n Sanskrit, a peetham is described as a sacred place or seat for tapasya (spiritual discipline). In 1993 this name was given to us by a revered elder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram after our center reincorporated with the aspiration to become a true place for practicing the sadhana of Sri Aurobindo's yoga in a collective ashram environment.
Two-and-a-half years ago, we moved to Lodi, northern California, to a three-acre homestead property with a 100-year-old house surrounded by towering elms, a few oaks, and one majestic old pine tree. The immediate outlying areas are mainly vineyards and agricultural plots.
At present we are four full-time residential members, though a growing number of friends come on a regular basis to join in the work and other activities. Every evening there is a collective meditation at 8:00, with a study group being held on Saturday evenings.
On the second Saturday of each month, there is a collective yoga retreat attended by friends from the surrounding Sacramento and Bay areas of northern California. During the retreats, we have group meditation, bhajans, study circles, or poetry and play readings, but one of the main and most appreciated activities is the collective karma yoga where we have the chance to put the teachings into practice by working together.
Usually there is a theme to each retreat, such as "Sincerity," "Devotion," "Savitri," or "Silence." About 15 to 20 regular attendees come to these monthly gatherings, and over the course of the one-and-a-half years we've been holding them, we have noticed a kind of growth and refinement of the collective group consciousness, which is inspiring.
hen the friends and visitors have departed, we are left to our few members and reliance on the divine help and presence of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo to manage with the work, maintenance, and growth of the ashram (which can often appear overwhelming when we imagine that we are doing the work by ourselves). Though we do, as a nonprofit organization, receive donations that help a lot, there is an ashram-owned and -sponsored business, Auromere, which imports and distributes Sri Aurobindo books, incense, and ayurvedic products from India as the main financial support. We also contribute to other Sri Aurobindo organizations and the Matrimandir in Auroville from the Auromere proceeds.
But most importantly, the aim of this small ashram is to provide a place for those who, in the Mother's words, "wish to serve the Divine" and offer themselves in all their parts and activities in a collective sadhana of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, in a place where food, shelter, simple basic necessities, and a field of work are provided for this purpose.
For those interested in visiting, membership, retreats, or work-exchange programs, more information is available. We also publish a descriptive catalog of Sri Aurobindo books that is free on request. Write or call Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham, 2621 W. Highway 12, Lodi, CA 95242 USA; phone, (209) 339-1342, ext. 5; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dakshina is a ballet dancer, artist, and resident of the Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham.