Birth Anniversary of Most Revered Swami Vijnanananda Maharaj
Sri Ramakrishna was a spiritual phenomenon, and his spirituality manifested in his spiritual longing and samadhi, in his singing and dancing, in his conversations and stories, in his action and behaviour, and even in his fun and frivolities. Many people consider Ramakrishna to be an avatar or a great religious teacher; but it is also interesting to observe his personal life behind the public gaze.
Needless to say, people would be surprised if they saw Ramakrishna wrestling with a young man in his room at the Dakshineswar temple garden. But it was not unusual for the disciples of Ramakrishna to have an ordinary situation turn into an extraordinary experience through the influence of the Master. It is amazing to see how the Master transmitted spiritual power to his disciples even in a playful way. It was Swami Vijnanananda who received the blessings of the Master through this way.
Swami Vijnanananda’s premonastic name was Hari Prasanna Chattopadhyay. He was born on Friday, 30 October 1868 in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, where his father, Taraknath Chattopadhyay, worked in the commissariat of the British government. Hari Prasanna was the eldest of six children, two boys and four girls. In 1887 Hari Prasanna graduated from Patna College and then went to the Poona College of Science to study civil engineering. He was a brilliant student and was greatly loved by his professors and classmates. After graduating in civil engineering in 1892, he was given the job of district engineer at Gazipur in Uttar Pradesh.
Swami Vivekananda returned to India from the West in 1897 and took Hari Prasanna with him on his travels in western and northern India. During this tour they visited the old Hindu temples of Rajputana. Vivekananda discussed the architecture of the future Ramakrishna Temple with him and expressed his own ideas as to how the temple should be built.
On their return to the monastery, Hari Prasanna drew a sketch of the Ramakrishna Temple using Swamiji’s ideas as his guide. He also consulted with Mr. Guithar, a noted architect. Swamiji was pleased when he saw the sketch and said, “This temple will certainly come up, but I may not live to see it. …I will see it from on high.”
On 9 May 1899 Hari Prasanna formally took sannyasa, final monastic vows. Vivekananda told him: “Do as we have done. Take your sannyasa directly from the Master.” Accordingly, Hari Prasanna went to Sri Ramakrishna’s shrine and took his monastic vows with the traditional viraja homa ceremony. He became known as Swami Vijnanananda.
When the construction of Belur Math was completed on advice of Swamiji, Swami Vijnanananda came to Allahabad in 1900 to start the Allahabad Centre. It was Swamiji’s vision to start a centre at Allahabad — the ancient pilgrimage —well known as Prayag.
Allahabad represents the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and the “invisible”Saraswati rivers — the Triveni Sangam— and is considered holy by Hindus since the Vedic times. It is also the site for the historic Kumbh Mela held every 12 years on the banks of the Triveni Sangam.
First, Vijnanananda used to stay at rented two rooms of a two story building which was named ‘Brahmavadin Club’. Later in the year 1910 he able to procure funds and succeeded in erecting a permanent building on a small plot of land for Ramakrishna Math in the mutthiganj area of the city. As long as 28 years he lived here and became a legendary for his silent but vigorous spiritual practices which is a vital cause to change the course of many lives. From the very beginning, Swami Vijnanananda started some benevolent activities for the poor citizens in and around Allahabad District with his limited resources which is still now being followed by Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Allahabad but in a larger scale. A brief sketch of the activities rendered by Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Allahabad will give us an idea about the versatility of services of Ramakrishna Order.
This year Ramakrishna Math, Allahabad is observing 150th birth anniversary of Most Revered Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj on 22nd November,2018 with due solemnity. The whole day is celebrated with Special Puja, Havan, Discourse by Swami Muktinathananda (Secretary of Ramakrishna Math, Lucknow), Bhajan and Prasad distributions. More than 400 devotees took sacred prasad on this special occasion. The worship of Swami Vijnanananda creates enormous joy among the devotees of Ramakrishna order. The main attraction of this special day was breakfast offering and Kali Kirtan by the Monks of Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service, Varanasi. Breakfast was offered to Most Revered Swami Vijnanandaji Maharaj’s room at 6.30 a.m. with verities snacks, sweet, cake, cookies,tea,coffie etc. Breakfast was offered by Swami Muktinathanandaji Maharaj along with Vaidic Chanting by sadhus and brahmacharins of Ramakrishna Math, Allahabad. After evening vesper the melodious Kali Kirtan was presented by Monks and Brahmacharins of Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service,Varanasi. This melodious presentation attracted the mind of the devotees present there and elevate the mind of those to the spiritual plane.