Varanasi or ‘the city of moksha’, is laced with rich cultural traditions and centuries-old mythical legacies which is held together by deep-rooted religious belief. an overall city exploration is a soul-enriching experience for any devotees and tourists alike. The free-flow of spiritualism, cultures and traditions that the city exhibits, has attracted many sages and religious sects from the various corners of the country and each of these sects have set up their own exclusive ashram or Matha at Varanasi. Thus Mathas and ashrams abound in the city of Varanasi and denote clearly the religious practices, philosophy and beliefs specific to a particular religious sect or outfit. Some of the most notable Mathas and ashrams of Kashi are listed below. Read on to learn more-
Mathas & Ashrams of Kashi
01. Kabir Matha
Kabir Mehta stands on the Kabir road at Varanasi Lahartara. The Martha includes a holy Samadhi Sthal plus temple. Each year thousands of pilgrims flock at the Matha on the occasion of St Kabir’s birth anniversary. Many relics related to the early life and teachings of Saint Kabir are preserved in this Matha. The Matha complex comprises of numerous small buildings and visitable places such as Bijak temple, Samadhi temple, Lahartara Taal, Neeru-Neema Teela, a library, Kabir’s hut, Khadau, Chabutra, well of Kashi Naresh, Kabir’s resting place etc.
02. Satua Baba Ashram
The Satua Baba ashram falls in vicinity to the Manikarnika Ghat and has been named after Satua Baba, a famous God-man of the city. This ashram upholds the ancient Parampara of Guru–Shishya till date and makes an important centre of spiritual learning. Young students joining the ashram are imparted the knowledge of Vedas and of one of the most ancient languages; Sanskrit. This ashram came into being around the 18th century and is still revered by the pilgrims a lot.
03. Sri Sringeri Shankar Mutt
Sri Sringeri Shankar Mutt stands on one of the most scenic Ghats of Varanasi; the Kedar Ghat. The Matha houses smaller shrines within its complex such as that of Sri Maha Ganapathi, Sri Sharada Mata and Adi Guru Shankaracharya. Queen of Burdwan; Sri Radha Rani Devi renovated the ancient Matha to make it to what it is today. During festive occasions like Navratri, Maha Shivaratri devotees flock heavily at the Matha for special puja and aarti. During such occasions, the Matha is beautifully adorned with festive lights. The Matha has 15 rooms for stay. Thus, pilgrimage to Varanasi may opt for putting up at the Matha against nominal charges.
04. Mata Anandamayi Ashram
Mata Anandamayi Ashram is located in Varanasi’s Badhani Village and the ashram revolves round the philosophy of Mata Anandamai; one of the most prominent spiritual figures of the 20th century. Ma Anandamayi has several followers all across the country and there are several branches to her ashrams scattered all over India and one such branch is at Varanasi. Her ashram offers shelter to the destitute and to the marginalized widows of the society. One can easily feel the divinity of the ashram by stepping into it. Here the needy are served most selflessly and unconditionally.
05. Tailang Swami Math
Tailang Swami Math of Varanasi is dedicated to the great Indian spiritual guru and saint Tailang Swami. His math at Varanasi comes in the form of a small shrine that houses the revered Saint’s Samadhi. Many believed Swamiji to be Lord Shiva’s incarnation. The math entrance is adorned with a beautiful Lord Krishna idol, several images of Tailang Swami in company of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa plus a magnificent Shiva lingam to its right-hand side. It is believed that this lingam was retrieved by saint Tailang swami from the depths of the Ganges. The Tailang swami math stands on Varanasi’s Panchganga Ghat.
06. Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama
Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama is a non-profit, charitable organization that serves the poor and the needy. The Sevashrama started its journey around 1900 under the initiative of four spiritually inspired youths who were greatly under the influence of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and philosophy. The Sevashrama got its affiliation from Ramakrishna mission in the year 1902. The ashram aims at offering selfless health care, health awareness and free medical help to the poor and the needy, to the weak and the infirm, to the diseased and the aged. Through their selfless services they aim at moving towards spiritual realization and divine bliss.
07. International Music Centre Ashram
This ashram of Varanasi is meant for the aspirants of Hindustani classical music and also for all the passionate music lovers of the world. The building is an ancient one and is located at Varanasi’s Dashashwamedh Ghat. The setting of this music center ashram reminds one of the eras of Guru Tansen and is simply perfect for playing with the classical ragas and raginis and for the musical renditions of the sitar, Tabla and tanpura. One can take lessons on music by putting up at this ashram and can also go there to enjoy the various superior musical performances.
08. Gadwa Ghat Ashram
Gadwa Ghat ashram is actually the Santmat Anuyayi Ashram and it derives its name from the location where it stands; i.e. Gadwaghat of Varanasi. Teachings of a Satguru are staunchly abided by at the ashram. Spiritual aspirants, sages and saints reside here and engage in peaceful spiritual delving and practices. The ashram runs on donations, earnings from dairy farming and agricultural activities undertaken therein. The services of the ashram include things like offering low-cost healthcare, quality education and free meals to the poor and the needy.
09. Kinaram Math
Kinaram math belongs to Baba Kinaram who had been a great saint of the 16th century and the chief spokesperson of the Aghori religious tradition. He is commonly believed to be Lord Shiva’s incarnation. His math at Varanasi is also known by the name of Krim Kund Asthal. He had founded this ashram after having had a Darshan of the great Bhagwan Dattatreya. Devotees gather in large numbers at the ashram during the fest of Lolarak Kashti Parva in order to participate in Baba Kinaram’s Aarti.