Since times immemorial in India (with parallels in other monastic traditions), spiritual communities have gathered around a spiritual teacher in intentional communities to carry out strenuous practices (a-shram comes from a root meaning exertion) under ideal conditions.  Gandhi founded four such intentional communities throughout his career that also served as training grounds for those preparing themselves for spiritually based activism and as “home base” for activists when Satyagraha campaigns were underway. When he began referring to these communities as “ashrams,” upon his return to India in 1915, he was essentially acknowledging that he considered his activism to be spiritual in nature, rather than merely political.