Swami Shivananda

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Tarak, Sarat Chandra Chakravarti, Mahapurush Maharaj
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
December 23, 1865
Place of Birth: 
Barasat, West Bengal, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
August 19, 1927


Swami Shivananda, the second president of the Ramakrishna Order, was popularly known as Mahapurush Maharaj. He was born probably in 1854 at Barasat of West Bengal, in a respectable and deeply religious family, Tarak (his original name) got a good education, both secular and spiritual.

When he was working in Calcutta in an English Firm, he got an opportunity of seeing Sri Ramakrishna about whom he had already heard. Later, when he met Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar, the latter was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was the son of Ramkanai Ghosal, his old friend. Needles to say that Tarak had the full approval of his father for becoming a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.

Tarak was the first person to join the monastery at Baranagore after the demise of the Master, and was christened `Swami Shivananda' while receiving the monastic orders. Though Tarak had been married, he had successfully kept up the vow of brahmacharya (celibacy). This made Swami Vivekananda remark in later days that he was a `Mahapurush.' This name stuck and he became known as `Mahapurush Maharaj.' Like his brother-disciples, he also spent a few years as an itinerant monk. But he had to settle down at the monastery in 1897 after the triumphant return of Swami Vivekananda from the West. Fro some time he was in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) also, preaching Vedanta at the behest of Swami Vivekananda. He also took a leading part in the first plague relief work of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1899. It was he who started the Ashrama at Varanasi.

But the most memorable part of his life was during his stewardship of the Ramakrishna Organizations as the president from 1922 to 1934, when he blessed a large number of people with initiation and brought spiritual solace and comfort to thousands of devotees. He passed away on the 20th February 1934 after a protracted illness which, never alienated him from his Lord whose presence he was constantly aware of. He was was one of the finest examples of the fact that the beauty and sublimity of the inner life of a holy man can never be described in words but can only be tangibly felt.


Low thoughts will come and go. Don't mind them. Through His grace, as a result of constant practice you will get strength. Devote your whole mind to japa, meditation, worship and the study of the scriptures, whichever appeals to you for the time being.

Mere mechanical japa does not help much. You must have love for the Lord. But then, even mechanical japa has some results; after all it is Lord's name that is being repeated.

Pray to the Lord for strength, knowledge and dispassion. Pray to Him with all your heart for His grace and for devotion and faith. It is not possible for everyone to practise hard austerities, but then, through prayer everything is attained.