Advaita Ashrama

Advaita Ashrama

Advaita Ashrama
Formation 1899
Purpose Philanthropic, Religious Studies, Spirituality
Headquarters Belur Math
Region served
Website Advaita Ashrama

Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, is a branch of the Ramakrishna Math, founded on 19 March 1899 at the behest of Vivekananda,[1][2] by his disciples James Henry Sevier, and Charlotte Sevier. Today it is publishes the original writings of Vivekananda.[2] As an ashram dedicated to the study and practice of Advaita Vedanta, no images or idols are worshipped there, not even of Ramakrishna;[3] and no images were kept in the premises according to the Ashram ideals set by Vivekananda.[4]

Also referred as the Mayawati Ashram,[5][6] it is located at an altitude of 1940 meters, 22 km from Champawat in Champawat district, Uttarakhand, and 9 km from the town of Lohaghat.[5] The ashram is a major publication centre of the Ramakrishna Order for books in English and Hindi, mainly through its branch in Kolkata It also maintains a charitable hospital at Mayavati. Among its important publications are The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda in English and as well as a Hindi translation, The Life of Swami Vivekananda, and English translations of important Hindu scriptures.

Some of the old manuscripts of the ashram have now been microfilmed and preserved at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in Delhi.[7]


The Advaita Ashram has its origins in 1896, when Vivekananda was travelling through the Alps recuperating, and expressed the desire to have a similar place in India, for retreat and study of Vedas.[8]

Earlier, in 1895, James Henry Sevier [9] who had served as a captain in the British Indian Army for five years, and his wife Charlotte Elizabeth Sevier, met Vivekananda in England. Later in 1896, for nearly nine months, they travelled with him through Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. It was in the Alps that Vivekananda, while travelling with the couple that he expressed his desire to have a similar retreat for the monks in the Himalayas. In December 1896, the couple moved to India, with Vivekananda on board a steamer from Naples, Italy, with an objective to find a place near Almora, and set up an Ashram,[10] and arriving at Madras in February 1897.[11] Soon just as Vivekananda left for Calcutta, the couple left for Almora, where they rented a bungalow [12] and this became the residence of Vivekananda and the Seviers for next two years.

Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, a branch of the Ramakrishna Math, founded on 19 March 1899.

Later when he left for Kashmir, the Sevier couple along with Swami Swarupananda, a monastic disciple of Vivekananda, started travelling to the interior area looking a suitable place, which was eventually found in July 1898, set amidst dense deodar, pine and oak forests; the land which was until then a tea estate was promptly purchased, and decided upon for the new Ashram. Finally, with the help of Swami Swarupananda, the Ashram was set up,[13] along with a small dwelling for the monks, ashramites and the couple themselves, around the same time as the Belur Math was being established near Kolkata, when they moved in on 19 March 1899, which happened to be the birth anniversary of Ramakrishna (Hindu calendar) that year.[14]

After the sudden death of its first editor, 24-year-old B. R. Rajam Iyer at Chennai, the publication of the English Journal Prabuddha Bharata was discontinued for a few months in May 1898. Meanwhile, in Almora, Vivekananda asked the Sevier couple to revive the magazine, and the editorship was given to Swami Swarupananda, who not only became the first head of the Ashram upon its opening on 19 March 1899,[15] but also remained its editor, at its new base hence forth; and the held the position until his death in 1906.[16][17][18]

Upon its foundation, Vivekananda sent the following letter, in March 1899, entailing the prospectus of the Ashram:

"...To give this One Truth a freer and fuller scope in elevating the lives of individuals and leavening the mass of mankind, we start this Advaita Ashrama on the Himalayan heights, the land of its first expiration.

Here it is hoped to keep Advaita free from all superstitions and weakening contaminations. Here will be taught and practised nothing but the Doctrine of Unity, pure and simple; and though in entire sympathy with all other systems, this Ashrama is dedicated to Advaita and Advaita alone." [19]

James Sevier died on 28 October 1900, and was cremated by the nearby Sarada River, according to Hindu traditions as he had wished.[8][16] Vivekananda visited the Ashram from 3–18 January 1901, primarily to console her,[20][21] and his place of residence has now been turned into a library.[13] Charlotte Sevier continued to stay at the Ashram for several years.


Advaita Ashrama publishes many important books in English and Hindi, as well as the English Journal Prabuddha Bharata which is being published since July 1896, making it the oldest running Journal by Ramakrishna Mission. A list of its most well-known other publications is as follows.

