By Swami Harshananda
Svāmi Akhandānanda lived in A. D. 1864-1937.
‘I do not covet earthly kingdom, or heaven, or even salvation. The only thing I desire is the removal of the miseries of the afflicted!’
If these words of Prahlāda, the great devotee, could be found truly reflected in anyone’s life, it was in the life of Svāmi Akhaṇḍānanda, the third President of the Rāmakṛṣṇa Order.
The Svāmī, known as Gaṅgādhar Ghaṭak before ordination into sanyāsa, was born on the 30th September 1864 in Calcutta. Even in his boyhood-days Gaṅgādhar was deeply religious and orthodox to the point of being dubbed as ‘oldish’ even by Rāmakṛṣṇa himself. As a corrective measure Rāmakṛṣṇa introduced him to Narendranāth who was very heterodox, but inside him he had nothing but God. This acquaintance matured into a deep and lifelong friendship between them.
After the demise of the Master, Gaṅgādhar, who took monastic orders and became ‘Svāmi Akhaṇḍānanda,’ led the unfettered life of a wandering monk. For three years, he roamed in the Himalayas and visited Tibet also three times. Because of his experience in the Himalayas, Svāmi Vivekānanda took him as his guide in his sojourn there.
Svāmi Vivekānanda’s burning words to do something for the poor and illiterate masses, inspired Svāmi Akhaṇḍānanda to do some good work for the education of poor children both in Khetri and in Udaipur in Rajasthan. Finally he started an orphanage at the village of Sargacchi in the Murshidabad district of Bengal, where he had gone to conduct famine relief work. He and the institution grew up with each other.
On the death of Svāmi Sivānanda, Svāmi Akhaṇḍānanda was elected as the third President of the Rāmakṛṣṇa Order. The Svāmi had a flair for learning languages, which brought him into intimate contact with the people wherever he went. His childlike simplicity endeared him to one and all. His austerity and scholarship were a source of inspiration for many. He breathed his last on February 7, 1937.
- ↑ Narendranāth is Svāmi Vivekānanda.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore