Beyond the experience of duality

The Origins

The ashram is called Saccidananda Ashram. Saccidananda is a way of experiencing God similar to that of the Holy Trinity. it is also called Shantivanam which means Forest of Peace. It was founded by two French priests, Jules Monchanin (who took the name Swami Paramarubi Ananda) and Henri le Saux (who took the name Swami Abhishiktananda). The ashram was founded in 1950 as a Benedictine ashram, the purpose of which was to unite the tradition of ashram life in India with the monastic tradition of the West.

Shantivanam has become well known around the world through the life and teaching of Bede Griffiths who was Superior of the community between 1968 and 1993.

Life in Shantivanam

In 1980 Shantivanam was received into the Camaldolese Congregation of the Benedictine Order. The Camaldolese tradition combines both the community and the solitary ways of monastic life. Each monk has his own hermitage in line with the pure contemplative tradition and the community meets three times for public acts of divine worship.

The liturgy in this Catholic ashram is adapted to the cultural traditions of India: the liturgy always starts with Sanskrit chanting and ends with arati, the waving of lights before the blessed Sacrament. Scriptures from all the religions in India complement readings from the Bible.

A life of poverty

The ashram expresses its life as a radical ‘option for the poor’ by adopting a simple life aligned to that of life in an Indian village and by supporting social projects in the neighbouring villages including building houses for very poor families.

Visiting Shantivanam

Welcome and hospitality to all visitors is an integral part of ashram life.

The ashram is about 30 km from the international airport at Tiruchirappalli and is easy to reach by bus or by taxi.

There is extensive guest accomodation built with western visitors in mind, including en-suite bathrooms.

If you would like to visit please email Fr Dorathick who is the Superior at Shantivanam.

You can find more information and insights into life at Shantivanam Ashram at