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Monk sets up a monastery for surfers!

Hindu monk Swami Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha has set up what is thought to be the world’s first surfing monastery.

Swami Narasingha, 64, rides the waves on a surfboard inscribed with the Hindu holy word “Om”.

Swami Narasingha runs a surfing ashram a form of prayer community or monastery – where the water sport is an extension of the prayers.

Devotees who take to the boards on the coast of Karnataka state, India, see a spiritual connection in spotting and catching waves.

“It’s quite connected in that way,” said the swami, who was born Jack Hebner in Florida, USA.

“If you ask a surfer, say from America or Australia, if he thought it was a spiritual

experience, he may explain it but he won’t relate it to the Gita (Hindu scripture).

“That’s something only someone with an Indian cultural background and spiritual education can do.”

Hebner, who began surfing in Florida and Hawaii in 1963 as a teenager, became a Hindu monk in the late Sixties.

In 1994, he set up an ashram near Mysore, which now has about 150 members, most of them from Karnataka.

The idea of the Mantra Surf Club at Mulki, some 30km north of Mangalore came about four years ago when he was teaching a few of his boys to bodysurf near Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

“They all got excited about it and I called a friend of mine and said the next time you come to India, bring me a couple of surfboards,” the Swami said.

The “Surfin’ Swamis” normally begin their day at 4 am with morning prayers and go out to surf a couple of hours later, their strange sport inspiring many young boys, mostly from fishermen’s families in Mulki.

The proceeds from the surfing ashram which is strictly vegetarian don’t allow smoking and drinking and also request guests to maintain celibacy while they are there to help support its activities.

Article Source – The Telegraph