Namaste. Welcome to our 'Surfing India' ashram and to the Mantra Surf Club.
QUESTION: How did the Surfing Ashram start?
ANSWER: Inspired by the founder Jack "Swami" Hebner, (2nd from right in photo) the original Surfing Swami has been actively surfing for 50 years and living in and following traditional Indian spiritual culture since 1972. The Surfing Ashram was his idea and started in 2004.
QUESTION: So what exactly are you guys all about?
ANSWER: We are the ashram [Kaliya Mardana Krishna Ashram] that surfs! We are probably the only swamis in India or in the world that surf. We are the original 'Mantra Surf Club' but some people call us the "Surfing Swamis".
QUESTION: How long have you guys been surfing?
ANSWER: Some of us have been surfing since 1963 but most of the Indian kids in our club have only been at it for the past couple of years.
QUESTION: What do you do everyday besides surf?
ANSWER: Well, because our house isn't just a house it is an ashrama, a place for spiritual enlightenment — we wake up everyday at 4 AM and after hitting the showers we begin our mantra-meditations. (Note: Our schedule for rising in the morning, pujas and traditional programs are not obligatory for guests at the Ashram Surf Retreat. However, guests are welcome to join us for the experience if interested.) At 6:30 AM there is a group chant and after that we do what in India is called 'the puja'. The main mantra for our meditations is called Maha Mantra or the Krishna Mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
In meditation this mantra is chanted on a japa mala (a strand of 108 wooden beads). In the kirtan (group chanting), the mantra is accompanied by simple Indian instruments such as the mridanga drum, brass cymbols and a brass gong. Sometimes more advanced instruments such as the vina, tambora and harmonium are also used.
We call ourselves the Mantra Surf Club because we chant the Maha Mantra.
In puja we chant more mantras, meditations, offer flowers, scented water, and incense to Krishna, the master of yoga. Krishna means the absolute truth who existed before the material manifestation, who transcends the dualities of material conception, who dwells in the hearts of all living beings and who directs their wanderings throughout repeated life times.
After puja and meditations are over we head out to the surf.
QUESTION: What do you do after surfing?
ANSWER: After surfing we take 'prasadam', vegetarian food that has been blessed by Krishna. We take prasadam two or three times a day depending on how long we stay out in the surf. Since we often stay out up to 4 or 5 hours, we sometimes miss breakfast.
QUESTION: What do you do the rest of the day?
ANSWER: The rest of the day we have lots of duties to run the ashram and maintain our website. There is a lot of cleaning and coconut picking to do. Around 4 PM we have a swim in the river and sometimes we paddle out again to the surf and catch the evening glass off. Or the local boys come over to play volleyball on our full size court, better bring your A game because these lads can bring it.
QUESTION: What do you do in the evening and at night?
ANSWER: In the evenings we do some more vegetarian cooking and singing of bhajans, devotional songs. Food for the spirit, music for the spirit and surf for the spirit - that is our motto. Then we drop off into sleep around 10 PM and dream of endless perfect waves in a land far beyond the material world.
QUESTION: What do you guys do when the surf falls flat?
ANSWER: What falls flat will hopefully be back again soon, but in the meantime we do things in the water and on the land to keep healthy and have a good time. We use our SUP's,kayaks and wakeboards on the river as we have two boats and a jetski, also they get us out in the ocean to some islands formed by volcanic eruptions a zillion years ago. There we do some snorkeling and check up on what the fish and some other really strange looking creatures are doing. One of our favorite islands is Kapu Islands and the other is Captain Kid Island — named after the famous pirate, Captain Kid. These are good places for spotting dolphins, rays and sea turtles.
QUESTION: What do you guys believe?
ANSWER: We believe that people are spiritual beings and that the supreme spiritual being is also a person, Krishna.
We believe in re-incarnation - that we have had many lives in the past and that we will have many lives in the future. We believe that your actions, deeds, and thoughts [karma] will determine just what type of body and life situation a person gets in the next life. We believe that aspiring for spiritual purity and helping others to attain that purity in consciousness is the greatest good we can do for our fellow human beings.
QUESTION: What do you guys do in your village?
ANSWER: In our village we get together several times a year and hold a big festival at the ashram. People come from all over and we cook a big feast, do some pujas and have a traditional Indian fire ritual [homa]. We usually go out in the streets with other villagers and chant Maha Mantra and visit the local temples. In our village there are three Hindu temples of antiquity, each dating back more than two thousand years.
QUESTION: What do you guys do for humanity?
ANSWER: We teach people to respect the environment as a manifestation of the Supreme and to be conscious of the Supreme Being. We teach people to be custodians of the environment and not to pollute the rivers, mountains, forests and the ocean. We teach people how to live in harmony with their fellow human beings and how not to create pain and suffering for other living beings. And of course we teach people how to swim and how to surf!
QUESTION: What do you guys do to support yourselves?
ANSWER: We do graphic design and web design work on computers. We also have our Ashram Surf Retreat, India Surf Shop, India Surf Tours, etc. This, along with the sale of a few coconuts earns us a modest income and maintains our ashram and life style of surfing.
QUESTION: What do you guys think people should do to improve the world?
ANSWER: We think that people should learn to live more simply and try to develop a deeper understanding of other cultures. Life is short so why hassle other people simply because we don't understand their ways. We encourage being open minded and trying to expand the horizons of our knowledge of other traditions. Who knows, we might even benefit from it personally.
We also think that people should pay more attention to their own spiritual advancement and try to understand how to become enlightened individuals. Getting in touch with their higher self is always a step in the right direction.
We think that people should get out into nature more often and into the surf and appreciate what a wonderful gift life is. Although life goes on life after life — why waste even a moment of it? Lighten up and go surfing!
In case if you are interested visit our Ashram in Mexico:
Surfing India has started a new project in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. The name of the project is called Huasteca Encantada referring to the region, which is called Huasteca Potosina and Encantada means "enchanted". Huasteca Encantada is unique among all the places in Huasteca Potosina because it is a retreat center [ashram] where you can relax, adventure into nature and rejuvenate spiritually with yoga, mantra meditation and a healthy diet, all at the same time.
There are lots of things to see and do at Huasteca Encantada including kayaking, rafting, rappelling, trail biking, visits to amazing natural wonders, and much more! To see more about what we are doing there, please check out the activities, excursions and photos on the website and then contact us and tell us when you would like to visit. Looking forward to seeing you, your family and friends soon.
Update: we now have opened a full service vegetarian restaurant in Guanajuato, 3 hrs. north of Mexico City, contact us for more details.