An ASHRAM is an abode of ACTIVE REST from the turmoils and labours of life.
It means, where there is no worldly effort.
NA + SHRAMA = NO EFFORT = ASHRAMA
But there is a spiritual effort.
The effort to abide, where God is present.
God is present within man and also present in the universe. It empowers both.
Thus the POWER OF GOD vivifies man and the universe, in being what they are.
Hence mortal man blooms into divinity and the universe blooms as nature.
Thus the biblical saying goes to indicate the destiny of man.
“MAN WAS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.”
But WHERE was GODS IMAGE made in man???
It is there, that one should learn to abide in order to have the God-experience in due course.
That is why, that place is called an ashram.
It is the true abode of a monk, nun, hermit, sadhu or a Swami, who is in a contemplative state.
But in popular parlance, the physical place of abode, or residence of a monk or sadhu is also called an ashram.
This is how it is well known in India.
A residential place.
Hence a true ashram should not have a worldly agenda, toil, labour and service of any order.
It should be an exclusive residence or place only for contemplation.
Any other intention defeats its purpose.
Even scholarship and scriptural study is to be relegated to the background.
As the scripture is no more than a tourist guide map.
One has to ‘WALK THE WAY’ as the expression goes.
That is, one has to live the understanding, by abiding in the place where there is no effort and where God is ever present.
The EFFORT to be in the NO-EFFORT STATE.
That is where NIRVANA will eventually transpire.
Therefore this is the main purpose in entering a physical ashram or monastery, so that one can find the environment to so abide in the true ashram present within every mortal being.
But if the ashram as an institution has a worldly or any other agenda, then it defeats it’s said purpose and thereby UNSPIRITUAL people join the club and vitiate the atmosphere therein, with their worldly nature and agenda.
This is the fate of ashrams all over India.
Hence a good monk or sadhu or swami never remains for long in any one of these institutions.
He does not want to be institutionalised.
He is normal.
I was once asked in a T.V. interview in the U.S.A. by the hostess “that I do not belong to an institution.”
I replied to her “Yes, I am normal”.
And she had a big chuckle out of it.
Therefore he chooses to LIVE ALONE, unattached to any so called ashrams or institutions.
Nor does he create one of his own.
As such, ashrams cater to the misfits, unfits and no-fits.
Therefore beware before you join these clubs wittingly or unwittingly.
Spiritual life is a ONE TO ONE dialogue with God, or rather to be more precise, with your God-nature eternally and ever-present within you.
Try to understand this fact and live your life accordingly.
If not, you will be vegetating in these institutions, and spiritual stagnation transpires.
Rather, have the courage and the strength to live on your own, in whatever manner it deems fit for you.
Thus live alone in your true ashram.
Thus will you be in TUNE with your Divine Nature ever present within you.