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The Ashram was set up in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, the celebrated philosopher-poet. Born in Kolkata in 1872 to a rich Bengali family, Aurobindo began the practice of Yoga in 1905 and 5 years later he moved to Pudcherry from Bengal.
During his 40 years tenure at Puducherry, Aurobindo worked out a new system of mind development which he called Integral Yoga. His philosophical writings and poetry-lofty and impenetrable to the casual reader attract worldwide attention. Later Mirra Alfassa, a French painter-sculptor who had followed the same path like Aurobindo, joined him later. Together, in1926, they founded an ashram where his belief -'All life is Yoga'- could be put into practice. Later Mirra Alfassa, came to be known as the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It was the Mother who launched the community of Auroville, which flourishes ten kilometers outside of Puducherry. After Aurobindo’s death in 1950, the running of the Ashram was entrusted by Mirra Alfassa. She died in 1973 at the age of 93.
Administered by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, a public charitable trust formed by the Mother in 1955, the Ashram is located in the eastern part of Puducherry. It is an enchanting ashram where devotees from India and abroad come from all over the world. A beautiful flower garden greet as one enter the Ashram compound. Consist of several buildings this Ashram is one of the richest in the country. With about two thousand members and four hundred buildings spread throughout the seaside tourist town of Pondichrry, the Ashram today feels less like a retreat, ranging from handmade paper and steel dinnerware to Ayurvedic medicines and the famous Auroshika incense. There are no gurus or teachers other than Aurbodindo and the Mother. In the sadhana or spiritual discipline at the Ashram, there are no compulsory meditations, mantras, yoga exercises, no rituals, although all of these things can be done to prepare the body and mind for the Supramental descent. A practitioner has full freedom to select his course and pace of their sadhana in accordance with their own natures and the general principle of the sadhana is; there must be a surrender to the Divine and an opening to the Divine Force so that it may work to transform one's being.
Today, the Ashram community - almost Indian- consists of thirteen hundred inmates handpicked by the Mother herself, five hundred students, enrolled in a unique free progress school designed by the Mother and five hundred devotees who work in ashram business but make their own living arrangements. The ashram also promotes a lot of cultural and education activities in Puducherry.
The Ashramites live and work in a large number of buildings
spread throughout the area. The main building, usually called as 'the
Ashram' consists of an interconnected block of houses, most of them are
walking distance from the ashram. It is situated on the corner of Marine
St and Manukala Vinayagar Koil Street. One can see an English-speaking
guide in front of this building. The spiritual center of the ashram is
a complex of four houses, two of which, at different times where the homes
of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
One can see followers meditating in this building. Inside Cameras are forbidden and bags must be keep outside. It is open to all visitors between 9 am and 6 pm daily and those staying at the guest houses are permitted to visit the shrine untill 11 pm. There is a collective meditation around the samadhi courtyard from 7.30 to 7. 50 pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This is open to everyone. No pass is required.
The self-sufficient ashram unit has a factory that manufactures incense sticks, hand made papers, greeting cards, perfumed candles and the likes. These are very popular and sold in the domestic and international market and one can ensure its reliability of quality. The ashram also runs craft workshops for weaving, embroidery, batik, pottery etc and supplying the essential needs of the inmates from shoemakers and tailors to plumbers and physicians. The Ashram has the facilities of both Allopathic and Ayurvedic clinics, a theater, a dance and a concert hall (for both India and Western Music). According to the founders of the Ashram, Music and art are the direct channels to the Divine.
The Ashram consists of over 80 departments which include
farms, gardens, healthcare, guesthouses and engineering units many others.
Bureau Central is the Ashram information centre for visitors to know the
details regarding the Ashram and its activities. Exhibition and Video
programmes of life and yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother conducts at
Bureau Central. Timing of Video programmes : Everyday in the morning (except
Sundays) and in the afternoon on Tuesdays and Fridays. A large map of
Pondicherry with relevant places marked on it can be available at this