Saragrahi is a 145-acre mountain yoga retreat, sustainable community and monastery developed around the precepts of the Gaudiya Vaishnava spiritual tradition uniquely taking into consideration modern insights, both spiritual and secular.
Saragrahi, which literally means “essence-seekers”, is being developed under the guidance of Swami BV Tripurari, and its mood is one of inclusivity. Saragrahi Vaisnavas are those who gravitate towards the essence (sara) of the tradition and can appreciate its expression even when manifested differently. They tend to overlook external differences. By focusing on the essence of spiritual pursuits, they find that the differences which naturally arise due to acquired tastes and circumstance, do not need to divide. The essence leaves room for respected, honored and desirable diversity. As the community develops, it will facilitate spiritual pursuits across a life span, from cradle to cremation and the varying expressions throughout a person’s life.
Nestled in the foothills of breath-taking Western North Carolina, we are immersed in natural splendor and are conveniently located to major cities and destinations: 15 minutes from Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, 1 hour from Asheville, 1 hour from over 200 waterfalls, 1.5 hours from Charlotte, 1 hour from Greenville, SC, 2 hours from Boone, 3 hours from Atlanta, less than 2 hour flight from Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
We are in the beginning stages of developing the natural opportunities afforded by the land into a dynamic spiritual community complete with both private and public aspects. It is a rare opportunity to develop a project from the ground up, one we hope to use for the betterment of all.
The land had been family-owned for generations. When ill-fortune struck them, they reluctantly placed this property on the market. The owners were relieved and excited about the plans for Saragrahi, knowing that the simple life-style which supports spiritual development would also necessitate good stewardship of the land.
Saragrahi consists of 145 acres of gentle sloping mountains whose 3 main ridges provide panoramic vistas. Several small creeks wind their way through magic valleys where quartz and other minerals litter the forest floor. Many native medicinal plants, such as black cohosh, ginseng, and yellowroot line the walk-ways and find their place in the forest bed next to chanterelle mushrooms. Wild turkeys strut about and while many varieties of birds can be seen – you can even hear an occasional peacock from a neighboring farm.
The variegated terrain creates naturally sectioned spaces for connected yet well-defined neighborhoods, ideally suited to meet the needs and activities of their residents.
WHAT WE’VE DONE
Ananda Ashram is a property 2 miles from Saragrahi which was purchased by a community member to serve as temporary temple and base for those who are doing the hands-on development of the community. It also shelters Saragrahi’s 2 retired cows and calf and hosts the community’s semi-annual festivals until there are adequate facilities available at Saragrahi itself.
In an effort to reveal the beauty of the land and to hear the voice of its purpose, without destroying the natural habits that were there before us, most of the land clearing has been done by the hands of the residents and larger community. When we first purchased the property, you literally could not see the forest through the trees, but now the forest shines in its countenance. And what was once a scrub pine patch is now a lush pasture for the cows, turkeys and occasional deer.
When the land was purchased, there was a network of rough logging roads. Since then we have upgraded and re-routed several of the roads and have built new ones to access the developing neighborhoods. We have put in a well that services the barnashram, the campground and future male monastic area. We have also installed the septic system in the monastic area and campground. Underground power and water lines have been run to the barnashram and campground.
Dairy and Organic Gardens
We have recently completed our first building, a barn with an apartment above which is the center of our functioning organic no-kill dairy, supplying ahimsa milk to the ashram, as well as the larger community. We have 4 milking cows, 1 heifer and 3 retired cows. Our organic garden and berry patch, located in Saragrahi’s 4-acre fertile riverside parcel about 1/2 mile from Saragrahi, supplies food to the ashram, for festivals, and for sale to the larger community.
Our campground is located in Mahavan, the great forest, of Saragrahi. The campground provides facility to guests visiting during our annual festivals, as well as a few travelers along their journey. When the campground is a little more developed it will provide an economic source for the further development of the community facilities. The plan consists of 10 campsites, a bath house, kitchen pavilion, and amphitheater. A walking path alongside a meandering creek will connect the camp grounds with the future yoga retreat center described below. High quality yurts will be built on the sites. See more images of the campground development
With the assistance of talented architects we have the completed architectural plans for the monk cabins, interim temple and campground.
Alice Dodson, Architect, PA created the designs for the monks cabins and interim temple.
7-acres of the original parcel was separated out and 6 lots were sub-divided from that parcel. Although there has not been any development on the individual lots, all lots have been sold and a road, Gopal Way, has been created accessing the lots from the county-maintained road. This neighborhood is intended for families with young children.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Upgrades at Nama-stay Campground
2017 saw the completion of the Bath House and the utilization of the campground by festival go-ers.
2018 will see a refinement of things loosely chalked out in the initial 2 stages.
In the fall, landscaping will begin in order to create an aesthetic experience supportive of your spiritual journey. We have also commissioned a woodworker to custom build benches for the amphitheater area.
WHAT WE WILL BE DOING
The future development of the project will include a:
• retirement village
• pushpa samadhi (meditation chapel) in honor of Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar dev Goswami
• monastery for both male and female monastics ( architectural plans and septic are complete)
• organic bakery
• yoga retreat center and camp grounds
A 5-acre section has been cleared for the development of a neighborhood for retired individuals winding down their involvement in the outside world and turning their focus inward. The neighborhood is tucked into the interior of the property within walking distance to the future temple. There will be a small store also within walking distance, where the residents can purchase organic veggies, milk and other items produced in the community. It is the intention that the younger members of Saragrahi will naturally assist the elders with such things as maintenance, small repairs, and shopping as they grow older. This is a life-lease area and, at the present moment, all homes are the responsibility of the would-be residents. There are no turn-key situations available.
More on the Yoga Retreat Center
The yoga retreat center will provide wonderful sacred spaces for yoga, meditation, music and just plain old get-me-out-of-the-madness-of-life retreats. It will not be glitzy or glamorous, but it will be elegant in its simple natural harmony. We will offer a variety of accommodations to facilitate people of different tastes, needs and means. There will be rental cabins, tent platforms and dorm rooms. A central dining hall over-looking Japanese gardens in the valley below will serve vegetarian meals mostly grown in our own garden, the milk and milk products will be from our own no-kill dairy, and the breads and pastries will be baked on-site. There will be different areas and outdoor pavilions and gazebos for yoga or music or both simultaneously, as well as a spa where guests can melt away tensions with a massage, sauna and cold plunge. You can see many photos of the property on Saragrahi’s FB page. The photo at the top of this page is one of Saragrahi’s wonderful western views.
As a larger community of spiritually active people develops around the hub of Saragrahi proper, other village-type industries will organically develop based on needs and abilities of the individual community members. We see many cottage industries developing as a way to meet both the financial and product needs of the community and its members.
Saragrahi is completely funded by the kind and generous gifting of those who see the value of this project’s service to the community at large, as well as an investment into their own future spiritual life.