Sunday, January 17, 2010
CONTEMPLATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE.
The Ashram Aikya which was organized in 1978, through the inspiration of both Dom Bede Griffiths, and also Fr. Amalorpavadas, was very much concerned about the relation of the contemplative life, and involvement in social action. It had been noted that the typical Gandhian Ashram on which many of the early Christian Ashrams were based, was conceived of as the nucleus for the social transformation that Gandhi envisioned as SARVODAYA, or the upliftment of all. Not far from Kolar, two doctors at the newly founded Christian Medical college of Vellore, who were Dr. Ernest Forrester Paton, and Dr. Jesudasan, started the Christhu Kula Ashram. Here the Ashram was planned as a community dedicated to healing, and to helping the local community. Dr. Jesudasan wrote:
As the inmates of these ashrams dwelt in the forest, and depended for their physical sustenance upon what grew around them they also began to study the herbs and their healing properties. This developed a certain kind of research in medical science and they developed systems of therapy, for example the Siddha system of medicine. To this extent the ancient ashrams served as centres of scientific research
The Christu Kula Ashram was among the earliest Christian Ashrams, being completed in 1933. Inspired by this idea of service through living a life of simplicity in the Ashram, a number of other Christian Ashrams were established in the region around Vellore, and bordering on Karnataka.
In 1982 Vandana Mataji published a small but seminal book entitled “Social Justice and Ashrams” (A.T.C. Bangalore). This reflected the thought of a number of Ashramites, including Fr. Amalorpavadas, who had founded the Anjali Ashram in Mysore at this time.