TOPICS: Old neglected ashram

Last month I paid a visit to my great-grandmother in Vrindavan, India. She has been staying there in the Bhajan Kuti Ashram for more than fifty years.

The ashram is one of the oldest ashrams in Vrindavan established by Nepali saint Bhagwat Sharan Maharaj roughly 200 years ago. The ashram is also an example of Indo-Nepal friendly relationship.

Currently, there are around fifty Nepali female senior citizens and a few males living in the ashram. However, recent developments in the ashram are very disappointing. In November last year, the land mafia destroyed the ashram building using bulldozers in an attempt to get hold of the land for commercial projects.

The miscreants had also beaten up saints and grandmothers living there and took away idols, cash, ornaments, and cows. A team from the Nepal Embassy had also visited the ashram later, but no institutional support has been provided so far.

My great-grandmother is the eldest among all Nepali senior citizens living in the ashram. In her early thirties, she left her family and surrendered all material desires in a foreign land. She has not left the ashram since then. Her devotional service towards the ashram inspires other women in the ashram.

However, their attempt to search for mental peace and spiritual satisfaction in the ashram is now questioned with present difficulties. The local administration has provided security since the last brawl but such incidents could be repeated.

The ashram is in dire need of monetary assistance for reconstruction and running it properly.

The role of the Nepal government in supporting its nationals overseas seems to be a matter of less priority. We must learn from nations like India, the United States and others in terms of safeguarding their citizens wherever they are.

But the bitter truth is our country is hesitant to recognise and address the problems of senior citizens even in its own territory. The struggle of the senior citizens in Nepal for respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights to dignified life are still unaddressed.

The ashram holds historical importance in its more than a century of existence. This ashram has also been a long-lasting symbol of Nepal and India friendship at people’s level.

While the concept of state relates to political boundaries, spiritualism accepts no such boundaries. The Nepal Government must show its sincere interest to resolve the disputes relating to the ashram.