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Rajarshi Peter & Sylvia van Breukelen
+31 40 2265 576
Meditation classes are held every
Thursday evening at 8.00 p.m.
History and Overview
Paramahamsa Hariharanandaji’s first ashram in the West was founded in 1993 in the Netherlands, near the Southern city of Eindhoven. The ashram is located in the village of Sterksel. Traditionally Sterksel is regarded as one of the seven “blissful villages” of that area. The beautiful grounds of the ashram have a rich history of spirituality.
In 1920, a monastery was built on these grounds, including a training seminary for novices and monks. The inhabitants were missionaries, and their main destination was Northern Africa where the natives wore white jalabas. The monks wanted to adapt the clothing of the people to whom they were going to preach the gospel, and thus became known as the “white fathers.”
In 1960, the building was demolished, since only very few missionaries remained. A new building arose soon after that became the foundation for today’s Kriya Yoga Centrum. A few old monks remained on the premises for a period of eighteen years and then sold the building to a famous Dutch sculptor, Harry Storms. The artist converted the building to his needs, creating several atelier, and an exhibition hall that is now used as the main meditation hall. He adapted the ten-acre forest and garden so that he could hold exhibitions outside. Mr. Storms sometimes used to retire to a small hut in one of the tall trees, practicing transcendental meditation.
During this time, Baba Hariharanandaji started traveling to the West. Holland was one of his favorite destinations along with Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Austria. From 1977, while in Holland, he held lectures mainly in Amsterdam, The Hague and Arnhem, a big city near the German border. He visited almost every year until the late eighties, when he remained primarily in India and the United States. In 1990, he came back to the small city of Houten, where Yogacharya Peter van Breukelen and his family lived. He told Peter Baba to look for a nice building where people, including families, could meditate together.
In 1993, Peter found the property of Mr. Storms, which was available at a good price. The ten acres of land appeared beautiful and serene, featuring a large pond, and a smaller one with pink and white water lilies. There were beautiful old oak and pine trees, and the building seemed suitable for both Peter Baba’s family and for the ashram. A tranquil area situated near the border of Belgium and Germany, the location was perfect. After having looked at so many monasteries and other buildings, there was no longer any doubt. Never before had it been so clear that this should become the future ashram.
The building was officially purchased on the twenty-first of April, 1993, with the loving help of Christine Jacobsen. Despite having the potential to serve as an ashram, the building and grounds required a lot of work to make them suitable. Many people worked day and night to prepare the building, enlarging the kitchen, adding new toilets and showers, and creating new designs for the interiors of the sleeping rooms, the dining hall, and the meditation hall.
It had barely been completed when Baba came to the Netherlands in August, 1993. Baba inaugurated the ashram on the sixth of August, 1993, conducting a beautiful ceremony with people in attendance from many countries. The crowd was so numerous that a large tent was needed to make room for everybody.
During that era Baba returned every year until 1996, conducting many beautiful meditations in the Sterksel ashram. Later, Baba stayed mainly in Vienna to help establish an ashram there as well, finally going to Florida, USA in 1997.
To this day, many meditation programs in Dutch, German, English, and French are offered each month at Kriya Yoga Centrum Sterksel.
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