John and Alice Coltrane’s relationship was short, but deep and spiritual. Between their first meeting in 1963 and his death in 1967, they married, had three children, and she joined his band as the pianist. He introduced her to Eastern philosophy and religion, which she turned to when he died of liver cancer.
Alice Coltrane continued to make music after the death of her husband, but also went in search of spiritual guidance to help her with the sleeplessness, hallucinations, and severe weight loss she was suffering as a result of his death. In 1970, she met Swami Satchidananda, with whom she went on a pilgrimage to India.
In 1975, she established the Vedantic Center, which she moved to its current home in Agoura in 1983 to accommodate the growth of her following. Tucked in the mountains of Santa Monica, the Sai Anantam Ashram is based on the Vedic religion, an ancient Indian religious tradition that significantly influenced Hinduism. The ashram is 48 acres and includes a temple, living quarters, public access television, and a publishing house.
At any given time, the ashram has 25-30 full time residents studying Vedic, Buddhist, and Islamic scriptures, but people of all faiths are welcome to visit, take advantage of the peaceful surroundings, and study any scriptures they like at Sai Anantam Ashram. Owls, hawks, deer, and trout are among the wildlife present in the natural surroundings.
Alice changed her name to Swamini Turiyasangitananda, which translates from Sanskrit to “the highest song of God.” Between the ’80s and 2004, she only produced music for religious purposes, and only for members of her ashram. These recordings will be released more widely in May of 2017. She died in 2007, after returning to performing public concerts in 2006, but her teachings continue to be shared.
Update: In 2018, the Sai Anantam Ashram was destroyed in the Woolsey fire.
Know Before You Go
* Services on Sundays, including the performance of Alice's original music - inspired by Vedic devotional songs from India and Nepal. Coltrane added her own musical sensibilities to the mix: original melodies, sophisticated song structures, influences from the bebop and blues of her Detroit youth. A true fusion of Eastern classicism and a Western upbringing.