The Headquarters of these centres are situated in Belur Math. All branch centres of Ramakrishna Math come under the administrative control of the Board of Trustees, whereas all branch centres of Ramakrishna Mission come under the administrative control of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission. Visit Now.


 
 
 
   
   
 
 
 
 

 

Swami Brahmananda

Rakhal Chandra Ghosh as known in his premonastic life Swami Brahmananda was born on 21 January 1863, at Sikra Kulingram, a village thirty-six mile northeast of Kolkata

In 1875, Anandamohan took him to Kolkata for his higher education. Rakhal met Narendranath Datta (Swami Vivekananda) in a gymnasium, nearby to the house of Rakhal’s step mother in Kolkata. They became close friends.

In the middle of 1881 Rakhal married Vishweshwari Mittra, sister of Manomohan Mittra, who was a devotee of Ramakrishna. Ironically, it was his bride’s brother who took Rakhal to Ramakrishna in June or July 1881, and later made it possible for him to renounce the world.

Ramakrishna behaved towards Rakhal as a mother to her child; Rakhal acted like a child rather than a boy of eighteen. It was a mystical relationship beyond human comprehension. Under Ramakrishna’s guidance Rakhal began to practice intense spiritual disciples.

After Sri Ramakrishna’ passing away, in the third week of January 1887 Rakhal and others took their final monastic vows by performing the traditional viraja homa (fire ceremony) in front of the Master’s picture.

In November 1888 Swami Brahmananda went to Puri for a short time, and then in the early part of 1889 he visited Kamarpukur and Jayrambati, the birthplaces of Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother.

On 1 may 1897 Swami Vivekananda inaugurated the Ramakrishna Mission at Balaram Basu’s house in Kolkata. He made Swami Brahmananda president and Swami Yogananda Vice-President, of the Ramakrishna Order.

During his presidency, Swami Brahamananda travelled extensively in various parts of India to organize the activities of the order. In the middle of 1903 he went to Varanasi. He collected funds to help the Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama; he also officially affiliated “Ramakrishna Mission Home of service,Varanasi” with the Ramakrishna order, and arranged to buy some land and to construct some buildings on it. He then went to Kankhal ( Hardwar), where Swami Kalyananda, had started to serve sick monks in three thatched huts. Swami Brahmananda with the help of Kolkata devotee arranged to buy fifteen acres of land.

Then Maharaj went to Vrindaban and practiced sadhana with Swami Turiyananda.

On 20 January 1909 Maharaj inaugurated the Ramakrishna Ashrama in Bangalore.

In January 1916 Maharaj went to Dhaka with Swami Premananda and a few other monks to lay foundation stone of the Ramakrishna Math.

On 31 October 1919 Maharaj dedicated the monastery at Bhubaneswar.

Sri Ramakrishna once remarked about Brahmananda: “Rakhal is like the kind of mango that looks green even when ripe.” He meant that within Rakhal was a great spiritual power that he kept hidden from the outside world.

On Monday, 10 April 1922, Swami Brahmananda passed away.

Sayings of Swami Brahnanandaji

“Remove all fear and weakness from your mind. Never debase yourself by thinking about sin. Sin, however great it may seem in the eyes of man, is nothing in the eyes of God. One glance of His can uproot the sins of millions of births in a moment. In order to divert human beings from the path of sin, the scriptures mention heavy punishments for the sinner. Of course every action bears a result and evil actions disturb one’s peace of mind.”

“Direct all your energy to that one pursuit….Every night before you go to bed think for a while about how much time you have spent in doing good deeds, how much you have frittered away doing useless things, how much you have utilized in meditating, and how much have wasted doing nothing at all.”

“When you meditate, you should imagine that God is standing before you like the mythical wish-fulfilling tree.”

“Just do one thing: always try to remember God. I also do that.”

“Simply carrying out some undertaking is not sufficient. It must be done in the right spirit, knowing that one is serving the Lord without any personal motive. Keep three- fourths of your mind fixed on God, and with remaining one-forth do whatever you have to do. If you follow this method, you will be an ideal karmayogi and you will attain peace and joy.”

“Each and every work is equally important - whether it is meditation or household duties. Do it with the right spirit. Work is worship.”

 
Swami Shivananda

Taraknath Ghosal as known in his premonastic life Swami Shivananda was born on Thursday, 16 November 1854, at Barasat, a small town east of Kolkata.

Tarak had to marry against his wishes. He explained to his wife, Nityakali, his hunger for God, and also gave her spiritual advice and guided her in leading a spiritual life.

On May or June 1880 Tarak met Sri Ramakrishna at the Kolkata home of Ramachandra Datta.

Tarak recalled his wonderful experiences during his early encounters with the Master:

When I first started visiting the Master, I often felt inclined to cry. One night I was crying uncontrollably by the riverside near the bakul tree. The master was in his room, and he inquired where I had gone. When I returned he asked me to sit down and said: “The Lord is greatly pleased if one cries to Him. Tears of love wash away the mental impurities accumulated through the ages. It is very good to cry to God.”

Tarak was first amongst the disciples to renounce worldly attachments. He lived mostly with Ramakrishna during the last three years of the master’s Life.

“For over a decade the swami travelled in different parts of India, sometimes in the Himalayas, sometimes on the plains, and sometimes in deserts or forests, and always he lived a life worthy of a man of God…Mahapurush (Swami Shivananda) had experienced Samadhi three times as a young man during the lifetime of the Master. The austerities and meditations of his itinerant period established him in that blessed state, enriching his life and giving him the necessary depth and strength to shoulder the responsibilities of the great task ahead of him. On the anvil of those years and the ones in which he began doing works of service were forged the character and personality later adored as Mahapurush, the head of the Order, who constantly lived in God and overflowed with love and blessings to all.” - Swami Vividishananda in A Man of God.

Swami Shivananda’s lifestyle was very simple. He regularly wrote letters to the monks and devotees himself. In the afternoons he would meet with devotees and answer their spiritual questions or talk about his days with the master and Swamiji.

From 1902 to 1909 Maharaj concentrated on establishing a permanent center in Varanasi, with Swami Brahamananda’s help. He named the center Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, with the idea that one can be established in Advaita (nonduality) by moulding oneself on the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. He decided to preach Vedanta by practicing it in daily life rather than by lecturing about it from the pulpit. He practiced severe austerities in Varanasi and set an example for others.

On 1 April 1921 Maharaj left for Madras to open the students’ Home in Madras.

On 13 February 1922 Maharaj visited Dhaka with Swami Abhedananda and some other monks.

In 1910 Maharaj became vice- president of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, after passing away of Swami Brahamananda in 1922, Swami Shivananda was elected president of the Ramakrishna Order.

In January 1923 he went to Varanasi to dedicate a building in the Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, in the memory of Swami Adbhutananda, who had died in 1920.

After dedicating the Vivekananda Temple on 28 January 1924 and the Brahmananda Temple on 7 February 1924 in Belur Math, Swami Shivananda left for South India.

On 7 January 1925 Maharaj left Madras for Bombay, on the way he stopped for a few days at Cuddapah, a small town where some Hindu and Muslim devotees had established the “Ramakrishna Samaj”

Maharaj arrived in Bombay on 12 January, the Ramakrishna Ashrama was then in a rented house at Khar, on 6 February the swami laid foundation stone of the new Ashrama.

In January 1926 Maharaj visited the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, at Deoghar, Bihar. On 28 January he opened the new school building at Vidyapith and installed the picture of Sri Ramakrishna.

On 24 September 1926 Maharaj inaugurated the building of the new Ashrama in Ootacamund.

On 15 January 1928 Jawaharlal Nehru came to visit the Ramakrishna Home of Service in Varanasi, and he was delighted to meet Swami Shivananda. A few days later, his wife, Kamala Neharu, came to Shivananda for a blessing and spiritual instruction. She became a devotee and visited the swami in Belur Math many times.

Swami Shivananda was keen to spread the message of the master throughout the world. During his presidency many swamis of the Ramakrishna Order were sent to North America, South America, and Europe. These swamis and others worked hard to carry out the mission of Vedanta inaugurated by Swami Vivekananda. It was a golden era for the Order.

He passed away on Tuesday 20 February 1934. One day he humbly said to a monk: “Look, I am my Master’s dog. As a dog protects the precious wealth of it's master from robbers, so I am protecting the valuable spiritual treasures [discrimination, renunciation, knowledge, devotion] of the Master in this monastery. He who stays like a faithful dog will attain the greatest good.”

Sayings of Swami Shivanandaji

“Don’t think of this picture of the Master as an ordinary picture. He himself dwells in it and listens to the prayers of the devotees.”

“In this age the name of Sri Ramakrishna is the mantram for liberation. Rama and Krishna - the combination of these two incarnations is simultaneously manifested in Ramakrishna. If you chant the name of Ramakrishna, you will get the result of japam of the Rama mantram as well ass Krishna mantram. He was born to liberate sinners and suffers, and showed a simple and beautiful path for God-realization.”

“Truth can never suffer, for it is transcendental, not physical. We see the body suffer, not the real person. Persecution, instead of hurting the truth, always brings out it's pristine glory all the more.”

 

Swami Premananda

About Baburam’s purity, the Master used to say, “He is pure, pure to the very marrow of his bones.”

Baburam Ghosh (Premonastic Name of Swami Premananda) was born at 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 December 1861, at Antpur, a village thirty miles from Kolkata. His father, Taraprasanna Ghosh, and mother, Matangini Devi, came from two well-to-do and aristocratic families of the same village.

