The Art of Living Bangalore Ashrams had always been revered as abodes of knowledge, meditation and bliss in ancient India. The Bangalore Ashram of The Art of Living is an embodiment of the ashram of ancient times but with an essence of modernity, in keeping with the times. It is serene yet dynamic, calm yet animated and crackling with zip and verve. The ashram’s undulating landscape and winding paths are spread over 65 acres of the Panchagiri Hills, 21kms southwest of Bangalore. The shores of a tranquil lake skirt the southern edge of the ashram. The RadhaKunj gardens, next to the lake, are home to Indrani and Maheshwara, a pair of elephants, deer, some rabbits, a pair of geese and a number of water birds. The Vedic Gurukul nearby comes alive every dawn and dusk with chantings from the scriptures. Soak in this totally unforgettable experience!
Even before the Sun ambles over the eastern horizon, the ashram is steeped in the morning meditation sessions. The hallowed VishalakshiMantap, the halls-Saraswati, Maitreyi, Shankara, Gauri, Buddha, Mahaveer and Krishna- reverberate with chants and japas. People in various yoga postures breathe in the fresh, pure and invigorating ashram air and revel in this oases of verdant beauty. The aroma of simple saatvik meal at breakfast time reminds us that food doesn’t have to be oily and spicy to be tasty. Primarily south Indian in flavor, there’s a little bit of everything from other parts of the country, too.
Seva forms an integral part of the day and is the bedrock of ashram activities. The kitchen, gowshala, gardens, offices-all require seva. This aids in breaking barriers, mostly self-imposed, about what one is capable of or not. One learns the simple pleasures of doing something without expecting anything in return-karma yoga. One learns that the more whole hearted the seva the deeper the meditation.
Lunch is a simple vegetarian meal comprising rice, chappati/Indian bread , greens and lentils, washed down with freshly prepared buttermilk seasoned with ginger and green chillies. After the post-lunch sessions and after the offices break for the day, everyone gets together to sing, dance and celebrate and soak in the soulful satsangs. When Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is in the ashram the satsang is the time when he talks to, meets and answers questions put forth by the devotees.
Ananapurna, the ashram kitchen, an ISO 22000:2005 certified establishment serves more than 30, 000 meals a day and can feed more than 70,000 people per day. Three other cafes dot the campus- Café Vishala, an eatery with a predominantly continental flavor but famous for its cakes, pastries and fresh juices with fruits picked from the ashram orchards, a Food Stall, near the Reception, at the entrance to the ashram and Swadhishta, another joint with a variety of snacks, ice creams, juices and a few chinese food items.
The Gowshala, home to over a hundred indigenous cows of various Indian breeds such as the Ongol from Andhra Pradesh, Kangayan from Tamil Nadu, the Gir from Gujarat and the Sahiwal from Punjab. The ashram has taken it upon itself to conserve the Indian breeds’ germplasm so that the purity of the gene pool can be maintained.
A five-acre certified organic garden consisting of fruit trees, herbs, vegetables, an area for small fruits (strawberries and blueberries) and a section for green manure to revitalize the soil. Aeroponics, growing plants in the air without soil or other substances, is the latest venture at the ashram that grows fodder for the animals and a few vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, amaranth for the kitchen.
Panchkarma, at Krishna Kutir, is a Kerala inspired therapy centre amidst swaying palms, paddy fields and vegetable patches. The ambience is so restful that just being there is therapeutic. The greenery, the healing energy that permeates the facility and the ideal environment to soak in the rejuvenating effects of the marma therapy and nine more authentic Ayurveda packages make it a one-of-its-kind spa and treatment centre. ‘Panchamrut’, the restaurant is a part of the spa and offers delicious, healthful thalis, among other food items. Food is prepared not more than three hours before serving, and fruit salads and juices are freshly blended, with all the ingredients sourced from the ashram’s organic farm.
The ashram is always abuzz with activity and projects which are organized not only in India but all over the world. From Murmansk, near the Arctic Circle, to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, The Art of Living has a presence in more than a 155 countries in the world.
The most important rule of this ashram: You can come here with all your worries, concerns, tensions and botherations, but you cannot take them back with you.
To know more about the ashram campus, click here