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Householder Ashrama

Group Seva
Episode No. 84

What does “Ashrama” mean? What does it mean to be practicing Ashrama while living a householder life? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi.

first words from the podcast

A Jaya Kula student’s mother made the comment, “Isn’t it interesting to have a monastic householder tradition?” And she was describing Jaya Kula as a monastic householder tradition. Of course that’s an oxymoron, but it’s an interesting comment. I wanted to talk about that by starting with talking about what are called the ashramas.

Ashrama means something that is natural to your desire. Ma said that ashrama means without effort or without struggle. Of course, most of us are familiar with the word ‘ashram’ — a place where you go if you want to renounce the world or take a break from the world. Those are anything but places without struggle in my experience! So, the ashram is the Hindu version of a monastery.

But in a more general sense, in the Indian cultural tradition, the ashramas are the proper stages of a human life. The first stage is Brahmacharya. In sort of main-stream conventional way of looking at Brahmacharya it means celibate. It means having the conduct of Brahma, being celibate. Celibacy, could mean something gross — in the sense of literal — meaning you don’t have sex. Or it can mean something more refined — meaning that you have no attachments, that you are in life without attachment, without compulsion.

Sometimes people think that to be detached or without attachments — or to be in a state of equanimity — means that you don’t have any emotions or desires. It doesn’t mean that. It means that you don’t feel a compulsion to repeat things. You don’t feel a compulsion to chase after things. When things get lost or destroyed, you aren’t upset unduly by that.