Srimat Swami Atmasthanandaji’s Mahasamadhi
The sad news of the mahasamadhi of our dear and revered President Srimat Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj on Sunday, 18 June, was communicated to our centres on the same day.
Revered Maharaj had been undergoing treatment at Seva Pratishthan since 21 February 2015 (for more than two years) for old-age ailments. In February and April 2016 his health condition became quite critical: In February owing to urinary tract infection with high fever and episodes of low blood pressure, and in April owing to infection in chest and urinary tract. On both these occasions, his health condition was stabilized with intensive medical care. Subsequently, on 14 June 2017, the double J stent in his left ureter was replaced. Although Maharaj’s health was stable after this procedure, his condition started deteriorating on 17 June and, on the following day, he passed away owing to septic shock and multi-organ failure at 5:30 pm. He was 98.
The news was broadcast over radio and television the same night and published in several newspapers of India and Bangladesh the following morning.
The body of Revered Maharaj was brought to Belur Math at 9.25 pm on 18 June and was kept in the Cultural Hall behind President Maharaj’s quarters. A large number of our monastic brothers from branch centres, and thousands of disciples, devotees, admirers and friends, estimated at 50,000, thronged the Math premises throughout the night and the next day to pay their last respects and homage. On the 19th at 8.10 pm, the body of Revered Maharaj was taken in a procession to the courtyard in front of the Math Office and kept on a high platform in a decorated pandal till 9 pm. It was then carried in a procession to President Maharaj’s quarters stopping on the way for a short time in front of each temple at the Math. When the procession reached President Maharaj’s quarters, the body was kept there for a while and a 21-gun salute was accorded by the West Bengal Police as a mark of respect to Revered Maharaj, at the instance of West Bengal Chief Minister. The last rites of cremation started at 10 pm and were over by 1.30 am. Despite showers in the evening which continued up to late night, a large number of monks and devotees stayed till the end of cremation rites.
Condolence messages were received from many dignitaries and institutions, among them the following may be mentioned: Sri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India; Sri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Sri Tathagata Roy, Governor of Tripura; Ms Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal; Sri Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura; Sri H Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka; Sadhu Keshavjivandas, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Ahmedabad; Sri Mohan Bhagawat, Chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh; Divine Life Society of South Africa, Durban; ISKCON, Mayapur; Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari; Brahma Kumaris, Kolkata office; and Sivananda Ashram, Ahmedabad.
Special worship and bhandara in memory of Revered Maharaj were held at Belur Math on Friday, 30 June. Devotees thronged the Math in large numbers from the early hours of the day. Prasad was served to about 52,000 devotees. Swami Smarananandaji presided over the memorial meeting held in the afternoon. An estimated 85,000 people visited the Math that day. Memorial Meeting Photo Gallery.
Known in his pre-monastic life as Satyakrishna Bhattacharya, Swami Atmasthanandaji was born on the holy Buddha Purnima day in May 1919, at Sabajpur, near Dhaka. He received mantra diksha from Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj in 1938 and joined the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math on 3 January 1941 at the age of 22 years. In 1945, he received from Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the sixth President of the Order, Brahmacharya vows, and in 1949, Sannyasa ordination.
After serving the Order at Belur Math and the branches at Deoghar (Vidyapith) and Mayavati (Advaita Ashrama), he got the opportunity to serve Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the then President of the Order, for a long time. He spent several years in his holy company in the solitude of Shyamla Tal Ashrama in the Himalayas. In 1952, he was posted to Ranchi TB Sanatorium where he served as its Assistant Secretary. He worked hard to expand the Sanatorium’s services in many ways. He was sent to Rangoon (Yangon) Sevashrama as its Secretary in 1958. He developed the Sevashrama hospital, and it soon became the best hospital in Burma (Myanmar) at that time. When military rulers took over Rangoon Sevashrama, he returned to India in 1965. He was posted to Rajkot branch as its head in 1966. The beautiful temple of Sri Ramakrishna at Rajkot Ashrama was built during his tenure on his initiative.
He was elected a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and Member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1973. In 1975, he was appointed an Assistant Secretary of the twin organizations. He became the General Secretary of the Math and Mission in 1992 and continued to be in that post for five years till 1997 when he became a Vice-President of the Order. He was elected President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission on 3 December 2007.
Swami Atmasthanandaji travelled extensively in various parts of the country and visited many branches of the Order and some unaffiliated centres. In 1998, he visited various places in the USA, Canada, Japan and Singapore. He also went to Malaysia, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at different times. In all those places, he spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and Vedanta.
