Sivananda Ashram is a social and charitable institution which was founded by Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati in 2004 at Rikhia. This institution was inspired by the sankalpa of her Guru, Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati which he made during the period when he undertook the long and arduous sadhana of Panchangni to help and love his neighbours like his own self.
The main area which this institution addresses is to look after the poor, deprived and largely ignored elderly and infirm who are in the twilight of their life, so that they may live with dignity and respect. In this way Sivananda ashram aims to fulfill the vision of Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati to provide shelter, aid and succour to the senior members of society by following the vedic precepts of seva (service), karuna (compassion), prem (love) and sneha (affection).
The ashram’s center of activities is at Rikhia, in the Deoghar district of Jharkhand and its central project at present encompasses aid to the senior citizens or gramins of Rikhia panchayat, whom Sri Swamiji fondly called his co-travelers in the journey of life. These oldies but goldies, of Rikhia panchayat, some of whom cannot even walk or see and have even been rejected by their own kith and kin, are at first identified and singled out for this project on a most needy basis.
The services are then provided, such as blankets and warm clothing in the winter winter, raincoats and umbrellas in the rainy season, grains cooking oil and masalas, utensils for cooking, toiletries such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, hair oil and mirror. Walking sticks and other necessities such as hearing aids are provided as required. Free medical check ups and medicines are also available to them on a daily basis. They are also provided cooked wholesome meals on festivals and special occasions throughout the year.
The future venture of Sivananda Ashram is to provide the elderly of Rikhia a place where they can spend their day in comfort and leisure receiving at least one wholesome meal a day as well as some recreation and creative expression of the knowledge and experience they have acquired in life. God willing if this project comes through, the recreation centre will have a reading room and a facility to show video films such as Ramayana and Mahabharata to the aged in order to bring some joy and happiness into their otherwise dull and drab lives.
In addition Sivananda Ashram also undertakes the upkeep and maintenance of widows through its programme of providing them daily wages for chanting the name of God. These widows are considered outcasts of society and are often treated with contempt by members of family. They are not permitted to attend any functions and festivals and are forbidden to lead a normal life as others do. This is most harmful for their self confidence and ability to live as a useful member of society.
In order to bring them out of this morbid state they are employed as labour from 8 am to 4 pm, however, not to lift bricks and carry stones but to repeat the maha mantra Hare Rama Hare Krishna. At the end of the day they are given daily wages which at least provides them the means to light the fire at home and cook a meal themselves. In course of time some can even start a small business, as along with the chanting of mantra they are taught skills such as knitting, weaving, making incense sticks and soap.
This unique programme designed by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati has served not only to make them 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 as others have the privilege to do.