Any tips for Amma's Ashram?

#1 Aug 17th, 2008, 05:48
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#1
Hi,

My name is Jen, and I am traveling to India for the first time this Friday, Aug. 22nd. I'm flying into Thiravanathapuram to go to Amma's ashram (by the way, some of the comments in the forums regarding her ashram are quite discouraging...) Does anyone have any tips?

I'm slightly concerned about dress. I don't have clothes that are light/modest enough. Should I buy clothes before I leave, or can I buy them at the ashram? The website lists clothing as an amenity, but I wasn't sure if anyone had any experience with what is actually available there.

Also, I will spend some time in Thiravanathapuram/Trivandrum before finding a cab to the ashram. I'll be there on a Sunday; does anyone have any tips?

Any tips are appreciated! I haven't packed a thing yet...

Sat Nam,

Jen
Last edited by karuna; Aug 17th, 2008 at 05:55.. Reason: Hi 1stTimer, I moved your post to Kerala forums as it's better placed here. karuna.
#2 Aug 17th, 2008, 06:24
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Hi 1st Timer - Welcome to IndiaMike.

Have not a clue about Amma, ashrams, or appropriate clothing for this area/place .... but if you check the bottom of this thread you will find a list of other, previous threads on the topic that may help answer any questions/concerns. Bon Voyage!
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~
T. S. Eliot

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#3 Aug 17th, 2008, 11:38
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Welcome to the site!

I don't know about the ashram, either --- but why not shop for clothes in Trvandrum?
~

Currently mobile browsing... have turned off pics, etc. Will try to catch up with all the birds, food, etc, in a week or two!
#4 Aug 17th, 2008, 12:00
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a friend informs me amma is available for 'darshan' from wednesday to sunday only. this will probably change at some stage but for now, it holds.

sorry, no idea about clothes but it's almost a certainty there will be provision made for something like that in or around the ashram.
#5 Aug 17th, 2008, 12:07
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...If she is there at all. Remember that she spends a substantial part of her time touring the world.
#6 Aug 17th, 2008, 13:13
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i heard from my friend earlier this week. she is at the ashram at present.
#7 Aug 17th, 2008, 16:15
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#7

Some tips...

Hi Jen,
Since you say you don't have clothes sufficiently light/modest then you presumably have an idea of what would be appropriate. I would say travel light and buy clothes in Trivandrum. Not only are there plenty of shops, great materials/colours/styles and cheap prices but you will also be supporting the local economy. In the unlikely event that you have sufficient spare capacity in your suitcase, you could pack some goodies and take them to a children's charity (though they mostly need just money).

From the website: "Amma is in Amritapuri from 2nd August to 27th September. When Amma is in Amritapuri, you are welcome to come for Amma's darshan. Darshan days: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. There is no darshan on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays."

The Ashram is 110km (70 miles) from Trivandrum. The journey will be 3-4 hours each way by road.

What is the purpose of your visit - what do you hope to gain by visiting the Ashram? How long will you spend there? Just one day?

There's plenty to do in Trivandrum, Sundays included.

You might also be interested in Divine Children's Home, Trivandrum www.divinechildrens.com. If you are emotionally strong enough and want to know about the realities of medical care in India, especially palliative care in the community, you could visit SISP, Kovalam. www.sisp.be.

Other tips - bring dollars and plastic. Exchange the dollars at TRV airport just after passing through Customs (expect a crush, and chaos at baggage collection). There is a pre-paid taxi booth just before it. If you forget cash, there is an ATM at the domestic terminal (short walking distance to your left as you exit the international terminal). There are plenty of ATMs in Kerala. When you return home, allow no fewer than three hours at TRV airport!

What is your itinerary? Please tell us your plans so that we can be of more help but, more importantly, please tell us your experiences after you get home. Expect your senses to be overwhelmed!
Bring me sunshine, in your smile
Last edited by clivington; Aug 18th, 2008 at 01:12.. Reason: Deleted possibly inaccurate estimate of taxi cost
#8 Aug 18th, 2008, 21:21
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#8

Thanks!

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for the wonderful tips. Keep them coming, I don't leave until Friday! I'm glad to know that Amma will be at the ashram - surprisingly, she is not the reason for my visit. I love her mission, but would have gone to her ashram even in her absence. Amritapuri was especially an attracting since they have an associated hospital - I'm hoping to experience the state of medical care in India while I'm there. I'm going to India for some introspection, and a bit of a self-test; I've never traveled alone before, and will be making the journey by myself.

I'm going with what amounts to essentially an empty suitcase - I figured that since everything's cheaper there, I'll buy it upon arrival, clothing included. In my travel books it states that most things are closed on Sundays in Trivandrum, so I'm relieved to hear you say that things will be open.

My itinerary is as follows: I fly out this Friday evening from Newark, NJ and arrive in Trivandrum Sunday around 9 a.m. I'll spend some time in Trivandrum before venturing over to the ashram. I'll be at the ashram from Aug. 24-September 5th, excluding the odd day trip here or there. I'm hoping to meet people while there and travel with them. Amma's Wednesday darshan falls on my 25th birthday, Aug. 27th, so I will certainly be getting a hug from her on that day!

Thank you again for being such a help - all tips are certainly appreciated! Mostly I'm trying to remain open to my trip and without expectations. I'll tell you all about it when I get back!

Namaste,

Jen
#9 Aug 19th, 2008, 05:07
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Don't go with too high an expectation - Ammas "ashram" is a revolving door of visitors - six apartment blocks and dozens of tourists hopping off the backwater tours each day. The place is governed by numerous rules policed by humorless western devotees (my impression, hopelessly lost puritanical and anemic folk)and is deathly DULL. No discourse or lively interaction whatsoever. There are no real facilities there or in the town.

