Photo of the Week
Himalaya A
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    [post_content] => This Thursday we will be leaving KTM for our trek.  It is a bittersweet goodbye for me.  The city was amazing in many ways.  I loved staying with a home stay family and building relationships with my home stay parents and siblings.  Just yesterday we celebrated Nepali mother's day with an awesome little celebration.   I will miss the happy times I have spent with them.  I hope one day I can come back to Nepal and visit!  I also really enjoyed the day to day flow of KTM life.  The lessons in the morning were always very interesting. Danny and Chris had some awesome contacts for guest speakers, including an organic farmer who talked to us about sustainable agriculture, and the founder of an NGO who came and lead an activity to show us the complexities of food aid.  After classes I had time to explore, work on the movie/documentary that Chris is helping some of us to make, and I even got to help make momo's in a cafe near the program house.

For sure, there are aspects of KTM that I will really miss.  However, I am ready to move on to the next stage.  I am beyond excited to get out of the crazy city and start our trek.
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Himalaya A

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Bye bye KTM

Ben Painter,Himalaya A

Description

This Thursday we will be leaving KTM for our trek.  It is a bittersweet goodbye for me.  The city was amazing in many ways.  I loved staying with a home stay family and building relationships with my home stay parents and siblings.  Just yesterday we celebrated Nepali mother’s day with an awesome little celebration.   I […]

Posted On

04/19/15

Author

Ben Painter

Category

Himalaya A

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    [post_content] => When asked who their best friend is a student may reply with a single name or maybe if they have been blessed a group of three or four but we never ask ourselves, what is the academics students’ best friend? For these two people do not share much in common. One needs sunlight and three meals a day while the other, the academic student, needs 4 pots of coffee, 3 packets of ramen noodles and 2 hours of sleep. This student no longer has one home, a cozy dorm room, but now almost as if a bird on their annual migration they migrate. They find themselves drawn to one room in the library that they will call home for the next week. So who is their best friend? Do they really have friends in this state? Is their best friend the same as before? My argument is no. Their best friend is now Wikipedia. Now why Wikipedia one may ask? And more importantly how could this relate to a yak about Nepal and my experience being a researcher for the movie our RS class put together? Well it does and now you must continue on to find out why!

So this student, and no not the normal cozy dorm room student, the academic student who can’t drink water for the fear it may dilute the coffee that was just put into their system is me in this final week in Katmandu. I have made what some would call a not so smart idea and taken two accredited classes that both end during the same period in Katmandu with both having final projects due on close to the same date. One class is my ISP which will have its own yak being put up in the next few days so we will focus on the RS class and the movie we decided to put together.

We worked as a group of 8 with four of us being accredited students. The four accredited students; myself, Brian, Aiden, and the person who will probably scold me for forgetting them are working with Ben, Isabel, Nicole, and Meg. Together we took on the ambitious project of having a well researched short film on Boudha using interviews of local Nepalese at Boudha as the main body of the movie. The kicker? We have two weeks to put it together. We divided and concurred as one must in a situation such as this left me with the research aspect of this project. Sadly as the title entails it involved me sitting at a computer looking at a screen and compiling information for our video from reputable sources. Yet where does one start when looking up something they know nothing about? Well just like someone who is in a situation and don’t know what to do they ask their best friend. Wikipedia as usual did not let me down in giving me every single smidgen of information one could ever possibly need to know about Boudha but sadly it will let every student down in the same way. It is not a credible source. This is the downfall of Wikipedia yet where one friend lets you down others step into their shoes and does an even better job. This friend is scholar.google.com. For those who do not know what that it is it is the source of all credible knowledge that one will ever need with the searching power of Google. A simple few strokes and the entire sodden all the information one may ever need on Tibetan refuges in Nepal surges to the screen and credible source after credible source appears. It is borderline black magic.

Although I may portray this as a one man battle against the odds with me becoming victorious but it was not a one person battle. The cyber-cafe I did work at had a master chef whose name was Ben. This chef was an expert mixed chow mein cooker as well as mo-mo master and dabbled with hot lemon with honey on the side. I not only had a master chef serving me a comedian was by my side most of the time providing relief. Actually not just one comedian and it is thanks to Ryan C as well and Aiden that I was kept sane during this endeavor. It was quite enjoyable in the end and I may have eaten more chow mein in this week than any other in my life but overall I had a great time and hopefully we will find a way to post this film to the yak board!
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Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry

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The Academic Students Best Friend

