History of the Math

Ramakrishna Math, Dhantoli, Nagpur is a religious centre at Nagpur. Revered Swami Shivanandaji popularly known as Mahapurush Maharaj was the direct disciple of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna. As the name suggests Mahapurush Maharaj was really spiritually enlightened great soul who could visualize the centre of Ramakrishna Order being established at Nagpur. He was the second President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission (1922-34). Rev. Mahapurush Maharaj came to Nagpur twice. First in 1925 at the request of a group of devotees. This group was well organised and used to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna from 1898. During this visit devotees promised Swami Shivanandaji to donate a plot of land for the cause of Sri Ramakrishna. During the second visit in 1927 Swami Shivanandaji stayed in a temporarily erected tent on the same plot of undeveloped land where present building of Math stands. He assured the devotees to start the Math centre at Nagpur and to send a suitable monk to take charge.

Swami Shivananda

Initial days at Nagpur Math - Swami Bhaskareshwarananda

The wish of God takes no time to fulfil and to take shape. Mahapurush Maharaj chose his able disciple Swami Bhaskareshwarananda to make his vision viable. The citizens of Nagpur were and are devoted and elite. By the grace of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna and the towering personality of Revered Swami Bhaskareshwarananda the centre started developing slowly. Initially it was only a small hut of clay walls and thatched roof which enshrined the Holy Trio – Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. This small hut was a shrine, dispensary and living room, all in one. The Ramakrishna Math started functioning formally in 1928. Gradually the devotees started coming to the Math in a large number and gave donations for the work.

Swami Bhaskareshwarananda

Now, Swami Bhaskareshwaranandaji Maharaj was in a position to undertake the construction of a new building for the Ashrama in 1929. It was ready for consecration by 1932. This new building accommodated a shrine, a prayer hall, dispensary and monks quarter.

A small number of monastic inmates joined hands with Swami Bhaskareshwaranandaji and with a spirit of sacrifice and dedicated service carried out to the fullest the motto of Mission ‘आत्मनो मोक्षार्थं जगद्धिताय च’ (for the liberation of soul and for the service of the world). Slowly the activities of the Math started spreading. Revered Swami Bhaskareshwarananda wanted to carry the message of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda to the doors of the people and the best means to do this was by publication of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda-Vedanta Literature. God enters the hearts of the people through these words was what he strongly believed in.

During his lifetime Revered Swami Bhaskareshwaranandaji constructed a building for hostel where poor students got lodging and boarding. The success of the students’ home speaks through the number of students joining the order as monks, others holding the influential posts in various private and public sectors and the enlightened house-holders.

In the new campus, opposite Matri Mandir (Kali temple) the land was acquired for the purpose of library and publication. A Marathi monthly magazine ‘Jivan-Vikas’ published by the Math is among the standard Magazine of Maharashtra.

Revered Swami Bhaskareshwarananda entered into Mahasamadhi on 16th January 1976. This seer soul always insisted on the spiritual enlightenment of the devotees foremost. The atmosphere of the Nagpur Math was and is filled with the serene air of spirituality. After his demise, Revered Swami Vyomrupanandaji took charge of the Math and under his guidance the activities of the Math flourished to a great extent. At present Revered Swami Brahmasthanandaji is the Adhyaksha and is successfully handling the wide ranging activities of Math.

The City of Nagpur

The city of Nagpur, the second capital of Maharashtra, is in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra State. Lying almost in the centre of North South axis of India, it is also an important commercial and educational centre catering to the needs of the northern regions of Maharashtra state and southern parts of Madhya Pradesh. Nagpur boasts of being the ‘heart of India’, as the ‘Zero Mile stone’ of India is in the Civil Lines area of Nagpur. ‘The Orange City’, as it is widely known, was once a small town. The dominance of deadly snakes had given this town the name Nagpur meaning where large number of snakes live. It is situated on the banks of the river ‘Nag’ so also the name – Nagpur it had – in the 4th century A.D. Earlier it was also known as ‘Fanindrapur’.

Kasturchand Park

Ram Mandir, Ramtek

Formerly it came under Nandivardhan district of Vakataka Kingdom. At that time the ruler of the kingdom was Rudrasena II who married Prabhavati – the daughter of the Emperor Chandra Gupta II, also known as Deva Gupta. This queen issued a charter in favour of Ramagiriswami (Shri Ramchandra) whose abode was Ramagiri, which is now known as Ramtek (near Nagpur). Ramtek is a place of pilgrimage. Bhagwan Shri Ramchandra visited the place while roaming in Dandkaranya. The place is also known due to its contribution in the field of Sanskrit literature. The famous Sanskrit poet Kalidas – also known as the ‘Shakespeare of India’ composed the Sanskrit classic ‘Meghadoot’ at the Holy temple town of Ramgiri adding a special feather in the pride of Nagpur. In his honour the Sanskrit University established in Ramtek is given the name – ‘Kavi Kulguru Kalidas Sanskrit University’.

Zero Mile Stone, Nagpur

Kalidas Smarak, Ramtek

By the end of 5th century, Nagpur town formed part of an independent kingdom with its capital located at Vatsagulma (now known as Washim). During the thirteenth century, the city Srivardhana (near modern Nagpur) was a part of the kingdom of Yadava, who ruled from Devagiri (Daulatabad). Gond Kings also ruled some part of Vidarbha from the famous fort of Sitabuldi, Nagpur.

The Bhosle Kings who ruled over the Vidarbha region under the suzerainty of Maratha empire, had chosen Nagpur as their capital. The fortified part of central Nagpur contain many palaces and royal tombs, temples, and the mansions (wadas) of the nobles of Bhosle kings which had been built during 18th and 19th centuries. After the independence till the Maharashtra state was formed in 1960, Nagpur had been the capital of the Central Province & Berar.

The main occupation of the people of Nagpur is agriculture as it has a fertile black cotton soil. Oranges and Mangoes are also produced from this area.

As was the great history of Maharashtra in general and Nagpur in particular enriched with the great kings – Yadav clan, Vakataka rulers, afterwards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Peshwas etc. and the distinguished people in walks of life, so was it blessed with a rich religious and spiritual tradition. This land has produced many saints, sages and great spiritual leaders like Sant Dnyaneshwar (Composer of Dnyaneshwari), Sant Samarth Ramdas (Composer of ‘Dasbodh’), Sant Namdev, Sant Tukaram etc. They have sanctified the land by their austerities, devotion, meditation and adherence to various spiritual practices and study of scriptures.

There is a reference that Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda) during his childhood along with his family had passed through Nagpur on way to Raipur. Sister Nivedita had also visited Nagpur. So it was most appropriate place for Bhagawan Shri Ramakrishna’s disciples to have his abode in the city. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to spread his message of new religion to the world. He chose Swami Vivekananda as his instrument. Swami Vivekananda established the organization Ramakrishna Math and Mission with a view to create a band of monks who have renounced the world for attaining self-realization and at the same time can work tirelessly for the welfare of the poor and the downtrodden, – ‘आत्मनो मोक्षार्थं जगद्धिताय च’. Soon the Mission’s work started giving expected outcome and Swami Shivanandaji had a vision to have a centre at Nagpur.

Now, Swami Bhaskareshwaranandaji Maharaj was in a position to undertake the construction of a new building for the Ashrama in 1929. It was ready for consecration by 1932. This new building accommodated a shrine, a prayer hall, dispensary and monks quarter.