History of Belur Math
In January 1897, Swami Vivekananda arrived in Kolkata with his small group of western disciples. Two ashrams (monasteries) were founded by him, one at Belur, which became the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission and the other at Mayavati in Champawat District, Uttrakhand, which was called the Advaita Ashrama. These ashrams were established to receive and train young men who would eventually become sannyasis (monks) of the Ramakrishna Mission. The same year the philanthropic activity was started.
Architecture of Belur Math
Swami Vivekananda visited several architectural monuments like the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri palaces, Diwan-I-Khas, palaces of Rajasthan, ancient temples of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other places during his parivrajaka days (wandering monk). Also, he came across buildings of architectural importance of Modern, Medieval, Gothic and Renaissance styles, while he was touring in Europe and America. The architecture of Belur Math clearly shows that Swamiji incorporated these ideas in the design of the Belur Math temple. Swami Vijnanananda, a brother-monk of Swami Vivekananda and one of the monastic disciples of Ramakrishna, who was, in his pre-monastic life, a civil engineer, designed the temple according to the ideas of Vivekananda and Swami Shivananda. He was the President of Belur Math at that time. The temple exhibits some of the finest styles in temple architecture; a trend that combined elements of a church, mosque and a temple.
Campus of Belur Math
The Belur Math campus area comprises of different temples and they are:
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa Statue: A full size statue of Sri Ramakrishna is seated on a lotus with hundred petals over a damaru shaped marble pedestal where the sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna are preserved. The statue is separated by a transparent glass cover.
Sarada Devi Temple: A temple is dedicated to Holy Mother Sarada Devi; the temple is located right at the entrance of the Belur Math. The temple of Sarada Devi was made where she was cremated.
Old Temple: In this temple daily worship of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to be performed which is still there in the Belur Math campus.
Swami Vivekananda's Temple: Swami Vivekananda's temple is located adjacent to the Old Temple. The temple looks magnificent in size and splendor, and that too has been built where he was cremated.
Samadhi Peetha: This construction contains the 'samadhi' of the seven foremost disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa who were also cremated there itself.
Ramakrishna Museum: The Museum caters to the inquisitive needs of people who want to know about Ramakrishna and his teachings. Articles used by him are also displayed over there.
Apart from these temples, the temple of Swami Brahmananda is also constructed in the Belur Math campus area.
Rituals of Belur Math
The activities at Belur Math start with the 'Mangalarati' at 4 am, followed by the Japa and other types of meditations at the Sri Ramakrishna Temple. The ‘aarti’ is done two times each day- in morning and in the evening. Bhog (meal) is also offered to Paramahansa.
Festivals of Belur Math
Most of the festivals are celebrated in Belur Math like Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Ras Poornima which take place on September and October. Christmas is also celebrated in Belur math. Kumari Puja is one of the most prime attractions of Belur Math on Ashtami during Durga Puja. Kumari Puja was first initiated by Swami Vivekananda in 1901. Apart from these occasions, birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and the first twelve disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa are also celebrated every year. The death anniversaries of these souls are glorified with silent prayers, meditation and devotional songs within the premises of Belur Math.
Monks of Belur Math
The monks of Belur Math lead a disciplined life and they are adept in the art of "Right Living & Right Action". Studies of Vedanta form a primary concern among the monks and it is also encouraged. Vivekananda's efforts of making Vedanta popular universally are still present and Universities around the world have also got interested in Mathematics for further knowledge and information.
Activities in Belur Math
Belur Math provides several activities which include medical service, education, work for women, rural uplift and work among the labors and backward classes, relief, spiritual and cultural activities.
The Ramakrishna movement was vast, which covered almost every corner of India and comprises of more than 105 centers in India. There are many centers abroad as well, including the countries like Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Fiji, Japan, Mauritius, Russia, Switzerland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States of America