Maharaji's Teachings about Ashrams - In His Own Words
An ashram was a communal house populated by a group of devotees of Maharaji or Maharaji (the Ultimate Ruler) who had taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It was similar to a monastery or convent in which the residents lived by a code. All money was pooled, the minimum required to sustain life was spent on the residents and the rest was divided, some passed on to Divine Light Mission administrators and some sent directly to Maharaji to support his luxurious lifestyle. The ashrams provided the personnel required to organise Divine Light Mission activities and the finances to support those organisers. The ashram premies also provided the inspirational core of the nightly satsang meetings that were the main source of proselytisation for new members and the inspiration for the current members to maintain interest and continue to meditate, to do service (ie volunteer labour) and provide financial support of Rawat and the Mission. Up to the very time (circa 1983) the ashrams were summarily closed, Rawat continued to preach the necessity of the ashrams and that he wanted his most devoted, obedient followers to live in them.
Phoenix, Arizona, January 21, 1974
But the premies who are working in ashram, who are living in ashram, for them the thing is that, look: you have to understand. You have to take the right decision. Because the opportunity of service you are getting now, you will not get it later. If you leave it now, then it's going to be like you are progressing, you are just completely progressing, and then you drop down. Because then you are looking for something else which is completely external. And then one day it's going to die out and then again you would like to come back and be in the ashram and do service! You understand? Because, it's much better, you know, for a man to be completely, like, in a whole circumstance where he can get satsang all the time and be able to do service all the time.
Élan Vital, Autumn 1977, Volume I, Issue 1
Jhumri Taliaya, Bihar, India, April 15, 1975
People sometimes come to talk to me. There was a reporter who came to see me in Lucknow. He was saying, "Look this Knowledge exists, people need to realize it, and you can reveal it. So why don't you just go ahead and reveal it to them?" When he said this, a thought came to me. If this man had been living in those ages when a person had to serve in an ashram for 25 years before he received Knowledge, when without even having received Knowledge a person had to accept "this is my Perfect Master," and he had to prostrate and work like a dog … if this man had been alive in those days, I wonder what would have happened to him. Now, in this age, it has been made so easy for him to receive Knowledge, and still he says, "Why don't you just go ahead and reveal Knowledge to people?"
And It is Divine, Volume III, Issue 4
Atlantic City Conference, December 20, 1976
Q: Guru Maharaj Ji, could you give me … us … a really simple definition of ashram? Please?
GMJ: I did - intensive care. Ashram is a shelter - provided by Guru Maharaj Ji, unto which we can come, unto which Guru Maharaj Ji can really work at us, really operate at us, really … because he is the surgeon, and he knows what's wrong. And it's just like, just like, we get hit by a disease, and we start to receive medication - which is good, which is Knowledge - and we start to receive medication for it, but what we need is an intensive care because our situation deteriorates so fast that for a recovery we need - just for a recovery, from the disease - we need a place to be at, where we can, we can be restored. And so Guru Maharaj Ji, this is how Guru Maharaj Ji works, this is like Guru Maharaj Ji's hospital, y'know?
But if you look at it from the angle of that this life is really to, to understand Knowledge, is really to understand that experience, then ashram really makes a lot of sense. Then ashram is really required, it's really needed.
Well, first of all we need a backbone. And the backbone is - ashram for people who want to be there always. That's what we have to do. To me, that is the way I forsee it. For the premies who want to move there for the lifetime - that's the first priority, and that's the first - ashram
There's a lot of, there's a lot of people who drink bhang, in India. And I know them, you know? It's just like bhang - y'know, everybody used to drink bhang in ashram. In India. And all of a sudden they would get just … the eye would, the eyes would be glowing red, and you couldn't even talk to them. Y'know, they would be just … somewhere else, in their own little world, y'know, diving in some cove or something. And you walk right past by them and say: "Listen. You know what's happening?" Y'know? And people would just sit there and go to sleep, or do this. And it's just like - there's a Knowledge - see, this is Knowledge that's been revealed to us, this has been given to us - it's more fantastic. Whatever can we ever substitute it for? Why don't we do that, why don't we understand that, why don't we progress in that part? Y'know? Because I know that a person who is stoned cannot really do meditation. For all the (?) every time he sits down for it he'll fall off. When you … that's when … all your horses go wild. And that's the way it is. Because it's just like … there's no control over anything. And I've seen that, I've seen that.
Atlantic City Conference Audio Tape
San Francisco, California, February 10 1979
Oh sure! I am saying that if you - if there is a necessity of some people to move into an ashram, then they should move into an ashram. And secondly, if they are into an ashram, then they are there for a definite purpose and they should not leave the ashram until that definite purpose is completed. That is my statement towards people leaving the ashram.
