Ashram & its Purpose
When Srila Prabhupada came to the western world to preach Krishna Consciousness, he thought to induct only Brahmacaris and Sannyasis. But being merciful and compassionate, he accepted all class of people and engaged them in Krishna’s service.
A celibate monk in the Vedic culture accepts the saffron colour as his dress code. For millennia, saffron colour in the pan Hindu culture, and even in Buddhist and Sikh traditions, has been connected to sacrifice and renunciation. Interestingly the Indian National flag also has saffron as one of the three colours. The significance of saffron in the Indian flag was announced by the former president of India, Dr Radhakrishnan: “The saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work.”
A brahmachari (celibate monk) wears saffron to declare openly that he wants to serve; he expresses his desire to be indifferent to material prosperity and dedicate his life for service of humanity. Most brahmacharis who join ashram do not accept saffron immediately. They serve sincerely for three to four years and by then they become focused on their chosen path of renunciation. Then the saffron cloth is offered, not as a recognition or honour but as an opportunity to increase their service in the spirit of sacrifice. The event where a brahmachari accepts saffron is special; the senior monks celebrate yet another warrior getting recruited into the army of selfless service. The
juniors too rejoice, seeing hope and inspiration for them to follow.
Accepting saffron is also a sobering experience as in India the general mass of people equate saffron with the highest examples of purity and renunciation. Having accepted saffron, a brahmachari is careful in his dealings with others and is also careful to cultivate pure thoughts of prayers and service to God. Over a period of time the brahmachari also realizes that people respect him due to the colour of cloth he is wearing. If he isn’t serious in his practices, he realizes the hollowness of his spiritual pursuits; he shuns the superficiality of identifying with the cloth of saffron and then begins to deeply internalize the spirit that saffron represents. That’s when his monkhood actually begins and his sincerity now adds substance to his life of renunciation.
Pre – Bramhachari Training Program – is an induction program for the devotees who join Bramhachari Ashram. The devotees who have taken due permission from their parents and have accomplished their family responsibility.