Item Code: IDK888
by Shashi MaharajHardcover (Edition: 2006)
Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
Size: 11.0" X 8.8"
Pages: 120 (Illustrated Throughout In Color and B/W)
Price: $25.00 Shipping Free
An Avatar is not only a Redeemer of humanity but also a Teacher of humanity. He comes with a new message suited to the needs of the new age. He also gathers around him a chosen band of apostles who spread his message far and wide. This was true of Sri. Ramakrishna also. He trained sixteen young disciples to become torchbearers of his message. Each of these apostles was endowed with unique traits of greatness, and played a significant role in furthering Sri Ramakrishna’s mission on earth. Among these apostles, Swami Ramakrishnanandaji, endearingly called Shashi Maharaj, occupies an important place.
He distinguished himself by his devoted service to Sri Ramakrishna during the latter’s illness at Cossipore garden house. After Sri Ramakrishna’s passing away, Shashi Maharaj took charge of the copper urn containing the sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna, known as atmaramer kauta, and started worshipping it in the shrine-room of the dilapidated house at Baranagore which served as the first monastery of the Ramakrishna Order. During the early years of the newly founded monastic brotherhood Shashi Maharaj remained its sheet anchor: his steadfast devotion to the worship of Sri Ramakrishna and his loving concern for the health and welfare of the brothers gave to the fledgling monastic institution the much-needed stability. About this role of Sashi Maharaj, Swami Vivekananda said:
Shashi was the main pillar of the Math. Without him life in the monastery would have been impossible. Often the monks would be lost in prayer and meditation, with no thought of food and Swami Ramakrishnananda would wait with their meals or even drag them out of meditation.
It is well known that Swami Ramakrishnanandaji’s main contribution to the establishment and development of Ramakrishna Movement is his institution of the worship of Sri Ramakrishna as an essential and integral aspect of the Movement. Simple as it might seem, this statement has two deep implications. In the first place, although Shashi Maharaj followed rituals, his worship was not puja as it is ordinarily performed or even understood. His worship was real seva, actually serving a living Person. Through sheer intensity of Bhakti, he had transcended the limits of ritualistic worship and even all forms of sadhana and had attained the capacity for direct communion with God.
Secondly, he saw in worship not only personal fulfillment but also the satisfaction of the collective need of the Ramakrishna Order. The majority of people need a visible focus for their quest for, and adoration of the Invisible Reality. Such a common focus has great integrating power. At present, thanks to the farsightedness of Shashi Maharaj, worship of Sri Ramakrishna serves as the bed-rock of Ramakrishna Movement and is a powerful force unifying the diverse streams of the Movement.
Another, no less important contribution of Shashi Maharaj to the development of the Ramakrishna Movement was his pioneering efforts in spreading the life and message of Sri Ramakrishna in South India. Although he was intensely devoted to the worship of Sri Ramakrishna at Alambazar Math, when Swami Vivekananda asked him to go to Madras (now known as Chennai) and start a new centre there, he obeyed without the least hesitation. The saga of his efforts to secure a firm foothold for Ramakrishna Math in the erstwhile Madras Presidency forms a luminous chapter in the annals of the Ramakrishna Movement.
With Madras as the base, Shashi Maharaj traveled to neighbouring states and sowed the seeds of the Ramakrishna Movement in the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Kerala. In response to a call from Rangoon (now Yangon) he traveled to that place and also gave several lectures there. Considering the limited funds at his disposal and the difficulties of travel in those days, he must have borne considerable hardship. His devotion to Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, was matched only by his devotion to Sri Ramakrishna. When Mother visited South India, Shashi Maharaj accompanied her all through her travels.
Swami Ramakrishnanandaji was a scholar with a deep knowledge of Sanskrit. Being trained in mathematics, he had a clear logical mind. His lectures, published in the form of books bearing the titles, The Message of Eternal Wisdom, Sri Krishna the Pastoral and King-maker, The Ancient Quest and so on, show that he was a deep thinker also. His Life of Ramanuja in Bengali is a masterpiece.
His utter purity, guilelessness and his overflowing love for others drew many close friends, admirers and followers to him. Like all the other disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, he combined Jnana, Bhakti, Yoga and Karma in his life. Indeed, his saintly life represents an ideal which should be more widely known and followed.
The present book, photographic Biography of Swami Ramakrishnananda [now renamed as Swami Ramakrishnananda, A Portrait in Pictures], is sure to make more widely known the dedicated life, lovable personality and inspiring ideal of one of the great disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. Books of this kind are very much needed in today’s world.
Picture speak more eloquently than words whereas words only try to draw a picture. But at times, pictures need explanations, and when both, words and pictures, join together, they produce a marvelous result- a portrait in pictures.
Swami Ramakrishnanandaji or Shashi Maharaj, whose portrait this book tries to portray, lived for just 48 years, blazing a silent trail of deep devotion, intense activity and unshakable conviction in the living presence of Sri Ramakrishna in all that he planned, did or encountered. Though Shashi Maharaj stands at a distance of barely 95 years, what he accomplished in his short life looks like a mythological tale. He came from Bengal, steeped in his orthodox beliefs and habits, devoted to a monastic ideal of life, to Sough India (at the instance of Swami Vivekananda) where the language and people were unknown to him, circumstances were mostly unfriendly and life, hard. Despite all hurdles, he worked hard to spread the message of Sri Ramakrishna wherever he went. His extensive travels took him as far as Rangoon. He enthusiastically went wherever he was invited – be it interior Tamilnadu or Andhra Pradesh or the Court of the King of Mysore or a public meeting in Bombay. And it is to Swami Ramakrishnanandaji that all devotees and admirers of Ramakrishna Movement in South India remain eternally indebted for bringing Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi on a pilgrimage to South India.
Though he came from a small, non-descript village in rural Bengal, Shashi Maharaj lived an extraordinary life and rose to become an Apostle of Sri Ramakrishna to the Sough. He always felt that Sri Ramakrishna had a specific mission to accomplish through him which he called latter’s ‘a little message’ for him-the message of serving his beloved Master through a life of devotion and dedication.
This is not a biography but a portrait. A biography contains all the facts and events related to a person’s life. A portrait, on the other hand, tries to put together facts and events to portray his personality-to reveal his defining presence that grips our attention and inspires us. In this portrait of Shashi Maharaj, this is what is intended. Photographs of the temples he visited or the institutions he spoke at or other things related to him-are mere assistants in this act of portrayal.
We are glad to place this revised and enlarged edition of his biography before the devotees and general public. Though the narrative is chronological, the focus of the book is more on drawing the portrait of his life and personality, that to draw a biographical sketch. Numerous monks, devotees, and admirers have contributed to the procurement of the photographs published here. We thank them all. During the preparation of the book, unexpected help came from unknown quarters at the opportune moment. This testifies to the Divine Will in bringing out this book.
Besides photographs. We have used many line-sketches in order to aid visualization of certain important events in Shashi Maharaj’s life. Our thanks to all those who have supplemented our efforts.
May Shashi Maharaj’s burning devotion to God, untiring spirit of service and purity of life inspire us !
|1||Birth and Early Life||1|
|2||At the Feet of Sri Ramakrishna||6|
|3||After the Master’s Passing||14|
|4||Founding of the Madras Math||26|
|5||With Swami Vivekananda||34|
|6||Expanded Work and Travels||41|
|7||Placing the Math on Firm Foundations||55|
|8||With Brother Disciples and Holy Mother||81|
|I||A Brief Chronological Table||109|
|II||His Life and Legacy||110|
|III||Photographs of Swami Ramakrishnananda||111|
|IV||Ramakrishna Math, Ichapur||113|
|V||Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai||114|
|VI||Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home, Chennai||115|
|VII||Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore||115|
|VIII||Sayings of Swami Ramakrishnananda||117|