By Swami Harshananda
Svāmi Brahmānanda lived in A. D. 1863-1922. He was accounted as the ‘Spiritual Son’ of Rāmakṛṣṇa. He even was the first President of the Rāmakṛṣṇa Order. He was known as Rākhāl Candra Ghosh in his pre-monastic days. He was born at Sikra, a village near Calcutta, on the 21st January 1863, of aristocratic parents.
During his high school days at Calcutta he came into contact with Narendranāth which developed into an intimate lifelong friend-ship. Even from his childhood days he was given to devotional moods bordering on mysticism, which naturally led an indifference towards studies. His father got him married at an early age to ward off the religious pursuits from his mind and fix him up in the world.
Strange but true, this very tie of marriage brought him to Rāmakṛṣṇa who at once recognized him as his ‘Spiritual Son’ according to the the vision vouchsafed to him by the Divine Mother. Thus started a course of spiritual intimacy and intensive training under the loving care of the guru, which resulted in several exalted mystic moods and spiritual experiences.
After Rāmakṛṣṇa passed away, Rākhāl, along with Narendra and other brother-disciples, embraced monastic life under the name ‘Svāmi Brahmānanda.’ He spent several years as a wandering monk, visiting places of pilgrimage and practicing severe austerities. A little before the return of Svāmi Vivekānanda from the West, he came back to the Barānagore Math and started living there. After his return and establishing the Ramakrishna Mission, Svāmi Vivekānanda made over the responsibility of running the organization to him remembering that Rāmakṛṣṇa had once remarked that Rākhāl had the capacity to rule a kingdom.
His uncanny sense in solving even knotty problems and his spiritual eminence of Himālayan heights took the organization to new levels of glory and development. It was a long stewardship marked by work and worship remarkably blended together. During his tenure as the Head, he also guided many earnest spiritual seekers by taking them under his protection, thus fulfilling Svāmi Vivekānanda’s prophetic remark that he was veritably a spiritual dynamo. He passed away on the 10th April 1922.
- Narendranāth was Svāmi Vivekānanda.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore