The Australian Ashram - Beginnings
The Ashram Dream Begins
Amma first came to Australia in 1990 and during Her visits She stated that there will be an Ashram in Australia. One of Her senior disciples Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, over the ensuing years, during Melbourne tours was taken to various properties and areas, and he selected the suburbs of Bangholm, Keysborough and Carrum Downs as appropriate for the future Ashram’s location.
In 2002, a large acreage near Caroline Springs (north of Melbourne) was offered for the Ashram, but it eventuated that too many conditions were attached to the offer. Although plans were drawn up, the owner of the land refused to transfer the title to Amma, instead offering a 99 year lease.
After this disappointment, the Ashram dream was put on the backburner for some time, although never forgotten.
Amma’s Instructions in 2006
On the last evening of the Melbourne leg of his February 2006 Tour, Swamiji spoke seriously to all those assembled. He said that Amma has been coming to Australia for 16 years, and has repeatedly said that we should have an Ashram in Australia. Needless to say, this fanned the flame of our desire to find a suitable property for our Guru’s Ashram.
After the conclusion of the Kyneton Retreat in Victoria, there were a number of Amma’s children remaining on the retreat site the day after everything had finished, to assist in the final clean-up. Amma called all of those remaining to discuss the question of the Ashram. Amma began to speak about what kind of property we needed to look for, and how the Ashram ought to be run once set up. She spoke most emphatically that everyone who comes to the Ashram comes for Love and the Ashram will run on Love and Service.
Apart from other very exact specifications, Amma said that the property must be at least 5 acres in size, and no more than 35 to 40 kilometres from the city.
For the full minutes of Amma’s talk about the Ashram, please click here.
The Search for a Property
As soon as the 2006 Australian Tour was over, and Amma had left our shores for Her next tour, a number of Her children began to look in earnest for the future site. Keysborough was quickly ruled out, as it was simply not possible to buy land of a suitable size within budget. So we had to look a bit further out, in Bangholm and Carrum Downs (both further out yet still within the 40 kilometres radius).
A number of properties were found that seemed suitable to present to Amma for Her decision. One of them was a now-disused theme park/recreation centre with a main building that looked like a castle. The building had a large gym which would have been suitable for Amma to receive thousands of visitors and give darshan.
During this two month long process, one property in Carrum Downs looked very favourable to the purposes, being close to a major arterial freeway, on five acres of land, and not too close to neighbours. A number of long-term devotees (including a property assessor, lawyer, property developer and accountant) were asked to view the property. All agreed that this particular property had all of the necessary requirements for the Ashram. However when Amma was asked whether the property would be suitable, surprisingly to everyone involved, Her answer was “keep trying, you might find something better”.
The Property is Found
The search for more properties continued and some further great properties were found. However none fitted the all of the criteria like the Carrum Downs property.
When a devotee was leaving for Los Angeles in June 2006 to see Amma on the American Tour, he was asked to take a set of four files with him, each containing maps and details including photographs of a property, one of which was the Carrum Downs property. He delivered them to Swamiji, who then showed them to Amma, and soon thereafter we were told to begin negotiating on the Carrum Downs property.
The property at 842 Frankston-Dandenong Road, Carrum Downs, Vic 3201. It has 3 bed rooms, a study, kitchen, 3 large halls and large garage on 5 acres of land. View Photos >>
Some tough negotiations ensued, and at one point some devotees contacted Swamiji asking for further guidance, and he responded that we must have faith in Amma and go ahead with the project.
Finally the contract was signed on 10 July 2006 (Guru Purnima). Luckily we successfully negotiated a six-month settlement (to enable us to raise funds for the purchase), and we obtained a special conditions allowing us to occupy the property for that period for a nominal $1 a month, and to hold daily programs and fundraising events. We took possession of the property at 9 a.m. on Saturday 15th July, 2006 .
The last auspicious day for an entire month when we could perform the purification of the house and grounds with a Mahaganapathy Homa was Sunday 16th of July (the day after taking possessionWith the assistance of the Hindu priest Sri Sriraman, we performed the Homa at 8:00am on the Sunday morning. The Homa took over four hours to complete, and the sixty plus people present witnessed the change in the house from a normal house to a fully sanctified space.
The journey towards settlement of the property was arduous. Funds coming in, although consistently, were at some times just a dribble. All those involved in the fundraising were pushed to th