Baburam studied for a few years in his village and after that his mother sent him to his uncle in North Kolkata to continue his education. Where he was admitted to Banga Vidyalaya, then to Aryan School and finally to Metropolitan School, Shyambazar, where Master Mahashay (M.) was the head master, and Rakhal (Swami Brahamananda) was his classmate.

Baburam first met with Sri Ramakrishna with Rakhal, probably on 8 April 1882.

In 1885 Baburam was preparing for his Entrance examination, but after meeting the Master he cared very little for study. Baburam failed his Entrance examination, when Vaikuntha told Baburam’s bad news to the Master; he made a light of it. “Well”, he said, “that is very good. You have failed to pass; now you are free from all passes.” (In Bengali, “pass” is the same word as “fetter”)

On 7 March 1885 the Master said to M. in front of Baburam: “I have been seeking one who has totally renounced ‘woman and gold’. When I find a young man, I think that perhaps he will live with me; but everyone raises some objection or other.” Baburam had no objection, so the Master called him daradi, the companion of his soul.

Baburam was deemed a proper attendant for Sri Ramakrishna because of his absolute purity. He was one of those fortunate souls whose touch the Master could bear during Samadhi.

After passing away of Master all brother disciples took vows of renunciation at the country home of Baburam at Antpur, Narendra gave Baburam the name “Premananda”, meaning “bliss of divine love”, remembering the Master’s remark that Sri Radha herself, the goddess of love, was partially incarnated in him.

Swami Vivekananda made Swami Premananda the manager of the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order. Apart from his regular worship service, he trained the monks, entertained the devotees and visitors, supervised the kitchen, dairy, and garden, took care of sick monks, collected money for the maintenance of the monastery, and sometimes went on lecture tours.

Swami Premananda’s life depicts how a person acts, and lives in this world after God-realization. His heart swells with love and compassion for people’s suffering, and he acts without any ulterior motive of selfishness. Work turns into worship for him. Sometimes Swami Premananda gave his food to the devotees and went without. Devotees would sometimes come after dinner was over, and he himself would go to the kitchen and start cooking.

Once in the trustee meeting Swami Shuddhananda read the financial report and told Swami Brahamananda that there was a four hundred rupee deficit in connection with the service to the devotees. Swami Brahamananda asked, “Brother Baburam, how shall we tackle this deficit?” Swami Premananda replied, “Maharaj, I have spent this money for serving the devotees, so I shall collect it by begging.”

Because Swami Premananda was so loving to all, he was often referred to as the ‘Mother of the Math’

Swami Premananda was a magnetic and powerful speaker, and he talked based on his experience. Every year from 1913 to 1917, Swami Premananda visited East Bengal. He emphasized Swami Vivekananda’s karma yoga, practical Vedanta, and concluded that the religion of this age is to serve mankind.

A real teacher must be ready to sacrifice himself and to set an example for others. Swami Premananda’s favorite saying was: If you want to be a Sardar (leader), be Sirdar (ready to sacrifice one’s head).

Either because of physical exhaustion in Dhaka or from eating tainted food, Swami Premananda contracted high fever, doctors diagnosed it as kala-azar, a malignant fever that was then difficult to cure and frequently fatal.

On Tuesday, 30 July 1918 Swami Premananda passed away.

Sayings of Swami Premanandaji

“I do not harbour the idea that I am good. I have come to learn. There is no end to learning. May the Master give us right understanding- this is my prayer. By observing the faults of others we gradually become infected by them. We have not come to look at their faults and to correct them. It is only to learn we are here. Lord, Thou art everything. Whom should I scold? Everything is He; there is only a difference in the quantity of dust that covers the gold.”

“If you are convinced that God knows all your needs and will fulfill them, then you don’t have to pray. But many pray to God for the fulfillment of their worldly desires, for material things. Is it not wise too pray to him for the eternal instead of the evanescent?”

“You must build your own character; you must make the whole world your own through love, so that people may find inspiration from your selflessness, renunciation, and purity.”

“What is wanted is character, purity, steadfast devotion to God. If you have them, you will prosper, otherwise you will totally fail.”

 
Swami Niranjananda

Nityaniranjan Ghosh, who later became Swami Niranjananda, was born on 1862 (probable in August) at Rajarhat-Vishnupur; district 24- Paraganas, a few miles from Kolkata.

When Niranjan was in his teens, he as sent to his uncle’s house at Ahirtola, West Kolkata, for higher education. There he was attracted by the group of spiritualists headed by his uncle, Prearychand Mittra. This group used Niranjan as a medium.

In the early part of 1882, this group of spiritualists went to Dakshineshwar, and expressed a desire to use their power to mesmerize Sri Ramakrishna. After trying hard for an hour, they failed. Then Master got up and said privately to Niranjan, “Come here often.”

In his second meeting with Master, Master said, “My boy if you allow your mind to dwell on ghosts, you will become a ghost yourself. If you fix your mind on God, your life will be filled with God. Now which of these are you going to choose?” “Well, of course, the latter,” replied Niranjan. Sri Ramakrishna advised him to sever his connection with the spiritualists, and Niranjan agreed to this.

In September 1885 Sri Ramakrishna had to move to Shyampukur, Kolkata, for his cancer treatment. Niranjan left home and became the Master’s Gatekeeper, as he was strong and heroic by nature.

Maharaj, worked hard to spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna in Sri Lanka. In 1897 Maharaj went to Colombo to receive Swami Vivekananda and received him on 15 January 1898. Afterwards he travelled with Swamiji all across southern India as well as in various parts of North India.

In 1898 Swami Niranjananda went with Swamiji to Almora, then remained there in order to practise further spiritual disciplines. In Varanasi, Maharaj encouraged a group of young men to enter spiritual life and to practise the ideal of service. In 1899 this group observed Sri Ramakrishna’s guidance. Niranjananda inspired them to sacrifice their lives for the good of many and the welfare of all. This group later founded the Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service.

Swami Niranjananda’s devotion to Holy Mother was indeed remarkable. Swami Vivekananda used to say, “Niranjan has a militant disposition, but he has great devotion for Mother so I can easily put up with all his vagaries.” It was partly as a result of Swami Niranjananda’s active preaching that many devotees came to recognize the spiritual greatness of Holy Mother.

Towards the end, he was stricken with cholera. Like a hero, he took shelter on the banks of the Ganges ( Hardwar) and surrendered himself to God. When his attendant offered to serve him, Niranjananda declined. When the attendant nevertheless insisted, he said, “Don’t you want me to die in peace?”

Sri Ramakrishna recognized Niranjan as one of his inner circle, an Ishwarkoti - a godlike soul who is perfect from his very birth and is never trapped by Maya. Once in a vision Sri Ramakrishna saw the luminous form of Niranjan playing with a bow and arrows. Later he remarked that Niranjan had been born as a partial incarnation of Ramachandra.

Swami Niranjananda, a heroic monk of Sri Ramakrishna, passed away in Samadhi on 9 May 1904.

Sayings of Swami Niranjanandaji

Niranjananda left no writings or any recorded reminiscences; but on 18 October 1946 Swami Achalananda described some of the important characteristics of Swami Niranjananda’s life:

“Swami Niranjananda believed that Sri Ramakrishna was the infinite God incarnated in human form; and he who took refuge in him would not have to worry in his life.”

“He believed one should sincerely serve the Master- thinking of him as living, conscious being, and our very own. This is supreme worship. The swami did not put too much stress on rituals and mantra.”

“He had tremendous faith in the doctrine of service as established by Swami Vivekananda and he encouraged people to serve human beings as manifestation of God.”

 
Swami Adbhutananda

Familiarly and affectionately known as Latu Maharaj, was a true mystic. Relatively little is known about Latu’s childhood. If anyone asked him about his childhood he would say: “Do you mean to leave God aside to talk about this insignificant person? Don’t be silly.” He was born in northeastern India in the Chapra district of Bihar, probably sometime just after the middle of 19 th century. He was given name Rakhturam, which means, “O Rama, be thou the protector of this child”. Both his father and mother died before Rakhturam was five years old.

Rakhturam (Latu) was hired as a servant in Ramachandra Datta’s house, who was one of the first disciple come to Sri Ramakrishna. In late 1879 or early 1880 Latu first time visited Sri Ramakrishna with Dr. Ramachandra Datta. After his first meeting with the master, Latu began finding it difficult to work for Ramachandra with his earlier enthusiasm.

In June 1881, Latu permanently stayed with Sri Ramakrishna, and at Dakshineshwar Latu began a life of rigorous spiritual discipline under the Master’s guidance.

Latu Maharaj was extremely fortunate that he got the opportunity to live with Ramakrishna and serve him for over six years. Latu Maharaj reminisced: “Did you know that the Master snatched me from the snares of the world? I was an orphan. He flooded me with love and affection.”

A true mystic loves to live alone, without any possessions, and without depending on anyone except God. That is why, between 1893 and 1894, Latu Maharaj left the monastery and began to live on the bank of the Ganges.

Latu’s whole life was extraordinary. His single-minded approach to God was wonderful in every way, and he was unique among the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda therefore gave him the monastic name Swami Adbhutananda, meaning, “He who finds bliss in the wonderful nature of Atman”.

Latu Maharaj made several pilgrimages; in 1895 he visited Puri, in 1897 he went to Kashmir and other parts of North India with Swami Vivekananda.

Latu Maharaj spent the last eight years of his life in the holy city of Varanasi. As was characteristic of him, he was so often absorbed in meditation that he rarely had a fixed time for meals. During this time, Swami Turiyananda, would often visit him and would sit by him silently for an hour or so. One day a devotee asked the swami, that why he sit while Latu Maharaj dose not talk at all? Turiyananda replied: “Latu Maharaj is almost always in deep meditation. How can he talk with me? So I sit in silence for some time and then leave, having enjoyed his Holy Company.

