Tuesday, September 8, 2009


NAGDANDI ASHRAM near Achabal villagewas visited by me  visited on 06.09.2009 . Before I come to the subject in specific, it is important to clarify that VIVEKANANDA KENDRA based at Kanya kumari and RAMA KRISHNA MISSION of Kolkatta are two distinct organization . In valley Rama Krishna Mission has its Ashram at Shivalaya Karan Nagar while VivekaNanda Kendra is located In dense forest Area of Nag Dandi just three killometres from Achabal Village in Anantnag district.Both the institutions are connected or one can call them to be sister Socio-Religious Organizations .


                                                           (Swami Ashokananda  ji)

   Nagdandi Ashram is spread in about 100 Kanals of land housing about 7 structures with flower beds , Lush green Gardens , Fruit trees , Botanical plants , Samadhi of Swami Ashoka Nanda (a senior monk of the Kendra) and an imposing entrance with a Sarovar . Present Swami Ji who took over the charge of this Kendra in 1971 is from Bengal but speaks fluent Kashmiri and has remained stay put in the Ashram complex during Peak turmoil period when all his disciples decided to migrate out from the valley. In fact he has added three more structures to this Ashram during last ten years , built a temple type Samadhi of Swami AshokaNnanda in white Marble and constructed a beautiful Sarowar ( with white swans ) near the main entrance . A massive double storey lecture hall is presently under construction at this Kendra . The Kendra has also been running a Free kitchen for the disciples and other guests who usually come on Sundays from all parts of the valley or Jammu or other parts of the country. Night staying arrangement is also available for any disciple or visitor should he decide to stay in the Ashram. It was a pleasure to see Swami Ji and his dedicated followers from Anantnag district serving round the clock meals and tea to Yatries at Tulamula complex for four complete days during the Zeyshta Ashtami festival ( Mela Kheer Bhawani ) in 2009. I am informed that this has been a practice with swami ji for the last 8 – 10 years .

The present complex used to be the hunting ground of Maharaja Hari Singh .The land for this Kendra was donated by Maharaja in 1933 as Swami Vivekananda had Made a specific request to him seeking his help to set up a Kendra in Kashmir. Swami Vivekananda was highly touched by the beauty of the land and simplicity of its people during his visit to Kashmir. Swami Ji had visited Ananatnag and stayed at Kheer Bhawani temple as well.
                            ( Swami Ashokanandji (1911-1971) who started the Ashram at Nagdandi )


Sri P Dattaram  in a detailed article published   in kashmir New Network writes  :

It was not known as to how he was called Ashokananda, though some attributed that he was called so because of his constant meditation for hours under an Ashoka tree. 
Sometime in 1935-36, he reached Sumbal and stayed there for a year or two. He was not satisfied and moved this time to a hilly place near Achhabal village which later came to be called Nagdandi. This place was surrounded by thick pine trees and had many natural springs gushing with clear water. In Kashmir valley, Nag means spring and there were many such springs: Kokar Nag, Beri Nag, Anant Nag, Nag Dandi etc. In this area, Ashokananda selected a gigantic pine tree and sat under it for his Sadhana. He sat bare-bodied regardless of snow and rain and none knew that such a person was residing there fora long time. The jungle was thick and none would dare to enter it as it was under the control of the Maharaja of Kashmir for his hunting sprees. The place was inhabited by a number of tigers, panthers,wolves and several varieties of stags. Swamiji was absolutely fearless and the dangerous animals also were not afraid of him and hence there seemed to be a close rapport between them.

 Many times, the wood cutters appeared to have noticed  Swamiji in deep meditation and many animals Iying about him without fear. The news soon spread and people started flocking to see this unusal sight and have the darshan of Swamiji. It was said that many times Swamiji used to order the animals to go away from near him to permit the visitors to come close tohim and they used to obey him like tamed animals.

