Ashrams are a place, if you aren’t aware, of spiritual practice and direct devotion to a spiritual master, more often than not dead however in my case is still alive and
kicking hugging. Therefore ashrams come with a very strict set of rules designed to help visitors, aspirants devotees, residents, renunciates, wandering sadhus, priests, swamis and whoever else happens to wander in obtain a greater sense of egolessness and focus on devotion. There are thousands and thousands of books about the benefits of austerities and some ashrams are stricter, than others. At Amritapuri there is less of a focus on a life of withdrawal with pepsi, chocolate and chips available at allotted times of the day – which is a lot different to say the silent retreat on Koh Samui where you would have to hike down a mountain and along a winding road to obtain sugar but as is. I believe the focus at Amritapuri is on training the self as opposed to deliberate withdrawal, essentially a greater sense of self-control. Of which I have little but hey ho.
So my point? Abstinence. Abstinence is the one thing all ashrams are very strict with – I mean, women and men are barely allowed in the same building and if they are, unless they are married or related then genders have to be sat apart with women on the right and men on the left (when facing the altar) clothing and attire is also strictly monitored and I have in the past known of numerous fiery situations that have developed because someone accidentally wore leggings when attending their first class at a yoga ashram, or worn a top where you could clearly see the outline of their bra. I myself was also subject to a rather intense telling off from a woman who told me an ashram was not the place for my kind of attire and if I wanted to bare my skin I should leave and go to Varkala (a beach town further south which is seen all ashramites and I imagine most Indians as a den of western indulgence, drunkenness and mass orgies) In this case I was trying to purchase a coffee from an Indian lady, which she then wouldn’t sell me. There was a queue behind as I stood there, like a lemon, utterly confused as to how my incredibly baggy Indian made trousers and baggy tshirt was causing such offence. Then I realised my bag had caught the right sleeve and a slither of shoulder was showing…
So when any kind of flesh or even talking to the opposite sex is severely frowned upon, its just not a done thing in India. You talk to a man, you will have sex with him, its like when you’re fourteen and in a school playground.So sex. That’s where i’m at. Total lack of sex and like when things are forced away from you they become, well more prominent in ones mind. Which is fine, I can cope. I men, mean there are all of two, maybe three vaguely attractive men ‘on campus’ and to be fair I’m not even sure if they are attractive? It might just be in comparison, also I had to admit, their all to common attire of traditional ashram white is slightly off putting but… so five weeks in and well, I’ve meditated, I’ve had moments where I have imagined my future husband popping back for a cheeky hug seeing me meditating and going ‘woah, future wife, marry me this instance’ although I have it on first hand authority even if I had turned up 21 days early, FH was on campus with a woman (how dare he) whose bikini was visible under her top (how dare she, big no no no no no) I decided I should just keep myself busy by doing some extra seva. So I sign up to dish drying and waste management, I mean it’s unlikely I’ll be doing it with either one of the three hotties (I know im not, I know their sevas) and two it wont be remotely sexual in any way shape or form.
So I go to dish drying.
I’m not drying and there are no dishes. I am instead washing baking equiptment. Well actually I’m preparing baking equiptment for washing, rubbing it with coffee granules to remove the dirt and grease. Oh and the baking equiptment? It resembles something Christian Grey would own. And I am rubbing it with coffee granules. Then soaping it….
And so I have coffee and a cigarette in the secret smoking shack just outside the ashram walls and then I go to the waste management centre on the beach, where I walk past two couples holding hands. (tssk). I get handed a box of talcum powder to cover my hands in and a pair of latex gloves to slip on my hands and I get sent to the paper table. You can find more detail here but if you havent read it yet, not one, not two but three condom wrappers. Thankfully the users had been kind enough to put the presumably used condoms in the sanitary waste bin.
So, instead I went back to the Temple and read the Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita is possible the most infamous text in Indian Culture and constantly referenced in almost all spiritual teachings. It also reminded me of 300. The film, the one… yep. I give up. I think I just need to leave and join Tinder. Leave India first, and then join Tinder. I might be living with a saint, but seriously, for the last few weeks I have felt like a complete sinner.
Image credit: Pinterest via bustle.com a site i somehow found and am now a little obsessed with. I thought the image was apt. The image credit they gave is for the eyelashes pillows but all the stuff is awesome it’s shopbetches.com