Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in Italy -1/1

Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in Italy

  Svami Gitananda Ashram, Altare, Italy

Hindu Monastery
Temple of Sri Lalita Tripura Sundari
Svami Gitananda Ashram | Località Pellegrino 1 - 17041 Altare - SV - Italy - TEL 019/584692 - FAX 019/584838 | gitanandashram@tin.it

What is the Ashram?

Yogasri Svami Yogananda Giri founded the Svami Gitananda Ashram in 1984. The name of the Ashram, “Svami Gitananda Ashram,” is dedicated to the Master of Svami Yogananda, Puja Paramahamsa Maharaj Yogashiromani Purnacarya dr. Svami Gitananda Giri, who did his best to propagate yoga and Hindu culture by teaching students coming from every part of the world.
ASHRAMA = Sanskrit term referring to the hermitage of a master, a rishi. Also referring, according to Hinduism, to each of the four phases in which life is traditionally divided.
The Ashram is an ideal place to get back in touch with nature and to revitalize one’s energies. It is a spiritual place created with the aim to facilitate and help human beings on their inner search journey.
Meditation, inner tranquility, mental perspicacity, respect for each individual, animal, thing, and service are the essence of dharma in the Ashram.

Anyone here - an ashramite, a devotee, a random visitor, a scholar or a seeker of knowledge – has the duty to understand the tradition, the principles and the discipline of the Ashram, by practicing, reflecting and respecting its principles with honesty and without prejudices.

It is important to understand that God is everywhere, but that the Divine expresses Itself more in specific places. Holy places, pilgrimage sites, temples, Ashrams etc., are permeated and sustained by the divine power developed by meditation, holy mantra, by the presence of siddha yogi and muni.

Those who live permanently in such places, or those who stay there even for short periods, with a devoted mind, respectful and receptive, are enveloped and nourished by such spiritual power. The character of every place is constantly shaped by its inhabitants and, through interaction, the place and its inhabitants adjust to each other for a mutual influence.
In the Ashram people talk about God, think of God, and act according to His divine will: every action, thought and word are, and must be, directed to the sadhana and the ideal principles that support it.

An Ashram is always a place where a yogi, a siddha or a sage live; there is no difference between the Master who lives in the Ashram and the Ashram itself. Students and disciples live, even for an instant, beside a Master, in order to live a yogic life, to purify themselves both physically and mentally, to discipline themselves and to develop awareness. That happens in a place purposely conceived with the intent to create ideal conditions that are favorable to the progress of those who aim to realize their true nature.

The Ashram, as a matter of fact, is a structure where the true Hindu tradition lives but, above all, it is a place rich with the power and energy coming from the presence of a Master and his tradition.

Anyone who is interested in a spiritual search, in yoga or in the different disciplines of Indian culture, can visit or stay in the Ashram.

Even for the people who have only recently started practicing yoga or who would simply like to spend a period of time away from the usual routine, the Ashram offers its complete availability to teach the various aspects of spiritual disciplines. Beauty, joy, awareness are the true spiritual nature of every creature, beyond any religion and belief.
An Ashram is a place where one’s freedom can be searched and found. The Divine is the great real Guru who compassionately manifests Himself through the line of the Masters.
Its roots go deep into the purest and deepest traditions, taught by the ancient Rishis.

the founder Svamiji Yogananda Giri, founder of the Svami Gitananda Ashram, is the direct disciple and only samnyasin of Svami Gitananda Giri.

Dr.Svami Gitananda Giri (Ananda Ashram, India) was considered one of the highest worldwide authorities in the field of yoga, Siddhanta Yoga and Tantra.

The tradition of the South Indian siddha is therefore fully expressed and represented by Svami Yogananda Giri.

The spiritual line through which Knowledge is transmitted from the Master to the disciple is called Paramparaya.


Srila Sri Agastya Rishi
Ambalavana Svamigal
Manikavasaga Svamigal
Shanmuga Svamigal
Velu Svamigal
Subrahmanya Svamigal
Sankara Giri Svamigal
Gitananda Giri Svamigal
Yogananda Giri Svamigal
Svami Gitananda Ashram - Italy
Amma Meenakshi Devi
Ananda Bhavanani
Ananda Ashram - India
(successor of Dr. Svami Gitananda Giri)

This is the spiritual line of the Giri Shanka which Svami Yogananda Giri, acarya, spiritual guide of the Gitananda Ashram, belongs to.

