The Ramakrishna Order is the monastic lineage that gave birth to the twin organisations Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, both headquartered at Belur Math near Kolkata, India. Whilst Ramakrishna Math focusses on training young monks and directs the spiritual duties of the Swamis of the Order, Ramakrishna Mission focusses on charitable and social causes for the upliftment of humanity at large.
Éire Vedanta Society is an affiliate branch of Ramakrishna Math, Belur by virtue of which we are a part of the Ramakrishna Order.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (18th February 1836 to 16th August 1886), born Gadadhar Chattopadhyaya, was an Indian Hindu mystic and a spiritual leader in 19th century. Ramakrishna drew from several religious approaches, including devotion toward the Goddess Kali and observance of elements from Tantra, Bhakti, Vaishnava, and Advaita Vedanta, as well as dalliances with Christianity and Islam. The greatest contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world is his message of the harmony of religions. He held that the world's various religious traditions represented "So many paths to reach one and the same goal". His followers came to regard him as an Avatara Purusha, or divine incarnation. After Ramakrishna’s death, his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda popularized his ideas among Western audiences.
Sarada Devi (22nd December 1853 to 20th July 1920), born Kshemankari / Thakurmani / Saradamani Mukhopadhyay, was the spiritual consort of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Sarada Devi is also reverentially addressed as the Holy Mother (Sri Sri Maa) by the followers of the Sri Ramakrishna monastic order. The Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission is based on the ideals and life of Sarada Devi. She played an important role in the growth of the Ramakrishna Movement. Both Ramakrishna (The Master) and Sarada Devi (Holy Mother) lived "lives of unbroken continence, demonstrating the ideals of a householder couple and of the monastic ways of life".
The disciples of Ramakrishna regarded her as their own mother, and after their guru's death looked to her for advice and encouragement. The followers of the Ramakrishna movement and its devotees across the world worship Sarada Devi as an incarnation of the Adi Parashakti or the Divine Mother.
Swami Vivekananda (12th January 1863 to 4th July 1902) born Narendranath Datta (Naren) was the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Having exhausted all his known sources in his attempts to know if God existed, Naren finally reached the abode of Ramakrishna, The Master. The conversation that followed between the two is beyond description.
Naren asked Ramakrishna a direct question: "Sir, have you seen God?" Prompt came the reply from Ramakrishna, the Avatara Purusha (divine incarnation)..... "Yes, I see God, more clearly than I see you now”. Sri Ramakrishna added, "I will put you on the path of seeing God too". This interaction is what convinced a sceptic Naren and paved the path for his transformation to becoming “Swami Vivekananda” at a later date.
Swami Vivekananda (Swamiji) carried the life, work and teachings of The Master far and wide and to East and West. Swamiji is well known for his famous speeches at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, and for his teaching given in both the East and the West. He formally established the Ramakrishna Order of monks and founded the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. In India, Swami Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.
The meaning of the emblem of Ramakrishna Order; as stated by Swami Vivekananda:
"The Wavy waters in the picture are symbolic of Karma; and lotus, of Bhakti; and the rising-sun, of Jnana. The encircling serpent is indicative of Yoga and the awakened Kundalini Shakti, while the swan in the picture stands for the Paramatman (Supreme Self). Therefore the idea of the picture is that by the union of Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Yoga, the vision of the Paramatman is obtained."
It is the synthesis of Yogas that Swami Vivekananda regarded as the ideal of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.