Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission President Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj died on Sunday after a prolonged illness, said the Belur-based Math. The 98-year-old monk was the elected President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission since December 3, 2007. He had been suffering from old-age ailments since long.
“With deep sorrow we announce the passing away of Swami Atmasthanandaji, President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, on Sunday, at about 5:30 pm at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan hospital, Kolkata,” said a statement from the Math.
The cremation will take place at Belur Math on Monday morning. The gates of Math will remain open through Monday till the last rites are finished.
Atmasthanandaji Maharaj was born in May 1919, at Sabajpur near Dhaka. He received “emantra diksha” from Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj (a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) in 1938. He joined the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math in 1941 when he was 22.
Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the sixth President of the Order, gave him Brahmacharya vows in 1945. He got Sannyasa vows and the name Swami Atmasthananda in 1949.
He served the Order at Belur Math and the branches at Deoghar (Vidyapith) and Mayavati (Advaita Ashrama). Besides he also served Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj himself for a long time. Atmasthananda spent several years in his company in the solitude of Shyamla Tal in the Himalayas.
In 1952, he was posted to Ranchi TB Sanatorium branch as an Assistant Secretary. As Rangoon Sevashrama Secretary in 1958, he developed its hospital to make it the best hospital of Burma (Myanmar) then. In 1973, he was chosen a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and Member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission.
In 1975, he was chosen Assistant Secretary of the twin organizations. He became the General Secretary of the Math and Mission in 1992. Atmasthananda continued to be in that post for five years till 1997 when he became a Vice-President of the Order.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of Swami Atmasthananda saying, “The demise of Swami Atmasthananda ji is a personal loss for me. I lived with him during a very important period of my life”.