People Behind ...

Foundation of SBMA

historytreeShri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram has officially existed for the last 36 years, and the social mission of Swami ji and his followers has been in motion for over 50 years.

Many challenges and milestones have marked the path to today. Obviously, it is impossible to show you everything, but we hope that the following pages can provide enough to give you an impression of the amazing feeling and atmosphere that has evolved here. Every discussion of the ashram's past begins with the revered Swami Manmathan. From his early work and the foundation of the ashram, many stages have passed in order to arrive at the present. An outline of those major growth points is presented, but probably the best way to understand the energy of a place like SBMA is through the stories of the individuals that inhabit these yellow halls and the memories they pass on..

In the activist tumult of the 1960's and 70's, the people of Garhwal, especially women, gave voice to their frustration against bad governance and superstition. As a platform for their struggle, Swami Manmathan founded Shri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram in 1977.
The word "movement" is inextricably linked to the personality of Swami ji and his entire life. The ashram represented a new kind of movement, a more intimate approach to understanding and sharing the problems of the people. Swami Manmathan made a commitment to promoting the happiness of the mountain people, and the key to this was to prioritise the development of women and children.

The local people contributed their wealth, time, labour, and heart to the establishment of the Shri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram. Now, the fruits of the volunteers' participation are evident on the grounds of the ashram and in the surrounding communities. Major Hari Shankar Joshi donated 79 naillis of land in Anjanisain to the Swami ji for the foundation of SBMA.

The local villagers volunteered to build the terraces, grounds, and initial facilities of the ashram. Some disenfranchised women and orphan children came to make a new home here at that time. It was a very challenging time because women leaving their home to live in an ashram posed a threat to the established and accepted social norms. Most everyone had great difficulty in accepting the new ideas that were represented and being manifested on the SBMA campus. But these women and children were not afraid to contradict engrained social institutions in order to seek a better life for themselves, and in the process they redefined the social structure of the local community.

This was also a time of extremely difficult work, which required an intense commitment from those involved. The people in the ashram put their efforts into making a fruit orchard and establishing the facilities for and managing cows and goats. All of this was undertaken to provide the livelihood for the people of the ashram as well as to demonstrate for the local hill communities, who were migrating to earn money, the economic possibilities of the area.

From the example set in the early stages by Swami ji and the inhabitants of the ashram, the direction and momentum of ashram activities expanded exponentially. The hard work of those in the ashram, its position as a role model in the community, and a continued aspiration for positive change have remained at the core of the efforts here.

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  • Story of SBMA can be an exemplary ideology for the… Written by Rakesh Purohit
    Foundation of SBMA

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