Swami Akhandananda

Monastic Name : Swami Akhandananda
[1864 - 1937]

 

Swami Akhandananda, or Gangadhar Ghatak, as he was called in his pre-monastic life, was born on 30th September 1864, in Calcutta. Even from his boyhood he was of a deeply religious turn of mind, and had extremely orthodox habits. He bathed several times a day, cooked his one daily meal himself, read the Gita and other scriptures, and regularly practised meditation. This was his mode of life when he came in contact with Shri Ramakrishna probably in 1883 or 1884 at Dakshineswar, which he visited with his friend Harinath (Swami Turiyananda).


Gangadhar went often to Dakshineswar and subsequently to Cossipore to meet and serve the Master till the latter finally entered into Mahasamadhi in August 1886. When the Monastery at Baranagore was started, he kept close contact with his brother-disciples there and particularly with Narendra Nath, whom he loved heartily.


But though he did not join the monastery immediately, he was fired with the ideal of leading the unfettered life of a wandering monk and started in February 1887, on a long pilgrimage to the Himalayas and Tibet. He crossed over to Tibet thrice and finally returned to India in 1890. After his return, he was full of the grandeur of the Himalayas and Tibet, had frequent correspondence with Swami Vivekananda, then at Ghazipur, who induced him to join him in travelling in some places of the Himalayas. Accordingly, Swami Akhandananda came to Baranagore monastery, and after spending a few happy months with his brother-disciples, sharing his experiences with them, he set out in July 1890, with Swami Vivekananda on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas.


When Swami Vivekananda left for America, he engaged himself in the welfare of the poor and spread of basic education in Rajasthan, at Khetri and Udaipur, before returning to Alambazar monastery in 1895.


In early 1897, he witnessed severe famine while on his way along the river Ganga, in the district of Murshidabad. This touched him so much that he began relief work there. The Ramakrishna Mission at Sargachi was established. Catering to the sick and poor, running an orphanage and spread of education were the principal activities conducted. Swami Akhandananda conducted relief work in Bihar during heavy floods and the earthquake of 1934.


He was elected as the President of Ramakrishna Math & Mission.
He entered Mahasamadhi at the age of 71, at Belur Math on 7th February, 1937.


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