Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha | "For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world".
ORIGIN OF THE MANASADWIP ASHRAMA
We learn from “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Leelaprasanga” written by Swami Saradananda, that Srimat Totapuri, who was the Master’s Guru in his Sadhana in Advaitavad (practice in Monism), had arrived at Dakshineswar as a wandering monk on his way back from Gangasagar to the North-Western region of India.
The Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama of Manasadwip is located in Sagar Island which was rather a flourishing area till the end of the Moghul period as is found in historical records. With repeated attacks and depredations caused by Portuguese and Arakan pirates drawn by the Island’s prosperity and moreover with successive natural disasters including inundation of the Island by high tidal waves, earthquakes and cyclones, the place became desolate with the passage of time. Soon ferocious animals of the Sundarbans, like tigers, snakes, crocodiles, etc. made it their habitat. From time immemorial, no doubt, religious people from all over India visited the Temple of Kapil Muni at the confluence of the River Ganga and the Bay of Bengal to have their annual religious dip into the sea on the day of Makar Sankranti of the Bengali year (middle of January). In those days the people used to come here from the mainland by country boat with the risk of life and danger of attack from wild animals, etc. The population of the Island is now about 2 lakh and its area is about 360 sq kms. Communication to the Island from the mainland as well as within is very difficult. Till 1950, therefore, the Island remained backward both from the viewpoint of education and culture.
In 1913 a branch centre of the Ramakrishna Mission was started at Contai, Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal on the other side of the river Hooghly. To meet the expenses of the centre the Zemindars of Magra in Sagar Island donated some arable lands to the Mission. This was to call the workers of the centre to cross the river from the Medinipur side in order to look after the cultivated lands of the centre. One of such workers was Rev. Rakhal Maharaj (Swami Ishtananda) of Contai Centre. He stayed in the Island against many odds. By his constant endeavour he inspired some local people to realise the basic need of education of the people around mostly local people. With their co-operation and help he started to teach some local boys from alphabet level in his dwelling Kuthia (hut) which thereafter shifted as primary school in the residence of Late Gobinda Prasad Gayen of village Purusottampur. It was subsequently, after the foundation of Mission centre at Manasadwip in April 1928, shifted in a cottage for the purpose on a piece of land donated to the centre by Late Karnakar Jana of the same village.
Late Swami Ishtanandaji Maharaj is regarded as initiation guide in the field of Education and culture as due to his diligent effort and dedicated service only, the Sagar Island presently stands at par with the mainland.