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Probably originally a term for a hermitage in which brahmin householders practised their religious life beyond the village, it came to be applied more widely to the residence of any ascetic, or group of ascetics (teachers and pupils), situated in the forest. If the Epics and Purāṇas are anything to go by, these were often self-contained communities of both sexes (Śakuntalā was brought up in an āśrama), subject to frequent visits by royalty and others in an early form of religious tourism or pilgrimage. In the modern period, āśramas are commonly situated in cities as well, where they attract householders for temporary periods of religious exercise. M. K. Gāndhī established an āśrama for his followers on the banks of the Sabarmatī in Ahmedabad, which now serves as a memorial to him.

Subjects: Religion

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