Vanprasth Ashram, Rojad

By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Arya Van is lush green in the midst of arid sandy soil area spread over miles. Arya Van is a creation of dedicated Arya Samajists who worked selflessly under the leadership of Swami Satyapati Maharaj, the Spiritual Yoga Guru. They lived together, worked together, toiled tirelessly, not forgetting to pray together and make an endeavour to go into Samadhi of limited periods depending on their inclination and perseverance. Swami Satyapati Ji led his disciples from the front and chose those brilliant students for higher Yogic principles and practices who vowed to observe life long Brahmacharya and propagate the tenets of the Vedic Dharm as enunciated by Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati. The Octogenarian Sanyasi continues working on the mission notwithstanding advanced age and the age related problems. He is a Man of grit and determination who has tasted both success and failure. He keeps going forward to fulfil the mission undertaken regardless of myriad problems that spring up every now and then.

The large campus of Arya Van comprises the Vaanprastha Sadhak Aashram, the Darshan Yog Mahavidyalaya, the Gaushala, the Arya Van Parisar for arboriculture and allied branches of knowledge and so on. Each of the institution is a separate entity working for the common goal of  making the Mankind noble human beings – Krinvanto Vishwamaryam.


Swami Satyapati Ji was an illiterate man for about two decades of his early life. Born in a poor Muslim family, he did not have the wherewithal to enroll in a school for education. Nevertheless the the Poorva Janm Sanskar held him in good stead and he made up his mind to receive education in an informal way. He practiced writing Devnagari alphabets on sand with is forefinger and learn by heart what good Samaritans taught him. His inclination towards the Vedic Dharm as enunciated by Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samj and a 19th century socio-religious reformer, opened the door to vast Vaidik Vangmay. Young Satyapati pursued the Vedic education relentlessly, vowed to remain a Brahmachari, entered the Vaanprastha Aashram while in his forties and later became an Arya Sanyasi.

One who realizes Ishwar in the present life has attained the best that is attainable by a human being, so surmised young Swami Satyapati and he found the Ashtang yoga as the means to achieve the goal. In the true spirit of the maxim, Service before Self, he led the way to motivate both men and women of all shades of educational and social background to follow the path prescribed and practiced by him. He did not have to look back thereafter.

Disciples of Swami Satyapati Ji are a dedicated lot who have gone to four corners of the world to enlighten the humanity and show them the way out of darkness leading to Light – Light of the Yoga. I met one such disciple, Acharya Gyaneshwar Arya at Rojad where he is now guiding the Sadhaks and Sadhikas successfully. Acharya Gyaneshwar Arya is doing a lot of research in AGNIHOTRA, running seminars and shivirs to spread the noble thought of the Vedas and correct way to perform Havan. There is a daily Havan in the Ashram that he is heading now at Rojad in Gujarat wherein the Samagri used is a final product of his relentless research yielding positive results. The fragrance of the Agnihotra is spreading far and wide both literally and figuratively. Now a separate Yajnashala and Bhavan stand tall in the Arya Van where seminars will continue to be held by Acharya Gyaneshwar Arya for the learners drawn from all corners of the globe.


My wife, Sudha and I had met a couple at the Arya Samaj Mahotsav at Gandhidham, and they, Satyavrat Ji and Pratibha Ji had motivated us to visit Rojad to reap the harvest of spiritualism as they had been doing for some years. Despite owning a palatial house in Amdavad, they chose to live in a Kutia in Arya Van and felt fulfilled. Sudha insisted that we follow suit and I had little choice but to go there and see for ourselves what the Aashram stood for. Our one-day visit further inspired us to spend a few days and nights there and we realized that dream this December in 2015.

When our flight from New Delhi landed at Amdavad we looked around and found the driver of an Innova car who was tasked to drive us to the Aasharm, a drive of around two hours. Old friends, Satyavrat and Pratibha with another Sadhak, Girish Ji in tow received us and settled us in our Kutiya. They briefed us about the daily routine we were required to follow to lead the new Spartan life for our spiritual upliftment for nine days or so. We slept like a log of wood after a frugal meal that is served in the dining room for the sadhaks and sadhikas. Simple vegetarian food ensures that the sleep is good, sans any kind of bad dreams or nightmares. Abstinence is the order of the day and night. So far so good.

