Last year we mentioned our desire to build rooms for elderly sadhus who had been staying for decades in the forests around the Bhola Giri mountain range in Odisha. We would like to give you an update on this project. With your assistance we have been able to help elderly sadhus staying at three ashrams in the jungles around this sacred mountain.
The forests around the Bhola Giri mountain range in Odisha have been sacred for thousands of years due to having been visited by Lord Ramachandra and the Pandavas, and as such sadhus have been residing throughout this area from ancient times. There are many small ashrams throughout the forests here, and some of the sadhus have been staying here alone for 40 or 50 years. Now in their old age they face natural difficulties. Over the last decade we have been trying to help the sadhus of this area as much as possible.
This year, at the ashram of Vishwanath Baba we were able to complete 3 permanent rooms for sadhus, and 2 toilets and bathrooms. Utilizing a gravity fed water tank connected to a waterfall upstream we were able to provide running water, including showers, taps and flushing toilets, without the need for electricity to pump any water. At the ashram of Brahma Chaitanya Baba we were able to complete 4 permanent rooms for sadhus. And at the ashram of Dayalu Baba we were able to make 1 permanent bathroom and toilet.
We wanted to also build another four rooms at Dayalu Baba’s ashram for sadhus to stay in, but due to shortage of funds we were not able to take up that work this year. Instead we made one traditional mud house with grass roof. Mud houses are cheaper, but require more maintenance, which can be troublesome for sadhus who generally have no source of income. The grass roof needs to be changed each year, and the mud needs to be repaired weekly, especially during the rainy season. In addition, after some years the wood beams will need to be changed as they are eaten by termites and decay.
We chose to build these rooms for sadhus out of concrete and bricks, as in their old age (some of whom are over 95 years) they will not be able to maintain the upkeep of a mud house like they did in their youth. We wanted them to be free from worry about the maintenance of the rooms, and to be free to utilize their time for their spiritual activities.
Brahma Chaitanya Baba, who is 95 years old has been residing in the forests for more than 50 years. His guru once told him to sit in this spot and watch his dhuni (yagya kunda), saying he would come back in 15 days. Baba sat and waited at that spot, and his guru didn’t return for 15 years, but he continued waiting alone in the forest where his guru told him to wait. Such was his determination to follow his guru’s order.
Below you can see the building we made at his ashram, which has four rooms for sadhus. The location of the building is the exact spot where his guru used to reside many decades ago when he stayed in this forest. The mud and stone foundation of his guru’s hut was still visible, despite having deteriorated long before. We kept a dhuni (yagya kunda) in one of the rooms, which was the exact spot where his guru used to have his dhuni decades before, and where sadhus used to assemble when he was staying there. Now Brahma Chaitanya Baba stays in that same room where the dhuni is, and performs the worship of the sacred fire there.
Pouring the concrete roof at Brahma Chaitanya Baba’s ashram.
Above is the completed building at Brahma Chaitanya Baba’s ashram, providing four rooms for sadhus to stay.
Since this is a jungle area, in the past we have faced trouble with termites eating the wooden door frames. This time we designed a special metal door frame, which we filled with concrete. The doors are then welded into the door frame. We will test this design and hopefully be able to use it in future work, so we wont have any problems from termites.
This is a picture of two bathrooms and toilets made for sadhus at Vishwanath Baba’s ashram. In the past the sadhus would use the open mountain side to relieve themselves, but it was becoming harder for them to do this in their old age, especially during the rainy season or the cold winter months.
Here you can see the running water and shower, which was done utilizing a gravity fed water tank, connected to the waterfall up stream.
Vishwanath Baba, who has been staying in the forests of Bhola Giri mountain for more than 50 years.
Rishi Baba utilizing one of the new rooms for sadhus.
At Dayalu Baba’s ashram we didn’t have enough funds to complete permanent rooms, so instead we built a permanent bathroom and toilet, and then one large mud hut where sadhus could stay. Below you can find some photos of the work at his ashram. Hopefully in the future we can build permanent rooms for sadhus there, but for the time being this was the best that we could do.
There are still several other sadhu’s and ashrams around this mountain that we would like to help, but we are not in a position at the present. We will try to help them one by one over the next couple of years as it becomes possible. If anyone would like to help any of these sadhus directly, please feel free to take up the work. We will provide you information of various genuine sadhus and ashrams in the Bhola Giri forests who could use help. We have been observing many of them for more than 10 years, and can say the sadhus in this area are all very genuine.
Thank you again to everyone who has contributed towards this work. It wouldn’t have been possible without your help.
Construction of toilet and septic tank at Dayalu Baba’s ashram.
Dayalu Baba cooking for visiting devotees.