Spiritual sojourn

Welcome to South Africa!

Next Thursday night i.e., on July 15, 2010, His Holiness Sri Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj, the Head of our New Delhi Ramakrishna Mission branch will be with us in Durban.

Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj

He is eagerly looking forward to pay a 15-day visit to this Rainbow nation wherein he is scheduled to participate in the functions organised by our Centres. All arrangements to give a warm welcome to him at the King Shaka International Airport by Swami Saradaprabhanandaji, self and Chairperson Ramesh Ishwarlaal with some senior officials of the Centre are set.

I have fond memories of dear brother Shantatmanandaji’s amiable nature. I had the privileged moments to be with him especially during Sri Sri Jagaddhatri Puja for long 12 years in Ranchi Sanatorium.  He was the leader of a team of monks and volunteer-devotees who would without fail visit Ranchi in the month of Kartik (Oct-Nov), to conduct the renowned Puja. He could carry every one with him by his jovial and pleasant behaviour.

While accepting our hearty invitation to make a visit here, he said that he takes “the entire trip as a spiritual journey”.  He further said: “I have very wonderful and pleasant memories of the devotees of South Africa whom I had the occasion to meet in New Delhi during their trips to India.  So, I really look forward to this spiritual journey.”

In a communication to our Chairman Ramesh Ishwarlall, the Swami said: “The South Africa centre is growing from strength to strength every day under the wonderful leadership of your noble self and others.  I am sure it is going to occupy a very high position amongst our centres all over the world.”

Early days

Being a volunteer in the Bangalore Ashram, Shantatmanandaji known popularly as ‘Jaishankar Maharaj’ formally joined the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in 1977 and was initiated into spiritual life by Srimat Swami Vireswaranandaji – the 10th President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission and also was ordained a monk of the Ramakrishna Order in 1986. While in Belur Math, staying for 30 years, he had the blessed opportunity to come into close contact with several luminary-Swamis of the Order.

Stint of service

His expertise in the area of Financial Administration and Fund Management has been the cornerstone of the financial transparency and accountability at the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math (Kolkata). During his tenure, the branch centres of the world-wide Ramakrishna Mission received new impetus in streamlining their financial records and policies.

The other areas which continue to relentlessly engage him with Human Development are Disaster Management and Value Education. The Swami is a self-professed advocate of character building and man-making Value Education based on the universal insights, which are common to all spiritual traditions, as presented by  Vivekananda and Vedanta, which he feels should impact our educational structure and policies extensively.

Women, Youth and children

I visited in 2007 Sarada Seva Sangha, an NGO in the suburbs of Kolkata. This is managed by one hundred trained women volunteers. The  leaders of SSS went all the way to receive me and arrange a cultural program in honour of my visit which I shall ever cherish. Swami Shantatmanandaji was a pioneering influence in setting up this Organisation in the field of Women’s Empowerment, which is a developmental area close to his vision of Nation-Building. The Sangha is managed and administered by women and its focus area is the service of women and children.

Swami Shantatmanandaji is very close to youngsters and inspires them towards a life of purpose, dedication and service with a rare passion that is characteristic of the mission of Swami Vivekananda.

Outer ring Service

He is passionately involved in the interfaith dialogue leading to closer understanding between different faiths and is deeply committed to all peace initiatives.

Swamiji conducts regular discourses in English and Bengali as also in Tamil and Hindi in rare occasions.

After he took over charge of the Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi, Swami Shantatmanandaji has visited Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Russia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Poland on lecture tours, besides visiting many cities in India on invitation to give lectures on different spiritual topics.

New Delhi Centre

Ramakrishna Temple at New Delhi Ramakrishna Mission

This centre was started in 1927 and made a branch of the Mission in 1930.

Activities at a glance:

1. A library with separate sections for children and university students. It had 43,177 general books, and 192 newspapers and periodicals.

2. A computer training centre with 762 students.

3. A free coaching centre for 95 children studying in municipal schools in and around the ashrama.

4. A homoeopathic dispensary, which treated 23,515 cases during the year.

5. A mobile medical unit, which treated 14,788 cases this year.

6. A modern free TB clinic at Karol Bagh, which treated 21,553 outpatient cases this year. Under the home treatment scheme, the clinic extended its medical services to patients unable to attend in person, through their contacts.

7. A medical centre in the TB clinic premises, providing specialist consultancy services. It served 49,083 patients during the year.

8. Religious activities: There were 257 religious discourses on weekdays and Sundays in the ashrama this year. Moreover, 100 occasional lectures were delivered in various cultural institutions and 101 value education programmes conducted in various educational institutions. Regular Sunday classes were held at Delhi University. Besides, the birth anniversaries of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda were celebrated at the ashrama and in other localities in Delhi.