Among his several contributions to the development of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission’s service programmes the following deserve special mention. The Integrated Rural Development Project, known as “Pallimangal” which introduced the ideas of self-employment and women’s self-empowerment in rural areas in and around Kamarpukur and Jayrambati, owes its existence to his initiative and persistent effort. The “Samaj Sevak Sikshana Mandira”, attached to Saradapitha, is another project started by him to impart training to village youths in various trades, rural development and leadership skills. It was his initiative which saw the birth of Pre-Probationers’ Training Centre (PPTC) at Belur Math as a potential joining centre for novices. With the construction of “Arogya Bhavan” in Belur Math he fulfilled the longstanding need for a monastic home to take care of old and ailing sadhus. He was the Secretary in charge of Relief & Rehabilitation department at the Headquarters for 17 long years. During his tenure he reorganized the department and transformed its ad hoc mode of functioning into a permanent institution with its own funds and infrastructural facilities. Under his stewardship, massive relief and rehabilitation operations were conducted in various parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
He will be remembered for his dynamic leadership, efficiency in administration with a capacity for making quick and daring decisions, and above all, for his deep concern for the poor and the underprivileged. Manliness, openness and love were the hallmarks of his personality. His wit and humour and contagious positive energy won him the love and admiration of all those who came in contact with him. His devotion and dedication to the Divine Cause of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda were exemplary and a great inspiration to the followers of the Ramakrishna Ideal.
His mahasamadhi has left a huge void that is difficult to fill. In him the Order has lost an inspirational leader.
Swami Smarananandaji has been elected ‘President during vacancy’ of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, until the new President is elected. He is in good health.
Swami Vagishanandaji is keeping well at Cossipore Math.
Swami Gautamanandaji is scheduled to visit Salem, Madurai and Konampatti from 3 to 8 July, Belur Math from 15 to 20 July and Sri Lanka from 23 July to 8 August. Presently at Chennai Math, he is in good health.
Swami Prabhanandaji will be visiting Baghbazar Math from 10 to 15 July. He is keeping well. Swami Suhitanandaji is scheduled to return to Belur Math on 8 July after his visit to Dubai, England and Ireland. He will be visiting Varanasi from 22 to 28 July. He is in good health.
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have been listed in the World Book of Records, London, as a spiritual movement working for the harmony of religions. In the award ceremony held in this regard at Indore on 17 June, Swami Nirvikarananda, Head of Indore centre, received a trophy, a medal and a citation on behalf of the Headquarters.
Celebration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sister Nivedita
Centres in India:
Burdwan centre conducted a devotees’ convention and a youth convention on 12 and 13 June respectively in which altogether 550 people took part. Swami Suhitanandaji presided over both the conventions. Read More.
Kankurgachhi Math held a seminar on Sister Nivedita at Khanakul in Hooghly district on 24 June which was attended by 350 students and teachers.
Srinagar centre held a music programme and a devotees’ convention on 10 and 11 June in which altogether 125 people took part.
Swamiji’s Ancestral House held four lectures between 29 May and 16 June at the centre which were attended altogether by 1330 people. During the same period four discourses were held, on the centre’s initiative, in and around Kolkata which were attended by 1500 people in all.
Vadodara centre conducted a seminar on ‘youth empowerment and leadership’ on 5 June which was attended by 200 people.
Manasadwip Ashrama conducted a teachers’ convention on 18 June in which 140 teachers from 54 schools of Sagar Island participated. Read More.
Centres outside India:
Durban (South Africa) centre held three lectures at Pietermaritzburg sub-centre, University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Indian Consulate in Johannesburg on 12, 17 and 20 May respectively. Altogether, 350 people attended the lectures.
Sydney (Australia) centre held a series of programmes comprising speeches and cultural events at Gold Coast, Brisbane and Toowoomba cities, all in Queensland, Australia, from 26 to 28 May. In all, about 730 people attended the events.
Website: The website address of Swamiji’s Ancestral House has been changed to <www.vivekanandahome.org>.
News of Branch Centres
The General Secretary inaugurated the newly constructed building comprising cabins for patients and an ICU at Vrindaban centre on 7 June. Read More.
Sri Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Meghalaya, visited Vivekananda Cultural Centre of Shillong centre on 3 June.
A student of Aalo school was awarded bronze medal in the International Taekwondo Championship held by Bhutan Taekwondo Federation from 26 to 28 May at Thimphu, Bhutan.