Once Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, accompanied by his guards happened to pass through the junglewhen he espied a young Sanyasi sitting under a pine tree in deep meditation. He was surprised to seethe wonderful sight of a radiant young Sanyasi still as if in trance. He and his guards dismounted and watched him for more than half an hour but still there was no movement of any limbs of Swamiji. Suddenly a horse neighed and disturbed the silence. Swamiji opened his eyes and saw before him some royal person and his attendants, standing with fear and awe writ on their faces for having disturbed him accidentally.
The Maharaja was quick to offer his apologies but Swamiji smiled this away and soon both of them fell into a long close conversation. Maharaja Hari Singh was deeply impressed by Swamji and after receiving his Ashirwad left the place with his retinue promising to call on him again. Then began his frequent visits to Swamiji and Yuvaraj Karan Singh was also one of those who accompanied his father when he visited Swamiji. By 1948, the Ashram acquired about 7 acres of land and an appleorchard was started to make the Ashram self-sufficient for its maintenance. The Ashram has now about 800 fruit bearing trees of 17 varieties. "


Present Swami Ji is a known figure not only in Anantnag district but also in the entire state . During discussion it also transpired that he has been hectic in developing the complex since last 30 years . Almost everybody in Anantnag Knows and respects him. He appears to be well read speaks fluent Hindi , Urdu , Bangla ( his mother tongue ) and surprisingly Chaste Kashmiri as spoken in Anantnag district. He talked about living alone in this jungle during peak militancy days as also the support from Dr Farooq Abdullah in particular for development and maintenance of the Kendra . Local muslims too hold him in high esteem .Swami ji is well read person and has complete knowledge of history of Kashmir starting from Nilmata Purana . To me he also confided that except SHARDA TEMPLE in POK , he has performed pilgrimage of all the holy places of kashmir including TARSAR , MARSAR, YAMSAR ,GANGBAL and KOUNSERNAAG . Swami Ji Fondly remembers Gh Rasool Santosh who would come to the Ashram with Mr Ogra a disciple and regular visitor. He thinks Kanishka to be more illustrious king of Kashmir than Lalitaditya . Touch any subject relating to Kashmir and have Swami Ji’s scholarly interpretation of the same. Well known to most of the state politicians , Intellectuals , People in general and poor people in particular for his philanthropic work, Swami Ji Commands enormous respect in entire Anantnag district. I am informed by many muslims of the area that Swami ji used his good offices to ensure employment for a large number of poor muslim boys of the area . The Reddi wallah selling fruits outside Achhabal garden told me that Swami ji is a Reshi ( Saint ) held in high esteem in entire Anantnag district."I will do only what Swami ji tells me to do " added a shopkeepr in Achhabal.
While sitting in his Garden, we were given Kehwa tea and biscuits and swami ji had directed one worker in the Ashram to keep about 10 kgs of fresh apples from the ashram orchard in our car. Be it the successive Chief ministers of J&K state or Ajit Narayan Hakser or Mr. Sapru ( Chairman ITC ) or Indira ji or Sh Makhan lal Fotedar or Dr karan singh or late Sh P l Handoo or Sh Kochak Sahib or Sh Man Mohan Dhar ( Chairman Kamani Group ) and many more people at the helm of affairs , I am informed that swami ji has knocked every door for support and development of this Kendra . Kudos to Swami ji for this great work and demonstrative courage of conviction .

Suraa so Pehchaniyey laddey Deen ke Hait
Purza purza kat Marey , Kabahu Naa Chhade Khait

( Guru Gobind Singh Ji )

“Recognize him to be a true warrior ,
who fights for the underprivileged .
Even if  cut to pieces ,
this warrior never leaves the battle field.”

 (Autar  Mota)


  1. Aahee Tu Aay for bringing this information on Nagdandi Ashram!
    Dalip Langoo

  2. Sir do you have any picture of Ashokananda or present Swami ji of Nagdandi? Aahee!


  4. Sir,
    I spend nearly 21 days in Nagdandi Ashram in early 1980. If God wishes I will spend some more days with Swami ji.

  5. you are doing appreciable and commendable job, dear I have copied some pages from your blog do not take ill...... our aim is one ............thanks may god bless you .

  6. sir i really appreciate your efforts. But at the same time,i would like to correct you here,in the beginning, u have mentioned that Swami Ashokanand Ji Maharaj as senoir monk of kendra. But in reality, Swami Ji was the sole founder of the ashram and at the will of Swami Ji, Vivekananda Kendra has over it.

    (Vinod Raina)


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