Jack Rohr,Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry

Description

When asked who their best friend is a student may reply with a single name or maybe if they have been blessed a group of three or four but we never ask ourselves, what is the academics students’ best friend? For these two people do not share much in common. One needs sunlight and three […]

Posted On

04/14/15

Author

Jack Rohr

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    [post_content] => It's our first night in the Shri Aurobindo Yoga Mandira Ashram, our first incredible organic dinner has just been devoured, and one of the most spiritual experiences of my journey is about to begin. A little girl, maybe the one who taught me a hand game this morning or maybe the one who hit me with the frisbee, grabs my hand and drags me out the open door into the pressing darkness, her pigtails bouncing behind her as she steps barefoot onto the cold, damp bricks. The look on her face as she guides me through the black night is full of excitement and anticipation; it tells me that wherever we're going, she's about to share something important with me, and her glowing eyes say there's nothing she'd rather be doing. Into my hand the girl presses a beaded bracelet, too big to wear normally and too small to wrap twice around my wrist, and I clutch it in my free hand as I stumble up invisible steps this little girl has known all her life. As she leads me boldly into the dim light of a hallway, the sound of drums and young voices drifts down from above. We climb the stairs and open the door to a small room lit by a single candle and its reflection in the half-closed eyes of a sea of children. They are singing, their voices high and strained with effort, their foreheads scrunched in concentration and sincere devotion. My little girl hands me a cushion and I sit cross-legged, surrounded by children, as everyone else from the ashram fills in. In the darkness I raise my voice shyly and mumble along singing random syllables, trying to pick up the tune and mimic the words of this language I'm beginning to understand. Behind me, I hear one of my companions do the same. Soon we are all singing, filling the room with the sound of our voices, not knowing what we're saying. A boy opens a window and our music pours out into the night. It doesn't matter that we don't know what we're saying; the sounds themselves have meaning and our voices are just as important as the children's. It feels like the entire room is pulsing as we chant together. Then the first young boy gives up the fight between devotion and exhaustion and lays his heavy body on the carpeted floor. They drop like dominoes and in what feels like an instant the floor is littered with the gently snoring forms of dozens of children rocked to sleep by the vibrating air. Himal lies in front of my crossed legs, safe in the arms of the ashram and calm in his trusting heart. I keep singing, but I feel my head bob forward and a part of me wants to join them all on the floor, peaceful in sleep and sure of my place in this world, surrounded by a loving community, a family. Tonight, with heavy eyelids and a light heart, I feel like a child of the ashram too.
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Himalaya A

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Children of the Ashram

Isabel Dewhurst,Himalaya A

Description

It’s our first night in the Shri Aurobindo Yoga Mandira Ashram, our first incredible organic dinner has just been devoured, and one of the most spiritual experiences of my journey is about to begin. A little girl, maybe the one who taught me a hand game this morning or maybe the one who hit me […]

Posted On

04/13/15

Author

Isabel Dewhurst

Category

Himalaya A

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    [post_content] => Two and a half weeks in the chaotic and confusing city that is Kathmandu was finally starting to take its toll on me, and by the time our bus had completed its violent jerky ride along Ring Road and out towards the western valley wall I was absolutely exhausted. As we pulled into Sri  Aurobindo Yoga Mandir my only thoughts were of getting off the bus, out of my clothes made filthy by the dusty roads, into a shower, and then promptly into the nearest bed.Grumply I helped to pass everyones packs from the back of the bus, cursing in my head about how people managed to pack so much for just one week, but knowing my pack weighed just the same. Needless to say I was fed up and as I made my way off the bus I prayed that there were no more obstacles between me and the nirvana that would be a nice long nap. Stepping off the bus I inhaled deeply and as the fresh air filled my lungs I felt like a creature rising from a winter of hibernation. What is this? I thought to myself, realizing that such clean air hadn’t filled my body in almost 3 weeks. Suddenly the exhaustion had faded and a smile had spread on my face from ear to ear as I was greeted by a smiling woman who welcomed me, placed tika on my forehead and a flower in my hair. I still wasn’t entirely sure what an Ashram was but I could tell I was going to like it.