Aalo centre conducted a medical camp at Taba Sora village of West Siang district on 16 June in which 71 patients were treated. Also, an educative film was screened to create awareness about malaria.
Narottam Nagar centre observed World Environment Day on 5 June by planting 260 saplings on the centre’s campus. Read More.
On 11 June, Rajamahendravaram (Rajahmundry) centre conducted a free medical camp at Rampachodavaram, a place mostly inhabited by tribal people. A team of 18 doctors, including a few specialists, treated 682 patients.
Three-day Teachers Training Workshop was organized by Gwalior centre, from 26 to 28 June 2017. Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Hon’ble Union Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water, Sanitation and Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan, Govt. of India, inaugurated the Workshop and different units of the school. Read More.
The Headmistress of Model Higher Secondary School of Chennai Sarada Vidyalaya received first prize, under Environmental Protection and Management category, from the Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu. The award comprising a citation and 15,000 rupees was handed over to her on 5 June.
The new building for diagnostic unit and the ground floor of the patients’ recovery building at Muzaffarpur centre were inaugurated on 9 and 12 June respectively. Read More.
A girl student of Narainpur school who stood first in the Class 12 examinations – 2017 among students of Narainpur district was selected for Swarna Sharada Scholarship instituted by IBC 24 news channel. Dr Raman Singh, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, presented her with 50,000 rupees and a citation at a function held in Raipur on 22 June.
Agartala centre organized a blood donation camp on 26 June which was inaugurated by Sri Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura. A total of 32 persons donated blood in the camp.
The following centres conducted summer camps for students. The programme included chanting, bhajans, yogasanas, values education classes, etc.
The results obtained by the students of our Pala college at the different examinations held by Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, this year are as follows. (In all these figures, Star Marks means 75% or more marks, 1st Div. 60% or more marks, 2nd Div. 45% to less than 60% marks, and 3rd Div. less than 45% marks.)
The results obtained by the students of our schools and hostels at the Secondary (Class 10) and Higher Secondary (Class 12) Examinations, 2017, conducted by different education boards are given below:
Values Education and Youth Programmes
Kankurgachhi Math conducted a values education workshop at Ramnagar in Hooghly district on 23 June which was attended by 175 students and teachers.
Delhi centre held 16 values education workshops from 5 to 29 June which were attended by 958 principals and teachers. The workshops were held in 10 states apart from Delhi.
Kochi centre held a youth camp on the theme ‘Personality Development’ from 8 to 11 June in which 30 youths took part.
Purulia Vidyapith conducted a residential camp on values education from 29 May to 1 June in which 86 tribal students participated.
Swachchha Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign)
Coimbatore Mission Vidyalaya conducted four cleaning drives in June in which the Vidyalaya students cleaned some public places including a school and two government offices.
Kamarpukur centre carried out a cleanliness drive on 25 June.
We are sorry to announce the passing away of two of our brother-monks.
Swami Tejorupananda (Badal) expired under tragic circumstances on 5 June in the morning at Belur Math. He was 39 and had been suffering from psychiatric problems for some years. An initiated disciple of Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj, he joined the Order at Kamarpukur centre in 2003 and had Sannyasa from Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj in 2012. Besides his joining centre, he served at our centres in Chandipur, Sikra-Kulingram, Gurap, Swamiji’s Ancestral House and Belur Math (for a brief period). The Swami was simple and amiable by nature.
Swami Chinmayanandaji (Santosh Maharaj) passed away at our Kankhal hospital on 14 June at 7.15 pm owing to a sudden cardiac arrest. He was 83 and had been suffering from old-age ailments for some years. Initiated by Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj, he joined the Order in 1964 at Delhi centre and had Sannyasa from his Guru in 1974. Besides his joining centre, he served at Asansol, Gol Park, Narottam Nagar, Itanagar, Seva Pratishthan, Ranchi Sanatorium, Varanasi Home of Service, Kankhal and Jayrambati centres as an assistant and Almora centre as the head. Besides, he served Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj for about five months in 1970, participated in relief work at Arambag (West Bengal) in 1978-79 and at Barmer (Rajasthan) in 1988. He was also sent to Kathmandu (Nepal) in 1997 to explore the possibility of starting a centre there. He had been living a retired life mainly at Kankhal centre for the last nine years. The Swami’s gentlemanly manners and behaviour endeared him to all who came in contact with him. He had good communicative skills which enabled him to establish a connect with his audience, particularly the youth.