Sayings of Swami Adbhutanandaji

“To err is human. Call on God. He will give you the strength to overcome weakness and destroy your delusion”.

“Those who try to serve humanity without believing in God cannot keep it up for a long time. After a while the question crops up, ‘What shall I gain from this?’ And once this question arises, one begins to lose interest. Those who want to serve others will have to make personal sacrifices. You must realize that the desire to sacrifice for the sake of others cannot come unless one believes in God”.

“When we bring God into our lives, distinctions lessen and we feel that all people are our own.”

“An object is something that cannot be known without the help of something else, but the Atman is self-reveling. So you cannot say the Atman is an object of knowledge.”

“There are three possible relationships one can have with God: ‘My God’, ‘I am God’, and I am God’s. The last one is best, because it dose not tempt pride”.

 
Swami Yogananda

Jogindra Nath Roy Chaudhury was born into a well to-do aristocratic family at Dakshineshwar on 30 March 1861.

Jogin was sent to a Christian missionary school in Agarpara, a few miles from Dakshineshwar. During his final year of School he met Sri Ramakrishna and began to visit him daily

Jogin left for Kanpur, probably in 1884. He tried for several months to get a job but did not succeed, so he spent most of his time in prayer and meditation. This thing alarmed his uncle, who with family members of Jogin, arranged marriage of Jogin. In spite of his unwillingness to get married, Jogin married for the sake of his mother. After marriage Jogin and his wife never slept in the same bed. Later, Swami Vivekananda remarked, “If anyone amongst us who has conquered lust in all respects, it is Jogin”. Sri Ramakrishna mentioned that six of his disciples, including Jogin, were Ishwarkotis.

A few weeks after the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Jogin left for a pilgrimage with Holy Mother. Jogin and other young disciples of the Master took final vows of renunciation, Jogin became Swami Yogananda. Yogananda did not care much for studying. He loved to be in solitude, and would practise japam and meditation for many hours.

In 1891 Yogananda went to Varanasi, where he lived in a small cottage in a solitude garden. He spent most of His time in meditation.

Because Yogananda was pure like the ever-free Shukadeva, the Master engaged him to do errands for Holy Mother. “Jogin and Sharat belong to my inner circle,” said Holy Mother, “None loved me as did Jogin. If anybody would give him any money, he would save it, saying, ‘Mother will use it for her pilgrimage’.

From 1895 to 1897 Yogananda arranged the birth anniversary festival of Sri Ramakrishna on a large scale at Dakshineshwar. In 1898 he organized a similar celebration at Dahn’s temple complex of Belur. On 1 may 1897 Vivekananda inaugurated the Ramakrishna Mission at Balaram Basu’s house in Kolkata. He made Swami Brahmananda president and Swami Yogananda Vice-President, of the Ramakrishna Order.

Yogananda led an ideal life, and he taught by his example. He did not lecture or do any spectacular work. Although married and born into a rich family, he demonstrated how to practise renunciation and purity.

Swami Yogananda passed away in Samadhi at 3:10 p.m. on 28 March 1899.

When Yogananda breathed his last, Holy Mother burst into tears and said, “My Jogin has left me - who will now look after me?” Swami Vivekananda was so stunned that he did not go to the cremation ground, grief stricken, Swamiji did not go to Sri Ramakrishna’s shrine for three days. He remarked, “A beam is down and now the rafters will fall one after another.”

 
Swami Ramakrishnananda

Shashi Bhushan Chakrabarty was born on Monday, 13 July 1863, in Ichapur Village (Hooghly District, West Bengal). After finishing his education in the village school, Shashi went to Kolkata for higher English education. He lived with his cousin Sharat (Later, Swami Saradananda). He passed Kolkata University Entrance examination, and, as he was a brilliant student, won a scholarship.

One day in October 1883, Shashi, Sharat and some of their friends went to Dakshineshwar to visit Sri Ramakrishna. After the first meeting Shashi felt an irresistible attraction for Sri Ramakrishna, and he began to visit him frequently.

Observing that other disciples were experiencing ecstasy and devotion, one day Shashi prayed to the Master for those spiritual experiences. The Master said to him, “If you have that experience, you won’t be able to serve me.” “Then I don’t need it,” replied Shashi. “I don’t care for that ecstasy which will take my opportunity to serve you.” He was the very embodiment of service. He was convinced that service to the guru was the highest form of religion. He practiced no spiritual discipline, knew no other asceticism, travelled to no holy places. For getting his personal comfort, he was always ready to serve the Master.

Shashi Maharaja’s life was a glowing example of the “Servant” attitude towards God. He forgot huger and thirst, sleep and rest, and above all his body.

Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) gave the name “Swami Ramakrishnananda” to Shashi, knowing that his devotion to the Master was second to none.

At Monastery (Baranagar and Alambazar) Shashi Maharaj performed the Mater’s worship as one serves a living human being. One summer night when he was lying in his room at Alambazar Monastery, and fanning himself with a palm- leaf fan, he felt that the Master too must be suffering from the heat. At once he entered the shrine and stood near the bed of the Master, fanning him till dawn. Sri Ramakrishna used to chew some spices, so Swami Ramakrishnananda used keep those spices in a small bag near the Mater’s bed. He used to dry them after washing them, and clean them one by one so that there would bet be any tiny stone particles in them.

Maharaj was learned and devotional, but was not a gloomy ascetic. After dinner he would dramatically read Mark Twain’s The Innocents at Home and The Innocents Abroad. He would roar with laughter as he read them, and the others would laugh along with him. He enjoyed solving mathematical problems. He also translated the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna from Bengali into Sanskrit verses and got them serially published in Vidyodaya, a Sanskrit journal.

Returning from America in January 1897, Swami Vivekananda stayed for nine days in Madras. Swamiji created great enthusiasm among the people in Madras, and they asked him to send one of his brother monks to start a monastery there. With Ramakrishnananda in mind, Swamiji told them, “I shall send you one who is more orthodox than your most orthodox Brahmins of the South and who is at the same time incomparable in performing worship, scriptural knowledge, and meditation on God.”

Swami Ramakrishnananda was cordially received by the madrasi devotees of Vivekananda. They first rented Flora Cottage, shortly afterwards he was offered a first floor of Ice House, to start his work.

Within five years of his arrival in Madras, Swami Ramakrishnananda became well known in the city, and his work was appreciated by many.

Castle Kernan came up for auction after the death of Mr. Biligiri Iyengar in 1906. A devotee tried to acquire the house for Swami Ramakrishnananda, but he was outbid by a rich landlord. In the same year a student of the swami donated a piece of land on Boris Road in the Mylapore area. On an auspicious day, Swami Ramakrishnananda conducted the religious ceremonies, and Swami Abhedananda, who was visiting from U.S.A. at that time, laid the foundation stone. The building was dedicated by swami on 17 November 1907.

In February 1911 Holy Mother went to Madras and stayed for a month in a two-storyed house that Swami Ramakrishnananda had rented near the monastery.

From 1897 to 1911 Swami Ramakrishnananda travelled all over South India, preaching the Hindu religion and philosophy as well as the message of Sri Ramakrishna.

In 1903 Swami Ramakrishnananda visited Bangalore and Mysore and lectured extensively.

He wrote a beautiful Sanskrit hymn on Swami Vivekananda; in addition, he composed Sanskrit mantras for the brahmacharya vows of the Ramakrishna Order. Further, he introduced and systemized the ritualistic worships of Sri Ramakrishna, which is now more or less followed by the centers of the Order.

He contributed many articles to the Bengali Udbodhan magazine, and wrote Sri Ramanuja Charit in Bengali, an authoritative life of Ramanuja, the propounder of the qualified-monastic Vedanta. (This book has been translated into English), Swamiji’s main works in English are: God and Divine Incarnation, The Message of Eternal Wisdom, Sri Krishna: Pastoral and King-maker, For Thinkers on Education, The Ancient Quest, Sri Ramakrishna and His Mission, and Search After Happiness.

Swami Ramakrishnananda’s service to Sri Ramakrishna is now legendary in the Ramakrishna Order. Swami Ramakrishnananda kept the Master alive in his mind through his intense love. One day he was resting when all of a sudden he had a desire to feed Ramakrishna hot luchis, which was his favorite dish. Immediately swami got up and made the dough, then he fried luchis. He placed a plate in front of the Master and carried hot, crispy luchis to him one after another, as if the Master were eating and enjoying his favorite dish.

Swami Ramakrishnananda’s life was short but eventful. For fourteen years he worked hard to spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda in South India. He burnt his energy quickly.

Swami Ramakrishnananda left his body while in Samadhi at 1:10p.m. on Monday, 21 August 1911.

Sayings of Swami Ramakrishanandaji

‘Meditation means complete self-abandonment. Meditation requires complete annihilation of self- consciousness. You know that before a great light, lesser lights disappear; so before the effulgent glory of God, the little glory of the ego will completely vanish, as stars vanish when the sun rises.’

‘Science is the struggle of man in the outer world. Religion is the struggle of man in the inner world.’

‘Work for others is self-amelioration. We need to serve others in order to lift ourselves up out of the state of degradation and selfishness into which we have fallen. We should be grateful to the needy for making it possible for us to raise ourselves. That is the only real good that comes out of all that we do for others; we merely better ourselves.’

‘All your anxieties and worries come from egotism and selfishness. Let go your little self and they will all disappear.’

“Disbelief is a great obstacle in spiritual life. It is not only an obstacle but a disease. One will have to clear up the past life tendencies ingrained in the mind by practicing spiritual exercises and good deeds. He on whom faith descends is very fortunate. He needs nothing else.’

‘Faith in God is a precious treasure.’

‘Religion is the highest chemistry, for it analyzes the compound man into the elements, ego and non ego, the self and the non self, the soul and the body. Religion is the burning furnace in which is burnt up all the dross of his heart.’

 

Swami Saradananda

Sharat Chandra Chakrabarty (Premonastic name of Swami Saradananda) was born in Kolkata at 6:32 p.m. on Saturday, 23 December 1865. Shashi (Swami Ramakrishnananda) a cousin of Sharat was studying and living with Sharat’s family. In October 1883, Shashi, and Sharat visited Sri Ramakrishna. At first sight, Sri Ramakrishna recognized Sharat and Shashi as his own. Sensing their spirit of renunciation, the Master said: “Bricks and tiles, if burnt with the trademark, on them, retain those marks forever.Similarly you should enter the world after advancing a

little in the path of spirituality. Then you will not sink in the mire of worldliness.”

Sri Ramakrishna set the fire of renunciation in the minds of Sharat and Shashi. Sharat began to visit Master on a regular basis on Thursdays a college holiday.

Sri Ramakrishna kept a vigilant eye on his disciples. Observing Sharat’s spirit of nonattachment, the Master asked him, “Whom do you love most of all?” “Well sir,” answered Sharat, “I don’t think I love anyone.” At this Master indignantly said: “Oh, what a dry rascal! Fall either into one pit or the other- into pit of filth or into the pit of gold!” But who is foolish enough to want to fall into pit of filth? If one has love in one’s heart for one’s fellow beings, one can easily divert it towards God.

After passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Sharat and some other disciples of Sri Ramakrishna took formal monastic vows through the viraja homa ceremony in Baranagar. Narendra gave the name “Swami Saradananda” to Sharat.

In monastery everybody carried out their respective responsibilities, Swami Saradananda would help them with the house-hold duties, such as cleaning the rooms, washing the dishes, and so on.

After spreading the message of Vedanta in America and England for several years, Swami Vivekananda desperately needed an assistant to continue the momentum. He wrote Swami Saradananda and asked him to come to England. He went to Holy Mother and sought her advice. The Mother told him: “My son, be not afraid. You should go to the West. The Master will protect you, and will be with you wherever you go.”

In March 1896 Swami Saradananda left for England and arrived there on 1 April. His first task was to supply materials about the life of Sri Ramakrishna to Professor Max Muller, the famous German orientalist.

Towards the end of June 1896 Swami Saradananda went to America, with J.J. Goodwin, Swami Vivekananda’s English disciple and stenographer, to carry on the Vedanta work.

Swami Saradananda’s sweet and gentle personality and his masterly exposition of the Vedanta philosophy proved attractive at once. He was invited to be one of the speakers at the Green Acre Conference of Comparative Religions in Maine, where he lectured on Vedanta and held classes on yoga. After the sessions closed, Swami Saradananda lectured in Brooklyn, New York, and Boston.

Swami Saradananda returned to India on 8 February 1898. Swami Saradananda was entrusted to oversee the office and supervise foreign visitors. He also organized plague relief in Kolkata. During August and September he gave a series of lectures in Bengali at Albert Hall in Kolkata which was later published in Gitatattwa. Swamiji made Swami Brahmananda the president (Spiritual Head) and Swami Saradananda the general secretary (Executive Head), of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. For nearly three decades (1898 - 1927) Swami Saradananda was the chief organizer of the Ramakrishna Order in it's manifold activities.

Once Holy Mother said to one of her disciples, “Look at Sharat! He works so much, he faces so many problems, yet he remains calm and never complains. He is a Sadhu (Holy Man). Why does he undergo all these things? If he wishes he can remain absorbed in God day and night. It is only for your good that he is living on this earthly plane.” Another time Swamiji said: “The Master brought Sharat for his work.”

Swami Saradananda took the responsibility of caretaker of Holy Mother until Holy Mother passed away in 1920. He borrowed money to build a house for the Mother, which also would be used for the Udbodhan office. This building is now called “Udbodhan”, or “Mother’s House”. Swami Saradananda’s devotion to Holy Mother has become legend in the Ramakrishna Order. Holy Mother used to speak of him as her Vasuki, a mythical snake, who protected her with his thousand hoods. “Wherever water pours, he spreads his umbrella to protect me,” she said.

In 1909 Swami Saradananda began to write his monumental work Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga in Bengali, which has been translated as Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master. It is not only an authentic, interpretive biography of the Master, but also a classic in Bengali literature. It consists of five volumes and took nearly ten years to complete.

Swami Saradananda is a glowing example of a person who could keep his mind in God, or the self, and at the same time his hands at work. The Gita says, “Great is the man who controls the senses with his mind and engages them in selfless actions.”

Under the guidance of Swami Saradananda, a temple was built on the spot where the Mother’s body has been cremated in Belur Math; it was dedicated on 21 December 1921. Another temple was built on the spot where Holy Mother was born in Jayrambati, and it was dedicated on a grand scale on 19 April 1923.

In 1926 he convened the first convention of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in Belur Math. Swami Saradananda was the chairman, and he gave two important and inspiring speeches: “Ramakrishna Mission: It's past, Present, and Future” (1 April) and “The Ideas, Ideals, and Activates of the Ramakrishna Mission”(3April) Both of these precious speeches were published in “Ramakrishna Math and Mission Convention 1926”

Friday, 19 August 1927 was the birth anniversary of Sri Krishna. About 1:00AM the monks began to chant “Hari Om Ramakrishna”. At 2:34 AM Swami Saradananda, the great yogi and beloved disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, breathed his last.

Sayings of Swami Saradanandaji

“If you want to work, depend on God and stand on your own feet. Don’t depend on any human being - even myself. If nobody comes forward to help your work, resolve to do it alone, even at the cost of your body. When you have such courage, strength, and dependence on God, only then are you eligible to do work.”

“Through selfless work the mind gets purified. And when the mid becomes pure, knowledge and devotion arise in it. Knowledge is the very nature of the Self, but being covered with ignorance, it is not manifest. The object of selfless work is to remove this covering.”

“To find joy in anything the brain and the heart must unite. Through mere intellectualism one does not get joy. Everything becomes lifeless. If what you have read about the Master appeals also to your heart, only then will you delight in thinking about his life. He will then seem to be living.”

“You must be sincere; your inner life should tally with the outer.”

“Is it possible that you will only believe after seeing everything yourself? Suppose you have never been in England. You will have to know about England from those who have visited it. Although you have not seen it, you can’t deny the existence of England. Likewise, God exists; you will have to trust the judgment of those who have seen Him.”

 

Swami Turiyananda

On e morning before daybreak in North Kolkata, a teenage boy was bathing in the Ganges when he saw something floating near him. Some people on the shore saw it too, and shouted: “Crocodile! Crocodile! Come out quickly!” The boy immediately rushed towards the shore; but he stopped while still standing in the knee-deep water and thought to himself: “What are you doing? You repeat day and night, ‘Soham! Soham!’ [I am He! I am He!] And now all of a sudden you forget your ideal and think that you are the body! Shame on you!” He immediately went back into the deep water and continued his bathing. Fortunately, the crocodile had left.

This fearless boy was Harinath Chattopadhya, who would grow up to become Swami Turiyananda. He was born on 3 January 1863, in North Kolkata.

Harinath met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time at Dinanath Basu’s house in Baghbazar, Kolkata. He was then thirteen or fourteen years old. This first meeting with the God-intoxicated saint left a deep impression on Harinath’s mind.

Gradually, Harinath became familiar with Ramakrishna and began to ask all sorts of personal questions. “Sir”, he asked one day, “how can one become free from lust completely?” Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Why should it go, my boy? Give it a turn in another direction. What is lust? It is the desire to get. So desire to get God and strengthen this desire greatly, the more you go towards the east, the farther you will be away from the west.”

To live with Sri Ramakrishna was a great education. Harinath later recalled: One day at Dakshineshwar the Master said to me: “Go to the Panchavati. Some devotees had a picnic there. See if they have left anything behind. If you find anything, bring it here.” I went and found an umbrella in one place, a knife in another place, and some other articles. I gathered them up and took them to the Master. The knife had been borrowed from him. I was just placing it on the shelf when he said: “Where are you putting it? No, not there. Put it underneath this small bedstead. That is where it belongs. You must put everything in it's proper place. Suppose I need the knife during the night. If you put it anywhere you please, I will have to go around the room in the dark, stretching out my arms in search of it, wondering where you put it. Is such service a service? No! You do things as you like and thereby only cause trouble. If you want to serve properly, you should completely forget yourself.”

In 1889 Swami Turiyananda left the Baranagore Monastery and went to Rishikesh. In the summer 1890, he and Swami Saradananda went to Gangotri, the source of the Ganges. He then decided to practise sadhana alone at Rajpur, on the Mussoorie Hill of Dehra Dun.

It was in Srinagar where he committed eight Upanishads to memory.

In June 1899 Swami Turiyananda left fro England and America with Swami Vivekananda and his Irish disciple, Sister Nivedita. After visiting England, the two swamis left for America on 16 August 1899. Swami Turiyananda carried on the Vedanta work in New York for a year; during that time Swami Vivekananda preached in California, where he founded the Vedanta Society in San Francisco. While leaving San Francisco, Swami Vivekananda said to the students: “I have lectured to you on Vedanta; in Turiyananda you will see Vedanta personified. He lives it every moment of his life. He is the ideal Hindu Monk, and he will help you all to live pure and holy lives.”

Miss Minnie C. Boock, a student of Vedanta, offered a property of 160 acres in northern California for a retreat. This later became Shanti Ashrama. Ashrama life began under primitive conditions - no running water, no electricity and no bathroom facilities. There were snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas all around. They had to bring water from a distance of six miles.

