25 Reasons Why I Don’t Build Ashrams
1. My website, telegram chat group, and youtube channel are MY ASHRAMS. I give my association there 24/7, through realized vani, to everyone in the whole world, without them having to travel to meet me.
No Limit Online
2. Ashrams are limited to a few souls. There is no limit online.
3. Ashrams needs lots of funds to construct and maintain. I feel the best use of these funds is rather to share the love of Nam online to one and all, rather than to spend these valuable hard-earned donations in just maintaining perishable walls and rooms.
4. Ashrams have the potential to very quickly become infested with politics, abuse, power control, money-making or fund-raising businesses, offenses, etc. And I absolutely can’t tolerate injustice towards anyone. Morever, I really don’t have the time to constantly manage and stop all these weeds from raising their ugly heads. Instead I love my daily sadhana and sharing online without limit. Because ultimately, for real advancement in Bhakti Yoga, it all boils down to listening and singing along with the pure sound vibrations and pure syllables. And these can be easily shared to the whole world online. In fact, Ashram life and management eats away most of our time, leaving us too busy to actually get down to recording these powerful sound vibrations for the present and future generations.
5. Though some of the programs in the Ashram can be recorded and shared online, the sound quality is normally not all that good in such public recordings. Also most of the vani spoken in an Ashram in lost forever anyway, unlike online recordings, where all the spiritual sounds are saved and available to the world in the highest sound quality for a long time to come.
6. Divine knowledge is much more life-changing than the Ashram walls of bricks and cement. One can freely share ebooks, videos, audios, photos, slides, etc. online; which are highest mediums to share transcendental knowledge. Nowadays most people don’t carry books with them like they carry their phones all the time. It is simply because millions of ebooks can be read and searched on just one phone. So why to cut trees and even print paper books anymore? The printing, storage, and distribution of these physical materials needs so many resources and hard work and even then they will reach only a few thousands of souls maximum.
7. People can visit the Ashram for a few days at the most. Most of them can’t stay forever. Ironically Bhakti Yoga is not a part-time or a couple-of-days lifestyle. It is full-time. So my 24/7 online sanga and nourishment inspires souls to do Bhakti Yoga full-time from the comfort of wherever they are in the world.
8. Sometimes devotees lose their faith in Bhakti by associating with neophyte devotees in the Ashram whose behavior is not ideal. But online they can directly get my association in the form of the highest sound vibrations. No via via mediums needed anymore. These mediums may actually give wrong guidance.
9. It takes years upon years to convince those who come to the Ashram about the hidden secrets of the scriptures and my mood in Bhakti Yoga. But those who read, listen, and watch my online vani even for a few months and join me in our Telegram sanga are already in deep knowledge about my Bhakti mood. So I don’t have to start from scratch to teach them about Bhakti Yoga like I may have to in an Ashram.
10. Lavish Deity Worship and Temples were the yuga-dharma of Dvapara Yuga. In Kali Yuga, it is only Nam. And Nam does not need an Ashram, Temple or even a Community. It can be sung on the street for the benefit of all or online recordings can be played on the street. Hari Nam Chintamani states that temples in Kali Yuga cannot help us spiritually because they may become infested with those with ulterior motives. This is why both PremiNitai and Gauranga never established any Temples or Ashrams personally. They just walked all over India and went directly to the people sharing Their love of Nam, instead of trying to bring the people to any temples. This is exactly what we can do for millions via our internet sharing nowadays.
11. Even the Ashrams or Temples which are externally constructed beautifully by spending millions can’t stop the internal politics from ruining and rotting them from the inside. This happens even when great care is taken or strict management is enforced. They may attract a lot of new people to visit them externally after spending millions or billions. But still somehow the sharing of Nam is not as effective as the online sharing of spiritually-surcharged sound vibrations to millions at a much much lower cost and effort.
12. Huge projects need huge maintainence money every month to even keep the status quo running. No amount of donations are enough. They are black holes which devour any amount of donations coming in. Due to this, the focus in an Ashram or Temple may quickly turn more into raising funds at any cost than sharing the love of Nam to those who will never come to the Ashrams.The quality of the Ashram residents and the donations gets compromised because funds become the first priority over everything else. Because without funds the Ashrams may have to close down. Survival matters always get prioritized and quality is sacrificed in the process. One goes into debt to build an Ashram and then running the Ashram eats away the rest of one’s life and resources.
13. Ultimately the goal is to see the Lord within during our spiritual practices. Deity Worship may help with that but Harinam Chintamani states that really serious practitioners completely bypass Deity Worship and just fully concentrate on Nam Smaran to reveal everything within, in its true original form.
14. A spiritually social community in an Ashram may be good but many times it may externalize our consciousness and spiritual practices. We may not be able to spiritually grow strong internally on the strength of our own practice because we always have the crutch of the support of other fellow Ashram residents, who may even give us knowingly wrong advice many times.
15. As someone who has stayed in a Temple Ashram for 12+ years, I can say with practical experience that we end up moving around in the Ashram and talking with the resident and visiting devotees there. Meanwhile days, weeks, and years pass by very quickly. It is like we are living inside a box. We never think of how to give the love of Nam to those who are not interested to come to the Ashram. And that is 99.99% of the people. All we can think of is how to bring more and more souls to that particular Ashram, while 1.5 million people die in the world daily without tasting the love of Nam even once.
