Hari Om Ashrams

Mota’s Hari Om Ashrams by Shree Hemantkumar Nilkanth

The Hari Om Ashrams owe their origin to necessities for silence-rooms that arose from time to time. Through Sri. Nandubhai, partners of his firm, N. Gopaldas & Co., and all his relatives came in Pujya Sri Mota’s contact. Sri. Nandubhai, specially, had both the necessary urge and the easy circumstances that made him wish to take as much advantage, of Pujya Sri Mota’s subtle guidance in a silence room, as possible. An Ashram at Kumbakonam was therefore constructed first of all others. There is a specially well-provided silence – room at some distance from the residential building there. Earlier, silence-rooms were improvised at different places, – at a bungalow in a colony far from Tiruchirapalli rented by Sri. Nandubhai, at another disciple’s ( Sri. Vajubhai) house in a townlet, Sayla, at Mirakutir, hallowed by the stays of Pujya Vinobaji and Gandhiji’s devoted English follower Mirabehn, in Gandhiji’s Ashram at Sabarmati etc.

Before deciding on Kumbakonam as the location of his Ashram, Pujya Sri Mota, with the monetary support of Sri. Nandubhai, had tried to establish an Ashram first near a village, Sinor, on the bank of Narmada, and then in a villa in Triuchirapalli. Both the attempts were given up – probably because the subtle ( mental) atmosphere was not fully congenial.

In that second attempt he had asked for donations from those who knew him. Even though his resolve to collect Rs. 1,00,000/- in donations was fulfilled, he returned to the donors the amounts they had subscribed, because the idea was temporarily given up. But the necessity persisted. Kumbakonam was far away. Improvised silence-rooms did not provide full expression to Pujya Sri Mota’s ideas of supplying the spiritual and material needs of the aspirant. (At the places mentioned above silence rooms had to be opened for providing food and putting and taking out vessels that contained excreta and these had to be cleaned by attendants. Though others were there, Pujya Sri Mota never disdained to take a part in doing all these things. He even initiated those acts).

To meet the growing demand two Ashrams were constructed – at Nadiad in 1955 and Surat in 1957, with a single silence room in each. Since the Ashrams have this charming convenience for persons busily engaged in worldly activities to spend some quiet time in self-improvement, their popularity has been consistently increasing. The result is that the Ashrams now (in 1982) possess ten silence rooms in all and yet the period during which any silence room lies vacant is rare and short, even after 5 years of Pujya Sri Mota’s physical departure from the world.

Much more need not be added about these Ashrams. In the beginning all the activities of persons outside were meant exclusively to serve the needs of those inside the silence rooms. Pujya Sri Mota then used to remain outside the silence rooms and employ his powerful mind to help the persons inside. With the passage of time the need for his physical vicinity and concentration on the inmates of silence rooms grew less and less. He therefore directed his energies to other ways of service. The Ashramites who used to exclusively cater for the needs of the inmates have followed suit and now help Pujya Sri Mota’s other activities also.