls, bhajan hall, and library with 5,000 spiritual books, good food and spring water. Chanting program starts at 5 AM. Write: Anandashram, Anandashram P.O. 671 531, Kanhangad, Dist. Kasaragod, Kerala, Phone: 91-499-703036.
Vallickavu, Kerala, Mata Amritanandamayi Math: The ashrama of Ammachi, considered one of the incarnations of the Divine Mother. Lots of visitors come here, and everyone is expected to do karma-yoga service. Has apartments and dormitories, but are often cramped with visitors. It mostly offers early worship of the Divine Mother, darshan when she is there and not touring, and evening bhajans. Write: Mata Amritanandamayi Math, Amritapuri P.O., Kollam District, Kerala 690 525, Phone: 91-4756-21279.olstice comes from the Latin (sol, sun; sistit, stands). For several days before and after each solstice, the sun appears to stand still in the sky that is, its noontime elevation does not seem to change.