Paunar (Pravarpur) was the capital of Vakataka dynasty during the reign of King Pravarsena. The remains of the medieval fortification clearly shows the evidenses of Vakataka art.
The sculptures at Parandham Ashram belong to various period dating from Vakatakas to Kakatiyas dynasty i.e. 250 AD to 1200 AD. The sculptures of Ganga (Bhagirathi), Bharat-Bhet (Meeting of Rama and Bharat) and other numerous scupltures depicting the scense of Ramayana and Mahabharatas can be seen at Ashram. On left side of Wardha-Nagpur road, just at the end of Old bridge, there is a temple of Lord Vishnu. The iconographic representation of Lord Vishnu and Brahma is really a miracle.
There is an another temple of Lord Hanuman (Monkey God) on the way to the Ashram. During the medieval period, it is a flourishing trade centre of Central India, commanded the trade with China. Paramdham Ashram is established by Acharya Vinoba Bhave in the year 1934 on the bank of river Dham in Paunar village five miles way from Wardha. Vinobaji longed for self-realisation and left home in search of Brahmaa.
Further he thought, Gandhiji’s Ashram would show the light he aspired for and so joined it. After an inner call, he left Paunar and initiated unending Padayatra, the march for Gramdan and Bhoodan (Donation of land for landless peoples). The idea of Brahma Vidya was crystallised in 1958 during his morning walks with his associates. Vinobaji recognized that the real freedom can come to a group mind, working through the group. However, Bharat Chhodo movement is also continued from this ashram with his leadership. The river Dhan flows in Paunar in which Gandhiji’s asthi were desolved. The archaeological excavation was conducted by the Nagpur University, under the guidance of Dr. S. B. Deo proved that this site was a centre of human habitation, continouslt habitated from prehistoric time(Chalcolithic-Megalithic period.)
Brahma Vidya Mandir, is located on the blanks of the river Dham; 9kms. East of Wardha and 6 kms. of Gandhij’s Sevagram Ashram. Vinoba Bhave first came to this location in 1938 and began initiating his various spiritual-social activities and experiments. These including ideals such as Kanchan-mukti (freedom from money-economy), Rishi-Khrti (earning livelihood from farming with simple, inexpensive tools that are within the reach of the poor), working without the help of bulls or hired labour, and keeping the principles of equality and nonviolence. In that same year, while Vinobaji was tilling the land, a stone carved relic, bearing the image of Bharat-ram was found. Experts determined that the relic dates back about 1500 years. Vinobaji chose this relic, among the many others found on the premises, as the ashram temple’s center Place in 1940. Two years after this fortuitous discovery, the well known individual Satyagraha movement started from this very plaec.
Quite unexpectedly in 1951, he was inspired to start the Bhoodan Yatra (Land gift Movement). For that he walked all over the country for 13 long years asking for land for the landless. His mission attracted many and thousands of selfless workers joined him in his efforts. Among these followers there were some women who wanted to lead a spiritual life. For them, Vinobaji founded Brahma Vidya Mandir in 1959. The purpose of this place is to offer women the possibility of a deeply contemplative life overflowing in fruitful activities for the good of society. At this time Vinobaji was still on his Bhoodan walking pilgrimage; so for the first 5 years, he offered his guidance to inmates through correspondence. During his tour in Maharashtra in 1964, he stayed in this Paunar Ashram for about one year, modeling the inner and outer life he envisioned for the Ashram. Then again he moved to Bihar and returned to Wardha in 1970. From 1970 to 1982, the last twelve years of his life he spent in Brahma Vidya Mandir.
Brahma Vidya Mandir is the temple (Mandir) where one seeks the wisdom and experience(Vidya) of the Absolute(Brahma). Women’s spiritual emancipation is the motto of Brahma Vidya Mandir. At present, in all, 28 sisters live in the ashram. they come from different states of India and one is from Japan. Without distinction of caste, creed, language, religion, and nationality they share their lives together. Brothers closely associated with Vinobaji also lived with the sisters.
