Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sanskrit Word in English: Ashram

You may have heard the Sanskrit word ashram used in English to refer to a spiritual retreat or religious hermitage. The Sanskrit word is from the root shrama, meaning effort, specifically the effort one makes towards spiritual liberation. You can read more about ashrams at Wikipedia.

As English-speakers became interested in Hindu religious practices, the word ashram began to be used in English. For example, in a lecture given in America (text published in 1918), Rabindranath Tagore explained that "the students and the teachers who have come together in the ashram ... grow towards the emancipation of their minds into the consciousness of the infinite, not through any process of teaching or outer discipline, but by the help of an unseen atmosphere of aspiration that surrounds the place."

The image below shows the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. This was the ashram where Gandhi was living in 1930 when he began the great Salt Satyagraha. You can read more about the Sabarmati Ashram at Wikipedia.

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