By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 01-12-2016
After leaving the United States in 2006, my wife and I spent a few months in Kuriako Siddhashram at Palaruvi Waterfalls, Kollam District. Then we proceeded to Shantisadan Siddhashram near Munnar, surrounded by lovely hills and beautiful climate. Shantisadan Siddhashram in Sanskrit mean Abode of Peace Center for Realization. Here we strive for Unity of Humanity (Sarvaloka Aykyam) and Friendship among all Religions (Sarvamatha Sauhrudam). As we believe all religions chart their course to God in their particular way, and as we believe all humans are children of the One God who is our Father and Mother, we seek cooperation with all persons of good will in achieving as harmonious and joyful a living as possible on our earth, and finally end in God Realization conceived differently as Salvation or Liberation (Moksham or Mukti or Nirvana). Regarding all God’s children as equal we follow in our daily living a spirituality beyond religions (Mathaatheetha Aatmiyatthwam) a relationship beyond blood ties (Raktaatheetha Bandham), and a life beyond political parties. Freedom of worship and of expression of ideas is encouraged. Respectful tolerance for disagreements is necessary as we are all bound by love, truth, and compassion as children of God. In the ashram we have vegetarian food, an atmosphere free of drugs and alcohol, and a general climate conducive for meditation, contemplation, and relaxation. Day begins officially at 7 AM with Satsang (coming together of saints/inmates) and ends with Satsang beginning at 8 PM. Great Silence is followed between 10 PM and 7 AM during which time all are recommended to rest, relax, and prepare for the following day. Discrimination or abuse of any kind is strictly forbidden.
As we complete 10 years perched in the foothills of Chokramudi, I would like to mention some significant developments. Building construction taking into account the lay of the land is mostly over. Statues of some significant persons in religions and history as models of humanity have been erected on the main road at the entrance of the ashram. These statues are meant to convey unity, humanity, service, and great ideals for all. There is on-going landscaping and planting of flowers. Growing organic vegetables and fruits are in the process. Currently we produce sufficient milk for the ashram needs and the needs of a few neighbors. The ashram is modeled on the teachings of Christ according to which the early disciples came together, held things in common, contributed according to their ability, and partook of the good life according to their need. The ashram is striving to approximate that ideal. Gandhian spirit is evidenced in that all work is respected and no job is below anyone’s dignity. All ashramites are encouraged to do some manual work and also to keep the premises clean. Currently visitors to the ashram seeking spiritual or psychological help spend a few hours or few days according to their need. We have a long way to go. All in all, hospitality and an atmosphere for all to grow and to become what they are capable of are distinguishing marks of the ashram.
About The Author
Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.