In Shanti Ashrama, the students learned the profound truths of Vedanta from Swami Turiyananda. He left Shanti Ashrama on 10 January 1901, and went to San Francisco for treatment of gallstones and other complications. During February and March 1901, at 770 Oak Street in San Francisco, Swami Turiyananda conducted a meditation class everyday at 10:00a.m.; and on Tuesdays and Thursdays he gave lectures on the Gita and Raja Yoga. In spite of his ill health, Swami Turiyananda gave lectures and classes in and around San Francisco for a few months, and then returned to Shanti Ashrama for a period of five months. Turiyananda left Shanti Ashrama in late May of 1902 and set sail for India from San Francisco on 6 June.

Towards the end of October 1902, Turiyananda moved to Vrindaban. In Vrindaban Swami Turiyananda gave classes on the Bhagavata.

In 1905 Swami Turiyananda’s health broke down due to his severe austerities, and he had to leave Vrindaban. He went to Advaita Ashrama at Mayavati in the Himalayas, where he stayed a few months and regained his health. Then he visited Almora, Nainital, Hardwar, Rishikesh, and last settled in Uttarkashi in 1906.

On 8 April 1915 he left for Almora, a small resort town in the Himalayas. During his itinerant days, Swami Vivekananda had expressed a wish to have a retreat centre in Almora. Swami Shivananda and Swami Turiyananda therefore fulfilled his wish, and the Ramakrishna Cottage came into existence. The Ramakrishna Cottage was dedicated on 22 may 1916 with a ritual worship of Sri Ramakrishna.

One time an abscess formed on Swami Turiyananda’s leg, and an English surgeon was consulted. He agreed to do the surgery, but pointed out that Turiyananda might become lame. When the Swami heard about it, he said: “I don’t want to live as an invalid, completely depending on others. If that is to be the case, better I die.” The news reached Holy Mother. She sent following message to Turiyananda through her attendant: “Why do you wish to give up the body? Being alive permits you to do the Master’s work. Don’t wish for death.”

On 4 February 1919 Swami Turiyananda left for Varanasi, ‘the city of light’, and lived there until the end of his life. During his last three and a half years, the swami inspired many monks and devotees. Many of his conversations are recorded and translated in Spiritual Talks.

Swami Turiyananda passed away at 6:45 p.m. on 21 July 1922.

Sri Ramakrishna had once remarked about Swami Turiyananda, “He comes of that transcendent region whence name and form are manufactured.”

Sayings of Swami Turiyanandaji

“Live in the world, remembering the Lord constantly. What else is there to do? In the world there are always happiness and misery, dangers and difficulties. We should see that we do not forget Him.”

“Control your passions, anger, jealousy, pride. And never speak ill of others behind their backs. Let everything be open and free. When anything has to be done, always be the first to do it. Others will follow. But unless you do it first, no will.”

“Live in the present; make the best of your time and opportunities. Don’t think of the future. Know for certain that Mother’s will shall come to pass. Trust in Her. Only try to love Her sincerely. Give yourself to Her. Let Her do with you as She wishes. Trusting Mother does not mean idleness. Try to know Her will, and then be up and doing like a man. If you don’t do physical work you must use your mind - read, study, or meditate. And don’t spend your time in idle gossip. Gossip breeds mischief. If you talk, talk of the Lord.”

“Don’t you know yet, my boy that it is life that counts? Life creates life. Serve! Serve! Serve! That is the great teaching. Be humble. Be the servant of all. Only he who knows how to serve is fit to rule.”

 
Swami Abhedananda
Kali Prasad Chandra was born on Tuesday, 2 October 1866, in North Kolkata. His father, Rasiklal Chandra was a English teacher in the Oriental Seminary. Kali was a bright student and a voracious reader. During this period, along with his regular courses, he studied classical Sanskrit literature.He learned prosody and could compose verses in Sanskrit.

On one occasion when his teacher tried to convince him that his decision to become a philosopher is not better than being a painter as kali had excellent drawing skills, Kali replied, ‘No, sir. A painter studies the surface of things but a philosopher goes below the surface and studies the causes of things. So I want to be a philosopher.’

In June 1884 Kali went to Dakshineshwar and met Sri Ramakrishna. In his autobiography, he describes their first meeting: ‘I became restless to find a guru who could teach me yoga. I confided my desire to my classmate Yajneshwar Bhattacharya, who was very fond of me. Yajneshwar told me: “I know a wonderful yogi. His name is Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, and he lives in Rani Rasmani’s temple garden in Dakshineshwar…” My joy knew no bounds when I heard this from Yajneshwar, and I at once resolved to meet Sri Ramakrishna, though I had no idea where Dakshineshwar was.’

Kali began to practise spiritual disciplines under the Master’s guidance.

It is an ancient Indian custom for monks to live on alms. One day Master asked his disciples to go out and beg for food. This act helps eradicate the ego and teaches one to depend solely on God. Narendra, Niranjan, Kali and Hutko Gopal first went to Holy Mother and asked for alms, chanting the hymn on the goddess Annapurna.

At Baranagar monastery he spent his time in meditation, studying the scriptures, and composing some Sanskrit hymns on Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother. He composed a Sanskrit hymn on Holy Mother, “Prakritim paramam abhyam varadam”

One day Narendra proposed to the brotherhood that they all take the vows of sannyasa according to scriptural injunction. All agreed. When Kali told them that he had a copy of the viraja-homa mantras, which he had gotten from a monk in Gaya, his brothers were excited, knowing that this was the master’s divine grace. In the third week of January 1887, they took final monastic vows by performing the traditional viraja homa in front of the Mater’s picture. Narendra gave Kali the name, ‘Swami Abhedananda.”

Swami Abhedananda travelled extensively in India, visited many pilgrimage places and performed sadhana.

In June 1896 Swami Vivekananda sent Saradananda from London to America to keep the Vedanta movement there alive; in July he sent a cable to Swami Ramakrishnananda to send Kali to London. Towards the end of September 1896 Swami Abhedananda reached London.

Om 27 October 1896 he gave his maiden speech before the learned audience of the Christo-Theosophical Society at Bloomsbury Square in London. Vivekananda was highly pleased and said, “Even if I perish on this plane, my message will be sounded through these dear lips and the world will hear it.”

For one year Swami Abhedananda continued to give classes and lectures in different churches and religious and philosophical societies in London and it's suburbs.

Then on 31 July 1897 Swami Abhedananda left for New York and arrived there on 9 August. He was the guest of Miss Mary Phillips, secretary of the Vedanta Society of New York which Vivekananda had founded in 1894. Swami Abhedananda did not confine himself to New York City; he travelled and gave talks in various places along the East Coast- Philadelphia, Washington, Virginia and New Paltz in New York State. One day Swami Abhedananda went to meet Thomas Edison, the famous scientist and inventor. They talked about Vedanta and India, and Mr. Edison showed the swami his laboratory. The swami worked very hard; he slept very little, as he spent most of the night writing his books, the sale of which eventually made the Society self supporting. On 19 May 1898 swami had a meeting with President McKinley. The President received Swami Abhedananda cordially and inquired about the Vedanta movement in the United States and also British rule in India. After the summer recess, Swami Abhedananda arranged a memorial meeting for Swami Vivekananda, who had passed away at Belur Math on 4 July 1902.

On 24 May 1904 Swami Abhedananda went to Saint Louis, Missouri, to attend the World’s Fair, where he arranged for an exhibition at the Webster Groves Society on “Indian Women.”

Students of Vedanta society decided to establish a retreat site for students of Vedanta. Accordingly a plot of 370 acres was bought in the Berkshire Connecticut. The Berkshire Retreat was duly inaugurated by Swami Abhedananda in March 1907, and he remarked, “The Ashrama looks like Fairyland.”

On 1 July 1908 he inaugurated the Vedanta Society at 22 Conduit Street. Towards the end of 1908, one of his disciples, Sister Avavamia, founded a Vedanta Society in Sydney, Australia. In 1909 Swami Abhedananda founded a Vedanta Society in Paris. On 7 may 1909, Frank Dvorak, the celebrated Czechoslovakian artist, came to the Vedanta Centre to see Abhedananda. At Abhedananda’s request, Dvorak later painted oil portraits of Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother, which are still preserved in the Ramakrishna Vedanta math in Kolkata. Another of Swami Abhedananda’s important contribution was an Indo-American Club, which the swami formed in New York in 1909 so that Indian students could get together and come in close contact with American friends.

From 1912 to 1919 Swami Abhedananda lived mostly in the Berkshire Retreat, and occasionally went out for lecture tour.

Swami Abhedananda was not only highly intellectual, a great orator and prolific writer, but he was also a hard-working, practical person. He taught his students to harmonize action and contemplation in their lives. In early part of 1919, swami, with Brahamananda’s approval, decided to return to India. On 10 November 1921, he reached Kolkata and then went to Belur Math. On 10 January 1922 Swami Abhedananda went to Jamshedpur and gave three lectures at the Tata Institute: “Universal Religion”, Progressive Hinduism” and “Message of Vedanta” On 13 February Swami Abhedananda went with Swami Shivananda to Dhaka and Mymensingh in Bangladesh, where he gave several lectures.

He established the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Kolkata of which he was President, in 1924 he opened a branch of this society at Darjeeling under the name of Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashrama.

Swami Abhedananda passed away on Friday, 8 September 1939.

One day he said to a disciple, “My body belongs to the Master.” Towards the end he indicated that his body should be cremated at the Cossipore cremation ground after his death.

