Sivananda Ashram was founded in 2004 by Swami Satyasangananda at Rikhia, inspired by her Guru’s sankalpa or resolve to help and love his neighbours like his own self. Due to the extensive expansion of activities of Sivananda Math it was deemed necessary to establish Sivananda Ashram to enable additional facilities to be provided for the poor and underprivileged of Rikhia panchayat. Since its inception, activities have focused largely on the ignored elderly and infirm of Rikhia panchayat by offering material and moral support so that they may live with dignity and respect. It also offers aid and support to widows who are often treated as outcastes in society. Sivananda Ashram has undertaken to fulfill Swami Satyananda’s resolve to feed the children and elderly of Rikhia one wholesome meal a day to overcome malnutrition and the effects of inadequate food. In this way Sivananda Ashram aims to fulfill Swami Satyananda’s vision to provide facilities to improve quality of life of those in need by following the Vedic precepts of seva, selfless service, karuna, compassion, prem, love and sneha, affection
The Senior Citizens: is an ongoing project of Sivananda Ashram. The elderly members of Rikhia panchayat are identified and selected for this project on a needs basis. Many live alone, struggling for basic existence, without aid or sustenance. The services provided by Sivananda Ashram include a monthly pension, clothing all year round, woollens and blankets in winter, raincoats and umbrellas in the rainy season, grains, seasonal vegetables, cooking oils, utensils for cooking, and toiletries such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, hair oil and mirrors. Walking sticks and other necessities such as hearing aids and glasses are provided as required. Free medical check-ups and medicines are also available on a daily basis. Cooked wholesome meals are also provided during festivals and on special occasions throughout the year.
“If you want to please God, you must begenerous to others. You don’t have to go to a temple, church or mosque, you don’t have to become a swami or a yogi, you don’t have to practice asana, pranayama or meditation. Just do whatever you can with your mind, knowledge, influence and might to relieve the pain of those in distress.”
Future plans include providing the elderly of Rikhia a recreation centre where they can spend their day in comfort and leisure. The recreation centre will have a reading room and facilities to show video films such as Ramayana and Mahabharata to the aged in order to bring some joy and happiness into their otherwise monotonous and dull lives.
Widows: Sivananda Ashram also offers aid and support to widows who are often treated with contempt by society and even family members. Widows are not permitted to attend functions or festivals and are forbidden to lead a normal life which harms their self-confidence and ability to live as integrated members of society. Projects by Sivananda Ashram have included the employment of widows from 8 am to 4 pm to chant the maha mantra ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ which gave them a daily wage and independence. Skills such as knitting, weaving, making incense sticks and soaps have been also taught, so that in time they may start a small business. These activities in addition to the generous prasad they receive throughout the year, have served not only to make the widows economically independent, but more importantly to regain their lost identity and self-esteem. Today, they can hold their heads high and move in the mainstream of society.
Kanya Kitchen: The scriptures have said that the giving of grains is one of the highest forms of giving; it is known as anna daan, or giving food to the hungry. The profound empathy that Swami Satyananda felt towards the needs of his neighbours, led him to take the sankalpa to provide one nutritious and balanced meal daily to the kanyas and batuks and the senior citizens of Rikhia panchaya To fulfil this resolve, Sivananda Ashram undertook the grand venture to develop Annapurna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen to facilitate the daily feeding of well over 2500 people, in rain, hail and shine.
The Annapurna complex consists of an enormous dining area, store rooms and offices, an open air langar, kitchen, and facilities to store wood and coal. It features a modern gas kitchen which has all the latest facilities of pizza and roti makers along with an electric oven Swami Satyananda received the mandate from his Guru Swami Sivananda, “Serve, Love and Give.” These precepts became the sadhana which he lived and perfected. The activities which have been instigated through Sivananda Ashram have all been a part of fulfilling this sankalpa and the Annapurna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen is an essential part.
“Feed man and God will be fed.” -Swami Satyananda