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Mirtola is located in Uttarakhand
Mirtola is located in India
Location in Uttarakhand, India
Coordinates: 29°35′50″N 79°39′25″E / 29.59718°N 79.6570°E / 29.59718; 79.6570Coordinates: 29°35′50″N 79°39′25″E / 29.59718°N 79.6570°E / 29.59718; 79.6570
Country  India
State Uttarakhand
District Almora
Elevation 2,118 m (6,949 ft)
 • Official Hindi
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 263623
Vehicle registration UK
Climate Alpine (BSh) (Köppen)
Website uk.gov.in

Mirtola, also known as ‘Uttar Vrindavan’is a village 10 km. away from Almora, in Uttarakhand state in India, most known for an ashram by the same name, set up by Sri Yashoda Ma,[1] a housewife turned ascetic in the 1930,[2] along with her disciple Sri Krishna Prem (1898–1965),[3] a mystic of the 20th Century. The ashram was later run by his disciple, Sri Madhava Ashish (1920–1997),[4] another Englishman, who also later settled in India.

'Uttar Vrindavan' or Mirtola, is en route to Pithoragarh from Almora, 3 km to the left of the main road after Panuanaula, 25 km. after Almora. The place is also known for a Radha-Krishna temple built in 1931 [5] by 'Sri Yashoda Ma', the founder and the spiritual head of the Ashram.[6]


Yashoda Ma (née Monika Devi) [7] was the wife of Dr. Gyanendra Nath Chakravarti, the first vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, who was a well-known theosophist.[8]

Meanwhile, Ronald Henry Nixon, a young English fighter pilot in the World War I, who later took a degree from Cambridge University, came to India in 1921, after he took up a job as a lecturer at the Department of English at the newly opened Lucknow University, it was here that became close to the Chakravartis.[9][10] In 1927, when Monika Devi moved to the hills on doctors' advice, Ronald Nixon, followed his Guru, and together they stayed in Almora for a while.

Later, in 1928, Monika Devi took the vows of sannyasa (renunciation), under the name 'Sri Yashoda Ma',[11] and a shortly afterwards, Ronald Nixon under the name, 'Sri Krishna Prem'; he was later known as Gopal Da, at the Ashram, which they together established in 1930. Amongst its early inhabitants were Moti Rani (Yashoda Ma's youngest daughter) and Major Robert Dudley Alexander, who retired from his post of Principal, Lucknow Medical College prematurely, to be with Shri Krishna Prem. In October 1943, noted Indian saint Sri Anandamayi Ma, visited the Mirtola Ashram.[12]

Sri Krishna Prem went on to take over the running of the Ashram, after Yashoda Ma’s death in 1944, Gopal Da himself passed over on November 14, 1965; before that he wrote books like, The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga of the Katho-panishad, amongst others and handed over the working of the Ashram to Sri Madhav Ashish in 1955.[13] He has the distinction of being the first westerner, to be included in the Vaishnav form of Hinduism,[14] he also was fluent in Hindi and Bengali.[15]

Sri Krishna Prem (Gopal Da), was followed as a guru, by his disciple, 'Sri Madhav Ashish' (Ashish Da), previously 'Alexander Phipps', was an English aircraft engineer assembling Merlin engines, who came to India during the Second World War in 1942, and met Sri Krishna Prem at Mirtola in 1946, and soon became his disciple. In the following years, they together wrote many books including their two-part work on the Stanzas of Dzyan, contained in the Book of Dzyan, 'Man, the measure of all things: In the stanzas of Dzyan', and 'Man, Son of Man'. Mirtola Ashram became a pilgrimage for Indian theosophists and started working extensively with the local communities pioneering hill farming techniques which he encouraged them to adopt,[16] a work for which Sri Madhava Ashish was awarded the Padma Shri in 1992 by the Indian government,[17] he later died on April 13, 1997.[18]

Over the years, the Ashram evolved a unique philosophy based on Eastern mystical thought from the Bhakti traditions, ideas of Shri Nisargadatta and western philosophies like that of G. I. Gurdjieff, Theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, and Jungian dream work, among others. Thus a large number of Gurdjieffians visited the ashram, including Olga de Hartmann, Phillipe Lavastine, Lizelle Reymond, Laurence Rosenthal, James George, and Bernard Courtenay-Mayers; even Jeanne de Salzmann met Ashish Da in Delhi 1971.[19]

Amongst the noted disciples of the 'Mirtola Ashram' are, Seymour B. Ginsburg, the co-founder of the Gurdjieff Institute of Florida; Dr. Karan Singh,[20] former Indian Ambassador to the US and present Member of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, and travel-writer Bill Aitken.[21] Besides that, many followers of Gurdjieff teachings continued to visit the Ashram for several decades [22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Hindu, May 04, 2003 The Hindu, May 4, 2003.
  2. ^ Guru by Your Bedside, S. D. Pandey, pp. 45
  3. ^ Testament of faith The Hindu, December 6, 2005.
  4. ^ Madhav Ashish Biography
  5. ^ Letters from Mirtola, Sri Krishna Prem and Sri Madhav Ashish, pp.89
  6. ^ Excursions from Almora
  7. ^ Women Saints in Gaudiya Vaishnavism
  8. ^ Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Chennai India
  9. ^ Coming to the path - S.D. Pandey Indian Express, July 13, 2000.
  10. ^ Yogi Sri Krishnaprem profile
  11. ^ Letters from Mirtola, Sri Krishna Prem and Sri Madhav Ashish, pp.88
  12. ^ Anandamayi ma life history Sri Anandamoyi Ma Official website.
  13. ^ Poet seers
  14. ^ The First Western Vaishnava
  15. ^ May 1938 visit by a Ramana Maharshi's disciple; THE MAHARSHI magazine, August 1995
  16. ^ International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development Report
  17. ^ India International Centre, New Delhi
  18. ^ Obituary: Sri Madhav Ashish The Independent, May 6, 1997.
  19. ^ Interview of Seymour B. Ginsburg Gurdjieff Internet Guide.
  20. ^ December 8, 1958 - first trip Heir Apparent: An Autobiography, by Singh Sadr-I-Riyasa Karan, Karan Singh. Oxford, 1985. page 41.
  21. ^ Footloose in the Himalaya
  22. ^ Gurdjieff Unveiled: An Overview and Introduction to Gurdjieff's Teaching, by Seymour B. Ginsburg. Published by Lighthouse Editions Limited, 2005. ISBN 1-904998-01-1. Page 102.
  • Chapter 10, Uttar Vrindavan, Footloose in the Himalaya, Bill Aitken. 2003, Sangam Books Ltd. ISBN 81-7824-052-1.
  • Introduction, Guru by Your Bedside, S.D. Pandey. 2003, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-302954-1.



External links[edit]