Does the Ram Nam chanted in Ashram refer to Dasaratha Ram?
Beloved Papa has made it clear: ‘My Ram is the great Truth, Impersonal, dwelling in the hearts of all beings and creatures in the universe. He is the all-pervading, immanent and all-transcendent Reality. He has assumed the forms of all beings and things and He is Dasaratha’s son also. He is the all-inclusive and all-transcendent Supreme Godhead’.
Can we chant any name of God? Why is Ram Nam chanted here?
Any name of God we hold dear can be chanted. What is important is to know that the Name represents God who is within us. However, in Anandashram, right from its inception, our Masters chose Ram Nam – OM SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM – as the mainstay. It was through Ram Nam they scaled the heights. Moreover, in an organisation for the sake of uniformity, one Name has to be chosen. If devotees chant different names aloud, there will be total confusion.
Is Nama-chanting instrumental in connecting us with rest of the creation? '?
The mind that listens to the chanting is at once arrested, leading the aspirant to the Source of all sources, known variously as Love, Stillness, Awareness, Truth, Bliss or Peace within. This experience gradually enables the aspirant to feel the presence of this Source in the rest of the creation. Then it is realized that this Great Reality provides all that is needed for every individual through other creations, thus paving the way for the individual to get connected with each other just like the various organs of the body functioning in unison.
Are spiritual life and mundane life two distinct compartments as they often appear to be?
Initially, mundane life and spiritual life may appear to be distinct just as we have a separate room for Puja or worship distinct from other rooms in our homes. The purpose of going to the Puja room is to acknowledge that there is a higher Power that regulates everything in our life. Worship of this Power, backed by spiritual disciplines and with the right concept, will gradually enable us to accept that He is the Master and we are the servants and that anything and everything that He makes us handle are to be dedicated as offerings to Him. When we reach that stage we may not need a separate Puja room, as we conduct our affairs everywhere as worshipful offerings. Similarly, when we start feeling through His constant remembrance that everything is actuated by Him only, we will not see any difference between mundane duties and spiritual practices, because, gradually we are bound to consider all our activities are going on as prompted by Him only.
Are Jnana, Bhakti and Karma (knowledge, devotion, action) different paths?
Actually these three are not separate. All of them are integral in every successful endeavour. Suppose we want to prepare a cup of tea, we should know the ingredients required, the process of preparation and also know what tools we need for the task. Apart from this knowledge, we should have the necessary interest or dedication required for the task. Then, we also need to actually get busy with the act of preparing the tea. When these three are perfectly aligned, the tea prepared will be of high quality giving joy to whom it is offered and also the person who prepared it. Similarly, in our spiritual path also we have to combine knowledge, devotion and action. That is why in Anandashram the triune path of Nama Dhyana and Seva is suggested.
In the Ashram, we see pictures of many saints and Masters. What do they convey?
Although Anandashram has its own spiritual practices and routine, it also recognises that all paths advocated by different saints lead to the same goal. As stated by Swami Rama Tirtha, “It is wrong to prevent the aspirants from receiving Truth from any source by placing walls around them. You’ve the right to look at the sky through any door or window; in fact, you’ve the right to leave the house and enjoy the whole heaven in the open air.” So, all Masters are revered at Anandashram.
Why does Anandashram keep a low-profile?
The Ashram stands on the bedrock of the truth that it is God who arranges all things in the Ashram in His own way. So nothing is initiated by the Ashram as such. Hence, the Ashram does not have to engage in any form of self-promotion.
Why don’t we find here any images or symbols of traditional worship, including rituals?
Symbols no doubt help the beginner to dwell on God remembrance. But there is a risk involved in hanging on to such external props throughout, in the sense that it may condition our mind to limit the all-pervading Reality to that limited form. We are aiming at a vision that should have the flexibility for expansion and universalisation. Hence in Anandashram no image worship or rituals and the like are encouraged. To idealize the universal aspect we are asked to always feel that the whole Universe is our Ashram and we are in Anandashram to realize this truth.
How does this Ashram relate to the rest of the world?
The Ashram is not confined to promoting a contemplative life only. In a subtle way, it encourages devotees to be involved in any form of Seva through which they feel a sense of fulfilment, both inside and outside the Ashram. The Ashram through various programmes such as Nama Yagna, prayers for world peace, publications, value education initiatives etc. connects itself with the society at large
What does Ashram do for the growing generation who needs guidance on the meaning and purpose of life?
By motivating the teachers to integrate human values with academics in the form of live examples drawn from daily life, the Ashram is trying to reach out to the growing generation who are the hope of the future. Human values connect one properly with the rest of the creation resulting in inspiring them to move from ‘me’ to ‘we’.