Group Is Not In Violation Of City Laws

Reversing an earlier opinion the building commissioner said yesterday he does not believe that members of a religious said located near the Quad are living there in violation of city building codes.

Last week Commissioner Joseph Collect said after a preliminary investigation that he felt there were far too many people living in a building at 6 Linnaean St. which is owned by the Rudranandra Ashram.

The building functions as the central meeting place for the Ashram a locally based religious sect which claims to have 100 members in the Cambridge area including several Harvard affiliates.

Cellucci said that after two additional visits to the building he believes that the numbers of people actually living in the structure is with in legal limits.

He added that a large number of people apparently visit the Ashram daily to eat and participate in services, but that those people do not live there according to the city's definition of a residence.


Cellucci said, however that he will inspect the building once more before filing a formal report to the city council.

Representatives of the Ashram could not be reached for comment last night. Responding last week to Cellucci's charges an attorney for the sect said that as many as 30 members visit the 6 Linnaean St. building nightly, but that only 12 people live in the three separate apartments contained within the structure.

Cellucci's investigation of the Ashram was prompted by a neighbor who complained about the group at last week's regular meeting of the Cambridge City Council Helen Parker who lives actors the street from the Ashram labeled the group a "cult" and made a number of accusations against the sect.

Cellucci said he has been unable to such stantiate any of Parker's Charges.

"I've received several calls from neighbors (since last week), and they've all been positive about the Ashram," Cellucci said.

Most neighbors interviewed by The Crimson last week said that although they were uncomfortable with the large number of visitors that come to the neighborhood they had no specified complaints about Ashram members. Several neighbors praised the sect for keeping its property clean, which they said previous owners had not done.

Ashram members have said that local membership in their group has tripled in the past six months since their spiritual leader Swami Chetanananda moved here from Indiana. A small group of sect members has lived in Cambridge for eight years in a building at 11 Linnaean St. which the Ashram still owns along with the 6 Linnaean St. structure and another building on Wendall St. in Cambridge.

The city assessor said Monday that the group pays full taxes on the buildings.

The small sect which claims to have an additional 100 members scattered across the country traces its religion to an ancient "Indian faith. Religious activities are centered around optional meditation sessions held twice daily