Sayings of Swami Abhedanandaji

“Tapasya or austerity enhances willpower. Have self-confidence. Have faith in yourself. Think; I am a child of Immortal Bliss. The infinite power is playing within me. If you have this conviction, you will conquer the world.”

“The East and the West will unite - such is God’s will. The signs of the times greatly encourage me, and my visit and prolonged stay in this country have clearly convinced me that it is possible to make the world our home, and to love all as brothers and sisters. God’s spirit is working everywhere. Blessed is he who sees the work, and realize the Divine spirit.”

“The 20 th century needs a religion with no scheme for salvation, no need for heaven or hell, no fear of eternal punishment. The 20 th century needs a religion free from sacerdotal institutions and free from all books, scriptures, and personalities. The 20 th century needs a religion with a concept of God, not personal, not impersonal but beyond both, a God whose supreme aspect will harmonize with the ultimate Reality of the universe. The 20 th century religion must accept the ultimate conclusions of all the philosophies of the world.”

“The ideal of Vedanta is to solve the problem of life, to point out the aim of human existence, to make our ways of living better and more harmonious with the universal Will that is working in nature, to make us realize that the will which is now working through our bodies, is, in reality, a part and parcel of that universal Will…It's ideal is to show us how we can live in this world without being overcome by sorrows and misery, without being afflicted by sufferings and misfortunes that are sure to fall on every human being in some way or other; how to conquer death in this life, how we can embrace death without being frightened in the least. And above all, the chief object of Vedanta is to make us live the life of unselfishness, purity, and attain to perfection in this life…The mission of Vedanta is to establish that oneness and to bring harmony, peace, toleration amongst different religions, sects, creeds, and denominations that exist in this world.”

 

Swami Trigunatitananda

This story begins with the loss of a gold watch. Sarada Prasanna, the son of a rich landlord, was a talented student, of Metropolitan Institution in North Kolkata. His teachers expected him to achieve a brilliant score in the Entrance examination and thereby obtain a scholarship; Sarada was also contemplating his bright future. But who can change Divine Providence? On the second day of the examination, someone stole Sarada’s gold watch while he was having refreshments. Sarada was extremely upset; he could not concentrate on the remaining subjects of the test, and he failed to place in the first division.

The loss of the gold watch caused Sarada prolonged agony. M. (The recorder of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna), who was very fond of Sarada, noticed his depression and on 27 December 1884 brought him to Dakshineshwar. This was Sarada’s first visit to Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna talked about some important aspects of human life. He said, “…He who seeks God plunges headlong; he doesn’t calculate about how much or how little he needs for the protection of his body…It is pure mind that perceives God, and at that time this ordinary mind does not function. A mind that has the slightest trace of attachment to the world cannot be called pure.” The Master’s teachings worked on Sarada’s mind. He came to realize that spiritual treasures were far more valuable than a gold watch. This seemingly trivial incident was the turning point of his life.

Sarada Prasanna Mitra, who later became Swami Trigunatitananda, was born in the village of Naora (Paikhati), 24- Paraganas, at 9.26 p.m. on Monday 30 January 1865.

Sarada had such a wonderful memory that he memorized 108 hymns and salutation mantras on different gods and goddesses before he was fourteen.

Although Sarada was Ramakrishna’s disciple, Holy Mother later gave him formal initiation. As far as the record shows, Jogin and Sarada were the only two monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna who were initiated by Holy Mother.

Sarada continued his visits to the master, serving him during his last days. Sometimes he stayed overnight, enduring his fathers’ scolding.

In January 1887 Sarada and other disciples performed the viraja homa, a special fire sacrifice, in front of Sri Ramakrishna’s picture and took their final monastic vows. Swami Vivekananda gave Sarada the name ‘Swami Trigunatitananda’. Vivekananda later teased him about his long name and asked him to shorten it, so ‘Trigunatita’ became what he was usually called.

Trigunatita was an extremist by nature. Once he decided to repeat his mantram day and night. His goal was ‘God-realization or death by starvation’. Shivananda was very concerned about this young brother monk, and tried to persuade him to come out of his room. Trigunatita did come out, but he refused to eat. At last, it was decided that while Trigunatita ate, Shivananda would touch him and repeat a mantram on his behalf. Thus he hurriedly took his meal and continued his japam.

To spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna in Bengali, Swamiji asked Trigunatita to start the magazine that he had thought of in 1896. Swami Vivekananda contributed one thousand rupees; Harmohan Mittra donated another thousand. These contributions enabled Trigunatita to buy a press and inaugurate the publication of Udbodhan. Trigunatita rented a couple of rooms at Combuliatola Lane, Kolkata, for the magazine, laboring on this pioneering job alone, without any previous experience. His main assets were his sincerity, patience, perseverance and above all love for the ideal. As he had no monastic assistants at first, Trigunatita was the editor, proofreader, manager, and supervisor of the press; and when the typesetters were sick, he had to compose the type also. Sometimes he would go door to door to collect subscriptions, since his funds were limited he didn’t travel by tram; instead, he would walk ten miles a day. Sharat Chandra Chakrabarty, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, recorded the following in his Talks with Swami Vivekananda

Disciple: “Sir, it is impossible for any other man to exert himself as Swami Trigunatita is doing for the magazine.”

Swamiji: “Do you think these monastic children of Sri Ramakrishna are born simply to sit for meditation under trees lighting dhuni-fires? Whenever any of them will take up some work, people will be astonished to see their energy. Learn from them hoe to work. Look, Trigunatita has given up his spiritual practices, his meditation and everything, to carry out my orders, and he has set himself to work. Is it a matter of small sacrifice? He will not stop short of success!”

Trigunatita edited and managed the Udbodhan for four years.

Trigunatita’s love for and faith In Holy Mother was phenomenal. Once Yogin-ma, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, asked the swami to buy some hot chilies for Holy Mother. In his eagerness to get the hottest possible, he walked through many markets from Baghbazar to Barabazar 9four miles), tasting all the hot chilies by chewing one of each, until his tongue became red and swollen. At last he found the hottest ones at Barabazar and brought them to the Mother. Later when Trigunatita went to America, he sent money regularly for Holy Mother’s personal service.

In 1904 some students invited Trigunatita to start a Vedanta centre in Los Angeles, nearly 500 miles south of San Francisco. On 25 August 1905, with appropriate ceremonies, the cornerstone was laid. This was the first Hindu Temple in the Western world. It was dedicated on 7 January 1906 and the first services were held there on Sunday, 15 January 1906.

One of the members of the monastery, a Hungarian named Joseph Horvath, was a printer; this gave Trigunatita the idea of starting a printing press in the temple basement. In April 1909 Trigunatita started a monthly magazine called Voice of Freedom. By special arrangements with M. Trigunatita published an American edition of his Gospel in 1912, which was circulated widely. When Trigunatita came to San Francisco, he took charge of Shanti Ashrama, but Gurudas continued to mange it.

For the last five years of his life. Trigunatita continuously suffered from rheumatism and Bright’s disease. On Friday, 25 December 1914 Trigunatita conducted the all- day Christmas Service from 6.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. This consisted of three lectures, chanting and singing, reading and exposition of the scriptures. Two days later, on Sunday afternoon 27 December 1914, Trigunatita was lecturing from the podium of the Hindu Temple in San Francisco. All of a sudden a young man in the front threw a bomb onto the pulpit; there was an explosion and a cloud of dense blue smoke obscured the platform. When the smoke cleared it was found that the young man, a former student of Trigunatita named Louis Vavra, had been killed, and that the swami had received severe injuries. Even in the midst of excruciating pain the swami’s mind was filled with pity for his mentally ill student Louis.

Swami Trigunatitananda, the great yogi and disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, passed away at 7.30 p.m. on 10 January 1915.

 

Swami Advaitananda

Gopal Chandra Ghosh of Sinthi, Kolkata, lost his wife when he was fifty-five years of age. Brokenhearted and unable to bear his overwhelming grief, Gopal went to a friend, Dr. Mahendra Pal of Sinthi, for consolation. Mahendra was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, so he suggested that Gopal see the master at Dakshineshwar. Sometime in March or April 1884, Mahendra accompanied Gopal on a visit there. There first visit was a simple visit. The second time Gopal went to Dakshineshwar, Sri Ramakrishna, like a good physician, gave him an infallible antidote for his grief.
Gopal later narrated what happened after his third visit: “The Master possessed me. I would think of him day and night. The pang of separation from the Master gave me chest pain. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t forget his face.”

Gopal Chadra Ghosh was born in 18285 at Rajpur (Jagaddal) in 24- Paraganas, nearly 25 miles north of Kolkata.

As he had no family ties after the death of his wife, Gopal moved from Sinthi to Dakshineshwar to serve the Master. Sri Ramakrishna accepted Gopal as his disciple and would address him as “the elder Gopal” or “Overseer.” The other disciples called him “Gopal-da”, since he was eight years older than Ramakrishna.

The Master introduced him to Holy Mother, who needed a person who could shop and run errands for her. Sri Ramakrishna praised Gopal’s managerial capacity in household affairs and his sweet behavior with people.

In spite of his age, Gopal tried to keep the same pace as the other young disciples. When Narendra would sing to the accompaniment of the Tanpura (a stringed instrument0 in the Master’s room, Gopal would play the Tabala (drums)

In September 1885 Ramakrishna moved to Shyampukur in Kolkata for cancer treatment and Gopal accompanied him. He served the Master like a nurse, giving him medicine and proper diet. Usually Holy Mother prepared the Master’s food and carried it to his room. Gopal acted as holy Mother’s messenger; he was free with her, and she did not cover her face with a veil in front of him.

On Tuesday, 12 January 1886 (Makar-Sankranti), Gopal gave the ochre clothes and rosaries to the Master, who touched them and sanctified them with a mantram. He himself then distributed them among his young disciples. The disciples who received the ochre clothes were: Narendra, Rakhal, Niranjan, Baburam, Shashi, Sharat, Kali, Jogin, Latu, Tarak, and Gopal. The 12 th cloth and rosary, according to the Master’s instruction, were set aside for Girish Ghosh.

After passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Advaitananda visited many holy places in India. He passed five years in Varanasi practicing austerities and forgetting the mundane world. Swami Advaitananda was entrusted a job of leveling the new plot of land purchased at Belur. Apart from leveling the ground and other construction work, Advaitananda started a vegetable garden and a dairy farm. Swami Adbhutananda recalled about the early days: “Without Gopal-da the monks of Belur Math would not have had vegetables along with their rice. He worked so hard to produce various kinds of vegetables in the monastery garden.”

He kept himself busy in the service of Sri Ramakrishna and couldn’t bear lazy people. Because of his age and temperament he did not engage in public activities such as relief work and preaching; his monastic life was therefore uneventful. In spite of that, he definitely set an example for all and he was a source of inspiration to many.

Swami Advaitananda passed away at 4.15p.m. on Tuesday, 28 December 1909.

Sri Ramakrishna made him a role model for elderly seekers of God. He will be remembered by the Ramakrishna Order for his cheerful manner and methodical ways, his self-reliance, his untiring zeal in every work he undertook, and his implicit devotion to the Master and his cause.

Swami Subodhananda

Christ said in the Bible, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Subodh (later Swami Subodhananda) was one such guileless divine child. Sri Ramakrishna used to call him Khoka, “little boy”; he behaved like a boy all through his life and became a great mystic.

Subodh Chandra Ghosh was born on 8 November 1867 at 23 Shankar Ghosh Lane, Kolkata.

First meeting of Subodh with Mater was very significant, Master asked him to come on Saturdays, and Tuesdays. Master also asked him to visit Mahendra Nath Gupta for spiritual instructions, but Subodh never did so. After some time the Master asked Subodh, “Mahendra’s house is very close to yours, then why did you not call on him?’ Subodh replied: “He hasn’t been able to renounce his family. What could I learn about God from him?” Immediately the Master said with a laugh, “O Rakhal, did you hear what this rascal Khoka said?” He was pleased to see Subodh so stern in his renunciation; but he said: “He won’t talk about himself; he will only tell you what he has learned from me. Don’t hesitate to go to him.”

Sometimes Subodh would arrive at Dakshineshwar at noon, having walked all the way from school in the hot sun. He had a strong desire to serve his guru. While fanning the master, he would feel that all his fatigue had gone. The master could not bear for Subodh to fan him while standing, so he asked him to sit on his bed and fan him. Like a loving father, at times the Master took the palm leaf fan himself and fanned Subodh.

Performing the traditional viraja homa, Subodh took final monastic vows and became known as Swami Subodhananda. As he was one of the youngest among the disciples, he was known as “Khoka Maharaj” in Ramakrishna order. Swami Vivekananda and others lovingly called him “Khoka”, which means “little boy”.

Swami Vivekananda wanted his brother disciples to become accustomed to speaking in public, so he persuaded to give weekly lectures by turn in the Alambazar Monastery. When Subodhananda’s turn came he tried in vain to be excused. At last Subodhananda mounted the platform - miserable and unwilling- and opened his mouth to speak. But before he could say a word, the building began to vibrate and rock and trees crashed down outside: This was the devastating earthquake of 12 June 1897. The meeting was dissolved. Swamiji humorously said, “Well, Khoka, you have made an earth-shaking speech!” Subodhananda’s love for Swamiji was second only to his love for the Master. Swamiji also had great affection for him. Sometimes when Swamiji would become so serious that none of his brother disciples dared to approach him, it was left to Khoka Maharaj to go and interrupt his mood.

Subodhananda was very fond of traveling. Between his stays at Belur Math in 1899 he visited Almora, Mayavati, and again Kedarnath and Badrinath. The next year he went to Navadwip (the birth place of Chaitanya), Darjeeling, and Kamakhya in Assam. In 1902 he revisited Mayavati and was there when Swamiji passed away. In 1905 he went to Almora again to recover from Kalaazar (a serious infectious disease). During the plague epidemic in Kolkata in 1899, he worked hard to relieve the suffering of the helpless, panic - stricken people. He had a very tender heart, and sometimes begged money from others to help poor patients with food and medicine.

As a guru he travelled to many places in Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh to spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna.

In spite of all his suffering Subodhananda did not forget what the Master had told him: “Think of me twice a day”. The terminal tuberculosis devoured all his energy, and he could not even change his position without help. Still, in the morning and before he went to sleep at night, he would lift his head with much effort and look at the picture of the Master behind his head and salute him with folded hands. What a touching scene! He didn’t want the Master’s words to be in vain. His love and devotion for his guru were outstanding.

Swami Subodhananda passed away at 3:05 p.m. on Friday, 2 December 1932.

Sayings of Swami Subodhanandaji

“Pray to God sincerely, then you will see him. Sincere prayer means: Tell the Lord your pain and your problems with tears in your eyes. Ask him for faith and devotion. Always remember that you are a companion of Sri Ramakrishna’s companion.”

“All power belongs to God. If anyone repeats the mantram, he will definitely get the result. For instance, when a farmer sows seeds, no matter whether they are placed in the ground straight or upside down, they shoot up all the same. He is everything-it is He who gives pain and again He who gives peace. One can overcome all obstacles by repeating the mantram.”

Swami Akhandananda

Swami Akhandananda was born as Gangadhar Gangopadhyay on 30 September 1864, in Ahiritola area of western Kolkata. From his very childhood, Gangadhar was so compassionate that he once gave his own shirt to a poor classmate whose shirt was torn. Without telling his parents, he would give food to beggars. He was a strong moralist and always helped his wayward friends.

In 1977 Gangadhar and his friend Harinath met Sri Ramakrishna at Dinanath Basu’s house in Baghbazar. Seeing the master in Samadhi, Gangadhar’s spiritual longing increased. Seeing Gangadhar’s monastic tendencies, his mother was eager to arrange his marriage. Knowing her intention, Gangadhar said: “Mother, arrange my marriage quickly, and bring another ‘mother’ home. She will help you in cooking and other household work.” Gangadhar’s mother understood the pure nature of her son, who considered all women to be his mother.

In May 1883, when he was nineteen, Gangadhar visited Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineshwar.

Sri Ramakrishna taught from his own experience, not through knowledge acquired from books. Gangadhar later recalled: ‘Whenever I approached the master he would invariably ask me, “Did you shed tears at the time of prayer or meditation?” And one day when I answered yes to this, how happy he was! “Tears of repentance or sorrow flow from the corners of the eyes nearest the nose,” he said, “and those of joy from the corners of the eyes.” Suddenly the Master asked me, “Do you know how to pray?” Saying this he flung his hands and feet about restlessly - like a little child impatient for it's mother. Then he cried out: “Mother dear, grant me knowledge and devotion. I don’t want anything else. I can’t live without you.” While thus teaching us how to pray, he looked like a small boy. Profuse tears rolled down his chest, and he passed into deep Samadhi. I was convinced that the Master did that for my sake.’

When the master was at Shyampukur and then at Cossipore, Gangadhar served the Master whenever he could. Gangadhar’s father found a job for Gangadhar in a merchant’s office. Gangadhar worked there a few days and then gave it up. He then fully engaged himself in spiritual disciples and service to the master.

On Christmas Eve of 18886, Gangadhar went with the other disciples to Antpur and took vows of renunciation. He returned home and told his father secretly that he would leave for the Himalayas very soon. His father gave his consent. In February 1887 Gangadhar took the ochre cloth that the Master had given to him and left the monastery without telling anyone. Only his father came to Howrah Station to see him off. He blessed his son: “Go, my son. Fulfill your mission in life. This world is unreal. I bless you: May you attain unflinching devotion to God.” It is thrilling to read Gangadhar’s entire travel account, which he recorded in his book Smriti-Katha (From Holy Wanderings to The Service of God in Man). He travelled hundreds of miles in the dangerous mountains of the Himalayas without carrying any money or extra clothing, depending only on God.

In June of 1890, after being away for three and a half years, Gangadhar returned to the Baranagore Monastery. Swami Vivekananda advised him to take final monastic vows before Sri Ramakrishna’s picture, in accordance with the Vedantic tradition. Gangadhar then became Swami Akhandananda (which means Undivided Bliss)

Swami Akhandananda lived in Rajasthan for nearly eight months. He observed the pitiful condition of the masses as well as the luxury of a handful of rulers and rich landlords.

Swami Vivekananda’s encouraging letter from America which was sent as a reply to Swami Akhandananda’s request to Swamiji for guidance pushed him further, and in 1894 Akhandananda began his campaign against poverty. He found that the root of all suffering was the appalling ignorance of the masses; hence, education became his prime objective. By his strenuous efforts he succeeded in raising the enrollment of the local high school from 80 to 257, as well as improving the teaching staff. He next visited the villages around Khetri and started five primary schools for the village boys.

On 15 may 1897 Akhandananda started famine relief work in Mahula and several other villages in the Murshidabad district. It was the first organized relief work of the Ramakrishna Mission which had been started by Swami Vivekananda on 1 May 1897 in Kolkata. When the relief operation in Mahula was over, Akhandananda decided to open a permanent orphanage. The Murshidabad district magistrate promised to give him financial help for this project. Madhusundari Barman, a rich landlord, was impressed with Akhandananda’s work, so she donated one and a half acres of land to him for the Ashrama, and offered him her office building in Shivnagar, near Sargachi, to use temporarily. Sargachi village is situated on Krishnagar Road, six miles south of Behrampur.

During the year 1899 Swami Akhandananda operated a flood relief work in Ghogha area for two and a half months, serving fifty villages.

Swami Akhandananda managed the orphanage and the Ashrama, from the Shivnagar office building for over twelve years. The land that had been donated was not sufficient for the Ashrama, so in August 1912 he bought about thirteen acres of land in Sargachi village. Along with education, the swami concentrated on improving the agricultural and industrial activities amongst the villagers. The Ashrama ran a full-fledged industrial school, teaching weaving, sewing, carpentry, and sericulture, which was the pride of the locality.

Akhandananda was a self-made man. He was a voracious reader, a linguist, a powerful speaker, a humorous conversationalist, and a good writer. His memories (Smriti Katha) and travel accounts (Tibbater Pathe Himalaye) were published serially in Udbodhan and Basumati, and later in book form.

In 1934, after the passing away of Shivananda, Akhandananda became the president of the Ramakrishna Order. From then on he lived in both Belur Math and Sargachi; but spent most of his time in Sargachi. In January 1934 there was a devastating earthquake in Bihar and many people were killed. In April Akhandananda went to inspect the Ramakrishna Mission’s relief work there. His presence raised the morale of the people and he also inspired monks to serve the afflicted as God. As a president of the Ramakrishna Order, Akhandananda initiated a large number of people. On 4 November 1934 he went to Bombay and then Nagpur, where he inspired many seekers of God.

On 7 February 1937, Swami Akhandananda passed away at the age of 72.

To seek God in all beings is the culmination of the Vedantic experience. Swami Akhandananda had that experience, so he served all as God.

Swami Vijnanananda

Sri Ramakrishna said of Swami Vijnanananda, “He wrestled with Krishna in his previous incarnation; he is not an ordinary person.”

Swami Vijnanananda’s premonastic name was Hari Prasanna Chattopadhyay. He was born on Friday, 30 October 1868 in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, where his father, Taraknath Chattopadhyaya, worked in the commissariat of British government. In 1879 his mother moved with her children to their ancestral home at Belgharia, near Dakshineshwar.

Hari Prasanna entered the Hare School in Kolkata, and in 1882 he passed the Entrance examination. In 1883 Hari Prasanna entered Saint Xavier’s college in Kolkata, and Sharat Chakrabarty (later, Swami Saradananda) and Ramananda Chattopadhyay (later, the editor of Pravasi) were his classmates.

On 26 November 1883 he and Sharat went by boat to see Sri Ramakrishna with another classmate, Barada Pal. During his college days, Hari Prasanna visited Sri Ramakrishna several times at Dakshineshwar temple garden.

Hari Prasanna was not able to spend a great deal of time with the master, but the unbounded grace of his guru filled his heart. In 1885 Hari Prasanna passed the First Arts examination in the first division at Saint Xavier’s College. He then moved to Bankipur in the state of Bihar and entered Patna College to study for a B.A. degree. In 1887 Hari Prasanna graduated from Patna College and then went to the Poona College of Science to study civil engineering.

Because his father died in Hari’s childhood, Hari Prasanna had to work until his family was financially secure. As time went on, however, his uncle began to pressure him to get married. He became disgusted with these attempts to tie him to a worldly life and joined the Ramakrishna Monastery at Alambazar in 1896.

Swami Vivekananda returned to India from the West in 1897 and took Hari Prasanna with him on his travels in western and northern India. During this tour they visited the old Hindu temples of Rajputana. Vivekananda discussed the architecture of the future Ramakrishna Temple with him and expressed his own ideas as to how the temple should be built. On their return to the monastery, Hari Prasanna drew a sketch of the Ramakrishna Temple using Swamiji’s ideas as his guide. He also consulted with Mr. Guithar, a noted architect. Swamiji was pleased when he saw the sketch and said, “This temple will certainly come up, but I may not live to see it…I will see it from on high.”

On 13 February 1898 the Ramakrishna Monastery was moved from Alambazar to Nilambar Mukharjee’s garden house at Belur. The site for Belur math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order, was purchased in March of 1898. Swami Vivekananda entrusted Hari Prasanna with the task of remolding the main building and constructing new buildings and the shrine for the monastery. Hari Prasanna drew up the site plan and building plans, prepared estimates, as well as supervised the construction. He did all of this single-handedly. When the construction was completed, Vivekananda consecrated the Ramakrishna Math on 9 December 1898. On 9 May 1899 Hari Prasanna formally took sannyasa, he became known as Swami Vijnanananda.

When the construction of the Belur Monastery was finished, Vivekananda advised Swami Vijnanananda to start a centre at Allahabad (Prayag). This city is an important pilgrimage site because the confluence of three rivers - the Ganges, the Jamuna, and the Saraswati - is located there. He first stayed with his friend, Dr. Mahendra Nath Odedar, and then moved to the Brahmavadin Club. The Club rented two rooms on the upper floor of a two-storey building - a small one (10by10feet) for the shrine, and a larger one (18by10feet) for a library and meeting room.

Swami Vijnanananda loved to be alone and was a man of few words. Swamiji has great affection for Swami Vijnanananda, and called him the “Bishop of Allahabad.”

He published a number of important books during his thirty-eight-year stay in Allahabad. In 1904 he translated Sri Ramakrishna’s life and Teachings by Suresh Chandra Datta from Bengali into Hindi and published it as Paramahamsa-Charitra. His later publications were: Jalsarvaraher Karkhana, a engineering and waterworks manual in two volumes in Bengali; translations of Varahamihira’s Brihajjataka and Surya-siddhanta, two ancient Sanskrit astrological and astronomical works, the first into English and the second into Bengali; and translations of Devi Bhagavata and Narendra Pancharatra, two famous Hindu scriptures, from Sanskrit into English.

Swami Vijnanananda practiced severe austerities fifteen hours a day for ten years while at the Brahmavadin Club. In 1910 he bought a house and a vacant plot across the road from it in the Muthiganj area of Allahabad. He turned the house into a Ramakrishna Monastery and built another house on the vacant plot for a charitable homeopathic dispensary.

In the beginning the financial condition of the Allahabad Ramakrishna Math was poor. There were only few devotees and Swami Vijnanananda had to take out a loan of 4,100 rupees in order to buy the house. A Muslim horse-carriage driver collected monthly subscriptions for the Ashrama from some of those devotees.

Since Swami Vijnanananda was an engineer, he was always consulted regarding the construction of the Ramakrishna Mission’s hospitals or temples. In 1909 the swami went to Varanasi to supervise the construction of the Ramakrishna Mission Home of service, and in the year 1910 to Kankhal ( Hardwar)

In the latter part of his life, Swami Vijnanananda visited various holy places.

From 1919 to 1920 he supervised the construction of the Vivekananda Temple at Belur Math.

In 1937, after Akhandananda passed away, Swami Vijnanananda became the president of the Ramakrishna Order.

Swami Brahamananda once remarked, “Vijnanananda is a hidden knower of Brahman.”

Another important characteristic of Swami Vijnanananda was his wonderful sense of humour. The Swami was very fond of Beni-His attendant in Allahabad. Once Swami Vijnanananda wrote a letter to Beni from Belur math and asked a monk to write the address of the Allahabad Ashrama on the envelope. The letter was addressed to Dr. Beni Madav, M.A.B.L., LL.D. The monk, out of curiosity, asked, “Maharaj, who is he?” The swami only smiled. Another monk indicated that it was Beni, the swami’s servant. All laughed. Beni served Swami Vijnanananda until the swami passed away.

Swami Shivananda had laid the foundation stone for Ramakrishna Temple on 13 th March 1929. Afterwards, when the new temple site was selected in July of 1935, Swami Vijnanananda had to re-lay the same stone one hundred feet south. It took three years to construct the main part of the temple.

On 12 January 1938 Swami Vijnanananda came to Belur Math from Allahabad for the consecration of the Ramakrishna Temple. On Friday, 14 January 1938, the swami got up early in the morning and put on a ochre cloth. He said to his attendant: “When I install the master in the new temple, I shall say to Swamiji: Your consecrated deity has now been installed in the temple you planned. You said that you would watch from on high. Please see now that the master is seated in the new temple.”

Swami Vijnanananda’s health was not good, so it was arranged for a car to take him from the math building to the new temple. A monk brought the relics of the Master from the old shrine and handed them to Swami Vijnanananda who waited in the car. Then the procession moved to the accompaniment of conches, bells, and the burning of incense. A group of singers led the procession, singing the famous Bengali song in praise of Sri Ramakrishna that begins with “Eshechhe nutan manush dekhbi yadi ay chole” (A new man has appeared; come if you want to see him). The procession reached the new temple at 6:30 a.m. Swami Vijnanananda entered the inner sanctum, placed the relics of Sri Ramakrishna on the altar, and offered the flowers.

Swami Vijnanananda passed away on Monday 25 th April 1938.

Some people in this world are selected by God to carry out His mission; it is God who decides what He will do through them and for how long. Sri Ramakrishna told Vijnanananda, “You belong to the Divine Mother and you will have to do a lot of work for Her.” The swami obeyed his guru’s order. He taught and inspired many people, less through lecturing than through his exemplary life, which was full of purity and renunciation.

Sayings of Swami Vijnananandaji

“Practise what you studied in the primary book in your childhood days: Always speak truth and do not steal or covet other’s things. Follow these two moral principles, and then everything else will take care of itself.”

“Japam means repeating the Lord’s name. It dose not matter what mood you are in, you should continue your japam. Know for certain that you are separate from the mind. Don’t pay any attention to whether you have joy or misery in your mind.”