Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha | "For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world".
Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), the prophet of harmony of universal religion, was born at Kamarpukur – a village of Hooghly district in West Bengal. He was at a critical period when the disciplines of an ideal life were disappearing due to the impact of materialistic pursuits. During his twelve years of strenuous SADHANA at Dakshineswar – the northern side of Kolkata, he practised all the branches of Vedic religion, then Islam and Christianity. Each religion according to him is based on one’s own experience and realization of the Divinity within. He affirmed that one must be sincere, earnest, regular and diligent in spiritual practice. He taught that every religion is true, all creeds and sects aim to reach the same goal, which he also called God. The highest thing man can achieve in life is, according to him, attainment of a moral and spiritual level where he can never deviate from what he knows to be truth. This is what is called God-realization or self realization; It is also known as liberation or salvation. Following in his steps, both Holy Mother Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda preached the same ideal.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) who was the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna came under his influence and later embraced monastic life with several other young disciples of His. He traveled all over India coming in contact with Indian rulers, scholars as well as common people of every walk of life. Subsequently, he went to attend the 1893 World Parliament of Religions at Chicago, U.S.A. He also visited the European countries preaching what he called Vedanta-the eternal principles underlying Universal Religion which were convincingly demonstrated in the life of his Master. Swami Vivekananda’s clarion call inspired the Indian people to rebuild their country and he gave the motto “for the liberation of the self and good of the world”.
HISTORY OF RAMAKRISHNA MATH AND RAMAKRISHNA MISSION
Sri Ramakrishna was born in 1836 in a pious Brahmin family of Kamarpukur, a remote village in West Bengal. He attained an exalted state of Spiritual illumination. Shortly after the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna in August 1886, a monastic order bearing his name was organized in pursuance of his own instructions, with a monastery (Math) at Baranagar, a northern suburb of Kolkata by his sannyasin disciples headed by Swami Vivekananda. Gradually it set for itself a twofold ideal: to create a band of sannyasin teachers of Vedanta as propounded by Sri Ramakrishna and practically illustrated in His own life; and in conjunction with the lay disciples to carry on missionary and philanthropic work, looking upon all, irrespective of caste, creed or colour, as veritable manifestations of the Divine. For some time the latter work was carried on through an association called the Ramakrishna Mission Association, started by Swami Vivekananda in May 1897, shortly after his return from West. In 1899 he shifted the Math, which had changed places by then, to its present site at Belur, across the river Ganga, about six kilometers north of Howrah Railway Station, where it set itself more vigorously to the task of training a band of monks inspired with the twin ideals of Self-realization and service to the world.
The Ramakrishna Math was registered as a trust in 1901. To facilitate the work of the Mission Association and for giving it a legal status, a society named the Ramakrishna Mission was registered in 1909 under Act XXI of 1860 (see Appendices A and B). Its management was vested in a Governing Body. Both the Math and Mission gradually extended their spheres of activity, as a result of which a number of branches in different parts of the country and abroad came into existence.
Though the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are independent, the central administration is vested in the same Governing Body with their Headquarters at Belur Math in the district of Howrah in West Bengal.
The Math and Mission own separate funds and keep separate accounts, through the Math and the Mission receive grants from the Central and State Government and public bodies for their social and welfare activities, the other activities of the Math are financed from the offerings received, sale of publications, etc. and the Mission is supported by fees from students, public donations, etc. Accounts of both the Math and the Mission are annually audited by qualified auditors.
Excluding the headquarters at Belur, there are in May 2015, 178 branches of which 65 are Mission Centres, 22 combined Math and Mission Centres and 46 Math Centres. Out of 178 Centres, 132 are located in India and 45 abroad.
Besides maintaining a number of ashrams and temples with their programme of worship, religious services and preaching, the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission run several schools, colleges, libraries, students’ homes, hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, old-age homes, etc.
The Ramakrishna Movement has contributed largely to the uplift of the downtrodden. Its services, especially in the fields of education, running of hospitals and undertaking relief work in times of distress, are quite well known.
THE MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION OF THE RAMAKRISHNA MISSION
Registered On The 4th May, 1909, Under Act XXI Of 1860, Registration No. 1917/3 For 1909-10. Revised According To West Bengal Act XXVI Of 1961.
1. The name of the Association is THE RAMAKRISHNA MISSION. It may also be Spelt as RAMAKRISHNA MISSION.
2. The objects of the Association are :
a] To impart and promote the study of the Vedanta and its principles as propounded by Sri Ramakrishna and practically illustrated by his own life, and of Comparative Theology in its widest form.
b] i) To impart, promote and undertake the study of and research in the arts, sciences, technologies and industries, in all their branches, both basic and applied.
ii) To undertake scientific research in the area of medical sciences.
c] To train teachers in all branches of knowledge above mentioned and enable them to reach the masses.
d] To carry on educational work among the masses.
e] To establish, maintain, carry on and assist schools, colleges, universities, research institutions, libraries, auditoriums orphanages, workshops, laboratories, hospitals, dispensaries, houses for the aged, the infirm, the invalid and any other educational, medical, cultural and social welfare service activities and training institutions and charitable works and institutions of a like nature.
f] To print and publish and to sell or distribute, gratuitously or otherwise, journals, periodicals, books or leaflets that the Association may think desirable for the promotion of its objects.
g] To carry on any other work which may seem to the Association capable of being conveniently carried on in connection with and calculated directly or indirectly to promote any of the before-mentioned objects.