In the so-called modern age, the old-world calm and laid-back rural life that generations of Kannadigas, and Indians for that matter, enjoyed has become mostly a thing of the past. The urban areas of the state, including the capital city of Bangalore, bustle with activities and the accompanying traffic, pollution, high noise levels, impatient commuters, and so on.
Among the din and clamour of urban life, there are pockets of peace and quiet. These are the natural forests that jostle for space with human-settled areas; and the parks and ashrams that dot the cities and their outskirts.
Ashrams in Karnataka
The cosmopolitan nature of the urban Kannadiga is reflected in the wide array of ashrams found in the state. The ashrams offer a spiritual, religious, mystical and corporeal outlet to the city dwellers. There are a number of popular ashrams in Karnataka. Some of them are:
- The Art of Living Ashram, Bangalore
- Shri Sridhara Swami Ashram, Shimoga
- The Fireflies Ashram, Bangalore
- Shri Yogishwar Mutt, Mangalore
- ISKCON, Bangalore
- Atma Darshan Yogashram, Bangalore
- Sai Baba Ashram, Whitefield
- Renewal Retreat Centre, Bangalore
- Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore
- Nava Spoorthi Kendra, Bangalore
- Santhigiri Ashram, Bangalore
- Anjali Ashram, Mysore
- Ayurvedagram ashram, Bangalore
- Sri Aurobindo Ashram, J.P. Nagar 1st Phase, Bangalore
- Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Ashrama, Mysore
- Vishwa Shanti Ashram, Arishinakunte
They offer solace in terms of physical space and emotional distance from the fast-paced modern life. The ashrams are open to people belonging to all castes, community, religion, race and nationality. Some of them are based on religious precepts and some on spirituality and practices that moves beyond the boundaries set by religion.
The ashrams based on religious principles have religious leaders guiding the inmates in ritualistic chanting, meditation, spiritual lectures and sermons for the duration of the stay. The other kind of ashrams also has a spiritual tone to the proceedings, but they focus more on the body as the gateway to the spirit. The rituals and programmes are geared towards reading and treating the physical body as a mystical entity.
Facilities at ashrams in Karnataka
Some of the ashrams have a major figurehead around whom the activities of the ashram revolve around. Many of the ashrams have inmates who reside permanently at the ashram. They undertake some kind of work or seva related to the smooth functioning of the ashram. The rest of the guests/visitors usually have to pay their way to stay in the ashram premises.
Courses and classes at ashrams in Karnataka
For those hoping for a quick get-away from city life, and a chance to rejuvenate the body and the mind, many of the ashrams offer long-term and short-term courses and classes. Though 5-7 days is the average length of most programmes, some ashrams offer 1-day programmes to 14-day programmes. Moreover, many of the ashrams hold classes/courses in smaller centres in the major cities. They provide follow-up options to those visitors/guests/devotees who want to continue the spiritual experience outside the ashram complex.
Many of the ashrams in Karnataka also undertake outreach work, and projects to help neighbouring villagers and under-privileged groups within their ambit. Interested guests/visitors are invited to become a part of these initiatives, which are often enriching and become memorable occasions for them.