 The tradition
Three are the traditions or sampradaya taught at the Svami Gitananda Ashram.

1-Saiva siddhanta: this cult is widespread in the southern part of India, particularly in the Tamil Nadu and it is also called shuddha shaiva or pure saivismo. It is considered, today, among the most important philosophical-doctrinal systems. Its teachings come from the 28 Agama and from the instructions of the line of the 18 siddha mystics. Its evolutionary practice is expressed through the precious siddhanta yoga.

2- Samaya Cult: it is considered the most refined and complete shakta tradition in tantra. Its cult is centered on the worship of the Divine Mother, symbolized by the Sri Cakra or Sri Yantra, that is the excellent mystical diagram representing the powers of the Mother in graphic form.
Its authority is expressed in the scriptures of the Devi Agama, its yoga methodology is in the whole tantric system of laya yoga or kundalini yoga. The Datta Avadhuta and the Dakshinamurti Sampradaya of the Kadi tradition are followed at the Svami Gitananda Ashram.

3- Giri dasanami: dasanami are the ten monastic orders codified by Sri Adi Sankara. The various religious orders are traditionally associated to the four Math: Sringeri, Durak, Puri, and Jotismath. Only the Heads of these Math can confer upon themselves the title of Shankaracharya. Anybody else using this title does it without authorization.

Srividyaupasaka Yogasri Yogacarya Sivajnaniyogi Paramahamsa Avadhuta Svamiji Yogananda Giri
He started the practice of yoga in the fifties. After about twenty years spent experiencing different systems and methods, in the seventies he met his Guru Puja Svami Gitananda Giri Maharaji.
This meeting completely transformed his life.

In 1982 Svami Yogananda received from his Guru the samnyasa diksha, entering the Holy Orders of the Dasanami Giri.

Svami Gitananda used to have a high and very strict conception of the samnyasa ashrama and, as a matter of fact, the only disciple he granted the samnyasa is Svami Yogananda.
Still with the blessings of his guru, Svamiji deepened his knowledge of various spiritual traditions.

In 1984 Sivachary V. K. Mangalesvara initiated him into the Saiva Siddhanta and into the Sri Vidya. He received the purnabisheka and the title of Sivajnanayogi.

Svami Yogananda has then continued the study of Sri Vidya being blessed with the different initiations by the famous siddha Sri Svami M. Bushanam and Svami Purnanananda Tirtha.

Svami Yogananda is continuing to divulge and transmit these sampradaya, according to the purest Siddha Guru tradition.
Svamiji is considered an authority in the field of yoga and tantra, and has received titles and recognition from the highest authorities in the world of spirituality and from the most important Hindu institutions. His encyclopedic knowledge of yoga and, especially, of kundalini yoga and laya yoga is based on more than fifty years of discipline and study.
Svamiji has been for many years a reference point for those who study Hindu spiritual traditions.

He is the inspirer and emeritus chairman of the Italian Hindu Union, Sanatana Dharma Samgha, founding member and honorary chairman of the European Hindu Union.
He is honorary chairman of the Italian Gitananda Yoga Federation and the International Siddha Siddhanta Yoga.

In the Ashram, various types of yoga from a complex tradition are taught and practiced in a propedeutic fashion: SIDDHA SIDDHANTA YOGA is a great systematic tool for spiritual growth.

The siddha siddhanta yoga, not to be confused with the siddhanta of Sri Goraksanatha, is a deep and wide system of tantric yoga whose origins are found in the Siddar Saiva revelations, especially belonging to the Sri Kantar Sampradaya.

It is impossible to describe the technical and philosophical richness of this system; the knowledge of mantra, yantra and mudra is elevated to the highest levels. Every technique is expressed to its highest potential to keep the body and mind in harmony.

Inside the system are innumerable techniques, touching on all the possible needs of man, depending on his physical condition, his health, his spiritual level, his thirst for knowledge, his aspirations, his devotion.