Your day to day clothes are OK - this is not a "religious" ashram, more a pop-religion sect, nor does it have anything resembling a transcendental or uplifting atmosphere. Oh, and the food is the worst I've eaten anywhere in the world. Hope I'm not bringing you down ...
#10 Aug 19th, 2008, 05:17
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#10

Oh no!

Brisso,

You're making me think I should go to another ashram! Sivananda's is close to Trivandrum as well...
#11 Aug 19th, 2008, 10:59
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Hi Jen

Many people from the west live there. So don't be too concerned about about what you wear; as long as you don't plan to walk around wearing a bikini or do a spot of topless sun bathing

I also plan to visit Amma's Ashram when I am again in Kerala; hopefully this winter. So do keep us posted about your expereinces.

Namaskarm and have a great time.
Last edited by Blue_Max; Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:29..
#12 Aug 20th, 2008, 05:00
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Hi Jen,
I've never been to an ashram, Amma's or otherwise, so can offer little advice other than to keep an open mind and maintain healthy scepticism. And I'm not sure that the associated hospital will be truly representative of the state of medical care in India but please do report back and add to IndiaMike's rich cornucopia of experience

When I last went to India I took a suitcase half full of medical supplies - bandages, dressings, needles and so on. There is such wastage from part-used packs, just expired used-by-dates, changed specifications and so on, that my contacts in nursing in the UK could make a useful collection. I left it with a nurse who was working at SISP at the time; she was delighted!

A last tip: In Trivandrum the East Fort area and Bazaar Road was a fascinating place to explore... and, whatever you do, it's great having a friend with you to share and enhance the experience. Have fun!
#13 Aug 20th, 2008, 05:07
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1st timer you may want to google for some Blogs on visits to amma's Ashram. here is one such link http://realtravel.com/kochi-journals-j3674237.html
#14 Aug 20th, 2008, 06:12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clivington View Post Hi Jen,
I've never been to an ashram, Amma's or otherwise, so can offer little advice other than to keep an open mind and maintain healthy scepticism. And I'm not sure that the associated hospital will be truly representative of the state of medical care in India but please do report back and add to IndiaMike's rich cornucopia of experience
I've noted before that the hospital is brand new and high end. Very expensive. It is in the town - about 10 mins walk form Ammas
#15 Sep 8th, 2008, 07:34
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#15

I'm back!

Hello all,

First, I'd like to say thank you for all of your valuable recommendations for my first trip to India. I took all suggestions to heart, and many came in handy for my virgin voyage.

As for Amma's ashram, I have some intense sentiments regarding her institution. I will begin with a disclaimer: I stayed at her ashram for only four days, and what's written below is only the opinion of one person. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, an obious stranger in a stranger's land. Only one person offered to help me, or even acknowledged my presence, and she guided me to the check-in desk, where they requested that I surrender my passport.

In short, Amritapuri is no ashram; Amma's followers possessively follow her every move and compete with each other to determine who is closest to her. My trip was planned so that I would spend the entirety of my time in India inside the walls of Amritapuri; after four days, I escaped as though my very existence depended on it. The energy in the ashram is so intensely negative that no one returns a smile, initiates a conversation, or makes any attempt to be cordial or accepting of their fellow ashramites. In the event that I was lucky enough to be engaged in conversation with another person, the second that I mentioned that I was studying plastic surgery they would either politely excuse themselves or abruptly walk away. Nevermind that I work in a cancer center, their mindset is so programmed and judgemental that they refuse to be open to another person's path or experiences. Perhaps it was the length of my stay, but I found almost everyone I encountered there to be sanctimonious, judgemental, rude, and entirely devoid of Amma's love.

If you are looking for a place of contemplation, warmth, and love, do not go to Amritapuri. Its cult mentality and obvious ploys to generate money from its own ashramites - there are opportunities for music lessons, astrology, Amma merchandise, and shopping abound, all for hefty fees - both ruin any introspection that might otherwise occur here. In fact, several of the ashram activities, from the morning prayers to the evening bahjans, require the purchase of books, conveniently available outside of the temple, in order to participate.

The negative energy present at Amritapuri is intense, and my fellow residents there did not question the validity of their surroundings or their experiences. While I refrain from judging Amma herself, I will say that MATH is no place for a thoughtful individual who wants to learn and pray. If you wish to blindly follow arbitrary rules and look down upon those that you believe have not reached your level of enlightenment, Amritapuri is perfect for you.

Once I did escape from Amma's ashram, I did have an intense, exciting, and spiritual adventure along Kerala's coastline. I travelled from Amritapuri to Kochi, where I stayed for four and a half days before then going to Varkala. Once leaving the clutches of Amma's cult, I found all of the introspection and spirituality that a person could want.

I will also take this opportunity to debunk some of the suggestions made on this thread:

1) Where I travelled, no one accepted credit cards, and if they did it was a long, uphill battle to use them. Amma's ashram is all cash only, and Kochi and Varkala are largely, though not entirely, the same.

2) Amma's hospital is not ten minutes from the ashram; her first hospital, a small clinic, is directly next door. Her main hospital, AIMES, and typically the location that people refer to when discussing her hospital, is in Fort Kochi, which is a four hour bus ride away. She does have an ayurvedic clinic across the bridge and in the village of Vallickavu, directly across from the ashram, but it is not new nor is it very expensive.

Again, thank you very much for your suggestion, and I hope this post is of some use to someone. My intention is not to slam Amma nor her ashram, but to allow someone else to understand just what they are getting into when visiting the ashram; not one other person there let on that they were feeling similarly to how I was, and it was incredibly isolating. To anyone else that has questioned the ashram and its purpose: you are not alone.

Best,

Jen

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