By Swami Harshananda
Svāmi Rāmakrsnānanda lived in A. D. 1863—1911. It is said that Svāmi Vivekānanda at the time of sanyāsa wanted to take the name ‘Rāmakṛṣṇānanda’ but gave to Śaśibhuṣaṇ, who deserved according to him. Śaśi performed devoted service to Rāmakṛṣṇa, especially during his last days. The way he served Rāmakṛṣṇa when he was alive and the way he carried on his worship through the relics after his passing away were exemplary.
He was born on the 13th July 1863, the same year as Vivekānanda, in an orthodox brāhmin family of the Hoogly district of Bengal. Saśi got a good education and an excellent training during the early years which laid the foundation for a lofty character. His very first visit along with his cousin Sarat to Rāmakṛṣṇa forged strong links with him, whom he accepted as the polestar of his life.
During the last illness of the Master, Saśi toiled day and night to serve him and to look to his comforts. After his demise, when the relics were gathered and established in the shrine of the maiden monastery at Barānagore, it was Śaśi who took upon himself the responsibility of worshiping it as also take care of his monastic brothers who had been fired by an intense spirit of renunciation. No mother would have served her children with greater feeling and care than Śaśi cared for them.
At the behest of Svāmi Vivekānanda, Saśi, now Svāmi Rāmakṛṣṇānanda, came to Madras to start a monastery there. By his austere life, devoted service and immense scholarship, he was able to put the monastery on a solid foundation, though he had often to pass through fiery ordeals. It was he who kindled the interest of the people in the then princely State of Mysore, in the teachings of Rāmakṛṣṇa and eventually start a Math at Bangalore also.
The Svāmi was a combination of intellectual scholarship of the highest level and devotion of the deepest type. In spite of all his stern external discipline, he possessed a soft and motherly heart. The hard incessant work he did to consolidate the work of the Math at Madras broke even his massive frame. He left the mortal coil on the 21st August 1911.
- He was Svāmi Sāradānanda.
- Madras is now Chennai.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore