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Ramakrishna OrderHeadquarters, Belur Math
The Ramakrishna Order of monks, which came into existence in 1886 with the blessings of Sri Ramakrishna, started formally in an old dilapidated building at Baranagore. It was subsequently moved to two other places and was finally established at the present site at Belur (now known as Belur Math) by Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886). The consecration of the Math was performed by the Swami on 9 December 1898 and the monastery was housed at this place from January 1899.
Official website: www.belurmath.org
Activities of the Math and the Mission
The work of the Ramakrishna Math (registered in 1901) and the Ramakrishna Mission (registered in 1909), which was put on a firm foundation by Swami Vivekananda, has steadily grown over the years and the number of centres has multiplied. They now have 171 branches in different parts of India and abroad, devoted to the twin ideals of contemplative life and social service.
The Math and the Mission run 15
hospitals, 89 out-patient dispensaries, 29 mobile dispensaries, 12 colleges, 194
schools, 4 polytechnics, 97 hostels and students' homes, 5 orphanages, more than
180 libraries, 10 major publishing houses, 1 blind boys' academy, 2 institutes of
agriculture, 4 rural development training institutes, and several other institutions
dedicated to philanthropic, cultural, and spiritual service. The twin organizations
are also consistently active in rendering relief to the victims of earthquakes,
floods, famines, epidemics, cyclones, riots, and other such calamities.
All these activities are undertaken in the spirit of worship, which has been expressed by Swami Vivekananda as follows: 'This is the gist of all worship: to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva (God) in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased really worships Shiva.'
The Ramakrishna Mission is not a mere social service organization. It is essentially a spiritual organization with a clear-cut social philosophy and social commitment. Ramakrishna Math and Mission have set in motion a non-sectarian, universal spiritual movement which has been silently working for more than a hundred years to catalyze the spiritual regeneration of humanity.
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Sprawling over several acres of
land on the western bank of the Hooghly (Ganga), is a place of pilgrimage for people
from all over the world professing different religious faiths. Even people not interested
in religion come here for the peace it exudes.
Sanctified by the stay of Swami Vivekananda, most of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and several other illumined monks, the Belur Math premises include the main monastery, several temples, and the headquarters of the twin organizations Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. In a world torn by hatred and fragmented by self-aggrandizement, the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission stand as a symbol of the eternal truths of religion tested and embodied by Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda and their message of harmony of religions, divinity of the soul, renunciation, and service.
Free from bigotry and sectarianism, rational and modern in outlook, the Math and the Mission are committed to the task of ushering in a new age in which the distinctions of caste, creed and class do not exist, we reach fullness in God, and all our activities are carried out as an act of worship. The aim of the Ramakrishna Movement is the regeneration of the entire humanity.
The emblem of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission was designed by Swami Vivekananda. He also explained its meaning in the following words: 'The wavy waters in the picture are symbolic of karma; the lotus, of bhakti; and the rising sun, of jnana. The encircling serpent is indicative of yoga and the awakened kundalini shakti, while the swan in the picture stands for the Paramatman (Supreme Self). Therefore the idea of the picture is that by the union of karma, jnana, bhakti, and yoga, the vision of the Paramatman is obtained.'