RAMAKRISHNA MISSION ASHRAMA, BELGAUM

Activities of the Ashrama along the lines laid down by Swami Vivekananda – "Atmano Mokshartham Jagadhitaya cha" or "for the liberation of self & welfare of the world."

A Report : Visit of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India to Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama (sub-centre)

11th October 2012 has become a significant day in the annals of the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Belgaum. Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, visited the sub-centre of the Ashrama, located on Swami Vivekananda Marg (erstwhile Risaldar Galli) in Belgaum.

This sub-centre has been running in a portion of the very house where Swami Vivekananda stayed for 4 days (as a guest of Shri Sadashiv Bhate from Oct 15-18, 1892) during his 13-day visit to Belgaum. The room where Swami Vivekananda had stayed has been maintained as a shrine and also contains a cot, stick and a standing mirror said to have been used by him.

The other house where Swamiji stayed for the remaining 9 days at Belgaum as a guest of Sri Haripada Mitra is now maintained as a monument within the main Ashrama at Belgaum located within the Fort. Incidentally, Shri Pranab Mukherjee had visited the main centre on April 8, 2012 during his visit to Belgaum. He was then the Union Finance Minister.

On 11th October 2012, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India was received by monks of the Ramakrishna Order, including the General Secretary, Srimat Swami Suhitanandaji Maharaj, who had come from Belur Math to be a part of this programme. The President was accompanied by the Governor of Karnataka, Shri Hansraj Bhardwaj and the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Jagadish Shettar. Shri K. H. Muniyappa, Union Minister of State for Railways also accompanied the President on this occasion. Ministers of the Karnataka State Cabinet Shri Suresh Kumar, Minister for Law, Justice & Urban Development and Shri Umesh Katti, Minister for Agriculture who is also the Belgaum District-in-charge Minister were part of the reception party.

The President of India was then conducted to the very room where Swamiji had stayed. Here he offered flowers and paid his respects to Swamiji.

The President was then led to the place where he unveiled a plaque to initiate the restoration work of the house where Swamiji had stayed.

Subsequently he was led to the adjoining plot of land where arrangements were made for the Bhoomi Puja for the proposed Swami Vivekananda Value Education & Cultural Centre. Having performed the Bhoomi Puja and after unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and the other dignitaries occupied the dais next to the Bhoomi Puja area.

A public meeting was then held. Swami Raghaveshanandaji, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Belgaum proposed the welcome and the dignitaries on the dais were felicitated with a special memento on the occasion.

This was followed by a short address by Revered Swami Suhitanandaji Maharaj, the General Secretary of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. Revered Maharaj spoke about the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda and highlighted the role played by Shri Pranab Mukherjee in the Union Government’s National Implementation Committee of the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Swamiji, during his tenure as the Union Finance Minister.

The Chief Minister next spoke for a few minutes. He appreciated the project and the work done by the Ramakrishna Mission in Karnataka and extended support to the centres of the Mission in their activites. The Governor was next and spoke about the importance of Swami Vivekananda’s message and expressed support for the project.

Finally the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the audience. He recounted his visit to Chicago to the place where the Parliament of Religions was held in September 1893. He expressed his respect for Swamiji and admired the rationality of Swamiji’s philosophy and outlook. The President praised the efforts of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in spreading the message of Swamiji and also the various activities undertaken in the medical and educational fields and especially the distress relief works of the Mission during natural calamities. He also emphasized on the need for Value education in the country and hoped that the proposed Value Education centre would come up quickly to give a fillip to satisfying this need.

The audience comprised about 350 invitees including over 30 monks from the various Mission centres of Karnataka, Mumbai and Pune. Revered Swami Bhaumanandaji Maharaj, Swami Veetabhayanandaji Maharaj, Swami Pramatheshanandaji Maharaj, Swami Sarvalokanandaji, Swami Jitakamanandaji, Swami Muktidanandaji, Swami Bodhaswarupanandaji and other monks participated in this programme. The invitees included the leading figures of Belgaum and other devotees and admirers of Swamiji.

At the end of the meeting, the members of the audience including the monks were offered sumptuous cooked Prasad to end the evening.

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