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Ashrams in ancient India, were hermitages where sages used to live in peace and tranquility amidst nature. Their purpose apart from performing sacrifices and penances was also to use them for the purpose of education. Children were sent to them to be educated. Many Ashrams thus served as Gurukuls or schools as well.

A number of Ashrams have been founded in India in the 20th century as well, most notably the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad which served as Mahatma Gandhi's headquarters during the long struggle for India's independence and Aurobindo Ashram, founded in Pondicherry by the Bengali revolutionary-turned-spiritualist Aurobindo Ghosh.