Tarun Goswami
2023-03-13 07:55:49

Ramakrishna Museum Trail Of History

Ramakrishna Museum Trail Of History

The Sri Ramakrishna Temple at Belur Math is truly a symphony in architecture, incorporating the motifs of various religions and temple architecture of India and symbolises the harmony among all religion as envisioned by the master.  Swami Vijnananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna was a civil engineer and had made the sketch of the temple as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda. The pencil sketch which Swamiji approved has been preserved at the Sri Ramakrishna Museum at Belur Math. The pencil and other instruments used to make the sketch are on display as well.

Sri Ramakrishna, during his stay at Kamarpukur had scripted a play on the occasion of Shivratri. He was only 14 at that time. A copy of the Shiv mantra in his beautiful handwriting has been preserved at the museum. The museum has also recreated important aspects of the life of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and also those of the Sri Ramakrishna movement which had not only impacted the social-religious life of Bengal but had put the world in a whirl. As a corollary, one gets a glimpse of rural Bengal and of urban Calcutta during the life and times of Ramakrishna. While walking around the outer periphery of the museum building, one gets a brief overview of India’s cultural history from the Vedic period to the advent of Sri Ramakrishna.

In fact, the Ramakrishna movement had played an important role in the social history of Bengal in the second half of the 19th century. Sri Ramakrishna’s worthy disciple, Swami Vivekananda had set up the Ramakrishna Mission on May 1, 1897. Swamiji had envisaged about an institution which would not only show the path of one’s own salvation but more importantly, serve the poor and the down trodden. The role played by the monks of Ramakrishna Order and Sister Nivedita during the outbreak of plague in north Calcutta in 1898 was commendable. They had begun working in the slums afflicted by the dreaded disease and were able to draw the attention of the British administration which was till then quite indifferent to the plight of the natives. Sister Nivedita visited the slums daily, cleaned the houses, gave medicines and distributed pamphlets to create awareness among the people to combat the disease.

In order to preserve the memory of the pioneers of the Ramakrishna Movement and cherish their contribution the museum was set up on May 13, 1994 in an old building. The foundation stone of the new building was laid by Swami Bhuteshanandaji, the 12th President of the Order on February 4, 1996. The building was formally opened by Swami Ranganathanandaji on May 7, 2001. The initiative to set up the museum was taken by Swami Prabhanandaji the then secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of culture, Gol Park.

Panchavati, inside the Dakshineshwar Temple where Sri Ramakrishna had practiced tantra and advaita  sadhana has been recreated with the help of models.  Maa Sarada often travelled from the city to her native place in Jairambati and also to the house of her in-laws at Kamarpukur. The journey was not an easy one. She used travelled to Bankura by train and from there took the bullock cart to reach her native village. She used to carry a small box containing hairpins and other things of personal use. The box has been kept at the museum.

The hall inside Balaram Mandir in north Calcutta where Swamiji had set up Rakamrishna Mission in the presence of Sri Ramakrishna’s other monastic and householder disciples has been recreated as well. A replica of the Art Institute where Swamiji had delivered his speech at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893 has been preserved. It shows Swamiji standing in front of the Institute.

Among the items preserved is a portable cottage piano which Swami Vivekananda had played during his visit to the Mayavati Advaita Ashrama in the Himalayas in 1901. Swamiji had gone to console Mrs Sevier who had lost her husband, Captain Sevier. The Sevier couple, impressed by the young monk had accompanied Swamiji in February 1897 to the city and then settled at Mayavati in Pithoragarh district of Uttrakhand. The piano was Mrs Sevier’s favourite and she had brought it from England.  Swamiji, during his visit to the Ashrama, used to play the piano.

Vivekananda, an expert vocalist had received training in Hindustani classical music in early life and the tanpura he used has been kept at the museum. Two tanpuras have been kept in the room where Swamiji stayed at the math.

An aquarium belonging to the noted physician, Mahendralal Sarkar who had treated Sri Ramakrishna, suffering from cancer, is another item on display. There is a rare painting of Sri Ramakrishna by Frank Dvorak and two half bust statues Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji by Mavlina Hoffman.  Swami Saradananda was the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission from its inception till 1926 and the author of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga. Many of the articles used by him have been kept at the museum.

Swami Prabhananda, Vice President of the Order said the Ramakrishna movement is gaining momentum and scholars from all over the globe are showing keen interest to study the impact of the movement even in the twenty first century.


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