We each have our own stories and personal memories of Fr Bede and Shantivanam, memories that are special to us and an important part of our own sacred history.  It was because of an invitation by Fr Dorathick to share some memories of Fr Bede and early days of Shantivanam that sparked these reflections.   The following are my memories of Fr Bede as one of his disciples, and the importance of Shantivanam in my spiritual formation as a pilgrim in India for the past 50 years.

It was in 1973 that I first arrived in India and passed through a small gate leading into a whole new world known as Shantivanam Ashram on the banks of the sacred river Kauvery.  I was taken to Fr Bede’s hut where he warmly welcomed me.  I had met Fr Bede briefly ten years earlier in 1963, when he had come to the US to give talks in New Mexico, passing through New York where I was living at the time.  I attended a talk he gave there, and even though I was only 21 at the time, somehow I knew that someday this holy monk would become my spiritual Father.  Ten years would go by before that intuition was realized.

When I came to Shantivanam in ‘73, I had already been working in Bangladesh for a year and had written to Fr Bede asking to make retreat at his Ashram.  He replied welcoming me.  For the next twenty two years, from 1973 until 1995, I made an annual pilgrimage from Bangladesh to Shantivanam for retreat and spiritual guidance from Fr Bede.  He had truly become my spiritual father from 1973 till his death in 1993.

Recalling my memories and impressions of that first visit, I remember the ashram as being a quiet, spacious, sacred place with few simple buildings nestled among trees and plants and flowers.  My memory may not be quite accurate, but I believe there were only ten guest rooms, five on either end of the original guest area near the Temple, with an open hall for satsang in between.  The dining-kitchen area were in the same location, but more primitive than we see today.  The Kauvery river was a vital presence, full and flowing; a favorite place for pilgrims to sit on its banks for meditation.

I remember the community at that time consisting of Fr Bede and his first two disciples who joined him from Kurisumala: Brothers Amaldas and Christodas, and Thomas who had joined them later. There may have been one or two others, but they are gone from memory.  Abbott Tholens and Sr Mechtilde were also living there at the time, as long-term guests.  A few years later Sr Marie Louise arrived and Ananda Ashram began to evolve.  I remember Sr Odilia as being part of that early evolution.

When I arrived at Shantivanam that first time, it was for the purpose of making a month long retreat under the guidance of Fr Bede.  What drew me in immediately and made a deep impression on me was the silence I experienced as soon as I walked through the gate.  It was both an exterior and an interior silence.  I found a quieting of my own inner chatter as I listened to the sounds of nature.  All of these natural sounds seemed to be held in a great ocean of silence which encompassed everything.

My first prayer experience at the ashram was the evening sandya in the Temple with oil lamps, incense, Sanskrit chants, and the silence which reached all the way down to the depths of my being.  I never knew communal prayer could be so deep.  It was this first evening prayer at Shantivanam that touched me so profoundly and assured me that I had found a spiritual home for my restless spirit.

This initial experience of prayer at Shantivanam has stayed with me through the years, as I made my annual pilgrimage, and even now, each time I return.  Each return is truly a return to my own center, to that place of  personal encounter with the Divine, with Mystery.

In 1979, I took a year’s sabbatical from my work in Bangladesh to sit at the feet of my Guru- but not for long.  Fr Bede immediately sent me out on pilgrimage.  It was Fr Bede’s  belief that the spirituality of Shantivanam included pilgrimage as a way to experience the spiritual riches of India in all her diverse religious traditions.  We mapped my pilgrimage out together, from Badranath in the Himalayas to Cape Camorin  in the Southern tip of India, spending time in Hindu and Christian Ashrams, Buddhist meditation centers, and visiting many Hindu, Sikh, Sufi and Buddhist holy places on the way.

After nine months on pilgrimage, I returned to Shantivanam to process all these rich experiences with Fr Bede.  Even today, I remember the enthusiasm and joy he expressed as I shared my experiences.  I realize now what an important part of my pilgrimage that was- that sharing with him that brought depth, meaning, and completion to this pilgrimage experience.

In 1990 and again in 1993, I had the privilege of being part of Fr Bede’s health care team at Shantivanam, first as he recovered from his initial stroke in ’90, which he always referred to as his advaitic experience, and again in the last few months before his death in ’93.  In those final months, even in the midst of terminal agitation and confusion, I often heard him pray out loud, that prayer that had been the main-stay of his life for over 50 years- the Jesus Prayer.  Some years before this, he had shared that for him the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer kept him in the presence of God.  Wherever he was, whether in the ashram or traveling abroad, the prayer was constantly praying itself within him, keeping him in the presence of God.

