Stonefort Ashram
by Dhanistha dasi
reprinted from http://www.stonefortashram.com
Posted February 13, 2003

Stonefort Ashram is a place to heal and rejuvenate the spirit, emotions, mind, and heart. It is a woman's ashram meant to cultivate the natural creative powers and intuition of the feminine spirit in bhakti yoga.

It is our goal to be free from arrogant sectarian dogma and prejudicial judgements based on bodily identification and to set personal examples ourselves by acting on this platform of spiritual equality. This is to be, therefore, a truly spiritual shelter conducive for healing wounded hearts and particularly founded for women.

It is our foundation of understanding that the goals sought to be integrated into the wealth and interactions of this ashram must be first found in the intention of each participant and their individual contributions. At heart, there must be spiritual integrity and strength coinciding with a sense of truthful humility. These attributes will only manifest by a constant effort toward patience and respect, gratitude and compassion. The underlying and pervasive current that ties us together in the flow toward higher consciousness of spiritual equality is prayer coupled with the ecstatic uninhibited chanting of the Holy Names whether done during personal japa meditations, temple bhajans, or congregational kirtana.

We hope and pray to soon provide larger accommodations for regularly scheduled retreats. These gatherings will be interlaced with a variety of ancient healing arts shared by qualified teachers and practitioners, herbal treatments and knowledge, gardening, animal care and friendship, primitive camping, tree climbing, rock climbing, sweat lodges, medicine wheel meditations, nature walks to near-by Native American sacred springs and hidden power spots, swimming, and laughing a whole lot, laughing a whole lot, laughing a whole lot. These activities will be freely interspersed with chanting Hare Krishna, dancing, and feasting.

Individual women or small groups may begin to inquire about scheduling immediately for 3 to 5 day visits. Best seasons are spring (mid March thru mid May), summer (Late May thru mid September) and autumn (mid September thru mid November), unless you like feeding wild birds in glistening snow, or watching mystical ice storms near a cozy fireplace...for that too is amply available in winter.

The temple was built only 2 years ago by good Mennonite friends who are expert carpenters and live just down the road. It is a small unassuming rustic temple lined with antique oak barn beams and rough cut planks of western red cedar. The barn-like architecture is solid and simple with a high beamed cathedral ceiling and blue stone porcelain floor. There is a loft above the large country porch entrance for quiet meditations, healing, darshan with the deities, or reading. There is a powerful mystic quality inside this temple as well as around the outside grounds which contain forests and crude rock gardens holding seasonable herbs, flowers and vegetables. The atmosphere is very simple and therefore suitable for contemplation and rejuvenation of each soul's personal connection with God.

The altar is made of large hand hewn log slabs chiseled and planed with a draw knife from local wild black cherry and eastern red cedar trees. Our deities of Radha Shyam were purchased in Navadvip, West Bengal three years ago during a pilgrimage I made to India. They are in an exquisite Bengali mood being carved by a Navadvip native deity sculptor residing on the bank of Mother Ganga. They stand almost 3 feet tall and are (as is tradition) chiseled from sacred Neem wood. Krishna is deep deep blue and Radharani golden yellow. They were painted by one of our most talented and devotional Godsisters, Saradiya mata, after I brought them home to Stonefort Ashram.

For a complete story of the manifestation of our huge Jagannatha Deities see separate essay found on this web site.( These Jagannathas were carved from the same above mentioned windfall wild black cherry tree that was used to build the temple's altar). They were carved here on the ashram grounds by a woman whose only qualification to do so was the intense obsession with a dream and desire for Them to manifest.

One of the most unique aspects of this sacred place is immediately evident upon entering the temple room where one takes note of 4 large antique glass cases filled like treasure chests with a vast collection of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's personal relics. Among the many worshipable items are his shoes, a pair of thick black rimmed glasses and two of his familiar and endearing hats. One must actually visit the temple in quiet times to experience the blessings and powerful vibration of these personal effects belonging to our founder acharya and Vaisnava saint Srila Prabhupada. To link in our hearts with the internal understanding and mood of his transcendental presence and personal compassion found present in this temple is a most profound fortune for us. Such an experience, it is assured, will continue to reverberate throughout one's life even after leaving the dhama.