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First Stay at Ashram, First Return Home

by Debora Ghiraldelli

For the 14 Italians visiting the ashram, it was like arriving home. Most of the people of the group are students of the current Italian TTP (teacher training program), and it was their first time in India and at the ashram (SRSG). The stay, from mid-December and the first days of January, began in the best possible way: to sit for the full moon meditation of December. Ashram life always helps to deepen the practices and the introspection, as well as feeling a deep connection with the roots of Tradition. In this place we really can taste and perceive the tangible presence of the Himalayan Masters and meditators.

During our stay, there was also the Children's Retreat. It was beautiful to see kids of different nationalities, different languages and religions, being together, communicating, practicing, sharing personal experiences, stories and playing. So, for a while, at the ashram the practices were held for both adults and children in a very harmonious way, in which we lived moments of real fun like the Christmas night, with the presence of a wonderful Santa Claus who brought presents for all kids, and we sang and danced. Same for the 31st of December, when we all gathered around a big bonfire singing and dancing.

We experienced harmony and inclusion also during Christmas Day, when in the morning Swami Ritavan paid homage to the statue of the Madonna, with a puja and reciting the Catholic prayer of the Ave Maria (Hail Mary). It was an intense and emotional moment.

A deep thanks to all the ashram staff and teachers who welcomed and supported us with love and to Swami Ritavan, who met the Italian group for a satsang in which he also guided a meditation. It was an unexpected gift, taking place at the end of our stay that made us complete this journey with sweetness and depth, deeply perceiving the love and presence of him and all the Masters.

Kaumudi, 15 years old

It was nice to come back to the ashram and attend the Children's Retreat. It's the third time I came for Children’s Retreat, and each time it's been a new experience. This time I really enjoyed the contemplative walk on the banks of the Ganges, the clay working, and the Japanese writing. To know something from other cultures is very exciting. But what I felt the most is the daily meeting with Swami Ritavan. We used to go to his room, and he would talk to us about Yama and Niyama, as the basis of life and yoga, and then we all did meditation together. Every day he also offered us sweets, and in that occasion he used to talk personally with us. I loved his sweetness.

Deva, 14 years old

The thing that I liked most about the Children's Retreat was making new friends and participating at the fire ceremony where we recited mrityunjaya mantra. After, Swami Ritavan explained the foundation of yoga. The weather, even if it is winter, has always been good, and every day there was the sun, so I really enjoyed the walk on the Ganges and the visit to Sadhana Mandir. Hatha yoga was pleasant in the morning; it was a good way to be active, but I have to say that I did not participate a lot to the classes because I was on holiday from school and I did not want to get up at 6.30 every morning.

Michaela, student of TTP

To get to the ashram was not just a journey for me but "the journey", and the realization of my desire to see Rishikesh, the ashram, and Dehradun. It was perfect timing. To see Dehradun for me was something very touching and personal. My father had been in Dehradun from 1942 to 1945; he was a prisoner of war, and he always talked to me about it. His memories and my meeting with the Himalayan Tradition facilitated my return to this area that for me is like home. I finally made contact directly with the places of the Tradition, with the ashram and with the ashram Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in which I felt so strong the presence of Swamiji, and his presence gave me peace, serenity and joy.

I made many friends at the ashram, Sunita, Sakshi, Tapas, Pierre, Mister Jung, Surendra, and his wife, the teachers of Tradition who welcomed us and guided us in our daily practice ... I saw Swami Ritavan with great joy, and, I’ll keep with me his words said when he received the Italian group; "Remembering the words of Swami Rama, there is no greater joy than meditation".

I thank everyone, everyone, and I hope to return soon.

Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. 


I stayed at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama for almost three weeks. It was a time full of opportunities to enter deeper in practice and in contact with traditional teachings.

The rhythm of deeper time in SRSG is an intimate, natural rhythm that took few days to get used to. It's immediately something that resonates inside, accompanying you deeply for the whole stay. The place is harmonious, balanced, the interior spaces are clean and cared for, with wonderful gardens where every plant and every flower has the careful care of the silent and almost invisible gardeners who magically clean, water, and care for the entire garden almost without being seen. Probably it was luck to be there at this time of the year, which although a bit chilly at night, allowed us to be able to fully enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the place.

By staying at the ashram for more than two weeks, I was able to see that the weekly programs of the different classes always allowed newcomers to have easy access, always with a certain gradualness to the teachings. The day of silence always comes well introduced and prepared in order to make people go inside, helped by the silence that is outside of us. I felt all the richness of the people who with dedication and devotion carry out a project, born from the will of a great teacher like Swami Veda, and that despite the changes of the times people respectfully transmit ancient teachings received in turn by great masters and sages who came before them.

I would like to thank all the staff of people, from the Swami to the teachers, secretaries, people at the reception, people in the kitchen and all those silent presences that make a place of peace and love exist as I found the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama.




The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

Purification of Thoughts     Dhyana    Mindfulness
Japa     Dharana     Shavasana
Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor
Guru Disciple Relationship     Unbroken Lineage
Yoga Nidra     Silence Retreats     Full Moon Meditation

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