Direct Disciples’ Blessings

The Mumbai Math itself has been specially blessed by two of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.

One, Swami Shivananda who laid the foundation of the temple in 1925, and two, Swami Akhandananda who installed the sacred relics of Holy Mother in the temple in 1934.

Mumbai city itself has played host to at least 9 of the 15 disciples of Sri Ramakrishna (other than Swami Vivekananda) at varied periods of time. Their blessings no doubt have acted as a stimulus to the development of the Ramakrishna Movement in Mumbai, and of the Mumbai Math in particular.

 

Some stories associated with the visits:

Swami Brahmananda’s visits

Swami Brahmananda visited Mumbai twice, once in 1890 and again in 1893. During the former visit he spent 7 to 8 days in a secluded place attached to the Mumba Devi Temple, accompanied by Swami Subodhananda.

During the latter visit Swami Turiyananda was with him and both of them met Swami Vivekananda on the eve of his voyage to the West. During the same period, Swami Abhedananda had arrived from Dwaraka by ship.

Four more monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna (Swamis Ramakrishnananda, Shivananda, Akhandananda, and Vijnanananda) visited Mumbai at a later period.

Swami Trigunatitananda almost certainly visited this city as his biographers write: “With the idea to visit Bombay he boarded the train from Ajmer to Chittor.” Swami Niranjanananda visited Ajanta with the famous Japanese artist, Okakura, in the early part of 1902. Swami Saradananda visited Jaipur, Saurashtra, etc. in 1892-94. Both the Swamis probably visited Mumbai during their above sojourns.

Swami Shivananda’s visit

Swami Shivananda – Mahapurush Maharaj and his party – arrived in Bombay in 1925 in the second week of January. He was given a tremendous ovation by a large gathering at the Victoria Terminus Railway Station and then taken to the Ramakrishna Ashrama started at Khar, a suburb of Mumbai. The Ashrama, started some time previously by Swami Shravanananda with the help of local devotees had been operating from rented quarters at Khar Road. Soon after his arrival, Mahapurush Maharaj resolved to put the Ashrama on a permanent footing, and he urged the devotees to get busy. It was not long before a piece of land was purchased, the lot of forming a part of the new developing tract of Khar, which when completed would be an ideal residential suburb of Mumbai. On an auspicious day the foundation stone of the Ashrama was laid on the plot of land by Mahapurush Maharaj.

As a first step towards the consolidation of the activities of the Order, Swami Vivekananda had decided to establish four monasteries at the four strategic spots of India, namely, the Himalayas, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai. Swamiji had succeeded in establishing the first three of these during his lifetime, but it was left for Mahapurush Maharaj to inaugurate the last one in Mumbai. It made him very happy to think that at last Swamiji’s wish was fulfilled and that he had been made the instrument. Instinctively he felt confident about the future of this Ashrama. He once said: “In times to come the Lord’s work here will have splendid success. He is managing His work; we are simply instruments”.

Mahapurush Maharaj stayed at this time in Mumbai for over a month. Every day he met a large number of seekers of Truth who came from the many suburbs of Mumbai and from the city itself. Patiently and with great solicitude he talked to them on spiritual matters and helped them, thus influencing their lives. Many received initiation from him. He was presented with addresses of welcome by different groups in the city. Unfortunately, he had to hurry back to Belur to attend to certain important organizational matters at the headquarters. He made the trip via Nagpur, arriving at the Math just before the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna.

The construction work on the Ashrama at Khar progressed and was completed in about two years. Mahapurush Maharaj was invited again to come and perform the dedication to which he readily agreed. On 26th of December, 1926, the Swami dedicated the Ashrama, installing Sri Ramakrishna’s picture in the Shrine Room. The ceremony, consisting of worship, prayers, devotional music, feasting and lectures, was quite imposing, and was attended by a large number of distinguished and representative citizens of Mumbai. It was indeed an important event in the annals of the Mission’s activities in Western India

During his first visit, there was devotional singing and discussion at the Ashrama almost every day. If the weather permitted, he would go on long walks for relaxation, accompanied by some monks. The Juhu beach, not very far from the monastery, was a favourite place with him. Sometimes on the way he visited the Shiva temple founded by the fishermen of Juhu, who reverently greeted the Swami, addressing him as “Father”. They talked to him about their problems and troubles in life, and the Swami always treated these simple people as genuine friends.

Swami Akhandananda’s visit

Swami Akhandananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna visited the Ramakrishna Math & Mission Centre of Mumbai in November 1934. He was then the Head of the Ramakrishna Order. From the railway station the was taken to the Ashrama with royal reception. The Ashrama seemed to be overflowing with joy and jubiliation. Both in the morning and in the evening he was surrounded by people who used to hang on his words with intense eagerness. One day he ordered that every monastic should cook something and their performance would be tested. That day he took food along with all others.

In the same visit, Swami Akhandananda installed the sacred relics of Holy Mother in the Temple. It was first planned that he would install the relics of the Holy Mother on the night of Sri Sri Kali Puja. But even after the evening service and offering at night were over, the Swami did not show any sign to move or do anything. Being asked he replied: “Well, well, fix up another date for this.”

On Sri Sri Jagadhatri Puja day the Swami finished his bath in the morning, came to the temple, installed the holy relics on the altar and made an offering of flowers. Thereafter he chanted the hymns of the famous scripture “Durga Saptashati”. His grave and sombre voice was echoed by walls of the temple.

List of visits by direct disciples and dates:

  1. Swami Brahmananda (in 1890 & 1893)
    Read the life story here
  2. Swami Subodhananda (in 1890 with Swami Brahmananda)
    Read the life story here
  3. Swami Shivananda (in 1925 & 26)
    Read the life story here
  4. Swami Ramakrishnananda (sometime after 1893)
    Read the life story here
  5. Swami Turiyananda (in 1893 with Swami Brahmananda)
    Read the life story here
  6. Swami Abhedananda (in 1893)
    Read the life story here
  7. Swami Akhandananda (1934)
    Read about the life story here
  8. Swami Vijnanananda (sometime after 1893)
    Read the life story here
  9. Swami Trigunatitananda (not known)
    Read the life story here