 Fr Bede always used the long formula of this prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  During the last months of his life when he would pray it audibly, I was very moved by the WAY he prayed it.  He would begin: “Lord Jesus Christ Son of the living God”, then pause and with deep feeling would say: “have mercy on me”, then another pause, then with a much louder voice and emotion he would end with: “a sinner”, sometimes bringing his fist down to emphasize “a sinner”.  This made a deep impression on me each time I heard him pray it with such intensity.

During that first retreat I made with him in ’73, Father Bede had initiated me into the Jesus Prayer, which I only practiced very sporadically through the years with many stops and starts, mainly stops.  But in this experience of witnessing the intensity with which he prayed it, I felt a rekindling of the practice of the Jesus Prayer in my own heart.  I received it as a parting gift from him as he was ending his earthly existence.  Death may end a life, but it does not end a relationship.  Fr Bede continues to be a vital presence in my life, influencing my thoughts, decisions, and the way I live my life.

As I reflect on my own sacred history through the years, I feel overwhelmed with profound gratitude for all I have received through Fr Bede, through Shantivanam, through India with all her diverse, rich, spiritual traditions and treasures.  I think of all the people I have met at Shantivanam through the years past and present, those deep encounters that have enriched my life and been a light on my spiritual path. 

As I come to the end of these reflections I feel there is so much more in my heart that can’t be articulated- memories and experiences that are held in the silence.  Maybe this is the best way to end- in the silence that holds all our memories and experiences that are too deep to be put into words.


Judy Walter

Shantivanam Ashram

April 2023


Today, 13th.May, 2016 we commemorate the 23rd.death anniversary of our beloved Guruji Fr.Bede. His passion for Truth, his passion to build bridges has been a great opening of the door for thousands of people to go beyond the confines of belief systems and discover the liberating truth in the cave of our hearts. It is deeply touching to see how many people found solace in his vision.

As I was giving a talk in the Won Buddist centre, Philadelphia, a lady came to me after the talk, showed the book of Fr.Bede, 'the return to the centre' and told me 'this book has transformed my life. It brought me out of my spiritual crisis'. As I was giving a talk in New York city, a person who came to my talk, showed to all the participants, the book of Fr.Bede 'the Marriage of East and West' and said how it transformed his life'. As I was in another inter-religious meeting, two people spoke to me about the group that wants to continue the tradition of sannyasa in the tradition Fr.Bede. It shows how the seeds sown by Fr.Bede are bearing fruits.
Let us thank God for the gift of Fr.Bede and the witness he has given us. May we share the inspiration we have received wherever it is possible to make people free.

Br Martin


13th May 2015

It was 22 years ago that he left his mortal body but he lives in the ashram and with us through his spirit and continuously inspires.
We are all very grateful to his response to the call of God, to his sacrifice, to his dedication for the truth, for building bridges and being a peace maker.
Jesus said, 'Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God'. Fr.Bede and our founders, Jules Monchanin and Henri Le Saux for they worked hard to break down the walls of division and bring peace and unity in the world.
They inspired many people on their spiritual path and gave clear guidance to their lives.
We thank God for the gift of their lives.
What we are today is because of their sacrifice.
May they all continue to protect us and inspire us.

Br.Martin and the Community of Shantivanam

12th May 2015

The 'ground-breaking' work of reconciliation, brotherhood and foresight towards the advancement and enlightenment of humanity made by Fr Bede was unique and exceptional....we are all in his debt. He and the founders of Shantivanam have 'simply' changed and motivated lives! May they be blessed in the light of heaven, their place among the angels.

Peace and goodwill to all in Fr Bede's memory.
Om shanti,
Narahari naam.



Let us rejoice and give thanks for the great gift of God in Fr. Bede Griffiths on this day of his 20th anniversary of Mahasamadhi.  He has taught us so very much both by his writings, his teachings under the coconut trees and his Shantivanam ever present goodness and love.

We are deeply grateful to Tina Goodchild for gathering this listing and posting it in such as way that it can be shared by each other.  Many of those listed are now in different parts of the world but our hearts are united in the gifts and graces granted each while present at the Forest of Peace called Saccidananda. 
"Fr. Bede intercede!"  
sr.pascaline coff, osb (Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration)
(Tucson, USA)   

"Padre Bede é a minha inspiração no meu dia-dia tanto na oração como no lidar com as diferênças religiosas, culturais etc.. Pe Bede me fez reencontrar o Cristo oculto na tradição do Yoga e hinduismo, através dele eu retomei a minha prática religiosa católica sem deixar a espiritualidade do yoga, práticas ritualisticas e orações no estilo Hindu."

 ("Father Bede is my daily inspiration both in prayer and in dealing with religious and cultural differences  etc.  Fr Bede helped ​​me rediscover the hidden Christ in the tradition of Yoga and Hinduism. It was through him that I resumed my Catholic religious practice without leaving behind the spirituality of yoga, ritualistic practices and prayers in the Hindu style.")

Marcos T. Monteiro (Brasil)


"Through the gracious presence and ministry of Sr. Pascaline at the Osage Monastery in Oklahoma, I was introduced to the books, the tapes, and finally the person of Fr. Bede.  He remains a man ahead of his time, yet ever so timely for this world torn apart by religious strife.  In him we learn and experience how each of us, of whatever faith, are invited to open ourselves to the Divine mystery, which is where we find our union not only with a holy Presence but with one another.  In his person I encountered humility itself.  In his silent masses at the Monastery I learned the true sacredness of the eucharist.  I celebrate his life and ministry, in gratitude with all who work to keep our memory of him alive.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!"  Greta Reed, (Decatur, Georgia, USA)


Dopo P. Le Saux, P. Bede è stato per me il maestro di meditazione, e di scelta nella vita di preghiera. Grazie a lui ho potuto pensare ad un ashram qui in Itala per poter dare  ospitalità a tanti che cercano un cammino di preghiera e di meditazione. Voglio ricordarlo soprattutto per avermi accompagnato con rispetto nel camino della mia ricerca spirituale ed avermi sostenuto nell’apertura dell’ashram che ora può offrire ospitalità a quanto lo desiderano
Tutte le sere nella preghiera uniti ricordiamo l’ashram di Shantivanam e i suo ospiti.
Dio ci benedica e ci accompagni.
Con affetto.

 “I knew Father Bede all my life and since his death he has been a constant source of inspiration for my work and my spiritual enquiry.  I feel that he planted a seed within me that is still growing and that one day will flower into something surprising.  I feel that his 20th death anniversary is an auspicious day for the whole of mankind” Adrian Rance-McGregor (UK)

"Since the time I met Fr. Bede in 1974, his life and teachings were a leading light on my spiritual path. His radiance of love, joy, humility, and sensibility gave me an insight into what religion and a spiritual life can be. He gave my experiences connected with different religious traditions a deeper meaning and the vision of a common goal: To dive into the unity with God, mankind and nature."

Andreas, (Germany)

 "yes, for me fr Bede is a saint. i never met him when he was alive in this earth. but i am experiencing his graceful presence in our ashram shantivanam, even after his death. i entered into the ashram community in 1996 but, fr Bede departed physically from the earth in 1993. so for me; he is not away from us but with us in the ashram and moving around inside the ashram."        fr John Robert OSB Cam.

"I feel that Fr Bede is still very much alive today in those whom he has touched and through his letters, articles and videos. He is a saint for today. Fr Bede has been and continues to be an inspiration in my life." Tina (South Africa)


"Fr Bede always inspires me in his writings, videos and tapes."   Nettie (South Africa)


It is tempting to exaggerate events surrounding the death of a beloved person, but there is no doubting three unusual things that happened over these months. The first was the way, during his dying and after his death, Bede appeared in the dreams of people close to him, helping them, even giving messages. The second was that, despite the heat and the humidity of May in Tamil Nadu, over the two days between his death and his burial, his body showed no signs of decay. Though the body was placed on ice and surrounded by fans, nevertheless this was considered at the least very unusual, at the most miraculous. Finally there was, during the funeral, a dramatic change in the climate. As the coffin was being lowered into the grave the sky suddenly darkened and a strong wind began to blow. The coconut trees swayed, everyone closed their eyes and lowered their heads as the dust was blown around them and the leaves and the flowers of the trees poured into the coffin, ‘As if the trees of the ashram were giving their last homage to the master of the house. The ancients have a saying, ‘When a great soul dies, the winds go wild, but however these things are interpreted, there is no doubt that those mourning the death of Father Bede had known a man of great holiness. They had seen love made manifest.” Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths – Shirley du Boulay page 264



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