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Home » People & Community

Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka: Founder of Gandhian Ashrams in Bali  

by on Monday, 25 June 2007One Comment | 3,160 views

gedong_bagus_oka

“Let us live simply so that others may simply live”
M.K. Gandhi

The lifetime achievements of Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka (1921-2002) are impressive and bear testimony to her unfailing faith in the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi. Mother of six boys, in her early married life she became a high school principal then a university lecturer in English. She served as an Member of Parliament in 1968 in the New Order parliament of Indonesia’s President Soeharto and again in 1999, at the age 0f 78, in the Reformation Parliament of President Abdurahman Wahid as the Hindu regional representative. She was a founding member and , eventually, honorary president of the World Council for Religion and Peace and a board member of several international and domestic social organizations. In 1994 her tireless work earned her Gandhi Peace Award of the Jamnal Bajaj Foundation in India for her ‘dedication to peace and promoting Gandhian ideals outside India’.

Gedong Gandhi Ashram, Candidasa
On an idyllic site next to Candidasa beach on Bali’s east coast, where a spring-fed lake runs into Indian Ocean, a piece of sacred land was purchased by Oka couple as a family retreat. Soon the true potential of this land became apparent when, becoming disillusioned with the lack of achievements in parliament, Ibu Gedong resolved to work at ‘grass root’ level and, to this end, established her own ashram. In 1976 she thus began to bring her Gandhian beliefs into practice.

The ashram aims to translate Gandhian Hindu priciples of living into action and promotes a life of simplicity, self sufficiency and service to the local community. With ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth) and karuna (compassion) as guidelines, swadeshi (self-sufficiency) can determine our social and economical strengths. Consistent with these ideals the ashram is home for all faiths.

Most of the ashram members come from disadvantaged families from nearby villages but there are also those from other island such as Java, Lombok, and Sumba. All are provided with board and lodging, schooling and pocket money for which they, in turn, maintain the ashram and its gardens and look after the guests.

Guests provide a large part of ashram income. There are currently two bungalows ready to serve the guests. Guests are encouraged to take part in the ashram life and , for those who wish, there is a volunteer scheme whereby visitors can contribute useful skills, such as English teaching, computing, gardening, etc and pay less for their keep. In all cases, advance notice is required for arrangements to be made for visitors needs.

Some of the ashram’s current activities are
• A kindergarten for local children which also provides them with a free lunch as a way of promoting healthy nutrition.
• An acupuncture clinic for both local people and visitors.
• Rice and vegetable growing.
• A modest kitchen garden using organic growing techniques.
• A computer room with internet access
• Traditional weaving which has recently been revived to make cloth and scarves.

Since its inceptions the ashram has gained reputation as a place where people from all walks of life cross paths – holidaying guests, backpackers, seminar participants, visiting academics, scientists, artists, etc. many lasting friendships have developed from these chance meetings, all touched by the experience of Ibu Gedong’s ashram. It is hard to describe the atmosphere the ashram engenders – the puja chant, agni hotra fire purification ceremony, the morning yoga, the interactions between members, and visitors, the pervasive meditative feeling, the delicious vegetarian meals, the sound of the sea with the lake alongside – one simply has to experience it.

For further information, please contact:
Post: Gedong Gandhi Ashram, Candidasa, Karangasem 80851, Bali, Indonesia
Phone & fax: +62 363 41108
Email: gandhiashram@yahoo.com
Web: www.alphalink.com.au/-oka/ashram/

Gedong Gandhi Ashram Educational Fund, GGAEF.
This trust has been set up by a group of international ashram friends to fund the educational needs of deserving ashram members. It is based in New Zealand and further inquires, or donations, can be made as follow:
GGAEF c/o Terry Cox
4 Kamahi Street
Stokes Valley
Wellington
New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 563 8989
Email: terrycox@globe.net.nz

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  • One Comment »

    • Paige Price said:

      married life is a bit exciting but you will have lots of responsibilities.~-“

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