Here are some examples of the disciplines of the system used at different levels.

Hatha yoga: for a deep development of the awareness of body-mind through purifications (karma), body postures (asana), control of vital breaths (pranayama), control of the neuromuscular activity (mudra), etc.

Karma yoga: the path of action. It is the way of the disinterested and aware action. Its practice leads to knowledge and the control of our own tendencies and unconscious power and to the resolution of karmic bonds; it is the foundation on which all other types of yoga rest.

Laya yoga: laya means “to reabsorb”, therefore, this yoga, through the reabsorption of all the energies and forces which are usually wasted, brings to the reawakening and the realization of that pure and bright conscience manifesting as kundalini sakti, and to the control and transformation of its highest expression of strength and power.

Raja yoga: for the development of the mind’s potential, with appropriate techniques, through the awakening of the psychic and spiritual centers of man.

Jnana yoga: for the realization of the knowledge of one’s Inner Self through relaxation techniques, jnana kriya, meditation and the study of texts.

Yoga cikitsa: holistic system of prevention, treatment and preservation of health, not only physical but also emotional, mental and spiritual.

The sadhana, or exercise of discipline, is the foundation of the spiritual path and those who devote themselves to the research of reality constantly follow it.
It is the most efficient way to face ourselves, examine our own life and our own actions through the bright crystal glass of observances and yoga ethics.
The real sadhana, practically, is certainly not the simply methodical repetition of the learned techniques but the constant application of the yogic principles; it is the ability to catch, in any contest and situation, the precious teachings offered by life.

Sadhana can only be learned, according to the tradition, from a Master, and an Ashram is the perfect place where to receive those teachings and put them into practice.
The ways are many, allowing every individual to find those that are more suitable to one’s needs and temperament.


“The Ascension happens in solitude, in a long and tortuous journey during which it is not possible to skip any step, no obstacles can be ignored and no test avoided.
Our inner temple is not only in the centre of our soul and conscience, it is also at the pinnacle of our pains, our desires, in that inaccessible place of our mental geography where the atmosphere is so bright and clear that everything living and growing in it seems to be animated by the same transparence, that same presence of happiness.”

Svami Yogananda Giri (from “Lettere a Svamiji” - Induismo nel mondo n. 3)

All disciplines belonging to the Hindu culture are based on a philosophical vision, on spiritual traditions and holy scriptures.

The different traditions are studied together with the sat darshana, the “six visions” or “six points of view” of reality, belonging to the six orthodox philosophical schools:

Mimamsa (ritualistic vision)
Vedanta (speculative-philosophical vision)
Nyaya (logical vision)
Vaisheshika (atomistic vision)
Samkhya (enumeration, investigation of the principles of the universe)
Yoga (experimental vision).

During the meetings, videos-films about the great epics or the life of spiritual characters and Indian mystics are shown, fostering the contemplation on philosophical and spiritual subjects.

Indian literature.

Reading and study of the various forms of the immense Indian literary production:

Mediaeval Literature,
Yoga texts,
Modern Literature.
Course on Sanskrit Language

An approach to the Sanskrit language, devanagari, the “writing of the Gods”, is fundamental for those who want to seriously study Indian culture and its disciplines.

In disciplines like Yoga and Ayurveda for example, the use of Sanskrit terms is fundamental. Knowing the pronunciation and the meaning of the words helps to better understand the symbolism, the spiritual and philosophical concepts, and the practices themselves.

The basic knowledge of Sanskrit language also allows one to gradually approach the reading of simple sloka or sutra from classical, philosophical and literary sources.

This ancient Indian science has its basis in the sacred scriptures of Hinduism, and works through a holistic integration of mind, body and spirit.

Ayurveda, like yoga, reminds man that the ultimate goal of life is true freedom from the dependence on the outside world.

Based on those ethical principles such as non-violence and the respect for nature, it deals mostly with the physical and therapeutic aspects, integrating with yoga at the level of spiritual aspects.

The metaphysical vision of the body and the methodology for the maintenance of health is concretized by a practical and detailed study of the human being through the elaboration of a complete medical system, including all the branches from surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, pediatrics, the science of rejuvenation… whose techniques have been used as example and are still today applied in modern medical science.

Nowadays, moreover, Ayurveda is suggested among the “alternative” techniques for the maintenance of health thanks to its capacity of prevention through techniques of purification and elimination of toxins (panchakarma), the analysis of daily and seasonal routine, the employment of herbal mixes created according to ancient prescriptions, the practice of ayurvedic oil massages performed on the whole body, and the other manipulation techniques and the treatment of the body with oils, herbs, and powders.
“Those who have a balance among: dosha (constitutive body factors ruling the physiological activities of the body), agni (those factors that are responsible for metabolism and digestion), dhatu (elements of tissues), mala (waste products or excretions), kriya (physical and mental activities), together with the happiness of soul, senses and the mind, are said to be people in perfect health.”
Susruta Sutrasthanam 15,14

Dance, like music and singing, is one of the expressive forms that, in Hindu culture, are not only considered artistic forms but also refined spiritual languages.

In sacred dance, the multiple manifestations of the Divine become the rhythm of the world and life. For this reason, the dancer is able to synthesize the potentiality of that rhythm as it is symbolized in the form of the Dancing Shiva, Shiva Nataraja.

According to the scriptures, dance is born directly from Lord Shiva Himself who, through his dance, creates the whole universe, and is therefore considered the Lord of the Dance.

Music the language of emotions that, in the most refined arts, are fundamental: melody, raga, is chosen to stimulate certain emotions and moods in the listener.

The great mystic of Indian music, Tyagaraja, thus defines this great art: “Raga taladi yuta gana rasamu-ceta.”
“The great game that shines through ganan rasa emerges from the awesome combination of raga (melody) and tala (rhythm).”
Through the harmonious union of sounds given by the sounds of a raga (melody, emotions, feeling) with a tala, which is the appropriate rhythm chosen to stimulate that specific emotion, the soul is lifted to perceive the universal play that moves all, allowing to attain the state of gana which is one of the highest states of human beatitude.
Music is God’s language: Shiva plays the damaru, Krisna plays the flute, and Sarasvati plays the vine; even the celestial Narada always accompanies himself with the instrument called ekadara.

It is said: “Music and poetry are two breaths of Sarasvati, the Goddess of Knowledge.”

In the Yajnavalkya Smrti (115) it is written: “Those who are inclined to play the vina, those who are adepts in the study of sruti and who are experts in tala, will reach salvation without too many efforts.”

The sensitivity that can be attained through the study of music can open the doors of the elevation towards God because God is celestial music, divine music.

Nature gave us the gift of music and of all the arts and, for this reason, gave us the instrument of voice, so that it may be used to sing God’s praise and not futile things.

“Dhyana is like a million japa,
laya is like a million dhyana,
gana is like a million laya,
there is nothing that can surpass gana”.

Gana is the combination of vocal and instrumental performance that, through raga and tala, gains that harmony that represents one of the highest states of human beatitude.

The sound coming from the heart is called mandra, the one from the throat is named madhya, and the one from the head is named tara.

The evolution of the vibratory frequencies of our cells naturally stimulates a chance in the contents of our mind, elevating it more and more, until it can develop God’s consciousness.

The Sanbgita fosters intelligence, imagination, and the creative faculty: listening to good music purifies the heart, develops a sense of humanity and humility. Music has the power to give mental tranquility and can favor that type of joy, that satisfaction that, too often, material things cannot give.

It is also considered as vidya that is a method of awareness to realize the Supreme: its practice dispels worldly attachments, elevating mental vibrations.

Through music, we can taste the sweet nectar of divine beatitude, ananda.
Music is the universal way that leads us to the harmony of the world. All, indistinctively, can access its study and its practice.

The power and the strength of music can unite people, can promote human solidarity and, above all, can conciliate and unite humanity in a common interest.

Bajan and Kirtan (Devotional Chants) are taught by Yogacarini Hamsaduti Ma Umashakti Giri, and mrdangam (percussion) by Yogabhusana Svami Nityapriyananda Giri, and are practiced in the weekends and during the puja in the temple.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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