Maharishi and Guru Dev connection with Uttarkashi

This is from a post on Facebook by a colleague and his conversation with Maharishi (who is reminiscing about Uttarkashi), then he outlines Guru Dev’s life, followed by a beautiful quote by Maharishi on contemporary Uttarkashi with Purusha living there.

“I remember in one of the first private conversations I enjoyed with beloved Maharishi, he mentioned how much he had enjoyed his 2-3 years living as a hermit in the Valley of the Saints, Uttarkashi, in the Himalaya. “The atmosphere is so pure there, no one has ever even smoked a cigarette within a 30-mile radius. Only a few hermit Yogis live there. Every so often, a wondering saint will past through on pilgrimage, otherwise the hermit saints living there in the silent solitude of their cave ashrams are left alone.”

Of course, things have changed considerably since that time! Even then, there was the centuries-old village of Uttar Kashi at the entrance to the Valley, but Maharishi was referring to life deeper and higher in the Valley’s mountain fastness. In the 1980s it was found that the CIA had placed a small nuclear-powered satellite radio monitoring tower in the Valley, which had fallen into the sacred Ganges River, causing pollution downsteam.

Maharishi’s silent hermit residency in Uttar Kashi had been relatively brief, following 13 years of serving his master, Guru Dev, as the teacher’s favored monastic disciple and personal secretary and assistant at North India’s largest monastic university institution. It was after Guru Dev’s passing that Maharishi retired to the Uttar Kashi ashram of Guru Dev’s youth, where Guru Dev had once served as his own master’s favored monk and spiritual lineage heir.

Guru Dev had arrived at Uttar Kashi when only 12 or 14 years of age, having left home in search of a suitable master at age nine. During those years of searching he met “many good beginners” reputed as accomplished yogi saints. But it was only upon reaching the Valley of the Saints at Uttar Kashi that he met his own future master, Swami Krishnananda Saraswati. who presided over a very small remote hermitage ashram there. Here the young erstwhile seeker had lived thereafter for several years serving Swami Krishnananda and enjoying the full ripening of his own enlightened state under his master’s guidance. 

It was to this same Uttar Kashi ashram, once the hermitage home of Krishnananda and young Guru Dev that Maharishi retired after Guru Dev’s passing.

Maharishi once gave me a photo of the ashram’s small central building perched on a mountainside. The photo had been taken by an American student of Maharishi’s in 1960, by which time only one elderly disciple of Krishnananda still resided there in silence. Some years later, Maharishi sent another student to visit the hermitage site, but by then the elderly sole resident had passed on and the building’s stones had been removed to add to one of the other small remote hermitages in the Valley.

For many years now, two ashrams with modern multi-storeyed apartment- style residencies built according to Maharishi’s restored Vastu science, Sthapathya Ved, perched on the mountain slopes above the village, have been home to members of Maharishi’s “Purusha” program for single men wishing to live in monastic-like silent retreat. A similar program for single ladies houses women retreatants in other sacred and scenic parts of the world.

“Himalayas means heaven” (from the early 2000s)

Gajoli ashram winter view

Maharishi on the value of the Himalaya

(literally: alaya, abode; Hima, eternal snow, purity, name of Parvati’s father)

Q.: …You spoke about the importance of Himalayas. It is also said in the olden days people used to go to the Himalayas for meditation and gyan. Does Himalaya still have the spiritual value? What is your opinion?


“Himalayas will always remain Himalayas. They will always be on top of the world. There are about 100 Purusha practicing Transcendental Meditation, living Purusha life, of absolute Brahmacharya Purusha life. They are gaining command over Prakriti. Prakriti is the Daivi Shakti, which functions for the individual as the individual Purusha value inside, witnessing value, self-referral value, Purusha value increases in daily life. Himalayas will always be the guiding light of purity, of affluence, of gaining authority in Nature.

Uttar Kashi has been a place where Guru Dev has been, and Guru Dev’s Guru Dev has been. It’s a fountainhead of Pure Knowledge. One cannot sing the glory of the Himalayas enough. And throughout the ages Vedic literature is full of the glory of the Himalayas: Gangotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Rishikesh. Beautiful, beautiful fortune of the people takes them on pilgrimage year after year … thousands of the people. They have a glimpse. They go there to breath a few breaths of peace and happiness and satisfaction. And they rise in Atma Vigyan, in Brahma Vigyan.

It’s a very fortunate thing to be going to the Himalayas from time to time. It’s a different world. One cannot describe in words. Yatho vacho nivartante/Tad dharma parama mama–‘That is my abode, says the Lord, from where speech returns.’ Sahasrakshara parame vyoman ‘Transcendental is that field’. Shivam shantam advaitam chaturtam manyante, sa atma, sa vigyeya. ‘That is the Self, the Atma, which is absolute silence, Shivato, which is the source of all dynamism’. It’s a very complete culture of life for supreme state of evolution Chetana, Unity Consciousness.

Something that is real to life is housed in the Himalayan heights: peace eternal. And peace eternal is the basis of all possible dynamism in human awareness. That is why the concept is Yogasthah kurukarmani, ‘Established in Yog, established in Unity Consciousness, perform action.’ Beautiful philosophy of practical life.

We are building in different parts of the Himalayas for the busy people of the world to go some time there and refresh their soul, refresh their intellect, refresh their mind so that their speech and behavior will be the guiding light for human existence. It is very beautiful. ‘Himalayas’ means ‘heaven’.”

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