Swami Gautamanandaji Maharaj : New President of the Ramakrishna Order 2024

Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math

Swami Gautamanandaji Maharaj was elected the President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission at the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Math and the Governing Body of the Mission held at Belur Math on 24 April 2024. He is the 17th President of the twin organizations. He succeeds Swami Smarananandaji Maharaj who passed away on 26 March 2024.

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Swami Gautamanandaji was born in Bengaluru in 1929, though his ancestors were all from Tamil Nadu.  In his youth days, he came in contact with Bengaluru branch of the Ramakrishna Order, headed by Swami Yatishwarananda Maharaj (1889–1966).   He received Mantra Diksha (spiritual initiation) from Swami Yatishwaranandaji in 1955.  The following year, he embraced monastic life by joining New Delhi branch of the Ramakrishna Mission as per the advice of his guru.  He spent six years in Delhi centre getting introduced to monastic life and serving in different departments.

He received Brahmacharya vows from Swami Vishuddhanandaji Maharaj (in 1962) and Sannyasa ordination and the name ‘Swami Gautamananda’ (in 1966) from Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj, the 10th President of the Ramakrishna Order.

In 1964, he moved from Delhi to the Mission’s centre in Sohra (formerly Cherrapunjee) and then to the centre in Mumbai.  In these two centres he served for about 12 years altogether.  Subsequently, he was appointed the head of the Mission’s centre in the remote tribal village Aalo (formerly Along) in Arunachal Pradesh in 1976.  He served there for 13 long years bringing the light of education to tribal children.  During his leadership, the centre in Aalo attained national stature and reached new heights.

He became a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and a Member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission in March 1990.  Thereafter, he served brief stints as the head of Raipur and Narainpur centres (in Chhattisgarh) and Saradapitha centre (adjacent to Belur Math).

From Saradapitha he went on to become the head of Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, in 1995—a responsibility that he shouldered for almost three decades. Under his stewardship, the activities and influence of this important branch expanded significantly.  He also lent his support to the starting of new branches of the Math and Mission in places like Puducherry (a union territory), Kadapa & Tirupati (in Andhra Pradesh), Chengam, Thanjavur, Thirumukkudal & Villupuram (in Tamil Nadu), and nurtured scores of unaffiliated centres in Tamil Nadu.

He started his spiritual ministry in 2012 following the authorization given to him by the Trustees to give spiritual initiation to devotees.  A few years later, in 2017, he was elected a Vice-President of the Order.

As a Diksha Guru and Vice-President, he travelled extensively in India and different parts of the world and visited the branches of the Math and Mission and also unaffiliated centres in those places.  Through those visits he endeavoured to spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and Vedanta among a vast number of people and gave Mantra Diksha to many spiritual seekers.  He has contributed several articles to various journals of the Ramakrishna Order.  His physical fitness, mental alertness and jovial nature even at this advanced age are an inspiration to the younger generation

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