Renunciation, that is the flag, the banner of India, floating over the world, the one undying thought which India sends again and again as a warning to dying races, as a warning to all tyranny, as a warning to wickedness in the world. Ay, Hindus, let not your hold of that banner go. Hold it aloft. Even if you are weak and cannot renounce, do not lower the ideal.
Count down begun
The news of my transfer from South African Durban Centre has spread like a wild fire. I have been receiving lots and lots of mails, smses, phone calls and visits from innumerable devotees, friends and admirers of the ashram. The surge of emotion that fills the hearts of so many well-wishers is just overwhelming to say the least. Nonetheless, the time has come and I must announce the final date of departure to every one; yes the count down has begun! It’s just 50 days left for 30th December 2014.
One close devotee in a sad tone remarked the other day that I was a ‘guardian angel’ to her children and they would definitely miss me. I reassured her that the case is not so. We, in the Ramakrishna Order have a wonderful system of passing on the heritage to the next comers and it is this tradition that makes all the difference and also makes the stream of angel’s presence flow uninterruptedly. If one ‘guard’ goes then another ‘guard’ comes in. Who remains is not any more a matter but what sustains is all that one needs.
A whiff of fresh air
So, it was a joyous occasion for all of us to extend a hearty welcome to the new incumbent Revered Swami Vishwatmanandaji Maharaj on the last Saturday special satsang at Sri Ramakrishna Temple in Glen Anil, Durban. I handed over the ‘Charge’ to him one day before that is on the 7 November 2014 in the morning when we had a Trustees’ Meeting. Thus my tenure that lasted for seven years, seven months and seven days came to an end.
Revered Maharaj arrived at Durban from Mumbai on the 5 November which was a holy day – the birth tithi of Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj, one of the direct disciples of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna. There we two resident Swamis along with Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya and some senior officials received him. It was my honour to garland him and utter ‘swaagatam, suswaagatam‘!
The Satsang function went off very well. In the traditional welcome that was accorded to him, brother Saradaprabhananda garlanded Revered Maharaj. In my Welcome address, I alluded to the oft-repeated question that was put to me : How is the new Swamiji? I answered that every one of the monks was unique and one could never find a carbon copy of another. Swami Vivekananda has strongly recommended us to be ‘original’ and hence no two Swamis will be alike. Yet a thread of unity courses through our veins and breath that gives a ‘holistic’ whole instead of segmented parts. That is called ‘Ramakrishna-sutra’ that binds every one with love, compassion and empathy.
Still the curiosity remains as to know about him. Revered Swami Vishwatmanandaji joined the Ramakrishna Order in 1968. Maharaj has served in various capacities at the Ramakrishna Ashrama (Rajkot), Ramakrishna Mission Higher Secondary Residential School (Arunachal Pradesh) until his posting to the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh in1984. A long stint of 25 years he spent in organising and running the most popular hospital service in the capital city unto 2009.
Here only I came into close contact with Revered Maharaj for nearly four years. The hospital has just started taking its wings of multi-various development. A stern administrator was the need of the hour and he fulfilled his role very admirably.
From 2009 to this year, Maharaj has been the Coordinator of the nationwide (India) humanitarian and educational projects undertaken by the Ramakrishna Mission to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. This work took him all around India to monitor various welfare projects. He is a silent worker. When I think of the enormity of tasks involved in his work, the smooth sailing of his responsibility that he carried on his shoulders without much ado is amazing and it shows how humble he is.
He is an initiated disciple of Swami Vireshwarananda, tenth President of the Ramakrishna Order from whom he also had his monastic vows in 1978. Three years later I also had the blessed opportunity to have sannyasa from the same sangha-guru.
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Ramakrishna Centre takes special care of growing number of students in its congregations. There is a regular weekly class on Hinduism at every Sub-centre and its main centre. Annually all the children come together for staging the most memorable Children’s Cultural Function. Twice in a year the centre conducts a sort of Retreat for these children. These programmes make different aspects of our ancient wisdom and practice familiar to the children and youth.