Alandi Ashram Lineage and Religious Philosphy
“Truth is one, the wise have called that by many names” ~ Rig Veda
“Creation, like a prism
Fragments the pure white light of Truth.
People in different lands
Catching sight of different colors
Have taught that ‘It is green’
Or ‘It is gold!’
Today, from the seeds of light
Scattered over the Earth
We reap a rainbow harvest.”
~ Alakananda Ma
The spirituality of Alandi presents a balance of particular and universal, being deeply rooted in a lineage which has, from time out of mind, had a remarkably universalist and ecumenical character. The “Founding Fathers” of our lineage tree, Macchendranath and Gorakhnath, are recognized as Mahasiddhas within both Indian Yogic and Tantric traditions, and within the Mahamudra lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
The primary spiritual guide of the Alandi Lineage, Saint Jnaneshwar, is a remarkable being revered throughout India for his broad philosophy. His teachings, presented in contradiction to the narrowness of classical Vedanta, offer a broad synthesis of all that is finest in Indian spirituality, fusing the Jnana yoga of the Vedantics, the esoteric yoga of Macchendranath’s tantric yogi lineage and the bhakti of the common people. Later, as Moslem influences pervaded the region where Saint Jnaneshwar’s spiritual heirs lived, Sufism and the jnana-bhakti yoga of Jnaneshwar fused to form a path that defied all categories of limited religion. The greatest manifestation of this part of complete universality was Sai Baba of Shirdi, one of the main teachers of the Alandi lineage.
The “Village guru” of our Alandi lineage, Raghudas, also attained the pinnacle of oneness and universality. Hindus of all castes, Moslems, Christians and even a Zen Buddhist monk gathered around him in perfect harmony, prompting Alakananda to write her song,
“Children of the true guru
gather at his feet
Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew,
One in his love.”
Today Alandi’s manifestation in Boulder is as a harbinger of a new era of harmony and synthesis. Each lineage and faith tradition is honored at its own integrity; yet as has occurred since the days of Saint Jnaneshwar, a new and incalculably rich spirituality is emerging, which seeks to give renewal to all faith traditions, bringing the finest essence of each to bear upon the spirituality of the new millennium. As many prophetic souls have seen around the world, we at Alandi have also seen that this emerging spiritual paradigm is the Mother’s path of unity. The feminine archetype is re-awakening at this time in history in her capacity as Weaver, delighting in all the different colored threads offered her by the world’s faiths, traditions, and lineages.
The path of practice that has evolved here at Alandi is the creation of this Mother Weaver. Our spiritual life is a dance on the rainbow bridge that unites the two great covenants; the cosmic covenant (Hindu, Buddhism, Taoism, Indigenous traditions) that has taken root in the East and the Abrahamic covenant (Jewish, Christianity, and Islam) that has flourished in the West and Middle East. In this rainbow bridge, woven by the Mother Weaver, the color of each faith tradition shines in its own glory, yet is revealed as part of a whole enlightening revelation.
Any bridge requires piers on which to stand. We create the piers of the bridge by honoring the most ancient roots of each covenant, Vedic tradition and Jewish tradition. In our weekly circle of Shiva Bathing, we continually strengthen the bridge in which all faiths shine.
As if in recognition of this Rainbow Bridge, many lineages have chosen to take root in Alandi, like flowers in a beautiful garden. Karunamayi and Shivabalayogi, though not directly related to the Alandi lineage tree, have chosen to set their metaphysical footstools here for the upliftment of devotees. We are recognized satsang leaders for both trusts. Rinpoches of the Kagyü and Nigma lineages have blessed Alandi, one Rinpoche going so far as to give us his personal protector deity as our protector. Alandi also works closely with Shambhala Center. The southern Vipassana lineage too, has a home here, as Sadananda is a teacher of this path of meditation that is practiced here in daily sittings. In the Sufi world, Alandi is recognized as a center of authentic Sufism. Ecstatic cries of “Allah, Allah!” which surface during Shiva Bathing bear witness to the truth of this. Our Christian lineage is that of Francis of Assisi and Father Bede Griffiths. Every detail of our daily life here at Alandi has been carefully thought out in light of, “What would St. Francis do if here were here?” The statue of St. Francis in the garden is not a decoration but a daily inspiration. Our Jewish teacher is Rabbi Zalman Shachter Shalomi, and the spirit of our Jewish Renewal and neo-Hasidim. Tales of the Baal Shem Tov permeate our Shabbat celebration, an oral tradition learnt at the feet of Reb Zalman.
And the future? As each lineage or faith tradition has come to place a footstool in Alandi, we have always been surprised initially. Who knows, when the next generation takes over as elders, what surprises lie in store? This we do know; we will train them to be deeply rooted in the Alandi lineage. We will ask them to dive deep into the faith traditions, not merely to pay lip service to them. And we will teach them not to stop at any limited religion, but to dance freely in the chidakash, the sky of the Heart in which each lineage shines as a beautiful star.
Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi by Antonia Rgopoulos, Jnaneshvari, SUNY
From My Heart to Yours: The Spontaneous Devotional Poetry of Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma)
Pilgrimage to the Mother: A Women's Journey to the Source of the Ganges by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma)
The Rainbow Bridge: Prophetic Encounters with the Mother's Path of Unity by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma)
Dr Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.A.Sc. – Director Ayurvedic Institute, one of the world' foremost experts in Ayurveda.