Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Ashram Mean?

An ashram is the name traditionally given to a spiritual hermitage or a Hindu monastery. It can be used to describe the place where a spiritual or religious guru and their disciples live. The term may also be used to describe the community of people who reside in such a place.

Ashrams are usually secluded places separated from the rest of society. They are places devoted to spiritual activities like yoga, meditation or religious instruction.

From the Sanskrit root word srama, ashram means “making an effort toward liberation.”


Yogapedia Explains Ashram

Ashrams have existed in India for thousands of years. They are mostly associated with Hinduism, although other religions, including Christianity, have also adopted the model of the ashram as a spiritual retreat or residence. Historically, ashrams were located in remote places, well away from the rest of the community. They would often be in beautiful rural locations, such as forests or mountain ranges, with the natural surroundings to enhance the spiritual practices taking place there.

Although ashrams are generally considered as places to find spiritual peace and tranquility, they were also sometimes used as places for instruction in other disciplines such as martial arts. They also sometimes functioned as schools for the children of gurus.

These days, ashrams are not necessarily in such remote places, and a religious or spiritual guru and his/her disciples may choose any location to live. Usually representing a return to a simpler way of living with a focus on awakening and finding meaning in life, modern day ashrams have been established in the West in places such as Virginia, New York and Canada. They also are often still within the Indian lineage and they tend to focus on yoga. There, yogis who wish to deepen their practice and knowledge, may study the scriptures, meditate, practice yoga and perform karma yoga duties.

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