All New Trends by Catagiri


The Ramakrishna Math is a purely monastic organization of unmarried, ordinated Hindu sannyasins. Though the Order admits men belonging to different religions, the ordination "ipso facto"  makes them Hindu. Strictly speaking, the Ramakrishna Order is only a part and continuation of the Puri Order of the great Dasanami trunk of Hindu monasticism. But it is an autonomous Order with its own traditions and values. Its origin may be traced to 1886 when Sri Ramakrishna himself one day gave ochre robes to a group of his disciples, and sent them to beg their food. After his death sixteen of his young disciples formed themselves into a brotherhood by name Ramadrishna Math at a dilapidated building in Baranagore, in north Kolkata. It was later moved to a better building in Alambazar, Kolkata. With the funds provided by a Western follower of Swami Vivekananda, a big plot of land was acquired on the western bank on the River Ganga at a place called Belur, and the Monastery was finally shifted there on 2 January 1899.
     It became a registered institution by name "RAMAKRISHNA MATH" when, on 30 January 1901, Swamiji executed a Deed of Trust, and vested the power of its administration in a Board of Trustees consisting entirely of monks. Branches of Ramakrishna Math soon came to be founded in different parts of the country. The present structure of the Math is essentially a creation of Swami Vivekananda and is based on the rules framed by him. An important point which distinguishes the Math from the Mission, and also from other orthodox Hindu monastic orders is that it is dedicated to the cult of Sri Ramadrishna. The monks carry on worship and other cultic activities not only as a part of their personal devOtional exercises but also as a sacred duty of keeping alive the new sampradaya (tradition) of the age and the parampara (lineage) of the Incarnate Teacher for the welfare of humanity. Only an organization of pure and selfless inspiration and power of a prophet. It is for this reason that Swami Vivekananda has spoken of the Order as the MYSTICAL BODY OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA.
     Although rooted in the three-thousand-year-old monastic tradition of India, and forming a part of the Ten Orders (dashanami) established by Shankaracharya in the 8th century A.D., the Ramakrishna Order represents a new pattern of monastic life which combines some of the best elements of the monastic traditions of the East and the West.

     One of the main features of this new pattern of maonastic life is the emphasis on service. All monks of the Ramakrishna Order when they are ordained as Brahmacharins (novices) take, apart from the vows of chastity and poverty, a vow of service to the poor, the sick and ignorant. The Ramakrishna Math centres are meant not only for the dwelling of monks but also for service to society.
     Another feature of this new pattern of monastic life is its modern outlook.The emphasis is on inner purity and detachment rather than on outer show. The monks wear tailored garments, live in houses with modern amenities and use modern modes of communication and travel.
    Thirdly, the life of the monks, both individual and collective, is governed by definite rules and regulations originally framed by Swami Vivekananda. At present only unmarried young men in the age-group 18-30 are admitted as preprobationers. After one year of pre-probationership and four years of probationership, the seeker is ordained a Bramacharin and, after a further period of four years, if found fit, he is ordained a Sannyasin and receives a new monastic name.
     Another feature of Ramakrishna Math is its universal outlook. It admits into its monastic fold not only people belonging to different castes of Hinduism but also people belonging to other religions. Not only Indians from various regions speaking different languages, but also Americans, South Americans, Russians, Japanese, and people of other nationalities - all live together in peace in Ramakrishna monasteries like children of the same parents.
     This is the miracle that Sri Ramakrishna has brought about. He was a great lover of mankind. His love knew no distinctions of caste, creed or race. It is his love that is holding the whole monastic Order together. People join Ramakrishna monasteries not merely because of their attraction for monastic vocation but also because of their love for Sri Ramakrishna. Devotion to Sri Ramakrishna is yet another distinctive feature of the new type of monasticism of Ramakrishna Math.