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16 comments

  1. Revered Swamijee
    Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Please accept humble pranam!
    We are all eagerly awaiting to meet Revered Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj. It will be a rare opportunity indeed to be in the holy company of three highly spiritual personalities on the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima. As the excitement for the World Cup is coming to an end, the arrival of Revered Delhi Swamijee is indeed a refreshing change and something to really look forward to.
    Jai Sri Thakur!
    With loving pranam!
    avitha
    Pietermaritzburg, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Avitha
      Yes, the visit of Delhi Swamiji was my cherished desire in all these three years of my stay here. I was just at one time wondering whether this would be possible at all in case my Visa from the local government was not renewed as it was to expire on 24th June this year. By the grace of Master, my Visa has now been extended for another three years coinciding with the good news of his acceptance of my invitation. Visit of a monk from our Order always brings me and to a host of devotees like you undoubtedly, a great joy and imagine how beneficial to every one when the Swami would share his knowledge and experience. Facilitating such visits is nothing less than organising ‘sadhu-sanga’.
      May your devotion for service to monks be on increase!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  2. Respected Maharaj
    Please accept our respectful pronam.
    We are glad to know that Revered Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj, the Head of our New Delhi Ramakrishna Mission branch will visit the rainbow nation on 15th of this month. We hope revered Swami Shantatmananda Maharj will be with you all on Guru Purnima. Maharaj if possible please let us know how you all perform that auspicious day.
    Our pronam
    Amitav and Sharmistha Dhar
    Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Sharmishtha and Amitav
      Yes, this year we are fortunate that brother Shantatmanandaji will be with us. We are celebrating Guru Purnima on the ensuing Sunday, 25 July. Morning 8 to 9 first Sri Guru Puja along with the daily Master’s puja. Then 9 30 to 10 15 am there will be a Satsang wherein bhajans and hymns and also reading will be there. Then all devotees so far assembled in the Temple would walk down to Nishchalananda Hall where a Public Meeting program will be held. Since it is Guru purnima day, all the three monks viz, Delhi Swami, self and brother Saradaprabhanandaji would speak on Sri Ramakrishna as Guru, Ma Sarada as Guru and Swamiji as Guru respectively. These speeches will be interspersed with the famous Manesh Maharaj’s solo dance on Ganesha, Durga and Shiva.
      May Master guide you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  3. Revered Maharaj
    My sastanga pronam to you. Yes, indeed the devotees and the people of SA will be greatly benefitted from the spiritual journey of Revered Shantatmanandaji Maharaj.
    As one of the devotees mentioned in his mail, after the FIFA World Cup and its hullabaloo it would be a treat to once again delve deep into the higher values of life.
    May the awakening of the inner spirit be furthered in the coming days by the grace of the Holy Trio.
    Adieu for now.
    With respectful pronam to all the monks of the Durban Ashrama.
    Yours in the Lord,
    Ritayan
    Kolkata, India