Life in Brahma Vidya Mandir is the fusion of the three classic currents of sadhana, Karma (action), Jnana (knowledge), and Bhakti (devotion). This threeefold combination provides the means to meet the fundamental needs of the body, mind and spirit.
The members of Brahma Vidya Mandir are diligently committed to Samuhik Sadhana(collective spiritual pursuit for the realization of the Self). This collective spiritual sadhana is central theme of the ashram. In short, this means surrendering all of one’s capacities at the feet of the Lord, abiding in the group, and seeing the inter-union of all aspirants as different organs of one body.
There are 5 pillars of the community’s spiritual life, all grounded in satya(truth) and ahimsa (nonviolence). The pillars are Brahmacharya(celibacy), Samuhik Sadhana, Shrama(productive manual labour), Swadhyaya (self study) and Bhakti (devotion).
The outstanding Feature of Brahma Vidya Mandir is that there is no single administreter or manager of the ashram. All activities and arrangements are carried out according to the decisions reached unanimously by group. Unanimous decision-making is a fundamental means of strengthening shared life of the community.
Manual labour gives the pleasure of living close to the land. Swadhyaya (self-study) gives the opportunity to view the depth of one’s own beautiful inner self. Bhakti unites us with the Almighty. the meaning of Brahmacharya is not confinded to restriant of sensuality. Brahmacharya means all our activities should be guided with the single motive of achieving unification with Brahma, the Absolute. Community life brings lessons of joy and challenge as we learn to live with and for our fellow beings. The features of the ashram’s spirituality point to and contribute to the establishment of a nonviolent society.
Productive manual labour is essential feature and life in Brahma Vidya Mandir. The ashram should be self-supporting so as not to be a burden on society. The ashram does not accept governmental support and try to be self sufficient.It follows that all aspirants engage in manual work (each committing to a daily 6 hour labour programme) and practice voluntary poverty. The women cultivate the ashram’s land(using organic farming methods), run a small dairy, spin the thread for their clothing (khadi), All these enable the ashram inmates to be self reliant as much as possible and it also indicates ways in which inequities, may be eradicated.
The sister publishes a monthly journal, Maitri (friendship) in hindi. The journal shaers news and views about the expriments based on spirituality and scientific outlook. it is the mouthpiece of the ashram, providing an important source of contact with the outside world. At times other spiritual and Sarvodaya literature is also published. Physical and mental labour is equally valued.
Vinobaji often said, politics and religion are outdated. Science and spirituality should replace them. We live in the scientific age. Many spheres of life have undergone total or considerable change during this age. Researchs in scientific field have changed and continue to change the face of socity. Now, Science in itself is neither good, nor bad. But if people lack pure motivation and deep insight, they will misuse science, as we are witnessing daily. Who or what can save us from the misuse of science? It is spirituality that can give proper guidance to science. Spirituality shows direction, while science gives speed. Speed without direction may ruin the world. For that, it is essential, to have spiritual laboratories too. Brahma Vidya Mandir is one such laboratory.
The question arises: What is spiritulity? The heart of spiritulity is oneness of spirit. Spirituality invites us to unite with our surrounding, with the adjoining animate and inanimate world. The spirit calls us into unity with nature, with the animal and plant kingdoms, with our wider human society, and with ourselves. It teaches us to live a life of wholeness.
We are not exclusively attached to any country. We give no special emphasis on any religion. We are not bound to any community or cast. Our field of study is to soar in the region of the noble thoughts spread all over the world. To assimilate noble thoughts is our sacred duty. To establish understanding in various specialties, to develop world-attitude is our discipline of thought.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ASHRAM GATE WILL BE CLOSED FROM 12 NOON TO 2 P.M. AND FROM 8 P.M. TO 4 A.M.
Po. Paunar, Wardha 442111 Phone : (07152)288388; 288181