I spent just over 2 months in an Ashram in India and I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done!
So why was it so great?

Well, for a start, prior to leaving I’d been working on completing the reading & understanding of some Special Letters. Following this, I would be assessed to see if I’m ready to be given the gift of a special technique of meditation.

I was looking forward to going to Sayla because I was eager to start meditating but I had the mindset that whether I was given this gift or not, the stay would be extremely fruitful anyway. If, on the other hand, I was lucky enough to learn the technique during this trip, I’d have over a month to work on it whilst being amongst an amazing set of Souls.

I got there and within a few days, a 5 day retreat began. Roughly speaking, there’s one each month during 10 months of the year. It was great! Bhaishree went through a text which I’d never heard of before and although it was very deep and complex, he made it easy to understand and he made it relevant to ALL of us! 🙂

After the retreat finished, I got the time and space, which I’d been craving for so long. Being in Sayla gives you time to do the following AND more:-

  • to focus on yourself,
  • to reflect on your spiritual progress,
  • to think,
  • and the opportunity to ask questions and delve into things with those who are Self Realised on a one-to-one basis

To sum it up; it gives you the chance to improve in a variety of ways.

There are no distractions unless, of course, you create some for yourself!

Being in Sayla allows you to form good/better habits, whether it be in terms of allowing yourself to reflect, to act on things that come up, curb less desirable reactions/attitudes/patterns of thought, create new patterns, become disciplined and so on.

The list of things that you can achieve when you’re there is HUGE!

Suddenly it was August and soon it would be time for the second retreat which I couldn’t wait to be part of. Now that I had been given the gift of meditation, I could be part of the Ekaant Maun Aradhana Shibir, which is the same as the Shibir that I attended in July except it is structured so that it enables you to be alone, silent and contemplative. I loved it! 🙂

Of course, being in Sayla means you get time with Bhaishree as well as the team of Self Realised Souls who want nothing more for us than for us to be happy. Truly happy.

I had the opportunity to ‘drop in’ to Lalita Masi any (reasonable) time I wanted! This gave me the scope to ask her questions, she would explain the meaning of Letters, poems etc. in a way which I’d not been privy to before, she’d ask how my spiritual journey was going and advise accordingly. It was great!

Over a few days, Bhupat Kaka and Vinu Kaka went through some of the Special Letters and explained them in an amazing way! They cross-referenced the content with other Letters and that really helped us understand them better. It was priceless! 🙂

Now, that leads me to Bhaishree. What can I say? When Bhaishree explains Letters in Svadhyays, he has a knack of making it simple, light, and (sometimes) humourous but always incredibly clear and appropriate for us to be able to reflect on the message, understand it and then apply it. It was somehow (positively) different to being present when he does Svadhyay in London. However, regardless of the venue, it was great!

I was also there for Paryushana. Now there’s a bit of history about this… In my teenage years and before, I used to go and stay with my Grandparents & family during the Summer Holidays and Paryushana used to be around that time. So I’d go to the Derasar (Jain Centre) with them, I’d do Pratikraman & I’d attend events before and after Pratikraman. However, although I was part of it, I didn’t really know what I was doing or why. In a nutshell; I grew up, went onto further Education, went to work and soon after that my Father passed away. This is when I stepped back from most things which I knew. After I got over all that, I decided to re-engage with the ‘wider world’. One part of this was taking my Mum to listen to Pravachan during Paryushana. This is when a learned person would talk about various things which would help us live a ‘better’ life. One of the ones we went to had a speaker called Haribhai Kothary. After listening to him I was hooked! Everything he said made sense in away which I’d not experienced before! Then I became interested in Paryushana again but I wanted to understand what I was doing better. I attended one Pratikraman a couple of years ago which was explained in English and that was great! However, other than that, I’d not really been part of Paryushana since. This was either due to time, mood or not understanding the speakers because my Gujarati wasn’t good enough.

All of this changed in September 2012 when I was part of Paryushana in Sayla. It was amazing! 🙂 There were so many people doing it together and the vibe was positive, supportive, generous and more. Thanks to Vinu Kaka, we had access to a book which enabled us to follow what was being said and there was just a great feeling about it! I’d love to go to Sayla during this time again.

