Just What IS Barnashram?

Barnashram is the Land, the Place, the Space which lies about 20 minutes from downtown Portland Oregon proper, consisting of just under 7 acres. It is the 'Home' of the Bhaktivedanta Society, Inc. (the 501c3 non-profit) which owns the land, as well as the Atma Institute, which is the Teaching/Publishing aspect, and Simplicity Gardens, the farming project.

The word itself is a twist on the Sanskrit word 'Varnashram', which refers to the four varnas and four ashrams, that is the four social and spiritual orders of life, within which everyone falls somewhere. In other words, Varnashram means all of Humanity. The word 'Ashram' also denotes a spiritual hermitage, a shelter, or a community - a place where people can take refuge.  It is also a bit of a linguistical joke as the letters 'V' and 'B' are often exchanged in many Indian languages, and as we live in a Barn here at Barnashram....well, hopefully, you get  the picture.

Barnashram is, as well, a spiritual sanctuary as it is the home to numerous Shilas, primarily Shaligram Shilas. Shaligrams are sacred ammonite fossils which are considered in Vedic context to be a perfect manifestation of the Absolute. While most Deities or Murtis of the various Gods & Goddesses in India require a 'Prana Pratistha' Ceremony (literally 'Life Establishing' ceremony) to bring the energy or essence or Spirit of the Godhead into them, Shaligrams are considered to not require this as they are already a full manifestation of the Godhead (specifically Lord Vishnu). They can be found in nearly every Vishnu temple in India (and abroad) as well as in the homes of many more traditional Indian families.  The Vedic scriptures heap mounds of praise on Shaligrams, saying that they purify an area of 20 miles around them. So to us, Barnashram is an extremely spiritual place, a Holy 'Dham' where besides simply enjoying the purity and beauty of nature, one is also graced by the literal Presence of God!

The principle purpose of our Barnashram (and thus this website) is that civilization, especially modern civilization is madness gone amuck.  If you were to take everything you could think of that would make a utopian world and turn it totally upside down, you'd end up with civilization much as it exists today: Total disregard for Truth, real community, spirituality, normal human intelligence, etc. etc. etc. We'll elaborate on this later and principally through the blog as well, but the basic idea is that we (humanity) is at a point where we MUST make some HUGE changes if we want to even see human life continue for very much longer. We cannot continue to ignore that we are on the very furthest most edge of an abyss from which it is unlikely to turn back. Many scientists, environmentalists, prophets, etc. have already said we have gone far beyond the point of no return. It's now ONLY a matter of time. A day, a week, a month, a year... perhaps later this afternoon!  I know, I know. If you're my age, you've already been hearing the gloom and doom prophecies for decades. But eventually we have to be right, don't we?

I mean, after all, how many oil disasters, natural disasters, financial screw-ups, obvious governmental lies and cover-ups, does it take before you shake your head and go, "Hmmm, maybe something IS going on here!"?

The good news is that along with the exponential growth in the 'bad' there is an exponential growth in those that  are waking up to some of this and seeking alternatives. However, often alternatives are not real alternatives at all, but merely duct tape, spit, and hopeful solutions that are no solutions at all.  Much of what we will be addressing here is something more, predicated on a total shift of Consciousness, because the reality is that the majority of the problems are Ego-based, and that for real change to take place, individuals and the world must REALize and Recognize their Absolute Spiritual Nature which precedes their human or personal manifestation. In other words, people need to become truely Self Realized and God Realized, at the same time as they change their 'material' living situations.

Pretty much all of what is written here is written by 'me', Aja (see page tab above) and the realizations I've had in the nearly 40 years I have been almost exclusively pursuing  spiritual Truth.  Although my primary background has been in the Vedic (so-called Hindu) teachings, most of what I'll speak about could be found in nearly any traditional or indiginous spiritual teachings. They all envision the principles of simplicity, community, and spirituality. For instance, humanity lived pretty much the same way for thousands and thousands of years, generally NOT making a big imprint on their environment. The big shifts were going from nomadic gatherers some 10,000 years ago and back, to agricultural, and then even more so as we entered the industrial, post-industrial, modern, and post modern eras over the last couple of hundred years or so.  We have moved to a point where nearly everyone is TOTALLY removed from everything, including each other, the Earth, the Divine, and even their own Selves. People are miserable - most willing to admit it, although many will deny it, even while over 1,000,000 people commit suicide every year, hundreds of millions either consider it or attempt it, and millions upon millions more are dosing on a cornucopia of mind altering drugs (both legal and illegal) to try and escape the misery and madness which is there daily 'Life'!

While we (and many others) have been pointing this out regularly for some time, the big question that consistently comes up is....

What Do I Do????

That is what we will principally try to address on these pages.  However, first a word of warning. It won't necessarily be easy. As Einstein so eloquently put it, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."  It means, thinking AND acting 'out of the box'.  It means letting go of ALL of your old concepts, beliefs, and hopes. It requires shifts in the way you think, act, and live and a very fundamental level.  It means reversing the way you look at nearly everything and reversing the very focus of your attention. Or as others have said, "The cost of Enlightenment is EVERYTHING!!!"    We also understand that it is unlikely that every person who stumbles upon this site will believe all of it, accept all of it, or act on all of it. But if even a few people find some little bit to be of use and implement it, that would be wonderful!!!

Contact us
By the way, in case we don't get around to having it elsewhere as we create this site, Barnashram's contact information is:

10235 NW Cornelius Pass Road
Portland, Oregon 97231
(503) 690-9513  cell phone