Ramakrishna Muth and Mission are worldwide spiritual organisations which have been engaged in various forms of humanitarian and social service activities for more than a century. Inspired by the ideals of renunciation and service, the monks and lay devotees of the Muth and the Mission serve millions of men, women and children without any distinction of caste, religion or race, because they see the living God in them. The organisations were brought into existence by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa'sdisciple Swami Vivekananda.
The Muth and the Mission have 166 centres all over the world: 124 in India, 13 in USA, 12 in Bangladesh, and one each in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and UK. Besides, there are 33 sub-centres attached to some of these centres. Besides these branch centres, there are about 1000 unaffiliated centres, popularly called private centres, all over the world started by the devotees and followers of Sri Ramakrishana and Swami Vivekananda.
Service as a way of life followed in Ramakrishana Muth and Mission has certain distinctive features. Today, the Mission runs 15 hospitals, 129 dispensaries, 49 mobile medical units, 3 old age homes, 5 nurses training institutes and one institute for post graduate studies and research. The Mission also provides special treatment for tuberculosis, leprosy, maternity and child welfare, psychiatry, eye treatment, neurology and physiotherapy through their hospitals, dispensaries, special programmes and camps. Besides, many centres have special departments for dental surgery, ENT, cardiology, pediatrics, acupressure, acupuncture, etc. Several centres provide Ayurvedic treatment also.
The Mission centres live up to their reputation in the field of education. Apart from excellent academic performance, the students won laurels in sports and other extra-curricular activities. It runs 1745 educational intuitions including 8 degree colleges, one Sanskrit Colleges, five teachers training institutes, 22 higher schools, 41 secondary schools, three Sanskrit schools, 115 middle schools, 115 nursery schools, 104 students homes, seven orphanage homes, etc.
Women Welfare Programmes
Both the Mission and the Muth have permanent programmes for service to women. It includes care for pregnant and nursing women through the maternity departments of hospitals in Kolkata (Seva Pratishthan), Vrindavan, Thiruvanantha-puram and also through other hospitals and clinics; old-age home for women in Varanasi; educational service to girls; a large educational complex exclusively for girls known as Sarada Vidyalaya in Chennai, which functions as an independent Mission centre offering education to girls from primary to higher secondary level. There are High schools for girls run by Chennai Muth, Jamshedpur and Sarisha centres. Apart from these projects, there are co-educational schools of different grades under our centres in Aalo (Along), Coimbatore, Chennai (T Nagar), Kalady, Jayrambati, Bhubaneswar, etc. Besides, Sanskrit co-education schools are also functioning at Kalady and Palai centres.
The Nurses? Training Schools are attached to five of the hospitals in Kolkata (Seva Pratishthan), Lucknow, Vrindavan, Itanagar and Thiruvanantha-puram. Programmes for enhancing women empowerment by forming self-help groups, imparting vocational training and the like for making them self-reliant are also going on.
Youth Welfare Programmes
Apart from the educational and cultural programmes for students conducted by the educational centres, some of the Mission and Muth centres have separate recreational and cultural centres called Balaka Sanghas (for children) and Yuvaka Sanghas (for youths) in Bangalore, Mysore, Chennai (Math), Hyderabad, Mangalore, Salem, Pune, Ranchi (Morabadi) Visakhapatnam, Malda and a few other places. In these centres, children are provided supplementary nutrition and guidance in the practice of social, moral and spiritual values, and are also taught the basics of scriptures, chanting, devotional music, etc.
Work in Rural and Vanvasi Areas
Rural and Vanvasi welfare work has come to occupy a prominent place in the list of services rendered by the Muth and the Mission. This kind of service is done in three ways: through the centres located in rural and Vanvasi areas; through the urban centres which have taken up development projects in rural and Vanvasi areas; and through the educational and medical institutions in semi-urban areas where rural people form a significant percentage of the beneficiaries. The rural and Vanvasi activities are broadly grouped under the headings: (i) General; (ii) Agricultural; (iii) Educational and Self-reliance training; and (iv) Medical.
Spiritual and Cultural Work
Both the Muth and the Mission centres laid emphasis on the dissemination of the spiritual and cultural ideals of India. Through various types of activities, they tried to give a practical shape to the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. The centres established real points of contact among people of different faiths through public celebrations, meetings, classes, publications, and so on. During the year, 214 libraries, containing a large number of books and journals, were run. Attached to these libraries and reading-rooms were maintained in many places. Institutes for Sanskrit studies?a college, 3 schools, a Chatushpathi and a Pathashala?are run. At least 10 centres publish religious books and journals in different languages. The Muth centres in Mayavati, Baghbazar (Kolkata), Chennai, Nagpur, Mysore, Rajkot, Thrissur and Bhubaneswar, in particular, have to their credit a considerable number of popular publications. Some of the foreign centres too are publishing valuable books. Besides, programmes like cultural competitions for students, different cultural and value-oriented classes, seminars, etc and projects like Jnanavahini with lectures, educational and religious film shows and exhibitions, guided meditation and personality development classes, book sales, etc are conducted to spread spiritual and cultural ideas, specially in the interior parts of the country, by centres like Belgaum, Chennai Muth, Hyderabad, Mysore, Ranchi Morabadi, Vijayawada, etc.
Relief and Rehabilitation Work
Besides these social activities the Ramakrishana Muth and Mission are also always in the forefront of relief and rehabilitation activities whenever there is any natural calamity.
(Ramakrishna Muth and Mission, Belur Math, District Howrah, West Bengal. Email-[email protected])