With a new sudden burst of energy and curiosity we eagerly followed Rishi a longtime member of the ashram on a tour. We started at what looked like a typical rural home, similar to the ones we called home in barrowa, that appeared to have undergone major additions. He explained that this was the first building built here 22 years ago and that everything around us had stemed from it and the efforts of their founder  Swami-ji and all those who had, at one time or another, called this place home. In the time since its start we discovered that the Ashram had grown into a entirely self sustaining community with fields that grew all its food, approximately 50 cows which provided milk, fertilizer and bio gas, a textile mill, a grain mill, a 5 story lodge for guests, a school for its children and housing for each of them as well. Not only had the Ashram raised enough produce and revenue to sustain its self but it also had a surplus of goods to sell to the community and enough additional funds to pay for its children to attend universities in Kathmandu and abroad where they could study whatever they chose.

The tour ended and we were allowed to go settle in and relax before dinner, but we all dropped our packs and quickly set back out to keep exploring. At the top of the Ashram we found a leveled lot where a new school was being prepared to be built and reached it just as the younger children were being released. Before I knew it kids were climbing all over me screaming and laughing. For an hour I think we were all lost in that same euphoria that is being a child at play. I was most likely one of the largest and goofiest looking people they had ever seen and though they were likely laughing at me I couldn't help but join in. Pleasantly exhausted and covered in dust and dirt we all made our way down to the main building where a dinner bell was being rung. The tables where we had eaten lunch earlier that day were open but the children begged us to sit on the floor and eat with them. There was no wi went say I could say no. The food was absolutely delicious but I can't say I ate much because every time I went for a bite my arm was grabbed by a different child who wished to know my name, tell me theirs or show me a picture of their favorite soccer player. Their happiness definitely made up for the meal I was not eating.

When dinner ended we all made our way over to the sinks and washed our own dishes before neatly stacking them on an adjacent table for the next meal. I was amazed at these kids, I am 19 and still forget to my dishes even with two parents reminding me to do so every night, meanwhile they did it without being told and with a smile on their faces.

We now as a group made our way back outside and towards another building where music was faintly pouring out of. Down a dark hallway and up a staircase we found the room where it came from. It was a small dimly lit room, with simple white walls and some ragged old carpet, no bigger than 20 by 10 feet. In the front there was a display of two photos, an elderly man and an elderly woman, and a large hand painted mural of two symbols, below them there was a small pillow for sitting on. There was nothing that made this place inherently interesting or meaningful, but for me it was one of the most special places I have ever been.

By the time we entered the room it was filled with people from the ashram sitting and singing in unison. In the front was a small harmonium and a couple of drums but the energy we generated that night felt like it shook the building. For the rest of the evening I was lost in the songs and the vibes of that room. I haven't seen all that much of the world, but I knew instantly in this moment that I had been to few places that were filled with so much love.

 
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Himalaya A

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Ashram

Brian Kerrigan,Himalaya A

Description

Two and a half weeks in the chaotic and confusing city that is Kathmandu was finally starting to take its toll on me, and by the time our bus had completed its violent jerky ride along Ring Road and out towards the western valley wall I was absolutely exhausted. As we pulled into Sri  Aurobindo Yoga […]

Posted On

04/13/15

Author

Brian Kerrigan

Category

Himalaya A

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" I must work with children, they are the future of humanity"

  Throughout our stay in Nepal thus far we have had the privilege to meet many incredible individuals. Rom Tundra "Swami G" is definitely one of those Individuals.  Swami G has made a pretty large impact on not only our group but also on every person he has helped in his life.  He is an incredible person. Not only is his personality so pleasant, caring and wonderful but also, the things he has accomplished in his life makes him an inspiration and puts him above and beyond the rest. When he was a child around age 12, he ran away from home and went to India.His life then unfolded in a very different way than it would've if he had stayed in his village in Nepal for his whole life. One experience led to the next and at a young age he became a soldier in the Indian army.  Later he found himself at an Ashram.  In his words, the ashram "cleaned him" and helped him see "straight".  He began learning and studying all sorts of new things. When he first realized he was going to build an Ashram in Kathmandu, his original plan was to build 75 Ashrams in 5 years. He may not have necessarily accomplished that goal specifically, but he did manage to build 3 absolutely incredible Ashrams from basically nothing.  The Ashram we had the privilege of staying at, the Shri Aurobindo Ashram, was the first Ashram created by Swami G.  He was faced by many challenges in his life and also throughout the process of building the Ashram.  But, he told us "Don't bow down to the challenge, find another solution", and that is exactly what he did every time.  He has created a very safe, prosperous environment and community for so many fortunate children and young adults. When we arrived we immediately felt included to this wonderful community.  I will never forget my experience there or the people I was lucky enough to meet. Even though Swami G wasn't able to build 75 Ashrams in 5 years, even just one Ashram alone is helping so many children in so many ways. I am sure that one day he will reach his goal, one Ashram at a time. [post_title] => For the Future of Humanity [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => for-the-future-of-humanity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-22 09:31:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-22 16:31:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=117416 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Picture of the Week [slug] => picture-of-the-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 483 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 483 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Picture of the Week [category_nicename] => picture-of-the-week [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/picture-of-the-week/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 26 [name] => Himalaya A [slug] => himalaya-a-spring-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 26 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 237 [count] => 168 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6.1 [cat_ID] => 26 [category_count] => 168 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalaya A [category_nicename] => himalaya-a-spring-2015 [category_parent] => 237 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/himalaya-a-spring-2015/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 48 [name] => Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion [slug] => introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 48 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 64 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 48 [category_count] => 64 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion [category_nicename] => introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion [category_parent] => 488 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 67 [name] => Service Learning [slug] => service-learning [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 67 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 15 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 67 [category_count] => 15 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Service Learning [category_nicename] => service-learning [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => Picture of the Week, Himalaya A ... )
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For the Future of Humanity

