MONROE -- It may be New York's best kept secret. Since 1964, those in the know have been escaping the noise, pollution and their hectic lifestyles at a serene oasis just 45 minutes north of Manhattan. Now on the event of their 40th anniversary, the Ananda Ashram, in Monroe is letting others in on the secret with a series of celebrations, lectures, concerts and educational programs. Ananda was the perfect place for Ravi Shankar to take a break in 1980 after being propelled to fame by his 1970s association with the Beatles. "He came here stressed out and by the time he left he was like a child again," says Acharya Roop Verma, world-renowned sitar player and disciple of Shankar, who co-founded Ananda's East-West School of Music. Started 40 years ago by physician Ramamurti S. Mishra (later known as Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati), the nonsectarian, nonprofit ashram has lots to offer. Day visitors and overnight guests may take classes in yoga and Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), meditate and chant, eat vegetarian meals, swim or just spend some quiet time in nature. For its 40th anniversary, the retreat is offering an abundance of special classes in music and dance, as well as concerts and performances by internationally known entertainers. Lecture and class titles include Music as a Spiritual Journey, Laughter Workshop, Hand Reflexology, Tabla Instruction, Kathak Dance, Lotus Painting, Celtic Odyssey: A Musical Saga from India to Ireland, and many more. North Indian classical music will be featured in a variety of world-class performances, including a Bansuri flute concert, and several sitar, tabla, and vocal concerts, and dance performances. With its 85 acres of woods and orchards surrounding a spring-fed lake, this uncrowded spiritual and educational center may not remain secret for much longer. For more information on the Ananda Ashram and its special programs, see its website at www.anandaashram.org or call 782-5575. All events are open to the public.