Sri Madhava Ashish was born Alexander Phipps, on 20 February 1920 at Edinburgh The turning point in his life reportedly came when, on a vacation in 1944, he had the opportunity to visit Sri Ramana Ashram of Ramana Maharshi, at Tiruvannamalai and known to have come under the influence of the renowned Indian sanyasin. At the ashram, Phipps submitted to the way of life there, turned into a vegetarian Vaishnav sanyasin, and practised meditation.He also took up the name of Madhava Ashish. When, Sri Krishna Prem, then head of the ashram, died in 1965, he became the head and oversaw the management of the institution till his death. He also involved himself with ecological and environmental issues and started experimenting with agricultural techniques which he passed on to the local farmers. Under his stewardship, the ashram became self-sufficient with own agricultural, dairy and poultry farming. His work is also known to have influenced the government to introduce agriculture as a subject of instruction in the schools in the region. The ashram remained his home until his death in 1997 at age 77.