Kira Martin,Picture of the Week, Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Service Learning

Description

” I must work with children, they are the future of humanity”   Throughout our stay in Nepal thus far we have had the privilege to meet many incredible individuals. Rom Tundra “Swami G” is definitely one of those Individuals.  Swami G has made a pretty large impact on not only our group but also on […]

Posted On

04/13/15

Author

Kira Martin

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    [post_date] => 2015-04-09 16:48:09
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    [post_content] => We have just returned from the ashram and a week's worth of service on the Western edge of the Kathmandu valley. During our time there, we harvested barley, filled sacks with manure for sale, cleaned a wood shed, fertilized a field with liquid manure and more. This experience has helped me to understand that service is not always A leads to B where one action leads to one concrete realized result. These steps of service may just be steps along the way: to maintain the activities of a place and to keep it running, breathing. Each of the activities we participated in, however, supported the larger picture of this ashram. By fertilizing a field of corn we  contributed to the growth of vegetables that can feed the ashram community. The produce harvested from this field will also be sold at the local farmer's market to generate income to support the education of the ashram children. In some ways, the ecological and income generating model of the ashram is a positive example of development where the work that occurs there benefits both people and place (chemical pesticides are avoided in the growing process and the children receive a free education in a supportive community environment). Why then is a system like this more the exception than the rule?

One answer is that sustainable agriculture is hard work. Taking care of 50+ cows like the Sri Aurobindo ashram does is a messy business. The spatial diversity of crops and the landscape itself make it difficult to incorporate machinery. Even more, maintaining an organic farm is labor intensive. Many farms can't afford to adopt these practices and stay competitive in their respective market sector. And many farms run more like businesses as opposed to educational/spiritual centers where service lies at the heart of all activity.

On one of the last days at the ashram, Rishi, our coordinator, took us on a hike to a nearby temple. He has lived at the ashram for 17 years and first came here as a little boy. The temple he took us to was small, rising out of the face of a cliff. We stood there looking out at the place where valley floor meets valley wall. With a sigh he commented on the buildings that have hurriedly sprung up across the valley floor. I could feel his dread over the slow but steady encroachment of the city up toward the green hills that still lie behind the ashram. We were standing on the edge of development in both space and time: between the forested hills and the construction of new buildings, between past and uncertain future (he told me that there were plans for a new resort to be built upon the valley wall).

It seems then that the ashram has found a way to live from the earth and straddle that line between a quickly shifting world and the need to preserve its resources. The way it achieves this has to do with the vision of Ram Chandra (Swami Ji) and a community that enacts service as a way of life. At the ashram, use of natural resources and the sale of goods is all done with the mission of the ashram in mind: to serve the kids and make sure they receive a good education.

In considering the relationship between development, service and sustainable agriculture, I am reminded of the quote I read the first day I came into the ashram dining space: "Eat for living; do not live for eating" - the Mother. Initially when I saw this quote, I knew the ashram would be a perfect place of learning for me: to reflect on what it means to take only as much as I need and not more. But looking back, I see that these words do not just apply to my habit of going for seconds and thirds of the tastiest treats at the dinner table. I am still very uncertain of how countries like Nepal will continue to approach the challenge of development in the next few decades. However, if more families, farms, communities and cities were to adopt the philosophy embodied in this quote (although how on a larger scale I'm still unsure), I wonder what they would look like and I wonder if more needs (of both planet and people) would slowly be met.
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Himalaya A, Service Learning

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Service and Development

Nicole Wong,Himalaya A, Service Learning

Description

We have just returned from the ashram and a week’s worth of service on the Western edge of the Kathmandu valley. During our time there, we harvested barley, filled sacks with manure for sale, cleaned a wood shed, fertilized a field with liquid manure and more. This experience has helped me to understand that service […]

Posted On

04/9/15

Author

Nicole Wong

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I'm up to my eyeballs in poop Hands covered. Group spirits soaring; high Rays of sun Beat down on our smiling faces.   Luscious fields of green, The resulting product of the pungent cow manure. 26 helping hands, Makes tedious work quick, smooth, fun. Feeling accomplished when The days work is complete.   Clean, fresh air created a wonderful Change from city life. The Ashram's relaxed atmosphere Service, endless games of hearts, Chess matches and ghost stories.   Our community, merging with The self-sustaining community of Sawami Ji At Shri Arobindo Ashram Feeling so welcomed, so loved. Feeling happy to have been there.   Enjoyed down time with the children. Their radiant faces, constantly spreading Happiness through a smile, a laugh. Their carefree spirits love life; Learning, playing, laughing.   They love and care for each other, their community, the ashram. This same attitude Seems to be exemplified in our group too, With our love for Nepal, and Our time here; together.

Attached Documents

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So much poop

Meg Chandler,Himalaya A

Description

I’m up to my eyeballs in poop Hands covered. Group spirits soaring; high Rays of sun Beat down on our smiling faces.   Luscious fields of green, The resulting product of the pungent cow manure. 26 helping hands, Makes tedious work quick, smooth, fun. Feeling accomplished when The days work is complete.   Clean, fresh […]

Posted On

04/9/15

Author

Meg Chandler

Category

Himalaya A

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View from the roof of the Ashram

Ben Painter,Himalaya A

Description

Posted On

04/7/15

Author

Ben Painter

Category

Himalaya A

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Mural at the Ashram

Ben Painter,Himalaya A

Description

Posted On

04/7/15

Author

Ben Painter

Category

Himalaya A

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    [post_content] => We recently took a break from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and spent a week at Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir, an Ashram on the west side of the valley wall. The Ashram is a very intentional community, "school, organic farm, spiritual retreat center and guest house” (http://www.auronepal.net/welcome/founder/). The Ashram was started by Swami Chandra, a very wise, experienced, loving, and inspiring man. He started the Ashram in 1993 by literally carrying the materials to build a simple building up the hill where the Ashram now stands. The Ashram has done nothing but grow since then, and now is one of three Ashrams started by Swami Ji, and is home to over 150 children who are all supported and educated at the Ashram. We spent our time helping with the garden, doing yoga, meditating, relaxing, painting a mural with some of the very talented art students at the Ashram, and engaging in the vibrant community there. The Ashram was potentially the highlight of the trip so far for me. It deepened my love of being a part of a community, and inspired me to hopefully become part of something greater than myself later on in my life. I had the pleasure of talking with Rishi, a 23 year old who has been at the Ashram since he was 4 or 5. He is now a visible leader in his community, and planned much of our time there.

 

So Rishi, when did you find out about the Ashram?

 

I was a small kid. It’s a long story of how I came here. My parents came from a very financially poor background. We used to live in somebody’s cow shed. The cows slept downstairs and we slept upstairs. My father was working in India. Luckily Swami Ji accidentally left his bag in India and the bag was brought to Nepal by one of his friends in the village where we were staying. Swami Ji came to our village and I saw him. I was only a kid then. I saw him, and got a feeling. I don’t know how I got that. And then the next day I came with Swami Ji. Since then, I have been staying here. It has been a great ride so far.

 

You said that you had a feeling. Can you describe the feeling?

 

I cannot remember the feeling. But my mom says I didn’t sleep that whole night because I wanted to go with him so badly. I don’t remember any of this because I was a kid. But, anyways, maybe because of that feeling I stayed here and I was happy here. I didn’t want to leave the Ashram ever. And I have loved this place and this place has been giving back the same amount of love and even more.

 

Who is Swami Ji to you?

 

He is the person I adore and respect. He is my guru. He is my father. He is everyone's father here. He is basically everything to us.

 

Do you remember a specific time that he taught you something especially valuable?

 

He has been teaching me every moment. Literally every moment. Everything he has taught me has been valuable. But his theory, his way of going is - he doesn’t believe too much in teaching. He believes in leading by example. You know, to do the right thing, to do the service of the divine. His lifestyle is inspirational. That’s what is so special about this place – Swami. His lifestyle, his love for what he believes in is incredible.

 

What is an Ashram?

 

Ashram – it literally means a place where you strive and live for a collective good. You live for a better truth and a collective good. It is a place where people have the same dream. People want to explore not just the outer world but the inner world also. It is a place for collective uprising. That is what I understand about the Ashram.

 

What is a day to day life in this Ashram?

 

I'm not sure about other ashrams, but this place really puts an emphasis on service. We really believe in service. We believe service is the greatest meditation. So, the majority of the day goes to service. We grow our own food.

We also study. We go to college. We spend a lot of time in college. We also help out here and there. We meditate in the evening, we hang out with the kids, we do sorts, we go for lunch together, and we eat dinner together. We have no chance to get bored. We are so busy all the time.

 

What role has service played in your development as a person?

 

I cannot really imagine my life without service. It has made me the person I am today. I can't imagine living my life without doing anything, or doing something for my good only- not being able to contribute to a bigger picture. Service to the Ashram has really been the most important thing in my life.

 

Can you tell me how the Ashram has changed since you have arrived?

 

When I came here, the Ashram was only one house. It was really great. The size was smaller, there were less people, less activities, but the essence was the same. You could see it even then, what we believed here, you could see it - what the Ashram strived for. The essence was there. And slowly slowly it has grown. It is lovely to see so much development. Basically I have grown up with this place.

 

Do you have any specific stories that stand out that could give an outside person an idea of what the Ashram is all about? 
So many stories! In my life so far, there have been many touching stories. I see kids, and each of them has a different story. I see people in the Ashram caring about each other. I always remember that kids come here, and they miss their parents for so long. The first day they will cry all the time. Of course, they want to be with their parents. And slowly slowly an elder person begins to take care of them - washing his clothes, showing them love. And they go to school which is very relaxed and not too much pressure on them, and work with the other members of the community. And then, after 2 months, we say to that same kid, "we will take you home to your parents. Do you want to go?" And they will say, "No." That is the impact that the Ashram has made. For a kid of 5 6 years old, his parents are everything. Or his family is everything, since many of the kids here do not have their parents. But the Ashram gives them an environment where the kids do not want to go back there. And what is that? How is that possible? That still surprises me. That is one thing that makes this Ashram stand out. And the Ashram really has grown. In terms of size, property value, community, the Ashram is huge! With community centers and so much land. It is really one of the biggest ashrams in Nepal. The life of swami is really amazing. He really did earn it. And a person that has done so much- how can he live so simply? He doesn’t have a car. He lives the simplest life of a person that you can imagine. Sometimes when my friends take care of him, they go to the city and buy him some socks. They want to buy him good socks. And when they come here he says, “Why did you buy me good socks. I don’t need them. I can do well with my old socks. We need the money for the Ashram! I don’t want a car. I can walk. I can struggle.” That is what touches me the most. That attitude has let this Ashram to thrive in a country like Nepal. Being a place where the source of income is cow milk, and farming. And to sustain a place as big as this is a herculean task. That attitude is what keeps a place like this going. He really makes it happen!

 

I’ve only been at this Ashram for about a week but I can tell that you are a prominent leader in this Ashram. People seem to look up to you and respect you. Do you think you will continue an involvement in the Ashram?

 

Definitely yes. I want to help this lace. I want to stay in this place. I want to help this place grow even more. Yeah! I want to be a part o this place for my whole life. As for leadership, it just goes on. Kids here are just like my brothers, my friends. We have a very relaxed life here. I don’t know, it just worked out like that. Swami Ji is the guy we go to for any problems. After Swami Ji, everyone is the same really. Even swami wants to be the same! But we have a special place for him. We respect each other, but we don't have a structural hierarchy or anything like that. I don’t really know how it works, but it works perfectly.

 

Where are you in your studies? 

 

Studies are great! I am doing my masters in bio-tech. The Ashram is paying for my studies. I go to the college in the afternoon and then I come back in the evenings. So far I've been able to do well on both sides. Soon I will finish college, and we will see from there.

 

Thank you for talking with me.

The pleasure was mine!
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Ashram

Ben Painter,Himalaya A, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

We recently took a break from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and spent a week at Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir, an Ashram on the west side of the valley wall. The Ashram is a very intentional community, “school, organic farm, spiritual retreat center and guest house” (http://www.auronepal.net/welcome/founder/). The Ashram was started by Swami Chandra, […]

Posted On

04/7/15

Author

Ben Painter

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