The Ashram Manual:
The Renunciate Order of Divine Light Mission
The Indian Background Index

From the very beginning of his 'mission' until fairly recently, Maharaji's organization was based around a system of ashrams: houses where premies lived as members of a renunciate order sworn to poverty, chastity, and obedience. Any person who held a position of responsibility in Maharaji's organization had to live in the ashram (read what Maharaji said about the ashram), and all activities were managed by ashram premies (read what Maharaji said about the ashram service). Before Maharaji got married in 1974, he and his family members would stay in the ashram if they visited a particular city. There were dozens of ashrams in the United States and the United Kingdom and there were many in other countries. Thousands of premies lived for years in these ashrams, following the rules stated in the Ashram Manual below.

Maharaji dissolved these ashrams around 1983 (except in India, where they still exist). He never explained the reason behind this move, but it may been because he felt that he had lost control of the ashram system. Also, many of the ashram premies were getting older, which entailed more medical care costs, and less outside income as premies retired or became disabled. The ashrams, formerly a source of cheap labor, might have eventually become a financial liability for Maharaji.

When the ashrams were dissolved, the people who had taken vows to dedicate their whole lives to Maharaji were forced to find new homes, and in many cases, new jobs. Some were deeply in debt since the debts incurred by each ashram were split among the former residents. Many former ashram premies had difficulty adjusting to life in the world after living in the ashram for years, although some of them found jobs as Maharaji's personal servants, or as managers or instructors with Elan Vital. Most of the present managers of Elan Vital are ex-ashram premies.

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The Code of the Renunciate Order of Divine Light Mission



The Renunciate Order
Requirements for Membership
Rules and Regulations
Daily Schedule
The Ashram Supervisor


"Ashram creates itself so holy an environment that when a car passes right there in front of an ashram, the driver feels some strange feeling in his tires. Something so holy, something so attractive, something so elegant, because in this world, we can walk in the streets and we can see the lights and when you drive at night, you might feel a strange reaction because of all these lights there. But in the ashram, no lights, but internal light's still glowing. Everyone is completely amazed when he sees the light coming through, because when people meditate, there is clearly light coming out of them.

"And when man does meditation, then it really comes out of him, he becomes a part of the meditation, like if you go to a tub and there is white paint in it, and you go down in the tub and come out, then you'll be all white, because that white color has touched you and become a part of you. So, when we stick to something, when we stick to Knowledge, we become a part of Knowledge.

"And what is Knowledge? Knowledge is light. And we have to become light and everyone wants to become light. He glows, but not for himself he glows, he glows for everyone. If I'm a man, and I have got a torch and there are a hundred people following me, they can all see clearly, because if only one man has a torch, a hundred people can see. So when you glow, you don't show direction to yourself, but you show how to be, how to be.

"Now you see, God is the controller, it is His control trip. Why do you only see with your eyes, why not with your mouth or with your nose? Why only with your eyes? You talk about it being a control trip, then why do you only see with your eyes and not with your mouth? Why? Because that's the way things are, and that's the way things are going to be, understand? A man who sees through his mouth, you're not going to call him a man. You're going to call him a monster! A man must see through his eyes and that's the way it must be.

"Ashram has to be an ashram and it's not a motel. You don't go into a church and just start sleeping there and drinking your coffee there. You don't do that, do you? A church is a church, a temple is a temple; you are strict about doing certain things there. Understand? You go to a church; you pray, you meditate, you read something, you understand something, and become more spiritual, right?

"Why should there be so much strictness? We are the children of God, and this is the house of God. That's why there should be so much strictness. That's the way it has to be, that's why. So that's what I wanted to make clear about it."

(Note: the above quotes are from Guru Maharaji himself. They've been lifted from satsangs Guru Maharaj Ji gave - during ashram pressure-cooker meetings - to the Ashram premies in the early 70s, and those quotes constitute the preface of the 'Ashram Manual'.)

Part One: The Renunciate Order

The Renunciate Order is a monastic order of Divine Light Mission. Its members pursue a life of complete worldly renunciation for the purpose of engaging in religious study and dedication to selfless service of God and humanity. Renunciates live in disciplined environments known as Ashrams, which are created and operated by Divine Light Mission for the spiritual growth of their members.

Part Two: Requirements for Membership in the Renunciate Order
A. Applicants must be active members and make formal written application to the Board of Directors of Divine Light Mission through its representatives. After successfully completing a one-year novitiate training, he may then take lifetime vows or terminate his commitment.

B. Following acceptance of application by the Board, the applicant must take written vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

C. Renunciate members must follow the direction of the Ashram Supervisor with respect to their conduct and activities while a member of the Renunciate Order (see Part Five).

D. Renunciate members must be given special dispensation by the Board of Directors or Guru Maharaj Ji if they wish to leave the Renunciate Order and remain in the membership of Divine Light Mission. This dispensation may be granted if a petition for such dispensation is submitted to the Ashram Supervisor or to Guru Maharaj Ji and is approved by the Board of Directors.

E. Renunciate members must abide by the Rules and Regulations listed below.

Part Three: Rules and Regulations

Throughout history, all spiritual communities have been structured through adherence to a rule. These rules are not ends in themselves, but simply a means to a goal. Their purpose is to provide for the structuring and smooth functioning of the community. A strong spiritual community, in turn, promotes individual spiritual growth.

