7. ALWAYE ADVAITA ASHRAM

On the second day after the Sarada Installation, Swami left Sivagiri accompanied by his disciple Narayanan Asan. He went straight to the house of a devotee in Karthikapalli. After the usual preliminaries the host enquired the reason for the unscheduled visit. Swami felt that the work at Sivagiri could well be looked after by the people there.
He wanted a place for himself.

Alwaye was a good place and he liked it. When the host talked about the high price of land at Alwaye, Swami said: “Money is available everywhere. That is not a problem. Somebody to buy the place in his name is needed.”

The man agreed to fill the office and together they set out the next day.

They visited Alleppey and Shertallay. There he was given Rs.322/-. A devotee made a gift of some land. Unsought contributions poured in. Swami visited many other localities. Collecting funds for an Ashram at alwaye was the ostensible purpose. But Swami was always fond of travel. He would wander from place to place accompanied by one or two disciples. Wherever he went devotees thronged to welcome him. Eager crowds often created problems for the hosts. As he was natural not everyone was well- behaved. Swami would notice their foibles and would quietly remember how lonely he was in this wide world.

All great men are lonely even in the midst of a crowd. It is their fate to pursue their chosen path with this sense of loneliness. Are they sad? May be they are; we do not know. But there is a nobility even in that sadness. Perhaps that is a natural concomitant. When Vivekananda said that the nobler the soul the deeper the sorrow, he knew what he was saying.

But enjoyment of peace was not for Swami. Quietness is the fist casuality where people gather in large numbers.

He crossed village after village and during his sojourn collected enough money to buy a plot. Reaching Alwaye he bought in consultation with his devotees a quiet and lovely stretch of land on the banks of the Alwaye river. It is a blessed spot and even the severest summer cannot penetrate into its cool shades.

First a hut and later a monastery were built there. An Ashram which replaced the original hut was destroyed by floods and had to be rebuilt. Swami decided to open a school there and again set out for collections. This time it was not so readily forthcoming as on the earlier occasions.But he did collect the required funds and in 1914 started the Sanskrit school. Arrangements were made for students of all castes and creeds to stay there and prosecute their studies. According to Swami’s instructions, printed posters were put up on the walls of the Ashram and the monastery which stated that man had only one caste, one creed and one God, each man did not have a separate caste, a separate creed, or separate God. The Sanskrit school had six standards and the sixth  prepared students for the Sastri Examination with the syllabus followed by the Sanskrit college of Trivandrum. According to a report that appeared in Deshabhimani in 1918 twelve students were being coached for the Sastri examination that year.

Swami did not establish a temple or install an idol at the Advaita Ashram at Alwaye. Instead, arrangements were made for conducting prayers and readings strictly in accordance with Advaita traditions. Instructions were given that opportunities should be there for Hindus of all sects and non-Hindus to stay together and quench their thirst for knowledge.

At that time some gentlemen came from trichur to Alwaye to meet Swami. They requested him to establish a temple at Trichur. Swami said: “ Is an installation necessary? Later you may change sides and accuse me of installing a mere stone.”

On a subsequent visit to Trichur he clarified his views. A newspaperman was talking to him of the need for establishing a casteless association. When he said that temples were no longer necessary for man Swami said: “How can you say that ? Temples are really necessary. But they should be kept clean. Those who visit them would come clean after bath. They would think good thoughts, talk about good things, would think of God. They would preath pure air. Some would observe fasts there to purify both body and mind…. Are they not real gains? Temples are really necessary.”

The newspaperman explained that people were only opposing idol worship as it encouraged superstition. Swami further explained : “ They do not think of idols when they visit Temples. They think of God”. Swami smiled his soft smile and continued: “They think of idol only when people like you tell them about it. Everyone worships God, not idol”.

Pointing to the Trichur temple Swami added: “A good garden should be there on all sides. Good trees should be grown and platforms should be there around each. People can sit on those platforms and enjoy the breeze. Every temple should have a library where all religious books should be available. Let Sanctum Sanctorum be also there somewhere on the premises.

“If the place is clean and beautiful people would come there. Good thoughts would come to them. Their health would improve. Yes, temples are really necessary. They should be properly maintained. Many come to stay at Sivagiri and return cured of their afflictions. Personal cleanliness, meditation and pure air would themselves aid the cure. All have temples , who have them not?

“ yes, temples are necessary. They should not generate darkness in the mind. Special care is required to see that the temples built for the benefit of the common man spread light in their minds.”

It was during this period that Swami composed the prayer ‘Daivadasakam’. This is a simple hymn of ten stanzas and Swami recommended  it for recital at dusk in every home.