Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama

History of Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysuru


Visit of Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda visited Mysore city in November 1892 as part of his parivrajaka wanderings through the length and breadth of India. Though at that time he was an unknown monk and his stay at Mysore was relatively short, he by virtue of his extraordinary personality, erudition and spiritual magnetism, attracted the attention of a large number of citizen that included most distinguished and notable men of Mysore like the Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar , the then Dewan of Mysore State Sir Sheshadri Iyer. Swami Vivekananda in the initial days of his stay resided in the Niranjana Matha, on the Narayama Sastri Road that was centred around an ancient Shiva temple and located adjacent to the Dewans house.


Seed sown for Ramakrishna Movement in Mysuru
During his stay at the Niranjana Math,  Swamiji walked across the road  every evening some
200 meters to the Sadvidya Anglo Sanskrit School and addressed Mysoreans in the small central hall of the school. A stone tablet to commemorate the visit of Swamiji to the school was later fixed at the entrance of the school building  and  was unveiled by Revered Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj in 1996.
Sporting Forth
The ‘seed’ sown by Swami Vivekananda got a very favourable support to sprout so to say, by the visits of  four other direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.  Swami Ramakrishnananda, the President of the Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras was the first among them to carry the message of Sri Ramakrishna to Mysore.

Birth of the Centre
In the early part of the year 1925, Swami Srivasananda a disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi came to Mysore during his lecture tour of Hassan and Mysore Districts. This monk was requested to preside over the Adi Karnataka Conference at Mysore.  Impressed by the service programmes of the Samaj, Swami Srivasananda was instrumental to focus public attention on the need for a branch centre of the Ramakrishna Order in Mysore City.  As a sequel to his initiative a Representative Committee was formed in a public meeting to devise ways and means to start an Official branch centre of the Ramakrishna Order in the City.The Representative Committee passed a resolution on 18th May 1925 with an appeal to the authorities at the Head Quarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, ‘that Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama be established at Mysore as early as possible.’ 


Ashrama shifted to present premises.

In the year 1931, at the  instance  of the Maharaja His Highness Sri Krishnaraja Wadiayar IV, the City Improvement Trust Board of Mysore gifted two acres of land to the Ashrama.  This plot was situated on the outskirts of the city in Vanivilas Mohalla on the Princess Road (now known as K.R.S. Road leading to the famous Krishna Raja Sagar Dam/Brindavan Gardens). Ashrama shifted  from the rented house at Weavers’ Lines (now renamed as Krishnamurthipuram).

Visit of Most

Rev. Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj

In the history of Mysore Ashrama the year 1931 was a landmark year in one more sense . Most Rev. Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the fourth President of the Ramakrishna Order – visited Mysore then.  This visit is historic as it was the  only visit  by any direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna to the Ashrama premises.

Starting of Study Circle in 1932

 In 1932 the Maharaja of Mysore made a grant to start a Vedanta College (Study–Circle) for the Mission Swamijis, to be conducted primarily by Sri V.Subrahmanya Iyer, retired Registrar of the Mysore University and tutor to the Maharaja. Sri Iyer was a Sanskrit scholar and was well trained in scientific thought and Western Philosophy.    He was also endowed with a critical mind.”

Starting of the Ramakrishna Students’ Home

The opportune time came in June 1932. On learning of the noble intention of the Swami to help the rural students to pursue their studies in Mysore in a congenial environment, Sri M S Rangacharya, a Pleader residing at V V Mohalla, Mysore City and a friend of the Ashrama, readily consented to gift to Ramakrishna Mission his house situated close to the Ashrama in Vontikoppal locality itself.

Sri Ramakrishna Students' Home with three storeys was inaugurated on Sunday, 22nd October 1950 at 10 am by Sri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, the former Governor General of India and a devoted friend of the Mission. The inaugural function was presided over by His Highness Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar Bahadur, the Maharaja of Mysore.


On 30th, January , 1953  Sri Ramakrishna Students’ Home  converted to fully residential High and Middle School for boys under the name Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala. This in brief is the story of the metamorphosis of Sri Ramakrishna Students’ Home into Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala.


Consecration of New Temple

On the morning of  Wednesday,  25th October 195020 the new temple of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna was consecrated by Srimat Swami Madhavanandaji Maharaj, the General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.  A large number of monks, notably senior monks like Swami Yatiswaranandaji, Swami Vireswaranandaji, Swami Abhayanandaji and devotees participated in the concecration ceremony.