Because of the importance of the community to the spiritual development of its members, all efforts are made towards reinforcing the common purpose. By following the common rules, members are channeling their personal preferences toward the success of the community as a whole. In this light, an individual's time and energy are not considered his own while living as a Renunciate. Rather, they are counted as resources of the spiritual community. The rules are not an attempt to stifle the individual. Instead, rules are the necessary basis of any strong spiritual community. Such a community will inevitably benefit each of its members.

A. Personal Conduct

1. Members must be willing to completely cooperate with the directives of the Ashram Supervisor. The Ashram policy is determined by Guru Maharaj Ji. The Ashram Supervisor is directly responsible to Guru Maharaj Ji for the maintenance of every aspect of ashram life. Members should, therefore, follow the instructions of the Ashram Supervisor and help life in the ashram to flow smoothly.

2. Members must ask permission from the Ashram Supervisor to leave the ashram for any length of time and whenever they feel it is necessary to be out past 11:00 p.m. Members must always keep the Ashram Supervisor well informed as to their whereabouts.

3. Members must refrain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and any illegal or immoral activity, and must abstain from non-marital sexual relations.

4. Members must not be idle or lazy, and must agree to do any work that is asked and attempt to be economically and ecologically responsible in all service.

5. Members must maintain a neat and clean appearance at all times. Dress and behavior in the general community must be within the standards of leading portions of that community and appropriate to the service being performed.

6. Members must not engage in idle talk or gossip. Conversation should be in furtherance of the Ashram service or satsang for spiritual development for propagating the Knowledge. Members should restrict the use of television, motion pictures, theater, and literature. The Ashram Supervisor shall determine the use of these media with respect to the spiritual development or practical ability of the members to fulfill their service.

7. Members should observe a silent atmosphere while eating and maintain a vegetarian diet, abstaining from meat, fish and eggs.

8. Members must observe a vow of poverty, and although personally possessing nothing, should utilize everything given to them communally, respecting privacy, habitual use, and good sense.

9. Members must lead a disciplined life of service, satsang, and meditation, and must adhere to the five Holy Commandments:
Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Constantly meditate and remember the Holy Name.
Leave no room for doubt in your mind.
Never delay in attending satsang.
Always have faith in God.

10. Members must cultivate cooperation, brotherhood, understanding, heartfelt love, and devotion for Guru Maharaj Ji and His work.

11. A member must leave if asked to do so by the Ashram Supervisor for any action or lack of action that the Ashram Supervisor may deem detrimental to the purposes of Divine Light Mission and its stated Codes. An appeal may be made by any member who is asked to leave by submitting a written request for consideration to the Board of Directors. If any member is still dissatisfied, a written request for further consideration can be made to Guru Maharaj Ji.

B. Household

The Ashram is the shelter of the Renunciate devotees of Guru Maharaj Ji, and should always be kept spotless, honored, and well cared for. It is the responsibility of every Ashram member to keep his personal area and the common areas of the Ashram always neat and clean.
The Ashram is for Ashram members only.
Hospitality should be accorded to all, although overnight guests cannot be accommodated.

3. The activities and atmosphere of the Ashram should always be conducive to meditation and spiritually uplifting.

4. The kitchen is not a common area for members. It should be considered "off limits" unless the cook permits.
Meals must be vegetarian.
No meat, fish, eggs, drugs (except prescribed medication), alcohol, or cigarettes should be permitted to be kept in the Ashram.

Part Four: Daily Schedule

All members must follow the schedule and participate in all Ashram activities under the direction of the Ashram Supervisor.

Consistency, balance, and discipline are essential qualities to develop if there is to be any real spiritual growth. It is through daily practice and dedication to this path that true strength in Knowledge is attained. The daily schedule should therefore be well followed by all residents.

Monday through Saturday
5:45 AM Rise and prepare for Arti
6:00 AM Arti followed by one hour of group meditation
7:30 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Working day begins
12:00 Noon Lunch
6:00 PM Dinner
7:30 PM Evening satsang
9:30 PM End satsang
10:00 PM Evening Arti followed by one hour of group meditation
11:00 PM All external lights out - Ashram doors and windows locked

6:45 AM Rise and prepare for Arti
7:00 AM Arti followed by two hours of group meditation
9:00 AM Personal and household cleaning
9:45 AM House meeting
11:00 AM Brunch
12:00 Noon Service
6:00 PM Dinner
7:30 PM Evening satsang
9:30 PM End satsang
10:00 PM Evening Arti followed by one hour of group meditation
11:00 PM All external lights out - Ashram doors and windows locked

This schedule may be amended by the Ashram Supervisor to be harmonious with the customs of the general community, and to fulfill the responsible activities of the Ashram or its residents.

Members assigned to do outside jobs should do their best to find day jobs during the 9:00 to 5:00 working hours, so as to accommodate themselves to the schedule.

During scheduled meditation, all household activities should cease.

Part Five: The Ashram Supervisor

The Ashram Supervisor is responsible for overseeing the personal conduct and service activities of ail Renunciate members in his Ashram. It is his duty to insure that the Renunciate Code is being followed. He reports directly to the DUO Director Members must endeavor to cooperate fully with the Ashram Supervisor in order to insure maximum harmony within the Ashram.

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