16. A illusory belief may creep up within us that those who are not coming to my Ashram or Temple are not at all worthy to receive the love of Nam from us. Ashram residents may get complacent and start selfishly thinking that everyone should come to their Ashram. They start thinking that why do they have to go out of their way and give the love of Nam online or on the streets. They will only welcome and help those who come to their Ashram. Ashram consciousness is a type of groupism where the residents of a particular Ashram identify themselves with that Ashram so much that they fight or compete with devotees of another Ashram or Temple. Their behavior becomes mean towards those who visit other Ashrams. We are already identifying with our bodies and now we start identifying with our communities, groups, sects, guru-sangas, institution, etc. In the way, the 11th offense of sectarianism grabs us very hard.
17. By constantly seeing the faults of the neophyte devotees around us in as Ashram we slowly tend to become critical externally or internally and this severely ruins all our spiritual practices. This is why it is said that it is better to associate with only a few handful of devotees more advanced than us rather than associating with thousands of neophyte devotees. And nowadays such an advanced association can easily be attained online directly right from our phones from wherever we are.
18. I know that Bhakti is transmitted from the heart of a pure devotee to your heart when you are physically near such a devotee. But that same Bhakti can be transmitted through your ears into your heart even more powerfully by listening to the divine online sound vibrations of that pure devotee. I don’t believe those who say that Bhakti can’t be transmitted through online recordings. If that were the case, no one would ever feel the love and bliss in Nam by hearing online. So technically you are not missing out on anything even if you can never get vapu sanga. Online vani sanga in much more superior and ever-lasting as it includes all the potencies of vapu-sanga and much more. In fact even in vapu sanga, all we do is hear the vani. Srila Prabhupada met his Gurudeva physically only a few times in his whole life. But still he brought more new souls into Bhakti Yoga for his Gurudeva than even those who were constantly staying with his Gurudeva physically for decades.
19. The travelling, accomodation, fooding, etc. costs and risks of physically going to an Ashram are completely saved by online vani sanga. Instead they be used to support the sharing of the love of Nam online to one and all.
20. I know many people are travel junkies who love to travel. But at a certain stage in spiritual life, we have to stop that and just sit in one place and internalize our Bhakti Yoga practices if we want to truly advance in Bhakti. And wherever we sit down to do that, we can still continue to get the online vani sanga. This is why online sanga and sharing is much much more important than constructing thousands of Ashrams or Temples which are accessible to a few who can physically visit them.
21. Srila Prabhupada used to say that what will be your 3 hours of talking do. Just give them a book and it may change their lives. This is exactly what we can do via online sharing nowadays. In the Ashram, so much time goes in trying to guide devotees for hours and hours personally by talking to them. Whereas if answers to their questions are made available online, they can not only read or hear them but also share with others who may have the same questions.
22. While staying in an Ashram, it is easier to become kind of selfish for only our own deliverance by only thinking of our own sadhana, sadhana, and sadhana all the time. We might forget that the real kripa-siddhi lies in sharing the love of Nam online or offline to those who will never come to the Ashram.
23. Ideally in a pure Ashram, the donations coming from only those who practice Bhakti should be used to buy grains and foodstuffs for cooking and offering. And the other donations from those who don’t practice should be used only for sharing the love of Nam. But this is followed only in very very few Ashrams if at all. So the minds of the residents of the Ashrams may remain very disturbed by eating even offered prasadam cooked from the money of those who are not practicing Bhakti Yoga sincerely. This is confirmed in the pastime of Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami in Chaitanya Charitamrita. This problem is not present when one does not live in an Ashram as one uses one’s own money to buy grains and footstuffs to cook for the Lord and then honor His prasadam. Also in the Ashram our consciousness is left to the mercy of the consciousness of the cook and one who offers the bhoga to the Lord. Sometimes the hygiene is also compromised. Whereas at our own place, we can cook and offer ourselves to the Lord with full cleanliness while attentively listening and remembering to realized sound vibrations. We can buy footstuffs with our own auspicious money which we have earned while remembering the Lord.
24. My nature is to give full personal attention, care, and love to everyone I personally meet. So when I meet resident or visiting devotees in the Ashram, I give myself fully for hours to inquire about their smallest needs, dispelling their doubts, etc. And more than half of my day goes in that. Then I can't produce the realized sounds for long-term online sharing as there is no time left in the day. And at the end of the day, whatever I speak with the devotees in the Ashram is all lost and forgotten forever. Only the vani which I have recorded and uploaded remains accessible online for the whole world year after year.
25. One argument could be that internet is too much Maya and taboo for devotees. A knife is neither good or bad on its own. It depends on whether it is used in surgery to save lives or to hurt someone. Similarly internet can be very effectively used to hear divine sounds and give love for the Nam to millions of souls in one shot or for harmful indulgence. Devotees used to fall down even before the existence of the internet. If one wants to engage in acts of self-harm and indulge in harmful thoughts, then one can easily do it even without internet. Self-control needs to be cultivated not just in the use of internet but in any field of life. And even if we wanted, we can't get rid of the internet nowadays.
I will conclude by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s quote that we should endeavor to build a temple of Bhakti in the hearts of the people and a temple of transcendental soul-saving content. Rather than waste collossal amounts of money, time, resources, and efforts to build a persishable temples or ashrams of mundane bricks, iron, and cement.
This is why I choose to share the highest possible Bhakti vani sanga online 24/7/365 and have one or two festivals during the year especially during Nityananda Trayodashi etc. where all can come and receive my vapu sanga. Here I have provided reasons about my own personal choice not to build Ashrams or Temples. I am not saying here that no one should build or run Ashrams or Temples. It is just a matter of personal choice. Hare Krishna! Jai Guruvarga! Dandavat pranams.