The embodiment of the imagination and ideas of Swami Vivekananda – Advaita Ashrama which is located in a place named Mayawati near Lohaghat in Champawat district of Uttarakhand. To understand how this place came into existence as an Advaita Ashram, we have to start from the last few years of the 19th century. When Swami Vivekananda was in London before returning to India from America in 1896, his admirers Captain Sevier and Mrs. Sevier proposed him to visit Switzerland.
Swami ji went to Switzerland with them, where seeing the snowy places in the Alps and the highest peak Mont Blanc there, Swami ji was overwhelmed and said – here we are right in the middle of the snow. Then remembering his country, he said that the snow-covered places of India are so far away that one can reach them only after walking for many days in the mountains. But in comparison to those towering peaks bordering Tibet, this mountain range of Alps is only small hills.
Seeing these hills, the idea of building a monastery near the Himalayas in Uttarakhandthought came to Swamiji’s mind Swamiji had visited different areas of Uttarakhand even before his visit to America. Soon after this he wrote that letter from
London to his friend and follower Lal Badri Sah Ji in Almora, at whose residence Swami ji had previously stayed during his visits to Almora. I want to establish a Math in Almora or some place near Almora.Do you know any suitable place with gardens etc near Almora where I can build my monastery? Rather I would like to get a whole hill.
On January 15, 1897, Swamiji reached India after his foreign trip. That was the colonial period in India. On which the European empire was. Most of the Indians, till then, had forgotten their self-respect, self-respect after suffering almost 150 years of slavery by the Britishers. And the world had forgotten the rich Indian history and achievements by scorning and disregarding Indians as a country of civilizationless, religionless, snake charmers and backward people
Then by Swami’s extraordinary unprecedented representation in the World Parliament ofReligions, the world came to know the greatness of Hinduism. And got the proud recognition of Indianness Along with this his achievement and the efforts of Swami ji started the era of renaissance in india
In the month of June in the year 1898, when Swamiji was staying in Almora to recover his health Got the sad news that Madras which is now called Chennai. Mr. Rajam Iyer, editor of Prabuddha Bharat magazine, passed away.
Swami ji did not want to let this magazine, started with the aim of spreading the thoughts and messages of his Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhans ji, with the aim of education and awakening of human consciousness. Captain Sevier then offered to bear the costs associated with reviving it. Preparations are being made for the re-publication of the magazine. After this the office of Prabuddha Bharat was started in a rented house named Thomson House in Almora Nagar in Uttarakhand.
Swami ji went back to Kolkata after staying in Almora for some time. Captain Sevier did not find the necessary desolation in Almora for the printing press. Captain Sevier and Swami Swaroopanand started looking for a suitable place. And he reached Mayawati’s beautiful plot of land situated in the midst of densely forested hills at a height of 6000 to 7000 feet.
This picturesque place was purchased on 2 March 1899 for the office of Prabuddha Bharat. After purchase of land, the work of construction of ashrama and publication of magazine started here. It was designed exactly as Swamiji had envisioned. In what place did Swamiji imagine to live in the Himalayas?
It can be known from these words of a letter he wrote to Sister Christine before he came here There will be some water springs and a small lake. There will be cedar forests in it and flowers will be blooming everywhere.
I will have a small cottage among them. There will be a vegetable garden in the middle, in which I will work myself. And – and along will be my books. And only once in a while would I see a human face.
I will not care even if the earth gets destroyed by me, till then I will have completed my head worldly and spiritual work, and will take rest. All my life I have not got any rest, since birth I have been a nomadic nomad.
Captain Sevier was the manager of the ashram, this devoted disciple of Swamiji left his body on 28 October 1900.Swami ji reached this math located in Mayavati for the first time to console the family.
In his journey, he reached Almora from Kathgodam, and from there on foot, reached this ashram at Mayawati on January 3, 1901, and stayed for 15 days. Swami Vivekananda stayed on the second floor of the main building for the first few days in the Advaita Ashram amidst the bitter cold. But due to extreme cold there, on January 9, he came to the lower floor room with a fireplace.
During the days of his stay, Swamiji used to roam around, meditate, study and write Swami ji wished that this Himalayan monastery should be completely dedicated to Advaita Bhava.
In Advaita Ashrama Mayavati, there is no worship in front of any idol or picture. This place is dedicated to meditation and
contemplation in the spirit of non-dualism – i.e. not two.
According to Adi Guru Shankaracharya, the promoter of Advaita ideology, Brahma is the only truth in the Universe, the creation is false. creator and Brahmn are not separate. creature cannot know brahm only because of ignorance. Whereas Brahma resides within him.
Swami ji returned from here on 18 January 1901. This place became extremely sacred by his inspiration, energy and touch of his feet. Even today the followers of Swami ji are continuously moving forward on the path of world welfare and spiritual progress.
Mrs. Sevier also started a charitable hospital in Mayawati. Where poor people from nearby villages would
come and get medical benefits. Slowly people from many villages started coming here. New hospital buildings were needed, today, along with regular free medical facilities, medical camps are also organized from time to time for the treatment of specific diseases to the villagers coming from hundreds of nearby villages.
The office of Prabuddha Bharat Patrika runs regularly from Advaita Ashrama Mayawati. Prabuddha Bharat is also reputed to be the longest running Indian magazine of the country.
A beautiful Gaushala is also run in this ashram, in which cows of good breed provide milk to
the patients of Mayawati Hospital and the residents of the ashram.
There are also some small reservoirs that collect rain water for water storage.
Small scale farming is also done here.
The ashram also has a guest house – but only those who are associated with Swami Vivekananda and the spiritual stream are allowed to stay here. Accommodation is provided to seekers for a maximum of three days at a time, only to those seriously interested in prayer, meditation and contemplative life.
This guest house is only open from mid-March to mid-June, and from mid-September to mid-November.
For this one has to apply in advance on the website of the ashram.
Swami Vivekananda had said for Almora – “These mountains are associated with the best memories of our race:
Here, therefore, must be one of centres, not merely of activity, but more of calmness of meditation, and of peace and I hope some one to realize it.”