Hindu Ashrams and Hindu Organizations
An "ashram" in ancient
India was a Hindu hermitage where sages lived in peace and tranquility
amidst nature. Today, the term "ashram" is sometimes used to refer to an
intentional community formed primarily for spiritual upliftment of its
members, often headed by a religious leader or mystic.
Traditionally, ashrams were located far from human habitation, in forests or
mountainous regions, amidst refreshing natural surroundings conducive to
spiritual instruction and meditation. The residents of an ashram regularly
performed spiritual and physical exercises, such as the various forms of
Yoga. Other sacrifices and penances, such as Yajnas were also performed.
Many ashrams also served as Gurukuls or residential schools for children.
The word "ashram" in Sanskrit also means "toil, penance, or austerity" as
separate from the term "asraya" (āśraya), which means "protection or
Ashrams have been a powerful symbol throughout Hindu history and theology.
Most Hindu kings, until the medieval ages, are known to have had a sage who
would advise the royal family in spiritual matters, or in times of crisis,
who was called the rajguru, which literally translates to royal teacher. A
world-weary emperor going to this guru's ashram, and finding solace and
tranquility, is a recurring motif in many folktales and legends of ancient