Hypnotic Mayawati अद्वैत आश्रम और स्वामी विवेकानंद

Hypnotic Mayawati   अद्वैत आश्रम और स्वामी विवेकानंद

There is an over 100 year old building – the Advaita Ashrama – and a relatively modern building used as the hospital. Advaita Ashrama is the place where Swami Vivekananda spent some time during his wanderings in the Himalayas.

By Nivedita Khandekar


am sure the heading of this write up has instantly conjured up an image of the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in your mind. I am also sure you are wondering why would anyone call the Samajwadi Party leader as hypnotic, right?

But this Mayawati, about which I am going to write here, is entirely different. It is the name of a place. Uttarakhandis (resident and non-resident) are sure to know about this beautiful place nestled in the lap of the Himalayas at an altitude of 6,400 feet. But I am not sure about those frequently travelling to Uttarakhand. Hence this write up to lure them to visit Mayawati.

Surrounded by dense forest of deodar, pine and oak, Mayawati is about 9-odd kms from Lohaghat in Champawat district of Uttarakhand. Apart from the locals, those associated with the Ramakrishna Math or readers of the Ramakrishna Vivekananda literature too are aware of this place, which is truly hypnotic. They know this place for the unique Advaita Ashrama here.

One can reach the ashram via the motorable winding road along the hills or through a trek through the jungles, which reduces the distance but needs your time and energy. But needless to add, the trek through lovely woods would be worth much more. Locals regularly use it as there are no public transport vehicles taking the motorable road and one has to hire a cab.


Advaita Ashram at Mayawati  (Photo: Nivedita Khandekar)

There is an over 100 year old building – the Advaita Ashrama – and a relatively modern building used as the hospital. Advaita Ashrama (http://www.advaitaashrama.org/Home) is the place where Swami Vivekananda spent some time during his wanderings in the Himalayas. It is a branch of the Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered at Belur, near Kolkata.

The ashram was founded in 1899 by Swamiji’s British disciple couple Capt J H Sevier and his wife C E Sevier. Swami Swarupananda, Swami Vivekananda’s another disciple, was with them since the beginning and later went on to become the first president of the Advaita Ashrama.

Swami Vivekananda spent almost two months here in January 1901. The name Advaita Ashrama is a direct reflection of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy as propounded by Swami Vivekananda. It teaches one to look within as there is only one ‘atmaan’ (soul) pervading all living beings and the Universe. Mayawati’s Advaita Ashrama in a way signifies the intellectual fountainhead that Swamiji so envisaged.

As is known from the available literature and his talks, Swami Vivekananda was always attracted by the Himalayan grandeur. While touring in the Swiss Alps, he envisaged an ashram, albeit a modern ashram, more of a retreat for the monks, in the Himalayas as a place from where “will radiate the Vedantic philosophy”. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, this place offers a breathtaking view of an almost 350-kms snow-clad Himalayan range. It is an absolutely fascinating, almost picture postcard view.

The Swamiji in-charge and other locals too tell about the fascinating snow-capped mountain ranges on full grandeur in harsh winter months, especially January and February. Looking at the majestic Himalayas in the distance, when one realizes the vanity of all things material, it can be imagined why Swami Vivekananda was keen on choosing a Himalayan hermitage for the development of a spiritual haven.


Wonderful trek through deep jungle towards Mayawati    (Photo: Nivedita Khandekar)


All the activities of the Ramakrishna Mission are undertaken in the spirit of worship. Swami Vivekananda had himself expressed: “This is the gist of all worship: to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva (God) in the poor, in the weak (jeeva), and in the diseased really worships Shiva.”

Perhaps as a manifestation of this thought, apart from the main building, Mayawati also has a charitable hospital that caters daily to almost 1400 villages bereft of regular medical assistance in this remote, backward area of the Himalayan state. Ramakrishna Mission devotees, individuals and Corporate too, and sometimes even the locals support the hospital activity financially.

Watching the patients, mostly from poor hamlets from the surrounding hilly areas, some on horseback, some on a ‘doli’ and some even trudging in the illness because they simply cannot afford anything else is an eye opener. The neat and clean Mayawati Charitable Hospital offers free of cost medical treatment. Over the years, the number of beds has increased to 35. It has an X-ray unit, a dental chair and a pathology lab. Apart from the regular OPD services, free of cost eye camps, ENT camps, dental camps and surgery camps too are held frequently and regularly. Surgeons from metro cities offer their services regularly, again, free of cost.

The ashram has a printing press of its own. Now the main original printing machine is kept as a museum piece with proper nameplate explaining the significance. The first editions of Swami Vivekananda’s works, his life etc. were published from here. ‘Prabuddha Bharat’, a monthly journal of the Advaita Ashrama is published from here continuously for last more than 100 years.

Nearby is a ‘gaushala’ run by the ashram inhabitants and an artificial water body that harvests water during rainy season and also from a diverted stream. Indeed, a truly enriching visit.

 Nivedita Khandekar is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental, developmental and climate change issues.

She can be reached at nivedita_him@rediffmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @nivedita_Him

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1 Comment

  1. Megha September 17, at 06:11

    Visited this heavenly place when I was still in school. Awesome place so quiet and serene and above all beautiful. Another must visit place near Mayawati Ashram is Abott Mount.


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