Prabuddha Bharata, the March 1897 Isuue
  • The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Online version
  • The Life of Swami Vivekananda by His Eastern and Western Disciples Online version
  • Srimad Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Swarupananda, 1907 Online version
  • Eight Upanishads with the commentary of Shankaracharya, translated by Swami Gambhirananda

Presidents of Advaita Ashrama

The first three presidents of Advaita Ashrama were also editors of the Prabuddha Bharata. Thereafter, the post of President and Editor were held by different persons. From 1959, the Ashrama President was also called the Editor of Prabuddha Bharata, and the actual editor called the “joint editor”. From September 1993, the Ashrama President is known as the Managing Editor, and the Editor is known as the Editor.

Presidents of Advaita Ashrama
× Period President
1 1899 to 1906 Swami Swarupananda
2 1906 to 1913 Swami Virajananda
3 1914 to 1918 Swami Prajnananda
4 1918 to 1927 Swami Madhavananda
5 1927 to 1937 Swami Vireswarananda
6 1937 to 1947 Swami Pavitrananda
7 1948 to 1953 Swami Yogeswarananda
8 1953 to 1963 Swami Gambhirananda
9 1964 to 1968 Swami Chidatmananda
10 1969 to 1976 Swami Budhananda
11 1976 to 1977 Swami Vandanananda
12 1977 to 1978 Swami Tadrupananda
13 1978 to 1988 Swami Ananyananda
14 1988 to 1990 Swami Swananda
15 1991 to 2006 Swami Mumukshananda
16 2006 to 2014 Swami Bodhasarananda
17 2014 to Present Swami Tattwavidananda

Further reading

  • Prabuddha Bharata: Or Awakened India, by Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama. Published by Swami Smaranananda for Advaita Ashrama, 1974.
  • The Life of the Swami Vivekananda, by His Eastern and Western Disciples, the Advaita Ashrama, Himalayas, by Advaita Ashrama, Published by the Swami Virajananda from the Prabuddha Bharata Office, Advaita Ashrama, 1947.


  1. ^ Mayavati – History Advaita Ashrama
  2. ^ a b founded by Vivekananda in 1899. The Telegraph, 20 May 2003.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ The National Geographical Journal of India, by National Geographical Society of India. Published by National Geographical Society of India., 1986. Page 295.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Mayabati: A journey towards Self – Dr. Subhendu Chakravrati on a spiritual journey to Mayavati Outlook, 2008.
  9. ^ James Henry Sevier The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Letters – Fifth Series/CLXVIII Mother – wikisource.
  10. ^ The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 5/Epistles – First Series/LXXI Alasinga Letter of Swami Vivekananda, 11 November 1896. wikisource.
  11. ^ The Missionary Work of the First Hindu Sannyasin to the West And His Plan Of Regeneration Of India Madras Times, February 1897. wikisource.
  12. ^ Letter 20 May 1898 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 8/Epistles – Fourth Series/CXXVIII Rakhal – wikisource.
  13. ^ a b Mayawati Route – Visitors Booklet of Advaita Ashrama Advaita Ashrama.
  14. ^ The Life of the Swami Vivekananda, by His Eastern and Western Disciples, the Advaita Ashrama, Himalayas, by Advaita Ashrama, Published by the Swami Virajananda from the Prabuddha Bharata Office, Advaita Ashrama, 1947. Page 341.
  15. ^ The Vedanta Kesari, by Sri Ramakrishna Math (Madras, India). Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math., 1979. Page 212 – Swami Swarupananda by Swami Raghaveshananda.
  16. ^ a b Serene heights The Hindu, 24 December 2006.
  17. ^ Prabuddha Bharata Advaita Ashrama website.
  18. ^ Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita, English translation and commentary by Swami Swarupananda, 1909 at
  19. ^ the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Almora, Himalayas Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.
  20. ^ Letter 26 December 1900 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 6/Epistles – Second Series/CLXVII Joe – wikisource. "Dear Mr. Sevier passed away before I could arrive. He was cremated on the banks of the river that flows by his Ashrama, à la Hindu, covered with garlands, the Brahmins carrying the body and boys chanting the Vedas.".
  21. ^ Letter 6 January 1901 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 5/Epistles – First Series/XCIV Mother – wikisource."Mrs. Sevier is a strong woman, and has borne her loss quietly and bravely. She is coming over to England in April, and I am going over with her."

External links

  • Advaita Ashrama, Official website
  • Advaita Ashram at wikimapia