(Last Updated on : 18/03/2013)
Belur Math, established by Swami Vivekananda is located on the banks of the River Ganges in Kolkata
. The temple exhibits a fine style of architecture that combines the elements from a church, a mosque and a temple. Swami Vivekananda, who was a religious reformer, was among the first disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahansa to set this up as the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. The Ramakrishna Mission has been set up all over the world, and Belur Math is their headquarters. Belur Math was founded on the basis of a need for a permanent monastic base. Rather than religious atrocity what marks this temple and the architectural exploit is the spiritual essence throughout.
Belur Math comprises a temple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa
, which is separated by a transparent glass cover. There is an Old Temple where Ramakrishna Paramahansa is regularly worshipped. The temple of Ramakrishna took a period of 4 years to be built and was funded by an American disciple of Swami Vivekananda named Ms. Hellen Rubel. Besides this there is Swami Vivekananda
`s room located adjacent to the old temple, a temple dedicated to Holy Mother, Sarada Devi
, the two storied temple of Swami Vivekananda, the "Samadhi Peetha", the temple of Swami Brahmananda and the Ramakrishna Museum. These buildings add to the aura and divinity of the place. The temple of Sarada Devi has been made in the place where she was cremated. Swami Vivekananda`s temple looks magnificent in size and splendour, and has been built on his crematory ground. The Samadhi Peetha contains the `samadhi` of the seven foremost disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. The Museum, on the other hand, supplies to the inquisitive needs of people who want to know about Ramakrishna and his teachings. There are several articles here that contain the preaching of this Indian saint.
The Math is an ideal place for reflection and spiritual regeneration. Studies of Vedanta form the primary concern among the monks. Vivekananda`s efforts of making Vedanta popular universally are still on and universities around the world have also got interested in the Math for further knowledge and information. The monks of Belur Math lead a disciplined life adept in the art of "Right Living & Right Action", which has been made obsolete by the modern day. Therefore, the Belur Math is an ideal destination for inner well-being and peace.
The activities of the Math begin early in the morning with a `Mangalarati` at 4 am, followed by the Japa and meditation at the main temple. This ceremony is held only by the monks and is not open for the public. This routine is generally followed in the months of April to September. In the period between October and March the arati takes place at 4.30 am. The first meal is offered to Bhagavan Ramakrishna as bhog at 7 am and by 11 am the first annabhog is ready to be offered. Visitors can have bhog from the Math by booking coupons. The bhog is available till 8 pm. The evening arati is offered everyday after 22 minutes of sunset.
The best time to explore the Belur Math is during the festivities like Durga Puja
, Kali Puja and Ras Poornima celebrations at the month of September and October. However tourists also visit Belur Math between December and March and can participate in the celebration of Christmas, and the birthdays of Bhagavan Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.
In the world of uncertainty and rush the peaceful locale provides an atmosphere to unwind in a spiritualistic way that has healing properties. Many people flock to the Math premises, which is in itself a wonderful specimen of art and architecture and upholder of a legacy carried through the years. It still functions but in a more Global fashion and many programs annually are being held which attracts people in large numbers. All Hindu festivals including birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and the first twelve disciples of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa are celebrated every year, along with the day when these souls ascended the heavenly abode. These days are marked by silent prayers, meditation and devotional songs sung by the monks. All these lend a special tint of solemnity to the Math, which has survived the ravages of time and transformations of civilisation.