Messages of Bro D J Ajith Kumar

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Messages of Br. D J Ajith Kumar

 

Christian Ashrams in Indian Mission

 

The concept of Ashram has been prevailed since the Vedantic period ( BC 1500 to BC 700) in India. The Ashram movement was started by a few reformers and thinkers in the religions in India as a protest against the meaningless ritualistic practice and traditional void religiosity. They went away from the temple worship and official priestly religion to preferably the forests, mountains, riverbanks   and isolated places in search of God and Truth. They primarily focused only on their spiritual elevation and for which they practiced meditation, concentration, contemplation, yoga and so on. They were practically trying to renounce all worldly pleasures seeking nirvana or moksha, the real liberation of the spirit. They were gradually known as seers or rishis.

Similarly, even in the Bible, this concept of rishis is evidently seen in the Old Testament. Whenever the religion failed in knowing the mainstream of Yahweh’s law and plan, whenever the official priests could not speak on behalf of the exploited, marginalized and the oppressed mankind, God raised Prophets to protest and speak against injustice and unrighteousness. These prophets were also known as seers( former prophets like Samuel, Elijah, Elisha etc) which means rishis. They habitually lived in the isolated mountains, deserts or wilderness.   

As was mentioned earlier, traditionally an Ashram is a religious hermitage. It would typically, but not always, be located far from human habitation, in forests or mountainous regions, amidst refreshing natural surroundings conducive to spiritual instruction and meditation. 

The idea of a Christian ashram was first proposed in 1912 by Rev. K.T. Paul, then General Secretary of the National Missionary Society.  His motivation was both evangelical and social. He suggested social works like medical aid and work for self-support as part of the ashram life, these to be linked to the spiritual quest.  

Thus, the first Christian Ashram appeared in 1917; founded at Satara by the Maharastrian Christian poet Narayan Vaman Tilak, where he spoke of Jesus as the guru, and of swaraj (the idea of self-rule that Gandhi was then propounding) as the Kingdom of God in men’s hearts.

In 1921 rose the Ashram of E. Forrester-Paton and S. Jesudason, the Christukula (Family of Christ) at Tirupattur, Tamilnadu. Particularly since the experiment of Monchanin and Abhishiktananda, Christian Ashrams have more and more been established in India, among which the best known are Kurisumala Ashram under its founder and Acharya Francis Mahieu, Saccidananda Ashram where Bede Griffiths has been continuing the spirit of its founders Monchanin and Abhishiktananda, the Christa Panthi Sangh, 

A Mar Thoma Syrian Church ashram at Sihora near Jabalpur, founded in 1942 by some theological students of Serampore College, and the Deshnur missionaries, Swami Animananda, Swami Arulananda and others. 

But eventually, the protestant Christian Ashram movement began to decline and unfortunately now many Christian Ashrams in India are in a dying stage. Studies show various reasons for the failure of Ashram movement.  

The first is the lack of Acharyas, leaders who can live in celibacy and has a comprehensive knowledge about the major religions in India. 

Then, many Christian Ashrams have clandestinely supported the different activities of freedom struggle in India and conducted discussions and meetings in the Ashram premises. When it came to the notice of the Britishers, they had decided to discourage the Christian Ashram movement to a great extent. The movement of Swaraj and indigenous presentation of the gospel were misunderstood by the official church as a factor of their threat. Thus, the Christian Ashram movement was badly affected by the political involvement of Britishers.  

Further, the isolated life style of Ashram inmates which does not have relationship with the society. But Christian spirituality is not self-centered, isolated and detached from the society but always attached with the society and for the society- “the salt of the earth and the light of this world.”

Furthermore, the non cooperation from the established churches and organizations have also become a reason for the failure of Christian Ashrams. It also resulted the financial constrains in the day to day affairs of Ashrams.

Here, the GMI resolves the answer for these for the glory of God and the extension of evangelism. Thus, the GMI started Ashram ministry with the prior motto of the evangelization of India by solving these issues- gave a Neo-Christian Ashram Movement in Mission in India . “Giving living water in Indian cup” is the foremost approach of Ashram ministry founded by the GMI. The first Ashram was started in Kerala (Kristukripa in  Kattakada, Trivandrum District) in 1993.  The second Ashram is in Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, dedicated  on 22nd of July 2009 by Acharya Daya Prakash, the father of Christian Sat-Sanghs in India. He was also the resident Acharya in the Kristukripa Ashram of GMI.

Activities of Ashram

Sat-Sangh: Regular Sat-sanghs are being conducted here. Sat-sanghs are also arranged in the cities and semi cities in India under the banner of Ashrams.

SMRITY: School of Major Religions and Indian Christian Theology, a systematic teaching through which Acharyas are getting trained.

Dialogue: Inter-faith, inter-church, inter-political dialogues are arranged.  

Yoga: Training is given through various courses ( from Diploma to Post graduate degree) in affiliation with Annamalai University, one of the well-known universities in India.

Social Activities in the Ashram:

Vocational Training programmes, Gurukulam: Free tuition centre, Medical Aid, Happy Family Mission( Adoption of suffering families),  Annadanam in Hospitals etc.

Other spiritual meetings : Regular worship service, Fasting prayer, Bible class, Revival meetings and so on are also being conducted here.

Major Ashrams of GMI: Kristukripa Ashram, Kattakada, Kerala, Kirubai Ashram, Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, Shanti Ashram, Nagpur etc. 

Result: Many are attracted towards the Gospel through Ashram ministry. 

In the Ashrams of GMI the following description has been written at the entrance gate to introduce the approach the Ashram.  

“This Ashram is not a place of any religion. ‘Spirituality above Religiosity’ is the main message of this Ashram. People who belong to any religion irrespective of their caste, creed or gender are welcome here. Here everyone is considered equal and there is no discrimination whatsoever. The Dhyanam (meditation) and Japam (Prayer), which are held here are free for all. Kristu (Jesus Christ) is the guru (Teacher) of this Ashram and it is believed that He is the Satguru (Eternal Teacher), Paramguru (Absolute Teacher) and Jagatguru (Universal Teacher). The faith of this Ashram is that Kristu is the final and perfect revelation of God, the ultimate reality. God had been revealing Himself to this world in various ways and in different times and in these last days, he who incarnated in flesh came to this world as Kristu. A person can attain Moksha (Salvation) by believing in one God, the ultimate reality and accepting His final revelation, that is, Kristu (Jesus Christ). That is, accepting Kristu as one’s personal Saviour and Guru (Lord) and also by obeying His teachings one by one”.

 

  

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