The daily routine of the ashram

For 45 years, the day has been started with morning chanting of the Vishnu sahasranamam and Saraswathy Upanishad, with the timing varying as per seasons. In the summertime it is from 5.30 am to 7 am and in winter it is 7 to 8.30 am. Most of the ashram inmates and students participate in this chant. After this, inmates or guests may ask swamiji questions – a wonderful opportunity especially for western students to receive traditional knowledge imparted by a senior monk of Himalayas.

Tea and breakfast are served at 8 am. From 9.30 to 11.30 am is swami Premanada’s spiritual lecture. This is one of the main features of the ashram in which a rare ancient scripture of Eastern Advaita Vedanta philosophy, the YOGA –VASISHTA is discussed. Swami Premananda is one of the most proficient scholars in this scripture and has been teaching this text since 1961. Lunch is at 12.30. After this, guests and seekers can enjoy some resting time. 3.30pm is afternoon tea time.

From 5.30 to 7.00 pm the Ramayana, Hanuman Chalisa, Siva Niranjana, Siva Mahimna stothra are chanted by students and guests of the ashram, followed by a wonderful kirtan section where anybody can sing religious or spiritual holy songs.

Food and shelter for sadhaks and sadhus

Swami Premananda’s ashram is one of the major ashrams in India where spiritual seekers (sadhaks) and traditional monks (sadhus) are provided with free food and shelter. Sadhaks come every year in large numbers from all parts of the world. Regardless of their tradition or religion or caste, Swamiji provides them with a place to keep their luggage, a bed and food. Some stay up to six months, others for three days, and others still for up to two years. Some go and come back after a few months. This has been happening for 10 years. Each year hundreds of sadhaks and sadhus come and go. Monks come alone or sometimes come with groups of devotees. Some widely renowned monks who are running large ashrams and temples in southern and northern India also come every year for 41 days in Uttarkashi. They stay with Swami Premanada in his ashram. Among these monks are Vallabh Chaitanya Gayathri guruji from Bangalore or Swami Atmananda Saraswathy from Uttarpradesh (a direct disciple of swami sivananda who took sanyasa along with Premananda in 1950s and then stayed in Uttarkashi).

Presently, due to increased terrorist activities in India and the fear that terrorists might seek hiding in ashrams, there is a legal obligation to keep records and contact details of foreign spiritual seekers. Visitors are thus asked to fill out a specific form which can be verified by the police. No drugs, alcohols or illegal activities are allowed inside the ashram and in the case of any acts against government laws; Swami Premananda has total authority to expel such a guest from the ashram, whether he or she is a staff member, a student, a sadhak or a sadhu. Devices like satellite phones are restricted in these mountain areas unless the government gives special permission.