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Ritayan
      Yes, thanks for your visit and comment.
      I do consider that after the affiliation of this SA Centre with Belur Math, there are lots of interactive exchanges between the Centre and the HQ. There are more monks from India allowed to visit here. More so the devotees from this country who go to Belur Math are given everywhere a hearty hospitality. The binding sutra is the devotion to the Holy Trio.
      May Master guide you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  4. Om Namo Narayanaya.
    Pranam to Maharaj and to His Holiness Sri Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj.
    The news of the extension of Maharaj’s visa and the much anticipated visit by His Holiness Sri Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj, the Head of the New Delhi Ramakrishna Mission branch, are both reason for celebration! This is surely Sri Ramakrishna’s graciousness towards His South African devotees…and that this should happen during the period of Guru Purnima is certainly no coincidence!
    I had the good fortune of meeting Maharaj at the beautiful Delhi ashram and was even allowed the privilege of taking His Holiness’s picture which I was told was a rare occurrence. Maharaj also lovingly invited me to attend the evening’s Kali Puja as it was the auspicious period of Diwali at that time.
    Thanks to Maharaj for facilitating this visit for out benefit.
    Nirmala Balkaran
    Ladysmith, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Nirmala
      Many thanks for your hearty, appreciative words!
      Like you, those devotees who visit India and who make it a point to visit our Centres in different places do tell me on their return that how they had spent some joyful moments with the Swamis. Yes, India Centres’ hospitality is ever memorable.
      May Master guide you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  5. Revered Maharaj
    Namaskaram to you!
    Happy to find our Sri Jaishankar maharaj’s visit to the Rainbow country. It was interesting reading of a wonderful profile of our Swamiji. We are very much here in India and yet we don’t know all the deyails!!
    Your tracing the history of CCF in Durban since the time of late Swami Nischalanandaji’s days is quite absorbing! Ah! what about Thai poosam!! It was a lovely narration!
    Every time self reaches your blog, the longing to come back there grows and jumps leaps and bounds!
    pranam again.
    Dr Y Hariharan
    Chennai, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Hariharan
      Many thanks for your happy words of appreciation!
      I am pleased that you are a regular visitor to this blog. If you think it is beneficial why don’t you inform your friends and relatives to make a visit?
      May Master guide you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  6. Pronam Maharaj,
    It is indeed nice to read about the illustrious life and achievements of Jaishankar Maharaj. Thank God! you profiled it. I would like to tell a little incident here….
    Right after the demise of our most loved, Gokulananda Maharaj, Shantatmanandaji Maharaj joined the Delhi ashram. All the growing years and even after marriage we had regularly been meeting Gokulananda Maharaj and he was always so full of love, humour and almost like a “Dadu”( Grandfather), a cool fountain of affection for everyone… but when Jaishanker Maharaj took over, we met him a couple of times and found him to be a strict disciplinarian.
    But, now after so many years, after reading your citation, I understood that he has different capabilities and was created by Thakur to do different things and that is his strong point. He definitely has done and been doing great work for the community.
    Jai Maa!
    Gayatri Reddy
    Pune, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Gayatri
      Indeed I can understand your and other long-standing devotees’ predicament when ‘change of gaurd’ happens in any Centre! Devotees get ‘acclimatized’ with the Swami so far and it takes some time for them to get attuned to a new Swami. Though all the Swamis in some measure are cordial, understanding etc., yet since the new responsibility that has fallen on the shoulders, have to be fulfilled and in that process a seemingly ‘uninterested attitude’ may provoke some devotees to think otherwise. Leaving aside, as a Tamil proverb says “veettukku veedu vaasap padi’ ‘entrance steps at every home’ we have been seeing such recurring episodes but Time the great healer brings in quickly the required balance.
      I am glad that you know Swami Shantatmanandaji and appreciate his community oriented service immensely.
      May you enjoy the blessings of the Master!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  7. Revered Maharaj
    Pranam!
    How are you? I’m glad to hear that Revered Jaishankar Maharaj (or Bade Maharaj as we call him) will grace the centres with his presence, and I also hope that we, in New Delhi, will have the golden opportunity of your holy company sometime soon!
    Once more I have been away from the internet because of travelling. Also had the opportunity of visiting the divine Gurusthan – Belur Math but was quite disappointed, concerned and sad as Most Revered President Maharaj was in Seva Pratishthan.
    Hope by Sri Thakur’s grace he recovers at the earliest.
    With sincere pranam
    Skendha
    New Delhi, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Skendha
      Yes, dear Jaishankar Maharaj is keeping well and has been extremely busy with hectic schedule. We want to get every drop of his wisdom. He has already visited Johannesburg, Dundee, Newcastle, Ladysmith and Estcourt. After his arrival a ‘welcome reception’ was accorded in our HQ on last Saturday and since then he has been on tour. Today he is at Pietermaritzburg, the Capital city of KwaZulu Natal Province. And today is the birthday of late Swami Nischalanandaji, the Founder of our Centre.
      I am of course in contact with Jaishankar Maharaj through teletalks. He seems to be really impressed about South Africa devotees and their wonderful hospitality.
      You are indeed blessed to have had the opportunity to visit our Gurusthan. Yes, the old age ailments affects everyone. We all pray that our Most Revered President Maharaj comes back to Belur Math fully recovered.
      Regarding my visit to motherland, well only the Master knows when! May His Will be done!
      May you enjoy the blessings of the Master!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  8. Revered Maharaj
    Please accept our respectful pranam.
    Mum and I attended the Welcome Satsang hosted in honour of the visiting Swami from India on Saturday at Head Quarters.
    Swamiji’s discourse was brilliant. I left very inspired and motivated to grow further on my Spiritual journey. I’m looking forward to attend more discourses.
    I feel very richly blessed.
    with pranam
    Vinasha
    Durban, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Vinasha
      I am so happy to learn that the visiting Delhi Swamiji’s discourse was indeed enlightening.
      His Talks at various places in South Africa have attracted many sincere seekers. It is what the most important factor that we wish to achieve in bringing such learned and experienced Swamis from India and other countries.
      with love and prayers
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

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