A well designed small gopuram (tower) over the shrine room added subsequently (during the Presidentship of Swami Somanathananda) enhances the grandeur of the temple. A major part of the expenses of the construction of the gopuram was borne by Sri H N Krishna Rao, a devotee.

Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta College

Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta College (Vedanta College, for short) was functioning in Bangalore since 1939. The book, ‘A Spiritual CentreBlossoms: Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore, (Revised Edition, November 2007)’ gives a brief account of this College.


In May 1944 Srimat Swami Madhavanandaji Maharaj had suggested Swami Shambhavananda to take the Vedanta College to Mysore.  For want of accommodation in Mysore Ashrama then the suggestion could not materialise

RIMSE Inaugurated

The Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta College was re-christened as RAMAKRISHNA INSTITUTE OF MORAL AND SPIRITUAL EDUCATION (RIMSE).  After observing all the traditional religious rituals, RIMSE was inaugurated by Srimat Swami Vireswaranandaji Maharaj, the 10th President of the Ramakrishna Order, on Thursday, 23rd May 1974 at six a.m. when he reverentially placed the holy pictures of the Divine Trio at the pedestal of the marble image of Sri Ramakrishna in the prayer hall

Presidents of the Ashrama

 SwamijisYear
 Swami Siddeshwaranandaji
Swami Iswaranandaji
Swami Deshikanandaji
Swami Pranaveshanandaji
Swami Shambhavanandaji
Swami Somanathanandaji
Swami  Sureshanandaji
Swami Atmavidanandaji
Swami  Nityasthanandaji
Swami Muktidanandaji
Swami  Atmajnananda
Swami Muktidanandaji

PROFILES  OF  THE  PRESIDENTS  /  ADHYAKSHAS OF MYSORE   ASHRAMA

Swami Siddeshwaranandaji Maharaj

Born at Trichur in Kerala in the Royal family of Cochin, Swami Siddheshwarananda (premonastic name, Gopal), was inspired by the lives of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda even as a student in school. His father Sri Ravi Varma Thampuran later became the Maharaja of Cochin.

As a student of Presidency College, Madras (now, Chennai), Gopal along with Sri V K Krishna Menon, another spiritual aspirant from Trichur and a college-mate who later became Swami Tyagishananda, frequented Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras. On the birth day of Sri Ramakrishna in 1917 he was initiated with the Holy Mantra Diksha by Srimat Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj, the President of the Ramakrishna Order. Three years later, on 19 April 1920, Gopal joined the Ramakrishna Order at Madras Math. The very next year Gopal blessed with the Brahmacharya Diksha (the first monastic vows) from his Diksha Guru and became Brahmachari Vishuddha Chaitanya (Viveka Prabha; February 2022; p.16). For some time Gopal Maharaj was the Editor of The Vedanta Kesari, the Spiritual English Monthly magazine of the Ramakrishna Order, published from Madras Math. In 1924, Gopal Maharaj was ordained into Sannyasa by Srimath Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj, the second President of the Ramakrishna Order. Gopal Maharaj got his Sannyas name as Swami Siddheshwarananda.


When Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama was established in Mysore on 11 June 1925 by Swami Sharvananda, Head of Madras Math, Swami Siddheshwarananda was made its first President. Until then the latter was assisting the former in Madras Math. During his nine years of his stay in Mysore, Swami Siddheshwarananda was instrumental in initiating several service activities, including the rural welfare work in the villages around the city. A distinct and a noble act of the Swami was identifying the future Kannada celebrity K V Puttappa and sheltering him in the Ashrama when the young college-student was sick. This youth who stayed more than a decade in the Ashrama became a celebrated Kannada scholar and a writer, and the recipient of the prestigious National Award, the Jnanapith Award. Puttappa who retired as the Vice-Chancellor of UoM remained ever grateful to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and to Swami Siddheshwarananda’s motherly care.


The Ashrama Centre at Gretz is a standing monument for the Swami’s sincere labours for the spread of Vedanta in the region and in Europe. Despite his delicate health Swami Siddheshwarananda was an indefatigable worker and was greatly admired and universally loved for his qualities of head and heart. Everywhere, in Mysore, Bangalore, Madras, in France…the Swami left behind lasting impressions among the scholars and the laity.

Swami Siddheshwarananda passed away at Gretz in April 1957 after suffering from heart attack. The blessed Swami was conscious till the end. He was 59.

Swami Shambhavananda Maharaj

Swami Shambhavananda (pre-monastic name Chengappa) was born at Halagunda Village (South Coorg) in the Telepanda family. After his early education in Virajpet, Telepanda Chengappa studied in Bangalore at St. Joseph’s High School and later in St. Joseph’s college. Inspired by the lives of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda, Chengappa joined the Ramakrishna Order in 1920, at Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama (now, Ramakrishna Math), Basavanagudi, Bangalore. The young probationer was blessed to be initiated with the Holy Mantra Diksha and later receive the formal Brahmacharya Diksha by Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj. In the year 1924 Brahmachari Chengappa was ordained into Sannyasa (the final monastic vows) on the birth day of Swami Vivekananda. Chengappa was given his Sannyasa name, ‘Swami Shambhavananda.’


When Swami Nirmalanandaji laid the foundation stone for a branch centre of the Ramakrishna Order, at Ponnampet, he placed Swami Shambhavananda as in-charge of the construction work of the Ashrama. Later, when the Ashrama centre (named as Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama) was inaugurated (1927) by Swami Nirmalanandaji, he appointed Swami Shambhavananda as its first President. In line with the inspiring call of Swami Vivekananda, the Swami went on foot from village to village carrying a magic lantern, a map etc., to educate the illiterate villagers on the measures to be adopted to eradicate malaria that was rampant in the region.


  Swami Shambhavananda’s second creditable activity to boost the financial status of the local honey-tappers/ bee-keepers was the establishment of the Coorg Honey and Wax Marketing Co-Operative Society, Ltd., at Virajpet, to produce and market quality honey, extracted on scientific methods. In this the Swami was  was a pioneer in successfully bringing the co-operative sector into a rural sector in Coorg district, as early as 1936.


  Swami Shambhavananda was posted as the President of Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore in 1941 where he was instrumental in a number of expansion activities- all beneficial to society. The elegant temple of Sri Ramakrishna with a prayer-cum- lecture hall, the development of the Publication Department, and the establishment of two premium residential educational institutions Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala and Ramakrishna Institute of Moral and Spiritual Education, were all due to the undaunting spirit and farsightedness of the visionary monk.


 In 1965, Swami Shambhavananda became a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and a member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission.


 This much respected monk who lead a simple, exemplary austere monastic life and who was known for his discipline, punctuality, dexterity and thoroughness in his approach suffered from coronary problems towards his last days.


  Swami Shambhavananda passed away at Mysuru Ashrama on 26 February 1972. He was 78. The Ashrama Centres at Ponnampet and Mysuru owe a lot to him.

Swami Somanathanandaji Maharaj

Born in 1912 Shamanna (later Swami Somanathananda) had his early education in a rural school at Huliyuru Durga. He continued his later education in Mysore. While studying in intermediate class (today’s XI and XII Standard Class) in the Government College there, Shamanna came in contact with Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama. He was fortunate to meet Srimat Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj, one of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna when he visited Mysore in 1932 and spent a day in the Ashrama.

Inspired by the life and message of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda Shamanna left home and joined the Ramakrishna Order at Madras Math in 1932.


Brahmachari Shamanna was blessed to receive the Holy Mantra Diksha from Srimat Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj and later in 1943, was ordained into Sannyasa by Srimat Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj and became Swami Somanathananda. Besides his joining Centre the Swami served in two more centres, Ponnampet and Mysuru.


The uniqueness of the Swami was his service in Mysuru Centre for about 55 years at a stretch full of contentment and smile. He was the Head of Mysuru Centre from 1972 to 1991. The Swami retired from active life (1991) but continued to stay in Mysuru Ashrama till his passing away in 1997.


Swami Somanathananda was a gifted speaker both in Kannada and English on the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature and on Vedanta. He was a prolific writer in Kannada excelling in discussing the intricate points found in scriptures in easily comprehensible style. His masterpiece books ‘Upanishad Bhavadhare’;‘Gita Bhavadhare’ have been received well even by common people. He translated into Kannada all the volumes of Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Besides these the Swami wrote many books and articles in Kannada and translated into Kannada a number of books that have enriched the Ashrama literature and Scriptures. His first book in Kannada, Sri Sarada Devi was written while he was an assistant monk at Ponnampet  Ashrama.  A significant feature worth noting is that many of his books don’t bear his name! True to the words of Swami Vivekananda, silent work was more important for the Swami, than name-making.


Amidst all his busy schedule, Swami Somanathananda scrupulously adhered to the monastic austerities like japa and meditation at set hours. He was loved and respected for his simplicity, punctuality, detachment and exemplary monastic life. A number of spiritual aspirants were inspired by these noble qualities of the Swami and a few of them embraced monasticism both in Ramakrishna Math and at Sri Sarada Math.


During the last days of his exemplary monastic career Swami Somanathananda suffered from oral cancer. A notable point is despite the excruciating pain and suffering the Swami blessed by the Holy Trio to be totally detached and was quiet and calm.

Swami Somanathananda passed away on 16 September 1997. He was 85.

Swami Sureshanandaji Maharaj

Swami Sureshananda joined the Ramakrishna Order in January 1951 at Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Bangalore.  He received the Holy Mantra Diksha from Srimat Swami Yatiswaranandaji Maharaj and later in 1960 had his Sannyasa Diksha from Srimat Swami Shankaranandaji Maharaj.


Swami Sureshananda served the Ashrama centres at Bangalore and Chandigarh before being posted to Mysore Ashrama towards the end of 1971.  He assumed charge of Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala as its Correspondent in April 1972 in which capacity he continued for a record number of 19 years. He became the President of Mysore Ashrama in 1991 and continued in that post till 1998 when he opted to retire from active service.


Swami Sureshananda’s contributions to Vidyashala, RIMSE, and the Ashrama are numerous. His love for plants literally transformed the campus of SRKVS into greenwoods which may be seen even to this day. To economise labour and wastage of water he brought all plants under drip irrigation system. His trials on growing coffee in the campus of Vidyashala  and other cash crops have been a great success.


·The following three major celebrations with innovative programmes were organised under Swami Sureshanandaji’s guidance.

The Silver Jubliee of SRKVS

The Silver Jubliee of Old Boys’s Association and

Swami Vivekananda’s Mysore Visit Centenary – the highlights of this were

(i)the entire programme was organised on a mammoth scale by a Citizens’ Committee (as suggested by Swami)

(ii)an inter-faith meet was held at Kalamandir

(iii)a life-size bronze-statue of Swami Vivekananda in Chicago posture was unveiled at Cheluvamba Park, opposite to Akashavani building

(iv)long processions of youth organisations, devotees originated from four corners of the city, converging at the Palace yard for a grand public meeting there with fully illuminated palace as back drop.


·Under the inspiration of Swami Sureshananda the Mysore Ashrama initiated Integrated Rural Welfare Programmes in four tribal villages of Chamarajanagar district and in three of these villages the Swami with the help of devotees, bore the major part of the cost of construction of compact hygienic houses.

Swami Sureshananda’s chief contributions at the Ashrama were:

·construction of the new living quarters for monks with improved kitchen (after demolishing the old monks quarters)

·building an acoustically well balanced auditorium named after Swami Shambhavananda, with cushioned chairs embedded to the floor and

·ornamentations to the temple including cladding the external walls with Dholpuri slabs.


Well versed in the Ashrama literature, Swami Sureshananda is also a keen student of Vedanta. Even amidst heavy responsibilities he would always find time to learn lessons on scriptures from scholars. He is a voracious reader and an inspiring speaker both in English and Kannada. The Swami excelled as a good guide and a counsellor both to the novitiates in monastic life and to the students of SRKVS. Known for high sense of discipline, hospitality, concern for others and ready wits Swami Sureshananda has endeared himself to the brother monks, staff, students, parents and general public.


After retiring from active service he opted to lead a contemplative life at “Ramakrishna Kutira” at B.R.Hills which is attached to Mysore Ashrama.


Revered Swami Maharaj passed away on the 8th March, 2019 on the sacred Jayanti of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna at about 10.05 pm, without much suffering, peacefully. As per the traditions of our Order we will be having special Puja for Sri Sri Ramakrishna on 20th March 2019 morning in honour of the respected Swami.


Swami Atmavidanandaji Maharaj

Initiated by Srimat Swami Yatiswaranandaji Maharj in 1964, Swami Atmavidananda joined the Ramakrishna Order at its Chandigarh centre in 1969. He received his Bramhacharya Diksha (1975) and also Sannyasa Diksha (1980) from Srimat Swami Vireswaranandaji Maharaj. He has served as monastic assistant at Khetri,  Along (Arunachal Pradesh),  Allahabad,  Guwahati and Ranchi centres. From 1989 to 1997 Swami Atmavidananda was the Head of Ranchi (Morabadi) centre. Later, he was the Head of Kishanpur (Dehradun), Mysore and Kadapa centres.  Since May 2014, the Swami is serving Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Vishakhapatnam as its Head.


Known for his deep faith in the Holy Trio and for his dynamism in initiating and successfully achieving new projects in the Ramakrishna Bhava Prachar work the Swami is also gifted with a special knack of involving the officials, intellectuals, the youth and the laity in the service of masses on the lines of Swami Vivekananda’s ideals.


Under the guidance of Swami Atmavidananda as the Head of Mysore Ashrama (1998-2005) several initiatives were launched and successfully completed. A few of them are still being continued for the benefit of society.  The  initiatives of the Swami were:

  • ·commissioning “Viveka Prabha” – a cultural and spiritual monthly  of the  Ramakrishna Order, in Kannada language.
  • ·starting Viveka Shikshana, a support-free coaching classes along with value contents for economically disadvantaged students of 9th and 10th standard classes.
  • ·launching Jnana Vahini—Education on Wheels, to spread in rural areas of the State the life and message of the Holy Trio with stress on Swamiji’s life and works through lectures and film-shows.
  • ·initiating the quiz programme, Sharada Jnanasudha to carry the life and message of the Holy Trio to the students of 7th to 12th standards; its popularity compelled to extend the programme to college  students, teachers of schools and colleges and parents of the participants
  • ··innovating  multi-coloured Poster Exhibition Projects in three phases to disseminate all over the country, the life and message of the Holy Trio in different languages:
  •   (i) Arise! Awake Exhibition Project;
  •   (ii) Sri Ma Sarada Darshan Exhibition Project and
  •   (iii) Ramakrishna Darshan Exhibition Project (taken up and executed during Swami Nithyasthananda as the Head)
  • ·The Theological Museum at RIMSE was renamed after a few modifications as The Harmony of Religions Museum.
Swami Nityasthanandaji Maharaj

Swami Nityasthananda joined the Ramakrishna Order at Mysore Ashrama in the year 1972, three years after he was initiated into spiritual life with the Holy Mantra Diksha by Srimat Swami Vireswaranandaji Maharaj.  He received  subsequently, both Brahmacharya and Sannyasa Diksha (1982) from the same spiritual Guru. After serving at the Mangalore centre of the Ramakrishna Order for six years the Swami was posted back to Mysore Ashrama where he served for 30 long years in various capacities. He was the first Editor of Viveka Prabha, the Kannada monthly journal of the Order, from 2000 to 2005. His scholarly editorials on scriptural topics, on the Holy Trio and the analyses on current affairs concerning the youth are popular even to this day.


Swami Nityasthananda served Mysore Ashrama as its Adhyaksha from 2005 to 2011. An original thinker, a voracious reader and a gifted speaker both in Kannada and English, the Swami is known for his indepth grasp over the Ashrama literature, Vedantic scriptures and applied psychology. His insightful speeches have inspired the audience both in and outside Karnataka.  He has authored ten books in Kannada on the Divine Trio and has translated a number of Ashrama publications.  He, along with Dr.Prabhushankara, successfully completed the onerous project of revising all the eight volumes of Swami Vivekanandara Kritishreni  (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda in Kannada).  The Swami’s profound analysis of Gita under the title, ‘Bhagavadgita Tattwa Sourabha’, appeared serially in 40 issues of Viveka Prabha wherein hehas discussed in a thoughtful manner the eternal message and philosophy of Gita relating them to practical life of man in the present context.


Swami Nityasthananda served as an Acharya in the monastic Training Centre at Belur Math for five years (2011 to 2016).  Presently he is serving in Ramarkrishna Math, Bull Temple Road, Bengaluru as its Head.