The magnificient Belur Math

Belur Math, the Headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Kolkata

Late October seemed perfect for a trip to Kolkata and our first afternoon we spent in the holy, serene and tranquil Belur Math,the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.

The magnificient Belur Math

On arrival, the greenery, the clean surroundings and the bird song assault your senses. And of course the imposing architecture of the beautiful, mesmerizing monument out there, The Sri Ramakrishna Temple.

Ramakrishna Paramahansa Headquarters

Serene Belur Math

The emblem of the Ramakrishna Order is sculpted beautifully and our guide from Incredible India, Mr. Anirban, who accompanied us throughout the Kolkata trip explained to us the emblem’s meaning.

The emblem has been designed by Swami Vivekananda and in Swami’s own words, “The wavy waters in the picture are symbolic of Karma, the lotus of Bhakti, and the rising-sun of Jnana. The encircling serpent is indicative of Yoga and awakened Kundalini Shakti, while the swan in the picture stands for Paramatman. Therefore, the ideal of the picture is that by the union of Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Yoga, the vision of the Paramatman is obtained.”

The Foundation stone of the Math was laid on May 16th 1935. The buildings in the Math are influenced by other monuments across India, including Buddhist temples. The main temple’s central dome which houses the statue of Sri Ramakrishna has a European architectural style.

We walked up the stairs and into the beautiful building to reach a large open hallway where people were seated in meditation. We queued up to see the larger than life size statue of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and offer prayers. The floor of the temple has the shape of the Holy Cross.

A monk who was near the statue, had a broom like stick and was sweeping continuously. The silence was divine. People bowed their heads with reverence and prayed. It was a hushed, serene atmosphere and we were filled with awe reminded of the selfless sacrifices of the Holy Trio, Sri Ramakrishna, Mother Saradha and Swami Vivekananda.

We walked outside and saw a very colourful sight of people and children relaxing on the immaculate turf, the flowing Hooghly/ Ganges beyond added to the visual beauty.  Very picturesque. There were large boats transporting people and we decided to take a ferry too to take a ride on the river.

We moved to the old temple complex and saw the sacred place where the Mango Tree stood. Swami Vivekananda used to sit under this tree and meet devotees and visitors. He also used to spend time sitting in a cot under this tree writing articles, reading or engaged in conversation. This tree has witnessed several miraculous incidents involving the Swamiji’s life. His devotees have witnessed Swamiji in a trance filled with an extraordinary spiritual power. Such is the power of that spot.

On the Northern side of the Mango tree is the old temple of Sri Ramakrishna. This was where his relics were placed before the new temple was built in 1938. Swami Vivekananda, Mother Saradha and other devotees have worshipped Sri Ramakrishna here. The adjacent room is Swami Shivananda’s, originally the bedroom of Sri Ramakrishna.

We also saw the living room of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Brahmananda temple, Swami Vivekananda Temple, Ma Saradha Temple and also visited the little shop which sold goods made inside the ashram. Bought incense sticks as well as cotton, handwoven bags as keepsakes.

The bird song, as it was sunset was at its loudest at this point.

People walked down the steps to wet their feet in the river and sprinkle the holy water on their heads. It was way too slushy but my sister Indu braved it out and went down the steps as she did not want to miss any experience!

We saw devotees lining up outside a enclosure where a monk sat blessing the devotees who prostrated before him. We joined the line and received the blessings from the saffron clad monk who later we found out was the President of the Ramakrishna Math, Srimat Swami Smaranananda ji Maharaj.

After wearing our footwear which we had removed near the main temple we walked out to reach the Ferry Ghat to board the Ferry to Dakshineshwar Kali temple, an hour’s ride on the River Hooghly/Ganges. Enroute we saw walls filled with meaningful messages about ancient Indian discoveries and inventions.

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