Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York

 

 

I N   M E M O R I A M

It is with profound sorrow and a deep sense of loss that we announce the sudden passing away of Revered Swami Adiswarananda on October 31, 2007 in the City of New York. The Swami, who was a disciple of Revered Swami Shankarananda, the seventh President of the Ramakrishna Order, is being mourned by the great number of monks, devotees, friends, and admirers who came into contact with him, particularly during his nearly 40 years of service as Minister and Spiritual Leader of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York. At the time of his passing, Swami Adiswarananda had no thought of reducing his activities or retiring. He was in good health and was actively engaged in every aspect of his work. The suddenness of his passing contributed to the intense shock and anguish being felt by so many. The Ramakrishna Order has lost one of its senior and highly respected Swamis and the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York its inspiring spiritual leader.

Swami Adiswarananda was born in 1925 in West Bengal, India and received his undergraduate degree and Master’s degree (in economics) from the University of Calcutta. Swami often recalled how in his younger days, inspired by the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda, particularly the great Swami’s call to service of God in the poor and needy, he organized a project to deliver varieties of medicines and medical services to poor people. It was therefore only inevitable that in 1954 Swami would join the monastic Order of Sri Ramakrishna and be ordained a monk in 1963. For more than a decade Swami served and taught religious subjects at the Vidyamandira, a residential arts and sciences degree college located adjacent to the headquarters of the Order at Belur Math, India. He was later sent by the Order to the Advaita Ashrama at Mayavati in the Himalayas to assume the position of Joint Editor of Prabuddha Bharata: Awakened India, the English language monthly journal on religion and philosophy published by the Order. The Swami served in that capacity until 1968 when he was sent by the Order to the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York to assist Revered Swami Nikhilananda, the founder of the Center. Swami Adiswarananda assisted and served Revered Swami Nikhilananda until his passing away in 1973, at which time Swami was officially appointed Minister and Spiritual Leader of the Center.

For over 39 years Swami Adiswarananda served this Center and its devotees, considering that service to be veritable worship of God. He was a tireless worker and a perfectionist in all that he did. He was a brilliant speaker who could capture and hold his audience by his spiritual insight, depth of understanding, and occasional flashes of humor. He was frequently invited to lecture at colleges and universities and other religious, educational, and cultural centers throughout the United States and abroad. The Swami often participated in interfaith programs of all kinds, always emphasizing the need for spiritual unity and harmony of religions as taught by and demonstrated in the lives of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. His writings and articles appeared regularly in the published bulletins of the Center and in various journals and books. The Swami’s own books, published during the last few years, have been described as “guidebooks to liberation” or, in the words of one noted American author, “gifts to the world.” The special events that the Swami organized on different occasions, both in New York City and in Thousand Island Park, stand out as highlights in the history of the Center. For 23 years Swami Adiswarananda served as Spiritual Advisor of the Vedanta Center of St. Petersburg, Florida, nurturing it until it was officially accepted in 2006 as an independent branch of the Ramakrishna Order with its own resident Swami.

To hundreds of spiritual seekers, Swami Adiswarananda was teacher and guide. For them, his teachings, his constant attention to their needs, both mundane and spiritual, his uncompromising insistence on applying spiritual truths to every aspect of life, and above all his deep compassion and love, are a spiritual treasure to last a lifetime. In his presence doubts fell away and God became a tangible reality. The Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York, founded by Revered Swami Nikhilananda in 1933 and cultivated and enhanced under the leadership and ministry of Revered Swami Adiswarananda, will be a lasting monument and a haven of peace for all sincere spiritual seekers. May the soul of Revered Swami Adiswarananda ever rest in peace at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda. May They ever bless all of us is our prayer.

M E M O R I A L SERVICE

A Memorial Service in honor of Swami Adiswarananda was held at The Brick Church, Park Avenue at 91st Street, New York City on Sunday, December 9th, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. Participating in the Service were 14 Swamis of the Ramakrishna Order Centers in the United States, and a number of other distinguished participants – among them Ambassador Nirupam Sen, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Emily Wichland, Vice-President and Editor of SkyLight Paths Publishing, Vermont, USA, and Dr. Mahendra Jani, Founder and Director of the Vivekananda Vidyapith, New Jersey. The Memorial Service was attended by 500 members and friends of the Center, many of whom traveled great distances to be present. In addition to tributes to the life and work of Swami Adiswarananda, there were inspiring chants and musical offerings by the Choir of the Center and a ceremonial procession of the participants, led by 40 students of the Vivekananda Vidyapith, carrying candle-lit trays of flower offerings.