Half of Hardwar is filled up with temples, ashrams, dharam shalas & hotels and other half is also filled up with temples, ashrams, dharam shalas & hotels! Variety of names of dharam shalas are there based on castes, sub-castes or name of native place of the founder for example: Khatri Samaj Dharam Shala, Gauriya Brahmin Dharam Shala, Bharara Dharam Shala, Bahawal Puri Dharam Shala, Sindhi Panchayat Dharam Shala & many more.
As regards ashrams Hardwar has hundreds of them with a variety of names: Thanaram Ashram, Ajar Dham, Kamal Das Kutiya, Avdhoot Jagat Ram Udaseen Ashram, Nityanand Brahmchari Ashram & many more.
Most of these remain occupied by pilgrims for a day or two. But some people stay there for long. Some of them poor singles or couples not able to make their ends meet. Some of them are aged who are unable to adjust with their adult children or their spouses. Some sick of family feuds or property disputes back home. Some are genuine seekers of peace. Lot of foreigners can be found roaming with rudraksh garlands, long unkempt hair & or some with shaven heads looking for kicks, chillum, ganja, solace, yoga, meditation, moksha or some such.
Manu or Manuji as ashram people called him, was one such seeker staying in ashram. He said that he was a post graduate in English & had left teaching job to ‘find out the self’. For a while he had toured various temple towns of India, studied various religious & philosophical books, met various gurus & moved on not fully satisfied. He said that he hailed from a suburb of Mumbai & had joined this ashram as he was getting tired of vagabonding. No regular timings for food & sleep, no fixed place of stay & no income. He had weakened & felt as if the journey had to stop now. He said that he felt uneasy inside after nearly three years of nomadic life & wanted to get back to normal life. He felt that normal life includes spiritual life & that perhaps he was ignoring it.
The ashram had assorted inmate’s old aged couples, singles, a few foreign middle aged persons besides guards, cooks, office staff and personal attendants of guruji. Ashram had well equipped office, well maintained lawn & kitchen garden, nice clean rooms & dining hall. Manuji was entrusted with job of bank reconciliation etc & public relations work with foreigners. He had more than full days job in his hands. Besides early morning yoga, office work & arrangement of foreigners kept him occupied. Occasionally Manuji visited bank & informed that his efforts had boosted the image of the ashram overseas & compared to previous years arrival of foreigners had increased & of course funds flow was up.
Life in ashram was disciplined. Wake up call was at 4.30 am & lights were off at 9.30 pm. Simple, wholesome & sufficient veg food was available at fixed timings. Manuji slowly regained his weight, his face gleamed & he was more confident. In very short time he had become sort of CEO of the ashram.
Couple of day’s back he informed that a grand function was being organised on the occasion of birthday of guruji & for which large amount of cash was withdrawn. Two days after the cash drawl accountant from ashram accompanied by police inspector came enquiring about various accounts of ashram.
While they checked the statements, Inspector informed that so called Manuji had disappeared with Rs.23 lacs.