1. Special features and uniqueness of Ramakrishna Math (Yogodyan)
Sri Ramakrishna himself sanctified “Yogodyan” on two occasions in 1883 and 1885.
Sri Ramakrishna himself proclaimed this garden as “Yogodyan” and sanctified “Vedi Ghar” & the pond “Ramakrishna Kunda”.
Holy Relics of Sri Ramakrishna was enshrined here on 23rd August 1886 (Janmastami Tithi) where the present Temple stands now.
In 1901, on Janmastami Tithi, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi herself worshiped Sri Ramakrishna in the shrine and consecrated the newly built Natmandir. She sanctified Yogodyan in three more occasions – once in 1904 and twice in 1909.
It is the only branch centre of Ramakrishna Order where Swami Vivekananda with his monastic and lay brother disciples visited during enshrining of Holy Relics of Sri Ramakrishna.
Swami Vivekananda visited Yogodyan on four other occasions. Once he even stayed here for few days.
Swami Shivananda (Tarak) and Swami Adbhutananda (Latu), two direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, also stayed here and practised austerity. Mahatma Ramchandra, a lay disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, also stayed here and breathed his last.
Since 1887, “Kalpataru Utsav” on 1st January and “Nityabirvhaba Utsava” on Janmastami Day are being celebrated at Yogodyan every year.
Some of the eminent second generation monks of the Ramakrishna Order like Swami Virajananda, Swami Suddhananda, Swami Bodhananda, Swami Prakashananda, Swami Vimalananda, Swami Atmananda, came to know about the Holy Trio and received inspiration to join the order from Yogodyan only.
Ramakrishna Math (Yogodyan), previously known as “Ramakrishna Yogodyan Math” and originally known as “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Samadhi Mahapeeth Sri Yogodyan” came into existence before formation of the first Ramakrishna Math at Baranagore on 19th October,1886.
On 26th December, 1883, Yugavatar Bhagawan Sri Ramkrishna himself, accompanied by few devotees, had visited this Garden House, purchased by his lay disciple Sri Ramchandra Dutta and being delighted to see the beauty, serenity and solitude of this place, named this garden as Yogodyan (a garden congenial for spiritual contemplation).
Again, sometime in 1885, Sri Ramakrishna had come here for the second time. After the Mahasamadhi of Sri Ramakrishna on Sunday, 16th August 1886, a portion of his Holy Relics was enshrined at this garden by his monastic and lay disciples on Monday, 23rd August, 1886 (Janmastami Tithi).
Since then, sanctified by the visit of Sri Ramakrishna, this place is considered as a place of holy pilgrimage for the devotees and admirers of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement and it is believed that the spirit of Sri Ramakrishna is very much alive here, the holy touch of his feet having made every inch here resplendent with divine glory.
On 21st March, 1943 this sacred place became one of the main branch centres of Ramakrishna Math, Belur Math.
Sri Ramchandra Dutta, a renowned chemist of Calcutta Medical College, came under the influence of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa of Dakshineswar possibly around 1879 and soon became a staunch devotee of Him. He used to live in Madhu Roy Lane of Simla, North Calcutta. Sri Ram Chandra Dutta along with other fellow devotees used to love singing Kirtans loudly in his house until very late in the night, much to the inconvenience and annoyance of his neighbours. Neither pleading nor force could stop the Kirtans. On one occasion, when Sri Ramakrishna had come to Ramchandra’s house on an invitation, one distinguished member of the neighbourhood came and complained to Sri Ramakrishna about their inconvenience. Sri Ramakrishna then advised the devotees to sing a little less loudly. The devotees tried to do so, but this could not quench their devotional thirst. Finally, Ramchandra sought permission of Sri Ramakrishna to look for a secluded place to perform their Kirtans peacefully with full vigour. Sri Ramakrishna was pleased, gave his consent and asked him to find ‘a place where no one would even know if hundred murders were to be committed’ [a Bengali phrase used to describe an utterly uninhabited, desolate place].
With this permission Ramchandra set out to find a congenial place and at last came across a desolated place within vast marshy land at Kankurgachhi in East of Kolkata, belonging to Mohammed Abdus Wahab. The place measuring about an acre had a small garden house with a pond in the middle. In 1883, the garden was purchased by Nityagopal Ghosh, a cousin brother of Ramchandra, at a cost of Rs. 800/-, but the deed was executed in the name of latter. Thus the desired place was acquired, however, Kirtans did not begin immediately. A caretaker was appointed there by Ramchandra to develop vegetable and flower gardens.
Knowing about procurement of this place, one day Sri Ramakrishna asked Ramchandra,” Well, when will you take me there to see this place you have bought for spiritual contemplation?” Ramchandra was hesitant, thinking “What shall we show him when he comes? Only the kitchen garden?” Thereafter a place was cleared up towards the East of the pond and fenced. A big ‘Tulsi’ shrub was planted in a pedestal at centre and similar plants were set up along the fencing. The inside ground was then sanctified by plastering with mixture of soil and cow-dung. Then Ramchandra decided to bring Sri Ramakrishna to this garden on 26th December 1883.
On the scheduled day, Sri Ramakrishna, accompanied by Mahendra Nath Gupta (Sri M), Surendra Nath Mitra, Manilal Mullick of Brahmo Samaj and few other disciples arrived at the garden in a rented carriage at about 4 pm in afternoon. He was very pleased to see the garden and exclaimed in delight – “Aha! What a beautiful garden! I once envisioned myself as though I was living in exactly a similar place.”He went to the Tulsi Grove, bowed down, washed his hands & feet in the pond, drank handfuls of sweet water to refresh himself and went inside the small hut, situated on the Southern side of the pond (which is still preserved there known as Vedi Ghar). He sat on a prayer mat especially spread out for him. He exclaimed – “Aha! The atmosphere in this room is just like that in a shrine” and named this place as Yogodyan – a garden congenial for spiritual contemplation. After having some of the fruits & sweets offered to him, he went towards the Northern side of the Garden and pointing out to a particular spot, instructed Ramchandra to prepare a “Panchavati” there for performing meditation and religious austerities. Sometime after, he left with the devotees to see the nearby garden of his disciple Surendra Nath Mitra.
Sri Ramakrishna, accompanied by his devotees, paid another visit to this garden sometime in 1885 when symptoms of his incipient throat cancer had just begun to manifest. On insistence of Ramchandra Dutta, renowned physician Dr. Kailash Chandra Bose examined him here.
Following the visit of Sri Ramakrishna, Ramchandra named the garden as “Ramakrishna Yogodyan” and the pond as “Ramakrishna Kunda”. A Panchavati was also planted as advised (which however became extinct in course of time and now being recreated).
Sri Ramakrishna attained Mahasamadhi (final beatitude) on 16th August, 1886, a little after 1-00 AM on the full moon night of auspicious Jhulan Purnima, at the Cossipore Garden House. His mortal body was consigned to flames the following afternoon at the Cossipore Cremation Ground. His devotees reverentially collected his holy relics in a copper pitcher and placed it on his bed at Cossipore Garden House.
As the tenancy period of the Garden House was about to end by then, some of his followers, who had initially taken the property on rent for Sri Ramakrishna, declined to renew the tenancy. The young devotees faced with a problem as to where to preserve the pitcher containing the holy relics. At the proposal of Ramchandra Dutta and with the consent of Narendranath, Girish Chandra Ghosh and others, it was decided to inter the pitcher at Yogodyan. However, the group of Sri Ramakrishna’s young monastic disciples had a desire to find out a permanent resting place at a suitable location at the bank of river Ganges, enshrine the holy relics and build a temple over it for his worship. Swami Ramakrishnananda (Sashi) and Swami Niranjanananda (Niranjan) quietly transferred more than half of the holy relics to another urn (which subsequently was sealed and came to be known as “Atmaramer Kouta”) and shifted it to Balaram Bose’s house at Baghbazar in Kolkata for its safe keeping and daily worship.
On early morning of 23rd August, 1886 (Sri Krishna Janmastami Tithi), i.e. on the seventh day after passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, the pitcher containing holy relics was taken on a horse drawn carriage from Cossipore Garden House to Ramchandra’s house at Simla via Balaram Bose’s house at Baghbazar, by the monastic and lay disciples of Sri Ramakrishna with greatest devotion. From there, at about 8-30 AM a religious procession of 300 odd devotees marched the distance of nearly three miles, led by Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda), singing Kirtans & Bhajans (religious songs) up to the garden at Kankurgachhi (Ramakrishna Yogodyan) to enshrine the holy relics. Most of the way, Sashi (Swami Ramakrishnananda) carried the pitcher over his shaven head. Elder Gopal (Swami Advaitananda) also carried it on his head for some distance. After formal worship, the pitcher with holy relics was finally interred with utmost solemnity near the Tulsi Grove, sanctified by Sri Ramakrishna during his visit to the garden for the first time. From that day, Nityagopal (later known as Jnanananda Avadhut) performed Puja, Arati and Bhog of Sri Ramakrishna and for next five to six months he continued it with utmost devotion. Later a pious Brahmin was appointed. Today, on this very spot stands the imposing temple of Sri Ramakrishna and since 1887, the Janmastami Tithi is observed every year at Yogodyan as ‘Nityabirvhaba Utsava’ (the celebration of the eternal presence of Sri Ramakrishna). Ramchandra endowed the garden in the name of God, formed a Trust and by handing over all rights of “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Samadhi Mahapeeth Sri Yogodyan” to this Trust, continued to serve as a mere servant of Sri Ramakrishna.
Initially the shrine was left in the open. One night, Manomohan Mitra, a cousin brother of Ramchandra, saw in his dream as if his mother Shyamasundari Devi was saying him about inconvenience of Sri Ramakrishna under the open sun and rain. He apprised Ramchandra about his dream. In the meantime, Upendranath Mazumdar, one of the in-laws of Ramchandra, had a similar dream and already brought it to his notice. Immediately, Ramchandra decided to build a permanent structure over the holy spot. After lot of deliberations, finally a brick built covered memorial was constructed and inaugurated on the day of Shyama Puja of that year, observing all rituals. A small altar was constructed inside the memorial and the pitcher containing Holy Relics was kept above it.
After construction of the memorial, daily puja, bhog, arati of Sri Ramakrishna was continued on regular basis under patronage of Ramchandra. Although donations were collected for construction of the memorial, Ramchandra used to bear all other expenses himself. Ultimately, for the sake of seva & puja, he started living in this garden. From Kankurgachhi, he published three books – “Tattwasar”, “Tattwa Prakashika” and “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansha Dever Jeevan Britwanta” (the first biography of Sri Ramakrishna and now being published from Udbodhan). He also used to publish monthly religious newsletter “Tattwa Manjari” from here. The last five years of his life he used to live here as a saint, initiated many devotees and even offered sannyas to some of them.
On 17th January 1899, Ramchandra passed away at Yogodyan. After cremation, his relics were interred at the Western side of the Ramakrishna Temple. His trustworthy monastic disciple Yogvinod Maharaj (Kalipada Basu Mullick) became the head of the Trust and efficiently continued all activities set out by Ramchandra. He was highly praised by Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi for his devotion and efficiency. To overcome financial crisis, he had purchased 200 Bighas land in Manasadwip, Sunderbans at a cost of 6000.00 rupees.
He also started “Ramakrishna Samadhi Mandir Fund” to collect money for construction of the Ramakrishna Temple at Yogodyan. Under his supervision, the foundation of the temple was laid and half of the construction was completed. Even a small Natmandir adjoining the temple was constructed during his regime.
In 1900, Krishnapriyasisni Devi, the wife of Ramachandra Dutta filed a court case in the calming of inheritance of Yogodyan. The sevaks of Yogodyan (Swami Yogvinode and his disciples) had to defend this legal battle. This legal battle was continued for many many years.
With insistence from Yogvinod Maharaj and devotee Manmohan, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi came to Yogodyan on Janmastami Day, 1901, to consecrate the newly constructed Natmandir. She herself worshiped Sri Ramakrishna in the shrine and spent the entire day here.
At last, on 14th September 1926, this long standing legal battle was ended amicably between the descendants of Ramachandra Dutta & the Sevaks of Yogodyan in the matter of inheritance of Yogodyan.
Then the group of devotees of Sri Ramakrishna convened a meeting at Albert Hall, Kolkata (earlier form of College Street Coffee House) on 26th June 1927 under the presidentship of Jatindra Nath Basu, Solicitor of Calcutta High Court. It was unanimously decided in the meeting to hand over the managing responsibility of Yogodyan to the Board of Trustees of Ramakrishna Math, Belur. But the decision could not be materialised immediately. It had to wait for long sixteen years.
After Yogvinod Maharaj, his monastic disciple Yogvimal Maharaj (Surendra Nath Mukhopadhyay) took over the responsibility. To meet the regular expenses, he also managed to procure 150 Bighas land at Manmathanagar (Suryaberia), Sandeshkhali, in 1930; 235 Bighas at Kumirmari in 1933 and another 200 Bighas at Kachuberia, Chemaguri in 1939. With agricultural incomes from these lands, financial management of Yogodyan became manageable.
Finally, on 21st March, 1943, Yogvimal Maharaj handed over all responsibilities of Yogodyan to the Board of Trustees of Ramakrishna Math, Belur through a registered Trust Deed.
The Board of Trustees of Ramakrishna Math, Belur renamed “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Samadhi Mahapeeth Sri Yogodyan” as “Ramakrishna Yogodyan” on 18th April, 1943, as per proposal from Yogvimal Maharaj. Thereafter, on 23rd May 1973, the Board of Trustees of Ramakrishna Math, Belur, named the place as “Ramakrishna Math (Yogodyan)”.
4. Chronological records of related important events
October, 1883: – Nitya Gopal Ghosh, the cousin brother of Ramchandra Dutta and later known as Jnanananda Avadhut, contributed Rs. 800.00 to purchase a land measuring slightly less than three bighas amidst vast and desolated marsh land in Kankurgachhi, East Kolkata from Md. Abdus Wahab. The land was purchased and registered in the name of Ramchandra.
26th December, 1883, Wednesday: – Sri Ramakrishna accompanied with few disciples arrived at this newly acquired garden in the afternoon. Being delighted seeing the serenity, solitude and beauty of this garden he proclaimed it as “Yogodyan” (a garden congenial for spiritual contemplation).On this day Sri Ramakrishna also visited the adjacent garden of his disciple Surendra Nath Mitra.After visit of Sri Ramakrishna, Ramchandra named the garden as “Ramakrishna Yogodyan” and the pond as “Ramakrishna Kunda”.
End of 1883 & beginning of 1884: – Tarak (Swami Sivananda) practised austerity in this garden under a mango tree. The surrounding was full of wild vegetations infested with snakes. Thus relevance of the name “Yogodyan” turned out to be true.
Sometime in 1885: – Sri Ramakrishna sanctified this place for the second time. Under insistence of Ramchandra he was examined by renowned doctor Dr. Kailash Chandra Bose for early symptoms of his throat cancer.
23rd August, 1886, Monday, Krishna Janmastami: – The copper urn containing the holy relics of Sri Ramakrishna was enshrined in this garden near the Tulsi Grove, where he had bowed down and touched his head on the ground during his first visit.“Ramakrishna Yogodyan” was named as “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Samadhi Mahapeeth Sri Yogodyan”.
1886: – Swami Vivekananda (Narendranath) stayed here for few days.
Kali Puja Day, 1886: – The initial construction of brick built structure above the sacred place was inaugurated after special puja.
1887: – Ramchandra started to celebrate “Kalpataru Utsav” on 1st January and “Nitya Abirbhav Utsav” on Krishna Janmastami Tithi at Yogodyan from this year.
7th August, 1898: – Abdul Wajij from Satkhsira, East Bengal (now in Bangladesh), an ardent follower of Sri Ramakrishna, visited Yogodyan in afternoon. He paid his respect at the Samadhi Mandir flooded with tears, remembering his past associations with Sri Ramakrishna. He also discussed at length with Ramchandra and others present there about their Master.
End of 1898: – Latu Maharaj (Swami Advutananda) spent some time at Yogodyan and practised austerity.Swami Vivekananda visited Yogodyan to meet his ailing Ramdada (Ramchandra).
17th January 1899: – Ramchandra Dutta breathed his last at Yogodyan and after cremation, his relics were interred at the West side of Samadhi Mandir of Sri Ramakrishna.Swami Advutananda served his old ailing master Ramchandra in his death bed for three weeks.
1900: – Legal battle between Krishnapriyasini Devi, widow of Ramchandra Dutta and the disciples & devotees of Yogodyan about the inheritance of “Sri Sri Ramakrishna Samadhi Mahapeeth Sri Yogodyan”. The legal battle was continued for years togather.
Janmastami Day, 1901: In view of sincere and solemn prayer from Yogvinod Maharaj and devotee Manmohan, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi visited the garden to consecrate the new brick built incomplete Natmandir adjoining the Samadhi Memorial and performed worship of Sri Ramakrishna in the shrine. She spent the whole day here, accepted pranam from the devotees and returned to Baghbazar in evening.
Janmastami Day, 1904: On earnest request from Yogvinod Maharaj, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi again came here accompanied by Lakshmidi, Alpana, cousin Nalini and Radhu. She expressed her happiness witnessing the celebration and accepted pranam from hundreds of devotees till six in the evening.
21st August, 1909: – Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi arrived in the garden with Golap-Ma, Jogin-Ma and others for a short period towards afternoon in the car of devotee Lalit Babu.
6th September, 1909, Janmastami Day: – Holy Mother once again visited this place in afternoon. After paying homage in the temple, roamed around the adjoining garden and took rest here.
1920: After Mahasamadhi of Holy Mother Sarada Devi, the special worship of Sri Ramakrishna was organised by Swami Yogvinode during the legal battle.
14th September, 1926: – The lega battle was settled between the descendants of Ramachandra Dutta and Servaks of Yogodyan, mutual agreement in the matter of inheritance. The sevaks of Yogodyan Math took full controlling and managing power.
26th June, 1927: – A meeting was convened by the devotees of Yogodyan at Albert Hall, Calcutta, presided over by Jatindra Nath Basu, the then renowned solicitor of Calcutta High Court. It was unanimously decided in the meeting that the managing responsibility of Yogodyan would be handed over to the Board of Trustees of Ramakrishna Math, Belur. But this was not materialised immediately.
1931: – With support from the Temple Fund, construction of the Ramakrishna Temple was completed.
1936: – Birth Centenary of Sri Ramakrishna was celebrated with pomp and grander. On 11th March, Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj came to Kankurgachhi for pilgrimage with Swami Suddhanandaji Maharaj and few other monks.
21st March, 1943: – Yogvimal Maharaj handed over the management of Yogodyan to the Board of Trustees, Ramakrishna Math, Belur through a registered Deed of Trust.
1963: – Special celebration organised to commemorate Birth Centenary of Swami Vivekananda.
26th January, 1967: – The marble image of Sri Ramakrishna was consecrated by Revered Srimat Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj, the 10th President of Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission, Belur.
April-May, 1981: – Renovation of the temple and extension of Natmandir completed.
26th to 31st December, 1983: – Centenary Celebration of Sri Ramakrishna’s arrival at Yogodyan was observed with greatest devotion.
20th to 23rd December, 1986: – Special celebration organised for 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna and Centenary of foundation of Ramakrishna Order.
31st May to 2nd June, 1993: – Centenary of Swami Vivekananda’s journey to World’s Parliament of Religion at Chicago celebrated.
24th to 27th September, 1994: – Special closing ceremony organised commemorating Swami Vivekananda’s appearance in World’s Parliament of Religion, Chicago.
_______:- Adjacent a piece of land (………) was purchased from Tata Company.
2004-05: – 150th Birth Anniversary of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi celebrated.
2007: – Adjacent new campus was inaugurated on 7th April 2007.
2013-14: – 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda celebrated.
2018-19: – Celebrated Birth Centenary of Sister Nivedita and 125th Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address in World Parliament of Religion, Chicago.
B. REGULAR FEATURES & SERVICES OF RAMAKRISHNA MATH (YOGODYAN)
Daily worship and evening vesper (Aratrikam) of Sri Ramakrishna.
Regular spiritual discourses, scriptural classes and bhajans for the devotees.
Observance of birth anniversaries of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, all the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and Mahatma Ramchandra.
Observance of various festivals like Kalpataru Utsav, Nitya Abirbhav Utsav (Janmastami), Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Saraswati Puja, Annapurna Puja, Sodoshi Puja, Guru Purnima, Dol Purnima, Ram Navami, Shiva Ratri, Chritsmas Eve and others.
Spiritual Initiation to the seekers. One of Vice Presidents of the Ramakrishna Order, being stationed here, is catering to the spiritual aspirations of the devotees.
Vivekananda Balak Sangha for all round development of boys of slum dwellers.
Vivekananda Computer Training Centre for school and college students.
Library and reading room.
Devotees and youth conferences, spiritual retreats – twice a year.
Yearly fourteen endowment lectures.
Showroom for Ramakrishna – Vivekananda Vedanta Literature.
Value Education: Distribution of Ramakrishna – Vivekananda literature among the youths.
Charitable Dispensary cum Diagnostic Centre having OPD treatment facilities in fourteen disciplines with Path Lab, X-ray, USG, ECG and others.