More than 175 years have passed since Swami Vivekananda, the great disciple of Sri Sri Ramakrishna left this mortal world. The thoughts and ideas, he has left behind, have attracted the attention and caught the imagination of people all over the world. The universal popularity which he enjoyed during his life is explained by the fact that he was a lover of man above anything else, a lover of the poor and the pariahs of our country. It is through service to those poor people that he wanted us to worship God first and then to go to a temple or a church. This, he thought would solve many of our basic problems like those of food, education, shelter etc. and also give us a great impetus in our religious pursuits. He had the utmost faith in the ability and efficiency of Indian youths and he wanted only one thousand young people to be dedicated and scarified at the Holy altar of our nation, our motherland, India, with a view to building up the nation and re-generating its vitality in all directions, particularly in the spiritual field not only for their own good but for the good of other nations as well. His dream of future India has not come true as yet. Hence the malady in all sphere of our society, spiritual as well as mundane.
The only God that Vivekananda wanted us to worship first is the Human Soul in the Human Body i.e. “WORSHIP SHIVA IN JIVA” before pursuing any other religious rites. But unfortunately, we have failed to follow his instructions. The Stone-God is still being fed abundantly in temples while the living Gods are dying of starvation on the street. Instead of worshipping Gods, Vivekananda meditated upon, we have made Vivekananda a God, additional to the existing ones and worship him well enough in his statues and temples. The poor and the pariahs have remained where they were before; they are still living in darkness and distress, in hunger and thirst, in slums and huts. We have only learnt how to spread about Vivekananda’s teachings from the press and platform, through Radio and Televisions, without spending even an ounce of our energy or a penny from our earnings for the people for whom Vivekananda lived and died.
It is in this context that the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission came into being at the initiative of a band of young Sannyasis and Brahmacharis, devotees dedicated to the welfare of the poorest of the poor people of this country, with a view to realizing the Highest Truth in life through selfless service to the suffering humanity irrespective of caste, creed, religion and place of birth. The Mission came into existence on the 25th October, 1976, in a dilapidated building on the bank of the holy river Ganga at 7, Riverside Road, Barrackpore, district North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India. It was registered as a society with effect from 1st November, 1976, under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961 and its actual work started from 1st January, 1977, with only 20 tribal boys from the districts of Birbhum and Bankura, accommodated in the new Welfare Home. Simultaneously a school was started on the grass with a fencing of hessian cloth, as dedication, and not fund, was the only resource available to the Mission.
Vivekananda Math was established in 1977, at 7, Riverside Road, Barrackpore and registered as a Trust in 1980, with a view to providing a platform for the truth-seeker to lead a life in conformity with the teachings of Sri Sri Ramakrishna. The Math prepares monastic workers in accordance with the guidelines laid down by Swami Vivekananda and arranges initiation (Diksha) of devotees. It is a place for preparing oneself in spiritual discipline while performing Missionary activities, in the centres set up and administered by Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission and Vivekananda Math. In fact, the Math functions on the twin ideals of renunciation and service as emphasized by Swami Vivekananda.
The Trustees of the Math organize festivals on the occasions of birth days of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ma Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and other direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and Lord Buddha, Janmastami, X-mas, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja, Viswakarma Puja and Saraswati Puja etc. Every Ekadashi day Ramnama Kirtan is also arranged. At all temples at different Mission and Math centres daily prayer and worship is a must.
Apart from the temple of Sri Sri Ramakrishna at Barrackpore, the proudest possession of Vivekananda Math is the Naranarayan Mandir at Joyrambati. Just as a “Kumari” is worshipped during the Durga Puja, a boy not exceeding the age of 8 years is worshipped daily at the ‘Naranarayan Mandir’. Any devotee is welcome to perform this puja at a cost as desired by him. This sort of non-traditional puja which serves a poor boy and brings joy to him along with some material benefit, is sure to enrich the devotee spiritually. In fact, this is meant to give a practical shape of Swami Vivekananda’s idea of God Worship in Man (Shiva in Jiva). Said Swamiji, “If in this world one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person that much alone is true: all else is mere moonshine”.
Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission is a registered society and Vivekananda Math is a registered Trust. The respective ownership, management and control of the Mission and the Math have been entirely vested with the Governing Body of the former and the Board of Trustees of the latter. The Governing Body of the Mission consists of both monastic and non-monastic members but the Trustees of the Vivekananda Math are all monastic members. Both organizations have their headquarters at Barrackpore and people in general, link the name of the Mission with all activities of the Math as well. Both the Mission and the Math have separate funds with separate accounts. In addition to donations from individuals and non-official organizations, the Mission receives financial assistance from the Government. The accounts of the Mission are annually audited by auditors selected in the Annual General Meeting of the Mission Society. The Math fund, however, depends on donations mainly from disciples and non-official sources.
In this connection it is stated that the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission and the Vivekananda Math at Barrackpore and their branch centres are legally and constitutionally separate from the great organizations viz. Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission at Belur (Howrah) and Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission at Dakshineswar (North 24 Parganas) and their branches throughout the country and abroad.