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Ashrams and money collection!
Ashrams should be built on Faith and Love!
None should feel that he has advanced well in spiritual path. In fact, this is the greatest obstruction in the path of spiritual aspirant. Spiritual egoism will bring instant downfall. It is alright for ordinary human beings to retain a little ego for living in this world and also for taking care of his dependents. A spiritual aspirant should always be humble and never exhibit his devotion in public. 90 out of 100 spiritual aspirants fall to this trap. First, the ego thrives due to body attachment. Hence, it is vital that a devotee should shed the poisonous ego. Why? Ego breeds all the evil in this world. It makes one proud and greedy. Yes, even a spiritual aspirant is easily caught in the coil of greed arising from pride.
Today, many so called preceptors gather disciples and expand the ‘Ashram’, he found. To cater to the needs of his followers, money is essential. Hence many such activities which bring money into the Ashram are fostered. First, there will be huge ‘hundies’ for the devotees to deposit money for maintaining the Ashram premises, feeding the inmates, maintaining ‘cowsheds’. Yes, the retinue grows beyond imagination. Then garden and trees are grown inside the ashram for conducting rituals which require flowers and fruits. Most of the activities are done by ‘volunteers’. Seminars are held, discourses are regular affair. Books and periodicals along with photos of god are sold inside the arena. In many ashrams, herbal foods, herbal medicines and herbal drinks are sold. Canteen facilities, living quarters for the disciples and visiting devotees are constructed slowly expanding the area. Thus, within two or three years, the entire appearance of the humble ashram becomes palace like. I don’t deny that these are all some essentials for running the ashram. But slowly collections become huge due to the cohersion of the disciples. I don’t deny that money is essential for running an Ashram but it should not become business like.
In the media, we often come across many such bigwigs who have developed clout with the government and enjoy all the perks. Also the media is ripe with many gurus are convicted for certain crimes and are spending jail terms. Many shrewd gurus travel to overseas countries to establish branches. There is no dearth for such gurus. But one or two genuine gurus are being painted in the same brush of scandals though they avoid any thing to do with money, fame or personal comforts. I can point out here; Swami Vivekananda and Parmahamsa Yogananda are two great stalwarts who spread the ancient wisdom of scriptures in many foreign countries. They were penniless when they undertook the journey to other countries. As flowers with honey attract honey bees, many spiritual aspirants gathered around them and enjoyed their teachings. Hence, money should never be the criteria for spreading wisdom. When the intentions are holy, all resources will come on its own.
When Vivekananda was once traveling in India by train, the train halted at a wayside station. It was terrific summer and the Vivekananda was hungry and thirsty but he never mentioned this to any. While he was seated in the platform in the heat, a villager with a bundle of food and water ran towards him and offered it to him. The villager told him that when he was resting in his house, the Lord appeared in his dream and asked him to run to the station with food and water since my devotee is hungry. Such is the love of God towards his genuine devotee. He feels the hunger and instantly sends food. This could be possible only when one completely surrenders himself to god.
This has happened in the case of Yogananda also. When he visited the temple of Kali in the mid noon and was meditating outside the temple, the Pujari ran towards him and offered him sumptuous meals. But in this case, without asking, mother Kali provided food at such time. The practice there is that one should inform prior hand requirement of food. Then only it will be kept aside. But without any intimation, Yogananda was served food. The only criterion is selfless love and service. Both Vivekananda and Yogananda were utterly selfless and had pure love towards the entire creation!