‘Atmano Mokshartham Jagat Hitayacha’ meaning `For the liberation of the self and the good of the world’ is the twin motto and the basic ideology of Ramakrishna Ashram in Mysuru. Besides their multifarious and permanent constructive works, from their very inception, the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission have been ever ready to promptly organize ameliorative and healing services whenever the nation and the world has been faced with natural calamities. The math’s services include medical and educational service, service in rural and tribal area, relief and rehabilitation work, women and youth welfare programmes, mass contact and spiritual and cultural work to name a few.
Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens, is a divine place to experience peace and bliss from within, was established in the year 1925 with Swami Siddeshwaranandaji as the founder president. Many of the direct disciples of the ashram inluding Swamy Vivekananda have visited Mysuru. The ashram which has the biggest publication of Ramakrishna- Vidyananda and Vedanta literature in Kannada is headed by Muktidanandaji, an intellectual and unembellished Swamiji. Excerpts from the interview.
What is the aim of the Ramakrishna Ashram?
Services to mankind and our own spiritual transformation and well being of the mankind are the ultimate aim.
How essential is spirituality for a student’s all round development?
Spirituality is essential for students, which in recognized by the various apex bodies in the world. Many educational reforming communities in both east and west, believe that grooming a child should be taught about how to see the truth and the truth about the world around. We are given a superior apparatus called Intellect for exploring truth of about being. We ought to know who is governing us on earth and what happens to us after the death. Science believes in investigation of truth in the external world. Similarly spiritual science searches for existence of our body, basis of existence. This has to be taught to every child. Vivekananda said law of governing the spiritual unfoldment should be an integral part of our life and education.
How different is our education system different than the rest?
We do not have a separate education system as such. In vidyashala we have evolved an education system which is state based, but it is capped, it is flanked and it has also got all the ingredients needed for the development of a child. The co curricular activities in our school contains many programmes and classes which will enable the child to unfold its potential in all depths of life, like sports, games and spirituality, body building, music culture, service to mankind, service to the poor and going deeper into the science, we have knowledge bar, nature school, astronomic observatory.
What is the ultimate aim of Ramakrishna vidyashala?
We believe in developing such human beings who are immuned with leadership qualities, higher values along with a rich spiritual content and love for knowledge, grow in science, serving the country, patriotism and self culture. This is our entire programme studded with such programmes that Ramakrishna Vidyashala is one of the best, a child can pass on through to gain the maximum knowledge. We also want them to be the future leaders of the country and the world.
Your basic ideology in realization of God. How can it be achieved?
Self transformation through varieties of means through work, worship, yoga, the phychic control, devotion and excellence in behavior, called ‘Niyama’ which is both external and internal discipline and service to the mankind. It is not just static but a dynamic life which ensures an organized human being, immuned with higher values by practicing concentration, service to mankind and seeking god all will go together and this is Ramakrishna mission’s approach.
Can we see god in today’s world?
Yes, we definitely can, provided we fulfil the necessary conditions. God is there to reveal himself to human beings and he is not there to hide and remain unseen. Vivekananda (Narendra) who was in search of God found his English professor, William Hastings mentioning about God and the word ‘Trance’ . When Vivekananda asks about it, the professor tells, ‘There is one Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who is on excursion, you can go to Dakshineshwara to a man who has experienced God’. So he comes straight to Dakshineshwara and asks Ramakrishna paramahamsa whether he has seen God. He says “Yes, I have seen God more clearly than I see you and if you want you can also experience God. So following his path Narendra became a God like master and experiences Samadhi under the guidance of his guru. The basic motto of our ashram is seeking and experiencing God and self realization.
Your ultimate motto is ‘twin fold service’ activities. Tell us more about it.
The first one is Atmanamokshartham, that is our own self transformation and lot of spiritual activities, studying the scriptures is a part of this. Another one is service to the mankind like adopting the villages, hospitals, orphanages, village development centers, and tribal welfare centers. So varieties of service activities in about 160 centers and about 1400 to 1500 monks are working in this twin ideal which is our own transformation and wellbeing of the world.
What holds good in today’s world: Spiritualism or Humanism
They are complimentary to each other. One who is spiritual is intensely humanistic and one who is humanistic cannot ignore the spiritualism because, spirituality is the crux, the core and the basic of primary and subtle nature of the human beings. Spirituality and humanity are natural concomitance and complimentary to each other and they go hand in hand, if persued in a right way and not in a perverted way.
What are the contributions of Ramakrishna Ashrama for today’s world?
If you scan through the history of mankind, not only about Ramakrishna Ashram, down the line, all the devotees and monks symbolize a new horizon of hope, synthesis of knowledge , well being and hope to the humanity that that you are here to conquer yourself and conquer the world, in a right way. So R.V. has ushered a new higher goal to the humanity which believes in Sarvajanahita, reached across the borders and caste which is based on experience of truth practiced for 130 years. We have reached all the remote places, had pitched their tent, for about 30 to 40 years. It has also reached the most remote places of North East Indian states like Chirapunji, Narottam Nagar to name a few.
– Usha Srinath