We also celebrated Mahavir Jayanti together. The Murtis were so stunningly decorated. It was beautiful. 🙂


During my stay, it was Shanti Bapu’s Titthi, which refers to the anniversary of his death. It was so amazing to be present when they commemorated his achievements, especially seeing as it is because of his search for a Guru and his success re finding Bapuji that we have everything that we have today. 🙂

Another event that sticks in my mind is laying the foundations of some rooms which are being rebuilt. After the ceremony was completed Vikrambhai said something along the lines of: –

“We may hope that these rooms are only used by us; (those who paid for them to be built), but instead of that we should desire that they are always in use whether we are there or not so that the maximum number of people have the opportunity to spiritually benefit in Sayla. We should also wish that those who reside in them make leaps and bounds in their spiritual achievements.”

What a nice way to look at it. Much better than ‘this is mine and I don’t want to share it’! 🙂

In all this, I mustn’t forget Suraj. My hubby. 🙂 He encouraged me to go to Sayla for a ‘long’ stay. He supported me before and during my time there and he made it possible for me to ‘let go’ of everything while I was away because he took care of so many things in my absence! 🙂

If this has inspired you to find attend Svadhyays in London check out Raj Saubhag UK here.

If you want to visit the Ashram in Sayla you can find out what’s happening via the Raj Saubhag Facebook group and through the Raj Saubhag website. It’s definitely worth considering a ‘long’ stay if you’re taking a gap year, travelling for a while or taking a sabbatical. However, if you are able to go for less it is still worth it! 🙂

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Anonymous · November 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Interesting article. I am intrigued by what you are tought to be the path to self-realisation by Bhaishree. Can you shed a little light on what you believe is the path that is layed out by Bhaishree?
Also, can you elaborate on what it means to be “given the gift” – is it that you are given some detailed tuition on how to meditate correctly, or are you given the gift in some other way?

    Heena Modi · November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks or your comment
    Re the ‘gift of meditation’ – yes, it’s a technique which is taught.
    Does this help in terms of understand the path? http://www.rajsaubhag.org/spiritual/ladder-of-spirituality/

      Anonymous · November 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks for the reply. I read the article, very interesting reading. Generally makes a lot of sense…

      one thing that struck me as slightly amiss from your article though is regarding the decoration of the murti’s which you described as “beautiful”. I don’t quite understand how the decoration of a murti can be a good thing…. arahant bhagwan has 100% given up all worldly things, including clothes. Should the representation of bhagwan not depict this purity at all times? Surely by decorating, you make it difficult to focus on the bhagwan’s true nature, and are instead drawn to and distracted by the colours etc. of the decorations (which can only result in raag). Why dress bhagwan with that which he has worked so hard to renounce?

      Just an observation that I hope does not offend – I just seek an explanation for this practice, since to me it seems contradictory to the basic principles of Jainism.

S · November 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Your point is perfectly valid – The Lord Tirthankars had renounced everything including all materialistic possessions. And so to decorate their idols with colourful materials is seemingly contradictory. However this and several other religious practices are done with two reasons in mind – to draw new aspirants minds to the path, and to celebrate our own joy at having attained the shelter of Bhagwan.

By decorating idols and Derasars beautifully , many people are drawn to the celebrations and this may at some point arouse a curiosity in them to dig deeper and find more about their inner achievements. Also we decorate Bhagwans idol to express our own joy, in just the same way that when Bhagwans walked the earth, hundreds of heavenly beings and humans would walk with them and hold golden umbrellas above their head, or lay out golden pedestals in their path for every step they take.

But from an absolute perspective you are right, instead of focussing on the decorations of a Tirthankars idol we should be focussing on their inner qualities and all the great spiritual success that the idol is a representation of. Infact some people take it to an even higher level and completely abolish idol worship of Tirthankars (like the Sthanakvasis) – why attribute a physical form at all to those who stood for nothing but soul-awareness!

    Anonymous · November 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for the detailed and informative response. It has shed some light on this practice for me. Nevertheless, I still wonder about the appropriateness of such a practice.

    You stated:
    “Also we decorate Bhagwans idol to express our own joy, in just the same way that when Bhagwans walked the earth, hundreds of heavenly beings and humans would walk with them and hold golden umbrellas above their head, or lay out golden pedestals in their path for every step they take.”

    But the practice in the article isn’t really done in the “same way” as what happened in the presence of the actual bhagwans…. i.e. when the arahants sat in meditation (in which case their bodies were exactly the same as the idols we worship – i.e. completely still like a statue) no heavenly being or human would think to dress the body of the arahant in celebration. If they did, surely they would be commiting a big sin.

    I can understand the decoration of the temple, but surely the purity of bhagwan unadorned should be a powerful enough visual to engage the eye of any aspirant – new or old.

    Totally respect your beliefs, just sharing my personal views as something for you to ponder over.

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