Divine Times, July/August 1979, Page 10
Guru Puja Festival, Miami Beach, Florida, July 19 1979
Sometimes people even say, "And I moved out of the ashram, and it was so much Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace that he made me understand that I shouldn't have walked out of the ashram in the first place." That's not Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace. What inspired you to move out is Mr. M-i-n-d. And that's it. Period.
Élan Vital, Winter 1979, Volume III, Issue 4
Hans Jayanti, Kissimmee, Florida, November 8, 1979
Mind lulls us away into this "everything" that looks so beautiful, that looks so incredible. Mind lulls us away into something, but everything's here, like that example, that story of this premie who came to Guru Maharaj Ji's ashram to dedicate his life. You might say he did dedicate his life. He moved into Guru Maharaj Ji's ashram and stayed there and he would do service every day. One day he decided he wanted to go off and get married. And to me it's so real; Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace, saving us every moment. He went off to be married. … "There is a letter from Guru Maharaj Ji." … What it said is you came into this world to surrender to me, to completely focus yourself on me, to completely let go to me. And now you are wearing this whole costume of a bridegroom, and are going to get entrapped into this world. You came to get away from this world and now you're going right back into this world. You came from that place of misery to an incredible satisfaction and now you're going back to misery. And I guess it really did him in. It was "the right place at the right time," plus a lot of Grace from Guru Maharaj Ji. He really realized. He took his horse and headed right to the ashram. And he went there and then he really realized, he really could see.
Élan Vital, Spring 1980, Volume IV, Issue 1
Hans Jayanti, Kissimmee Florida, November 9 1979
There are premies - look at an ashram premie. He's supposed to have renounced everything. And sometimes you wonder. The only thing sometimes it feels like those people have renounced is the idea of renouncing. They've given up that idea. They want everything: be in the ashram and want everything. And yet for those people, how do they have an experience of Guru Maharaj Ji? It's like they don't. If they don't give themselves, they can't. You have to surrender. That's the key to this whole thing.
Affinity magazine, February 1980
Which Perfect Master hasn't come yet and has fought religion? Every Perfect Master that comes in this world, the first thing he has to do, is he's got all this, all this work cut out for Him, you know, He's gotta save the people, he's gotta find His devotees, He's gotta give them Knowledge, you know, and, and take care of His confused premies, not so confused premies, you know, keep tabs on propagation, give satsang to the people who want Knowledge, you know, and, and keep and besides having all that work cut out for Him, He's gotta somehow fight religion, every Perfect Master has fought religion.
I really want to see propagation happening and that's something that everyone of you gotta get into is propagation, that's what we all gotta do is propagation. Not sit there and have donuts and coffee every morning. Some mornings, get out there, have some satsang, you know and you know get those communities together so people can come and people can hear satsang and and and and you know there can be a place where there can be those ashrams, can be a place where there can be those, don't go out and get a hall, you know, buy a hall. No, get some propagation going so you use the hall, then you can rent a hall, you know or whatever it takes to get a hall, whatever it takes. But I'd really like to see some propagation happening. America has been a little sleepy, believe it or not, America has been sleepy. Ha ha, stars and stripes, stripes are getting a little squiggly and stars are doing a thing a little bit, but you guys gotta wake up, you know, start that propagation and when that's you gotta carry Guru Maharaj Ji's word for it. That's, that's one of the things a devotee does, believe it or not.
Holi 1980 video
Rome, Italy, 25th June 1980
I think the word sort of comes from the word 'ashray' which means shelter. To provide us a shelter, to give us a shelter and yet that shelter has to be given to us because somehow in our lives we feel that we need that shelter, we need that shelter of Guru Maharaj Ji from this world. If we do not have the recognition, for instance, one of the basic things in an ashram is to dedicate your life, to devote your life. Truly. … Someday, with Guru Maharaj Ji's grace, there'll be ashram everywhere is what because I just, you know, just see that there has to be a necessity for an ashram, it isn't just like, hah, that's a good plot, nobody lives in it, how about opening up an ashram? You know. But a necessity, yes there is something to back the ashram up and yes that there is something happening in that area that the ashram can back it up. Then I can see that, yes, there will be it. A good reason, you know.
Rome 1980 Ashram Satsang video
Within 3 years Rawat ordered all the ashrams closed.
"Bhang" is a Hindi word for various intoxicating narcotics derived from the plant cannabis sattiva. (OED) The word is commonly used to describe a beverage laced with hashish (cannabis resin), such as "Bhang lassi", a drink of watered-down yoghurt laced with the drug).