Pre-Monastic Name: Harinath Chattopadhya
Place of Birth – North Kolkata
Date of Birth – 3rd January 1863
Swami Turiyananda was born on 3rd January 1863 to Chandranath Chattopadhya an orthodox Brahmin who worked for a British firm in Kolkata, and had the power to foretell the future.
He met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time some time in 1876-77, at the age of 13 or 14 at Dinanath Basu’s house in Kolkata.
Around 1880, he went to Dakshineswar and visited the Master again, and gradually became familiar with Sri Ramakrishna.
In January 1887, he took final monastic vows with other brother disciples by performing the traditional viraja homa in front of the Master’s picture.
A few years later, he left the Baranagore Monastery and went to Rishikesh, Gangotri, and other places in the Himalayas, and settled in Rajpur on the Mussoorie hills to practise Sadhana. He also travelled with his brother disciples to various places in the country.
In June 1899, he left for England and America with Swami Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita. He gave lectures on Vedanta on Swamiji’s command. He was a living example of Vedanta to all. In July 1900, on the train from New York to California, just before Swamiji got off the train at Detroit, he asked Swamiji about his future work, and was told “Go and establish the ashrama in California. Hoist the flag of Vedanta there. From this moment, destroy even the memory of India. Mother will do the rest”. He then established the “Shanti Ashrama”
At the ‘Shanti Ashrama’, he freely distributed the greatest spiritual treasures of Vedanta to the American students. He lived a life and trained enabled others to live the life as well.
In late 1901, due to ill health, left for India in May 1902 (after a period of 2 years 9 months stay in the US). He handed the Ashrama to one of his disciples – Gurudas. His only desire at this time was to see Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda). During his voyage, he learnt from a passenger’s newspaper that Swamiji had passed away, and changed all plans for work. Now he wanted to immerse his life in meditation and austerity.
The then went to live at Vrindavan like a traditional monk. He travelled to many place, and practised severe austerities neglecting his body completely, and thus also suffering tremendous ill health.
In February 1919, he went to Varanasi and lived there till the end of his life for 3½ years. He passed away at 6.45 pm on 21 July 1922, at Varanasi.
Swami Turiyananda was indeed an awakener of souls. His fiery words to his students were: “Clench your fists and say: I will conquer! Now or never – make this your motto, even in this life I must see God. That is the only way. Never postpone.”