Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj, president of Ramakrishna Math and Ramkrishna Mission, Belur Math, breathed his last on Sunday after a prolonged illness. His condition had deteriorated since Saturday night and he was put on ventilator support. He had been undergoing treatment for age-related ailments since February, 2015.
A statement released by the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, said, “Despite the best medical attention, his condition deteriorated over the last few days and he passed away around 5.30 PM on Sunday at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan hospital.”
The cremation will take place at Belur on Monday at about 9.30 pm and the gates of Belur Math would remain open on Sunday and Monday till the last rites were completed, Belur Math stated.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj. The Prime Minister termed the demise a ‘personal loss’. At a young age, the Prime Minister had received spiritual guidance from the monk, who passed away at the age of 98.
Born on May 10, 1919 at Sabajpur, near Dhaka. The monk had received spiritual initiation (mantra diksha) in 1938 from Swami Virajananda (a monastic disciple of Ramakrishna). He joined the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math on 3 January 1941 at the age of 22 years.
He was elected as the 15th President of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission on December 3, 2007. In 1945 the then President of the Order Swami Virajananda gave him Brahmacharya vows, and in 1949 Sannyasa vows and the name Atmasthananda.
After serving the Order at Belur Math and the branches at Deoghar Vidyapith and Mayavati Advaita Ashrama, he was offered the opportunity to serve Virajananda. He spent several years in his company in the solitude of Shyamla Tal in the Himalayas.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi considers Maharaj as his guru. In his youth, Mr Modi had wanted to become a monk. However, it is said that Atmasthanandaji advised him otherwise and declined his proposal and he was told that his calling was elsewhere. Later, he got spiritual guidance from Swami Atmasthananda in Rajkot, Gujarat. Thus Mr Modi entered politics.
During his last visit to the city in April last year the PM had met the ailing Maharaj. Referring to his death as personal loss, the PM wrote on his Twitter page, ‘The demise is my personal loss. I lived with him during a very important period of my life. Generations will remember his exemplary personality’.
The Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the ailing monk earlier this afternoon, also described his demise as “an irreparable loss to mankind”, according to sources. “I paid my last visit to him this afternoon. A life of outstanding social & religious service. This is an irreparable loss to mankind,” Banerjee said.
Swami Atmasthanandaji had travelled extensively all over the country and abroad and visited several branches of the Order and some unaffiliated centres spreading the messages of Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and Vedanta, besides giving ‘mantra diksha’ to disciples.
He was one of the key persons to organise the Pallimangal (integrated rural development) activities in Kamarpukur and Jayrambati, a youth training centre at Saradapitha (Belur) and many other social service programmes.
The police made elaborate arrangements to help the devotees pay their last respects to president of Ramakrishna Math and Mission Swami Atmasthanandaji who passed away on Sunday evening.
His mortal remains have been taken to Belur Math at around 9 pm on Sunday from Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan in South Kolkata and it will be kept there for the devotees to pay their last respects throughout the night.
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee was present at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan when his mortal remains were being taken out of the hospital.
Firhad Hakim, the state Urban Development minister and Subrata Mukherjee, the State panchayat minister, went to Belur Math on Sunday night. His mortal remains were kept at Sanskrito Bhawan which is situated just next to president Maharaj’s quarter. The Math was kept open throughout the night.
The Bramhacharins of the order chanted hymns from Bhagavad Gita. The last rites will be performed at the Math in the bank of river Hooghly on Monday.