Next morning we woke up at 4 AM to prepare ourselves for the hard but fruitful day ahead. Mantra path in low voice was done inside our room as we were required to observe MAUN – perfect silence sans spoken words. We learnt later that emphasis on maun was not only to conserve energy but to concentrate on our Mantra path. The Aryas there are more strict on observance of Maun than Roman Catholics are on not washing clothes on a Sunday – the Sabath. I felt guilty of infringement every now and then because being a TV commentator I cannot but speak a few words on whatever I see. But Aashram is not a TV and Saadhana is not a Republic Day parade. Acharya Ji was magnanimous to overlook this infringement.

Sudha and I were given the honour to sit around the Havan Kund for the morning Havan since it was the first morning of our arrival at the Aashram. It was a delight indeed to do mantr path and offer aahuti to Agni. Acharya Gyaneshwar Arya gave the morning pravachan and it was enlightening indeed. Beseeching Param Pita Parmatma for inspiration to lead a Vedic life and concentrate on the dharma , the Dhyan, was well explained. As we were parting from the yajnashala, he said that he would call upon me to deliver a few sermons in the coming days. I nodded assent gladly.

Pratrash or breakfast was frugal but nutritive to sustain one until lunch that is served half an hour before noon every day. The bill of fare for lunch was quite substantial and green leafy vegetable was quite prominent. Indeed it is good for health. The ratri bhojan served at 6.30 PM after the Maun hour is over is equally good. I think the kitchen incharge and the Pachak follow the principle – hit bhook, mit bhook, rit bhook – eat what is good for the body and mind, eat less than what the requirement is and finally eat the food that has been bought with hard earned money.

Upanishad class was held for all of us at 10 AM for forty five minutes. The introductory talk given by Brahmachari Kamal Dev was well taken by both the new comers and old hands. It became a regular feature and both of us attended regularly as long as we were there. Learning is a continuous process and it brooks no break.

The afternoon siesta was very welcome because my exercise and road walk were rather vigorous. But I made sure that we participate in the gardening period for tendering advice. I was encouraged to see Sadhikas in seventies doing vigorous work like making flower beds and planting saplings. Mata Jayaben  poria even trims hedges with a pair of scissors. Commendable indeed. Mata Chintamani was around to boost their morale notwithstanding her indifferent health.

The evening spiritual session in the Agnihotra Bhawan, first floor, starts with a bhajan followed by a sermon delivered by a trainee brhamachari. One evening a narration of the shastrartha between Rishi Yajnavalkya and Vidushi Maitreyi was appreciated.  Acharya Satyavrat, compere of most events there, sang a song eulogizing the personality of Rishi Dayanand whereas Sadhak Shashi Bhushan Malhotra from Vadodra sand Ish bhajans every eveing in melodious voice. The highlight was a Gujarati bhajan sung in chorus by Mata Jayaben Poria, Mata Sudha Sawant and Mata Pannaben and it was well received by the assembly.

Shram dan is an important aspect of sewa karya done by all residents of the Vaanprastha Ashram for two to three hours daily. That indeed explains why the surroundings look so clean and green. Of course, there is a regular safai karmachari and his wife who keep cleaning diligently day after day. Swachchata is a sine qua non for Saadhana.

We took an afternoon off from the regular routine when we went to the Amdavad house of Satyavrat and Pratibha for a Havan and Pravachan- bhajan evening. The gathering of their relatives and friends was appreciable and they received the proceedings very well. A substantial dinner followed and rich sweets need a mention.

The sojourn of nine days was so interesting and so gainful that we were jolted by its end and thought that it was a miscalculation of time. One must face facts. The spiritual quest of ours was really for nine days and extremely gainful. Sudha plans to make it a regular feature every two years or so. I may have little choice but to follow suit. It will give me immense pleasure of Aadhyatmic nature.

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