Love Yourself

Friday, May 20, 2011

One Woman's Life of Devotion

"Experience fulfillment and joy by doing something to make a difference!"

Ma Tureeya (right) and Sister Mudita

Blessings on the path - please join me in honouring a dear friend and courageous woman devoted to helping peope realize heir own truth. While in India, I stay with Ma Tureeya in her small ashram on the banks of the Ganges River near Laxman Jhulla. The ashram has been here for over 30 years and was built at the time in a very small rural area. Now things are changing rapidly in this area with larger buildings, hotels, ashrams that now tower over her humble home and santuary for others on the path. It is time to renew. As Ma Tureeya is on her own, I wish to help build confidence and assurance that there are other women in the world that would love to help realize her vision. I hold the vision that you will be inspired and through Seva will offer your assistance! With appreciation and gratitude. Prem! Valma

I Sr. Thelma Gonsalves (Ma Tureeya is my inculturated sannyasa name) is a member of the Socieity of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus. The Congregation came to India in 1941 through the missionary efforts of our Sisters of the English, Irish and Scottish Provinces. At that time, the specific thrust of the Society in Bombay was for the higher education of women who were not allowed to attend co-ed colleges by their communities.

In the process, our sisters soon realized that if we were to make our presence relevant, it was necessary to enter deeply into the cultural ethos of India. This began a serious commitment to the study of Indian literature religious and secular. The adoption of indigenous symbols as a more effective language of communication gave Sophia College, Bombay its very Upanishadic Crest and Hindi College song. From the start extracurriculars like art, music, dance, scripture studies, philosophy etc were all given their rightful place in the College activities. The college was particularly attentive to religious minorities and for example the Muslim students had a place designated for them to hang their burkhas and pray their namaz. This openness became the hallmark of the Society in India. Our Founding Sisters themselves grew into the cultural setting and encouraged the Indian Sisters to do the same. With Vat.II, we were well into the movement for the renewal of the Church in India. Fr. Anthony D’Mello SJ encouraged our sisters to explore with greater earnestness the pluralistic nature of our nation in the spirit of the Spirit of Jesus who came for all peoples.

Soon we had made Rishikesh our home and with our pioneering sisters Vandana and Ishpriya Jeevandhara Sadhana Kutir Rishikesh was born (the ashram in Laxman Jhulla). This venture was also blessed by Swami Chidananad Maharaj of the Divine Life Society who; perceiving the genuineness of our sisters assisted them in their search for a piece of land for their religious practice. The Kuttirs are now 33 years old. They need to be overhauled to meet the demand of persons seeking to explore a deeper spiritual life. Jeevandhara has always retained its Christian identity and yet is open to all faiths. We seek to build communion with all.

Our aim at Jeevandhara is to be a place where all people are welcome. We offer all a place of inner peace, silence, and community. We focus on the essentials of life with a view to fostering an attitude that is welcoming of each one; no matter what differences there may be of race nationality, religion and culture. The means we offer is space for a serious inner journey to one’s self where all meet as one in the One who is indivisible and of whom there is no other. The prayer of Jesus becomes our prayer for the entire world:”that they may be one”. We are aware that the process for the transformation of our world begins with the interior self transformation of each one, gradually extending to embrace one and all in forgiveness, love and joy which brings God’s very own peace to humankind. We advocate self-transformation with reference to our relationship with all others, as well as the use of the resources of the earth in human solidarity. Our openness to other faith traditions is made concrete in our welcoming of persons of different traditions and a deeply respectful sharing of insights and methods of spiritual practice and spiritual journeying in satsang (fellowship of truth).

Over the past years we have seen a growth in numbers of people of all ages wanting to take the inner pilgrimage seriously. We help seekers with meditation, counseling and faith sharing. There are many young who are seeking simple lives and looking for meaning and self-understanding. We welcome these and are happy to walk together to where they feel stronger, in their resolve to allow deeper issues to transform their lives. This is very important for us because many find that in their life situations, they are going counter to the modern trends and are often alone in what their conscience is driving them towards.

For this purpose we need to reconstruct our 33-year-old premises, to respond to the demand and to offer a reasonable space for seekers from all over the world. As companionship on the inner journey will always be a necessity, we see the ministry we offer as one that will always be relevant . In fact we see it as answering the only certainty in life viz. the passage from our present being to the Further Shore. Yet, as our human solidarity is not limited to the material level alone, how we related to others and our world is part of our lived journey to the end . We pray Peace in our hearts, in the hearts of each one, our world and our earth.

Jeevamdhara Ashram - Laxman Jhulla, Rishikesh, India

I have been in contact with Jeevamdhara Sadhana Kuttir since 1978. I stayed here several times since then. However, given the situation of poverty in India, I decided in 1983, to work in a backward village of Bihar for a while. During my stay in this village I became more aware of what all people whether rich or poor longed for deep in their beings. Living among the villagers I began to ask many questions all stemming from the local situation. Gradually the good side of our country’s rich religious and cultural heritage began to open up for me.

I realized that the work of social uplift I was involved in, during my stay in the village, was really the duty of Civil Administration which, more than often relinquished their duty bound task for quick personal gain, blinded by ego centric greed, dreams of political clout and high living. In all of my seven years in that area, I met only ONE truly honest official. Since NGOs took up the causes of the poor, laboured to meet their targets in development and uplift, often by begging from donors to produce required changes; the neglect on the part of corrupt officials was ironically camouflaged by the very efforts of those concerned social activists! We became a “substitute government” but lacked the funds the National facilities which were meant for the poor. Precious energy that could be used for building up persons was wasted in doing what was the government’s duty to deliver!

The poor in the village taught me that what they needed was to come to grips with their inner self worth. This was something no government could give them, not even in the assurance of a good job! I soon discovered that the root of all “oppression” demeaning of self and others lay in the lack of awareness of who we really are; that the “lie” which nourished the root of all kinds of oppression, lay right there in our lack of true awareness. That no amount of what we called “ development” would be sustainable, unless we attended to the deep wounded ness that afflicted all in different ways –the rich and the poor alike. It was then that I began to integrate the ancient truths of our culture, my Christian faith and my desire to be of service at the root viz., at the entry point to who we ARE.

The ashram was the best milieu for further integrating this realization and sharing it with others. It is now 10 years since I began to live permanently at Jeevandhara, Rishikesh. I have spent time in silence and I have met with many on the path, all-searching for the final goal. Presently, as I am alone at the ashram, I fill in whatever need there may be. I share my inner sights, listen, and love, pray, ask blessings on all those who can visit and those whose circumstances do not allow that possibility; but who nonetheless have the same desires and goals, aware or unaware.

View of Ma Ganga from the Ashram

The ashram begun 33 years ago, in a primitive village setting, now needs reconstruction so that we can welcome people from all over the globe with a certain ease and offer them the space they seek for their inner journey.

I would like to say to each and everyone who comes here, you are of the Spirit of God-pure love, precious, infinitely cherished by the very life invested in you, no matter what accidents of human frailty have entered your path. The essence of who you are can never be wiped away, for the power to do that would have to be one stronger than life so abundant everywhere. As women we know this in the depth of our being. We are called to birth the universal gift of Life and lovingly share that gift with all; to heal woundedness, bring consolation, and communicate love and life that no amount of pleasure or money can buy. To nurture joy, cultivate loving/self-giving, responsible caring and having the interests of the world’s people at heart. This mission is the opposite of the Aham type (ego entered) the root cause of all earthly suffering. We shall then witness to the fact that where our treasure is, there our heart is also.

Dedication of Merit

"May the merit of our practice encourage all beings to unveil the hidden brilliance.

Om Srim Hrim Klim Hrim Srim Mahalaksmyai namah!

May the Grace of Mahalakshmi bestow good fortune and abundance to Ma Tureeya and Jeevandhara Ashram

Our wish is that you will consider offering a financial token to assist Ma Turreya rebuild this lovely small ashram on the banks of Ma Ganga. For further details and information please contact me -

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I have created this amazing life, attracting incredible women into my space. All of these women are unique and ready to live their real life too. My definition of success is like a river flowing with freedom, magical adventure, creativity, curiosity and recognition. My personal mission is to travel and create an enlightened world by spreading the light of consciousness. Everything that I choose to BE, DO and HAVE meet this mission and every day in every way I remember who I really am. I love my life!