Ashrama conducts periodical spiritual retreats for the benefit of the devotees. This half day program consists of Bhajans, Practice of Meditation, and Lectures.
The Ashrama has recently conducted Special Spiritual Retreats for the
- Laborers working at Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore and its sister concerns
- Medical Students
“Daridra Devo Bhava”
Sri Ramakrishna is God of all. His mercy, Swami Vivekananda says, extends even up to the lowest of lowly. Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama at Mysore has been making an unique attempt to give a practical expression to the all embracing spirit of Sri Ramakrishna by holding special programmes to the underprivileged classes of the Mysore City. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts an ardent devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, the slum-dwellers, cobblers and even Auto-drivers of the city of Mysore have came under the wonderful influence of the Holy Trio. It was an incredible scene found in recent weeks, when stream of unlettered but God-fearing, uncultured but innocent children of the almighty entered with prayerful minds and folded hands into the holy premises of Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama to attend the retreats specially designed to cater their spiritual hunger.
A devotee the of Lord named S.Lingappa, inspired by the ideal of serving God in man, went from door to door in slums and strived hard to remove many misgivings the people had in their minds with regard to Ramakrishna Ashrama. He impressed upon them the uniqueness of the monks of the Ramakrishna Order, who are more interested in practising the universal teachings of Vedanta than merely preaching them. He requested them to see for themselves the wonderful ambience of the Ashrama, where everyone is treated equally without the slightest consideration for caste or their social status. In fact the Ashrama’s special concern for the poor was impressed upon them. These slum dwellers’ hesitation was the main impediment in bringing these poor people to the Ashrama for they believed that the doors of the Ashrama and temples are closed to them and they feared that their living habits specially their addiction to drinking precluded them from visiting these Ashramas and temples. But the loving persuasion of the said devotee finally prevailed. To set their doubts at rest, a small group of men and women was requested to go to Ashrama on a Sunday to see things for themselves. Surprisingly they attended not only the Sunday discourse at the Ashrama but also the evening prayer and were very much impressed.
This followed a special exercise to prepare their minds to receive maximum benefit from the retreat to be held. Their traditional worshipping deity was Mahadeshwara Shiva whose famous temple is situated in Male Mahadeshwara hill nearby. Hence, they were requested to chant “ OM Namah Shivaya” atleast for fifteen minutes both in the morning as well as in the evening for over a period of one month. They also tried their best to keep themselves away from their regular habits like drinking, non-vegetarian food etc.
Retreats for unprivileged
This subsequently led to the conducting of first retreat of this kind which was exclusively meant for slum-dwellers held on 14.1.2007. Around 50 participants both men and women participated in the retreat. The retreat commenced with Bhajans followed by discourses in which story of Sri Ramakrishna was narrated in a simple language. What the participants enjoyed most was the film-show depicting the parables of Sri Ramakrishna. Sumptuous meal was offered to them and the Dhoti and sarees were distributed.
A second special retreat was held exclusively for the Auto – drivers of Mysore City on 28.1.2007 in which more than 40 participants attended. This retreat is also the outcome of strenuous effort on the part of the devotee mentioned earlier, who coordinated with the union leaders in enlightening the auto-drivers on the importance of attending such a unique event. They were mainly instructed into the need to keep moral integrity in their profession. The drivers’ uniforms were distributed after a film-show and feeding, thanks to a devotee who came forward to sponsor them.
A third retreat was conducted on the same lines specially for 130 menial workers of Mysore Ashrama, Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala and Ramakrishna Institute of Moral and Spiritual Education on 26.02.2006, the last day of Ashrama’s annual celebration held in February 2007 for a week. Though it was an annual feature, the specialty of this year’s retreat is the attendance of several menial workers, even outside the ambit of the Ashrama. The discourse was mainly focussed on the importance of health and hygiene in their lives. A special retreat for the cobblers and their family members was organized on 8th of April 2007. Around 110 men and women participated in this retreat. The regular features like film-show, discourse, feeding, distribution of Dhotis and sarees marked the occasion.
The feedback, got from the participants was unique in every sense. They felt exaltation on being treated par with other devotees of the Ashrama. Being first time visitors, they felt as if in heaven as they imbibed the spiritual atmosphere of the Ashrama premises. In all, the impression they carried to their homes was full joy and peace.
Separate special retreats for socially and economically backward communities like slum-dwellers, menial labourers of the locality, Auto-drivers of the Mysore City and also cobblers and their families were organized in recent months in the premises of Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore.
Around 100 participants attended in each of these retreats. The programme included visiting the Sri Ramakrishna temple, Bhajans, meditation and short discourses addressing their problems; Film-Show on Parables of Sri Ramakrishna and feeding. The retreats were entirely free and the participants were given free books and clothes.