By Swami Harshananda
‘I was testing how much weight he could bear.’
Śarat Candra was later known as ‘Svāmi Sāradānanda’ successfully bore the burden of running the Ramakrishna Maṭh and Mission as its General Secretary for nearly three decades. Sarat Candra Cakravarti was born at Calcutta in a rich and orthodox brāhmin family. He and Śaśi, who later became Svāmi Rāmakṛṣṇānanda, were not only cousins and family friends but also studied together at the Metropolitan College of Calcutta.
The first contact of the two cousins with Rāmakṛṣṇa, during October 1883, was a turning point in their lives. Friendship with Narendranāth gave a further fillip to their spiritual and monastic aspirations. Sarat, who was an adept in serving the sick, both by temperament and by experience, was one of the few important disciples of Rāmakṛṣṇa who nursed him during his fatal illness. After he passed away, Sarat also joined the select band of monastics under the leadership of Narendra and became ‘Svāmi Sāradānanda.’
Like his other monastic brothers, Svāmi Sāradānanda also spent a few years as an itinerant monk practicing severe austerities. However, when Svāmi Vivekānanda called him for continuing his work in the West, Sāradānanda went to London first and later to New York for the same. While he was proving to be a great success in the West, especially due to his spiritual attainments, he was recalled to India in 1898 by Svāmi Vivekānanda to take over the executive responsibility of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission as its General Secretary in which he served till his last day.
The way he served Śāradā Devī, the Holy Mother, was a model par excellence for anyone to emulate. In order to build a residence for her at Calcutta which would also house the office of the Udbodhan, the Bengali Monthly of the Rāmakṛṣṇa Order, he labored hard. To repay the debts he had incurred in doing so, he wrote the monumental Bengali work Śri Rāmakrsna Lilāprasañga.
The Svāmi was as learned as he was spiritual. His courtesy and gentleness were so overwhelming that even the most rude men would melt into submission. Equanimity and cool headedness, even under very trying circumstances, were other most remarkable characteristics of him. Soon after successfully convening the Ramakrishna Mission Convention at Belur Math in 1926, he took ill and shuffled off the mortal coil on the 19th August 1927.
- He was born on 23rd December 1865.
- He was Svāmi Vivekānanda.
- Sri Ramakrishna was the Great Master.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore