PRESIDENT OF THE RAMAKRISHNA MATH & MISSION
is with great pleasure that we record the election of Srimat
Swami Gahananandaji Maharaj as President of the Ramakrishna
Math and Ramakrishna Mission at a meeting of the Board of
Trustees of the Math and the Governing Body of the Mission
held on 25 May 2005. He is the fourteenth President of the
Gahananandaji was one of the Vice Presidents of the Math and
Mission since 14 April 1992, and succeeds Swami Ranganathanandaji
Maharaj, who attained mahasamadhi on 25 April 2005.
in the village of Paharpur in Sylhet district (now in Bangladesh)
in October 1916, Swami Gahananandaji studied the lives and
teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda during
his student life, and was deeply attracted towards them. He
was also greatly influenced by the dedicated lives of some
of the monks of the Ramakrishna Order, especially the late
Swami Prabhanandaji (Ketaki Maharaj), who was his cousin in
pre-monastic life. He had also once met Swami Abhedanandaji
Maharaj, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
Gahananandaji joined the Ramakrishna Order at its Bhubaneswar
centre in January 1939 at the age of twenty-two and received
mantra diksha from Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the then President
of the Order, after two months. In 1944 Swami Virajanandaji
Maharaj gave him brahma-charya vows and the name Amritachaitanya,
and in 1948 sannyasa vows and the name Gahanananda.
Bhubaneswar, he worked under the inspiring guidance of Swami
Nirvananandaji Maharaj (later a Vice President of the Order).
He also got opportunity to serve Swami Shankaranandaji Maharaj
(later the seventh President of the Order) and Swami Achalanandaji
Maharaj (a disciple of Swami Vivekananda and a Vice President
of the Order) when they visited Bhubaneswar and Puri. From
1942 to 1952 he served at the Kolkata branch of Advaita Ashrama,
Mayavati. In the course of those ten years, he went to the
Mayavati ashrama in the Himalayas a couple of times to stay
in solitude and spend time in study and meditation.
1953 and 1958, he was at the Shillong centre, where he worked
under the guidance of Swami Saumyanandaji Maharaj (a disciple
of Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj). During this period he also
organized flood relief operations in Assam a couple of times.
Keenly interested as he was in the service of sick people,
Swami Gahananandaji was posted to the MissionТs hospital centre,
Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan, Kolkata, in 1958. For
twenty-seven long years, he was deeply involved in all its
activities as an Assistant Secretary under the inspiring guidance
of its founder secretary Swami Dayanandaji Maharaj during
the first five years, and then onwards as its head for twenty-two
years, till 1985.
Seva Pratishthan was originally started, and was known for
several years, only as a model maternity and child welfare
centre. The vast and multifaceted form that the centre assumed
in later years was largely achieved under the stewardship
of Swami Gahananandaji Maharaj. He worked tirelessly to develop
and expand its services to cater to the medical needs of more
and more people belonging to poor and low-income sections
of society. During his stay there, he started health-care
activities in thirty-three remote villages through mobile
medical units, free eye-operation camps in nearby villages,
and medical relief for Gangasagar Mela pilgrims every year.
He also organized medical-relief work for the refugees during
the 1971 Bangladesh war.
Gahananandaji was elected a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math
and a Member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission
in 1965. In 1979 he was appointed an Assistant Secretary of
the twin organizations. Even after that, he continued to shoulder
the responsibilities of the Seva Pratishthan as its Secretary
till March 1985. Thereafter he came to the headquarters at
Belur Math to function as a whole-time Assistant Secretary.
He became the General Secretary of the Math and Mission in
1989 and continued in that post for three years till 1992,
when he became a Vice President of the Order. From that time
he was also simultaneously the head of Ramakrishna Math (Yogodyan)
in Kankurgachhi, Kolkata.
a Vice President, Swami Gahananandaji travelled extensively
in various parts of the country and visited many branches
of the Math and Mission and also a number of unaffiliated
centres. In 1993 he represented the Ramakrishna Order at the
commemorative function organized by Council for a Parliament
of the WorldТs Religions in Chicago (and attended by 6,500
people from all parts of the world) to celebrate the centenary
of the 1893 Parliament of Religions where Swami Vivekananda
made his historic appearance. During that time he also visited
the centres of the Order in the US and Canada. He also visited
at different times various places in the UK, France, Switzerland,
Holland, Russia, Australia, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,
Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius.
all these places, Swami Gahananandaji Maharaj spread the message
of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda,
and also gave mantra diksha to thousands of spiritual seekers.
He always responded to requests for spiritual guidance from
all corners of the country, including very remote villages,
ignoring his personal difficulties and inconveniences.
earnestly pray for the continued fruition of his spiritual
ministrations and steady growth of the activities of the Order
under his guidance.