Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are twin organizations which form the core of a worldwide spiritual movement (known as Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement), which aims at the harmony of religions, harmony of the East and the West, harmony of the ancient and the modern, spiritual fulfillment, all-round development of human faculties, social equality, and peace for all humanity, without any distinctions of creed, caste, race or nationality.
RAMAKRISHNA MATH is a monastic organization for men brought into existence by Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), the great 19th century saint of Bengal who is regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age.
The Ramakrishna Order does not believe in conversion, nor does it indulge in the occult or the sensational. The Order places utmost importance on personal spiritual unfoldment and selfless service. Inspired by the idea of the harmony of all faiths, its centers encourage adherents of different faiths to meet in a spirit of friendship and mutual appreciation, and to learn from one another without having to give up one's own faith. In the words of Sri Ramakrishna: "God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, lives and countries ... all doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion."
RAMAKRISHNA MISSION is a registered society in which monks of Ramakrishna Math and lay devotees cooperate in conducting various types of social service mainly in India. It was founded by Sri Ramakrishna's chief apostle, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of the foremost thinkers and religious leaders of the present age, who is regarded as 'one of the main moulders of the modern world', in the words of an eminent Western scholar A. L. Basham.
Motto: The motto of the twin organizations is Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha, “For one’s own salvation and for the welfare of the world”. It was formulated by Swami Vivekananda.
Ideals: Work as worship, potential divinity of the soul, and harmony of religions are three of the noteworthy ideals on which these two organizations are based. It is this ideal of service to man as service to God that sustains the large number of hospitals, dispensaries, mobile medical units, schools, colleges, rural development centres and many other social service institutions run by the twin organizations.
The main goals and objectives of these twin organizations, based on the principles of Practical Vedanta, are:
- To spread the idea of the potential divinity of every being and how to manifest it through every action and thought.
- To spread the idea of harmony of religions based on Sri Ramakrishna's experience that all religions lead to the realization of the same Reality known by different names in different religions. The Mission honours and reveres the founders of all world religions such as Buddha, Christ and Mohammed.
- To treat all work as worship, and service to man as service to God.
- To make all possible attempts to alleviate human suffering by spreading education, rendering medical service, extending help to villagers through rural development centres, etc.
- To work for the all-round welfare of humanity, especially for the uplift of the poor and the downtrodden.
- To develop harmonious personalities by the combined practice of Jnana, Bhakti, Yoga and Karma.
Inspired by the ideals of renunciation and service, the monks and lay devotees of the Math and Mission serve millions of men, women and children, without any distinction of caste, religion or race, because they see the living God in them.
Although Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are legally and financially separate, they are closely inter-related in several ways and are regarded as twin organizations. These twin organizations 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. The chief catalyst in this ongoing transformation is India's ancient religious philosophy known as Vedanta. Although several other systems of philosophy arose in India at different times, they were confined to small groups. Vedanta alone has remained the dominant philosophy of India's religious tradition from Vedic times to the present day. In modern times this ancient system of thought has been purified, unified and energized by Sri Ramakrishna, and expounded in the modern idiom by Swami Vivekananda and thus made available to all people all over the world without any distinctions of caste, creed or race.
Headquarters: The headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are situated at an area named Belur in the district of Howrah, West Bengal, India. The entire campus of the headquarters is popularly known as ‘Belur Math’. Sprawling over forty acres of land on the western bank of the river Hooghly (Ganga), the place is an hour’s drive from Kolkata. All branch centres of Ramakrishna Math come under the administrative control of the Board of Trustees, whereas all branch centres of Ramakrishna Mission come under the administrative control of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission.
Branch Centres: The Math and Mission have 172 centres all over the world: 124 in India, 13 in USA, 12 in Bangladesh, and one each in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and UK. Besides, there are 33 sub-centres attached to some of these centres.
Besides these branch centres, there are about one thousand unaffiliated centres (popularly called ‘private centres’) all over the world started by the devotees and followers of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.
Educational Work: The Math and Mission run 748 educational institutions (including 12 colleges, 22 higher secondary schools, 41 secondary schools, 135 schools of other grades, 4 polytechnics, 48 vocational training centres, 118 hostels, 7 orphanages, etc) with a total student population of more than 200,000.
Medical Service: The twin organizations run 15 hospitals (with 2182 beds), 125 dispensaries, and 48 mobile medical units which treat about 8,000,000 patients every year. Besides these, a considerable number of medical camps are organized, mostly in rural areas, where thousands of patients are treated and more than 3000 operated on for cataract free of cost every year. The Math and Mission run a medical research institute and 5 nurses' training centres.
Work in Rural and Tribal Areas: For rural and tribal people, the Math and Mission run 3 institutes of agriculture and 4 rural development training institutes. Besides, farmers are taught improved methods of cultivation and also provided with agricultural inputs and financial help. Projects such as construction of pucca houses, wasteland development, planting of fruit and forest trees, etc are undertaken. Drinking water is provided by digging bore wells and tube wells.
Relief: During natural or man-made disasters, the Mission’s work includes primary relief with food, clothes, medicine and permanent relief activities like construction of new full-fledged townships, bridges, and roads, sometimes a project going over Rs. 150 million.
Publication: The Mission’s publication centres produce some of the best publications on religion, philosophy, and spiritual culture. The total turnover in 2004-05 was Rs. 86 million.
Spreading Religion and Culture: The Math and Mission spread the spiritual teachings and cultural ideals through a large number of public libraries, lectures, discourses and seminars, audio-visual units, exhibitions, museums, retreats and publishing books, journals, etc. Books on Vedanta, the message of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda, spirituality and world religions in almost all the major languages of India and in some of the important languages of other countries are published form the 21 publication centres of the Math and Mission.