Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in Italy -1/2

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

Inside the Svami Gitananda Ashram, is, together with other places of worship, a beautiful temple dedicated to the Divine Mother Sri Lalita Tripura Sundari, built in accordance with the principles established by the Vastu Shastra.

This Vastu temple is an important reference point for the Italian devotees and for those coming from India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, who come in large numbers for the puja and especially in occasion of festivities.

Every Friday and Sunday morning it is possible to participate in the shakti puja (Hindu ritual per the shakta tradition) during which sukta stotram, bhajan and kirtan are sung.
There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya, synthesis of the Trimurti, revealer of one of the main traditions of the Sri Vidya. In his shade, meditation, concentration and study allow for moments of great spiritual intensity.

“The eternal happiness which pervades everything, the glory recognized as supreme in the multitude of the revealed texts, comes from the narration of the origin of everything from the One: He manifests himself through the attributes of his power of illusion. Glory to the One who supports everything, to Him who is the Truth, to Him who grants the first fruit of the purpose of human life! Always joyfully wonders Dattatreya, as the ocean of knowledge”

(Datta Lahari)


There are many festivities in Hinduism, determined according to the moon calendar and ancient Indian astrology. Every practitioner or religious group celebrates some, according to the tradition they belong to and to the divinity worshipped.


Some of the main samskaras, Hindu sacraments, are performed in the Sri Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari Temple. In Hinduism the samskaras accompany the main steps of existence. The consecration of these moments through a rite originates from the deep religiousness, which is innate in the Hindu devotees; the repetition of these customs determines the conservation, from one generation to the next, of the power of the most ancient traditions.
The traditional rite of the Hindu marriage, vivaha, is celebrated in the temple by ministers of cult legally authorized by the State. The rite is performed in a particularly auspicious moment, astrologically calculated. The ritual is very complex and rich of symbolism. In front of the fire the spouses and their families make offers, chant mantra and perform rituals of mutual acceptance. During the peak time of the ritual, the ceremony of the Saptapadi takes place: the spouses take seven steps; at every step they seal the intent of their union, chanting Vedic verses: “With God as our guide we take: the first step to nourish each other; the second one to grow together in strength…..”

During pregnancy, samskaras are celebrated to guarantee a happy course of the pregnancy and the good health of the mother and the baby during the pre-natal period. At the third month of gestation there is the ceremony called “of the bracelets”: all the girlfriends and the women of the family bring presents to the future mother like fruit and new dresses, and especially the typical bracelets worn by Indian women. The ceremony takes place to the sound of the “Vina”, very old stringed instrument, whose notes do not only give peace and harmony to the mother, but their echo in her womb reach the baby, producing a positive influence on its development. From that moment, every movement of the mother will make the bracelets tinkle, maintaining a continuous resonant communication with the baby.
One of the main samskara conferred during childhood is the one of the annaprasana. At the age of six months, the baby is taken to the temple and is given his first solid food made sacred, rice mixed with cereals and cooked with one ingredient from each of the six tastes (bitter, salty, sweet, and so on). The ritual helps the transition from the mother food to a harmonious process of growth rich of good qualities.
The first shaving called mundana (cudakarana), ritual celebrated at the 1st or 3rd month of life of the baby, during an auspicious astrological moment. It is an important samskara that gives positive influences to the life of the baby, helping longevity, good health and happiness.
This is the samskara which begins the formal education of the baby. At about the age of five, the child is guided to draw on a layer of rice and other cereals his first written letter, sacred syllable OM.

There is no doubt that the key concept in mysticism is “detachment”; samnyasin is he or she who is detached from the world, those who renounce the way of the world, but whose real renunciation is to “me and mine”.

Samnyasa means to “renounce, let go, set aside, abandon, renounce the world”.

“Who are those apt to enter the sacred order of the samnyasa? Only those who renounce the world completely, who have no preoccupation for tomorrow, who do not worry about what they will eat or wear. It is necessary for them to be like a man who can climb the tallest of trees and then can abandon himself to a fall, without worrying about his limbs nor his life.”

Samnyasin is he who has left behind him the world of duties and desires, whose only aspiration is to attain to a state of peace, beatitude, and perfect knowledge of the self, beyond birth and death.
His renunciation makes him an atmayajnin, he who sacrifices himself. He becomes the oblation of the eternal cosmic sacrifice, and aware of this, he dedicates himself fully to the service of God.

When the monks are initiated in the sacred order of the samnyas, they join the universal body of the renounciates, whose existence has always been like an uninterrupted flux from the time of the Veda till now.

It is common belief that the samnyasins have divine origins, springing from the four mental sons of Brahma, the Kumara, who possessed the absolute renunciation.

The scriptures declare that the two ways, the householder and the renunciate, are distinct in the results and in the dharma, and affirm that the real renunciation cannot be obtained by those who live in the world, even when animated by a genuine attitude of detachment.

The sacred Vedas declare that “The man who has found Him, becomes a silent monk. Desiring Him only as a world, the ascetics leave their homes and wander.”

The scriptures define four types of samnyas: vidvat, vividisha, markata, and atura.
In the first case, vidvat samnyas, one has a extreme awareness that renunciation and the abandonment of the world are the only way to realize reality; this awareness comes from very strong impressions, samskara, matured in previous lives.
The second type is vividisha samnyas, and happens when a student, while on a path of spiritual search, spends long years in study and introspection, through the scriptures and various practices. He lives the renunciation in the world through action until he can embrace the samnyas as a culmination of the fruits of his actions.
The third, markata samnyas, happens when a person is hit by a real strong sorrow as in the death of a dear person, and takes up the vows of renunciation. This vow is weak and could not last in time.
The last type, atura samnyas, is the one that can be received at the moment prior to death. In such a moment, sometimes, a person may feel the desire to take on this vow of renunciation in order to receive an impression that can carry over the next incarnation. On the other hand, if the person continues to live after this moment, he or she must commit to a life in respect of the laws of dharma, and finally consolidate the vows taken during that “extreme” moment with the appropriate ceremony.

The theology of renunciation, which is also at the base of the ritual of samnyas (samnyasa diksha), however, does not consider the abandonment of fire as a denial; it is rather an internalization. The external fires get placed in the inside of the samnyas who must continue to feed them internally, and therefore more permanently and perfectly.

 With great emotion, in the obscurity of the last hours of the night of September 2nd, 1992, the first Samnyas Diksha of the Ashram is starting, as the sunrays greet Svamini Ma Uma Shakti.

On the 28th of July, 1998, in the Temple of Sri Lalita Triputa Sundari of the Gitananda Ashram, Rohini Devi, receives the pancavrata of the samnyasa asrama, joining the traditional samgha of the dasanami Giri, with the initiatory name of Svamini Hamsanandaand the blessings and wishes of the great spiritual family to be a light of love and knowledge for all those who aspire to Truth.

Shortly after the samgha expands when Priyananda becomes Svami Nityapriyananda, acquiring in his admirable work even more balance and wisdom.  Another star is lit with Svamini Nirajitananda.

 “Moved by the wind of illusions, the waves of the whole universe repeatedly rise and fall within me, the ocean of total bliss. Like the sky is not attached to the clouds, so I am not attached to the body.”

And if for some the experience is short, without coming to a climax, in the following years the samgha gains strength, vigor, and courage. On the 18th of July 2008, Svamini Atmananda takes her vows.
“Wake, dream or deep dream, how can I have their qualities? I am like the sky, far, beyond time. I am like the sun, beyond that which is enlightened. I am like a mountain, always immutable. I am like the sea, without its most remote banks. I am pure consciousness, the witness to all! I am free of the thought of “me” and “mine”!

During a cold Sivaratri, a day of good omen, on the 23rd of February 2009,  Svamini Shuddhananda and Svamini Durgadayananda receive the solemn initiation:
“Today is a day of great joy and delight because every time a soul gives itself fully to God, burning its ego in the fire of spiritual aspiration, giving all its strengths to its own liberation and the liberation of other living beings, at this time, a star is lit in the sky. Samnyas means to let go, to abandon, to renounce. Renounce the fleeting, the useless, the illusions, the darkness, to find reality, to find the good, the right, the useful, the light…”

The samgha is growing, and will grow more. On the 25th anniversary of the Ashram, came Svami Ishvarananda.
"The witness is different, he is not touched
by the quality of things that are witnessed..."

During Maha Sivaratri, on the 2nd of March 2011, came Svami Tyagananda.

 "Like a lamp, the immutable and impartial man
is not touched by the duties of the home.
Leave this body, muddied in water and earth.
By its qualities I am not touched, like space is not touched by the qualities of a vase.

During the day of Gurupurnima on 15 July 2011 another soul came to the samgha, Svamini Vidyananda.

 A Day in the Ashram
Life in Ashram is inspired to the Sanatana Dharma principles and to the deepest Hindu tradition.

Those who desire to study the Self and rediscover their own spirituality are always welcome, and can find here the ideal conditions: peace, silence, contact with nature, experience of communal life and, above all, the contact with an ancient yoga tradition, a developmental system: Siddha Siddhanta Yoga.

Morning Practice - Brahma Murta - Hatha Yoga

The peace and the lovely sounds of nature accompany the awakening of the Ashram and the start of a yoga day: meditation and hatha yoga practice.

Karma yoga

After breakfast, it is possible to enter deeply in the spirit of the ashram with karma yoga, an experience of selfless service, of impersonal work for everybody’s benefit, useful to observe when educating oneself.
Lessons and Seminars on Various Subjects

In the late morning there is another yoga class: a theoretical and practical study following the siddha siddhanta yoga tradition.

Rites in the Temple – Puja

A moment of silence and meditation can be found in the temple during the performance of the puja that, on Sunday, is accompanied by devotional songs. Ganesha Puja, Siva Puja, Sri Vidya Puja (Rahasya Yoga). Chanting of Vedic hymns. Navavarana Puja, Sri Sukta, Guru Sukta, Durga Sukta, Visnu Sasranama, Siva Sasranama. Lalita Sahastranama, Trisati Asvattara, Hridaya Asvakam.

Afternoon Break

After lunch it is possible to start karma yoga again or to read, to walk along the paths of the woods in which the Ashram is immersed.

Devotional Songs, Jnana Yoga Vichara

We then meet together for the practice of the bhajan, devotional songs that nourish the mind with deep spiritual vibrations. We continue with theoretical and practical classes on Indian culture, the study of the scriptures, contemplation and meditation.

Sat Samgha

Sat Samgha: “Dialogue with the Teacher in Truth” is the heart of the spiritual tradition, during which it is possible to discuss and ask questions on every aspect of spiritual life.

Certain Evenings
Devotional songs or screening of movies on Indian epics and the life of saints and mystics.

Life Style
The day in ashram is intense but it follows mild and balanced rhythms: collective moments and other moments dedicated to ourselves, to the internalization and meditation. It is a simple life, in harmony with nature, immersed in quiet and silence. Diet is vegetarian.
Rules and a Few Advices for Visitors:
1) If planning to visit the Ashram, it is necessary to give a call prior to the visit in order to discuss the best time to arrive.

2) In respect to the life in the community, for ethical reasons, and for one’s own and others’ health, IT IS FORBIDDEN TO SMOKE and TO DRINK ALCOHOLICS, and it is everybody’s duty to behave respectfully of things, people and animals.

It is suggested to wear comfortable cloths during both the practice and the free time; also please note that in many places of the Ashram you are asked to be barefoot.      

Siddha Siddhanta Yoga

Theoretical and practical study of the siddha siddhanta tradition


Monthly and bimonthly weekend meetings

A great opportunity, for those who practice or teach yoga and those who would like to enter an excellent evolutionary system, to attend in a systematic way, a program on the methods and techniques of yoga, which, together with the study of Indian culture, its spiritual and ethical values, the different trends and traditions, constitute the cultural and religious matrix of yoga and tantra.
The meetings take place in the Svami Gitananda Ashram, in a place that is suited to practice, study and contemplate inwards
Length: given the extreme vastness and completeness (also technical) of the contents of Siddha Siddhanta’s system, attendance is limitless (there are groups who have been attending for over twenty years). Naturally, to satisfy the needs of the practitioners, a qualifying certificate is released after three years of attendance, and a diploma after five years.
For all that we know, this is one of the vastest and complete teacher’s training existing. Its roots go deep in the purest and most secret traditions, taught by the ancient Rishis.
The Yogi is superior to the ascetics; and also above those who search knowledge; he superior to those men who perform rites; so be a Yogi, oh Arjuna. (B.G.)

The goal of these teachings is not to have dependent disciples but, on the other hand, to form free people, teachers who can be useful to humanity with their example and work, who can demonstrate, every minute, what real freedom and realization are.

Those who are interested to participate, can receive further information by contacting the Svami Gitananda Ashram’s office.

To participate to the activities you need to join the Association. The membership fee is annual, unique and comprehensive.

Year 2013

Visit the Ashram

Open to all who desire to know the Ashram, the heart of spirituality immersed in tradition and the beauty of nature.
The visit gives the opportunity of coming into contact with the interesting sacred indian iconography through the symbols and statues that can be admired in the park and in the Temple located inside the Ashram.
Devotional singing and meditation during the puja in the temple will follow.

PLEASE BEFORE THE VISIT contact the Ashram to agree on the time of arrival and the number of participants.
30th November - 1st December

The mirror of consciousness
Meditation seminar
Theory and practice of meditation(Dharana - Dhyana).
Bindu Dhyana, Bhavana Kriya, Pranas Kriya, Mudra, Santosha Pranayama: techniques to induce meditation.

31st December - 1st January 2014

Spiritual retreat 30th-31st December 2013 1st January 2014

A precious occasion to get ready for the New Year with one’s heart full of consciousness and serenity.
If you can’t change the world, change yourself! When you achieve purity of heart, everything is possible!
During the retreat, our mind, our heart and our action will look ahead to the New Year with meditation (Bhavana), awakening of inner Energy (Kriyā),  purification and mudrā techniques and singing of bhajan;
Finally, the heart of yoga, Sat Samgha, a wonderful opportunity to confront oneself with Truth.
The New Year will be welcomed with puja, hymns, mantras and slokas in the Sri Lalita Tripurasundari Temple so that the New Year may be rich in serenity, prosperity, peace and knowledge for all.
A Happy New Year all together in joy and harmony, to be shared with the monastic community and all the devotees.

Contact us:
svami Gitananda Ashram | Loc. Pellegrino 1 - 17041 Altare - SV - Italy – Phone: +39 (0)19 584692 - Fax +39 (0)19 584838 | gitanandashram@tin.it

 svami Gitananda Ashram | Loc. Pellegrino 1 - 17041 Altare - SV - Italy – Phone: +39 (0)19 584692 - Fax +39 (0)19 584838 | gitanandashram@tin.it


Om Tat Sat

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


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