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Ramakrishna Mission head dead; personal loss, says PM
By Our Correspondent, 19/06/2017, New Delhi



Swami Atmasthananda Maharaj, president of the Belur-headquartered Ramakrishna Math and Mission, died of age-related ailments in Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan here on Sunday evening. He was 98.

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "The demise of Swami Atmasthanandaji is a personal loss for me. I lived with him during a very important period of my life."

The monk and Modi go back a long way. Swami Atmasthananda had arrived in Rajkot in 1966 to head the RKM Ashram there. It was in Rajkot that a young Modi, inspired by Swami Vivekananda, reached the Ashram to take refuge. When Modi expressed his desire to become a monk, after spending sometime in the ashram under the tutelage of Atmasthananda, the monk told him that sanyas was not for him. And that Modi's work was among people and not in seclusion. Modi said, "Swami Atmasthanandaji was blessed with immense knowledge and wisdom. Generations will remember his exemplary personality. Whenever I would visit Kolkata, I would always make it a point to seek the blessings of Swami Atmasthanandaji. As President of Ramakrishna Mission set up by Swami Vivekananda, Swami Atmasthanandaji worked tirelessly and spread its influence globally."

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the ailing Maharaj hours before his death, condoled the passing away of the revered monk. "Saddened that Swami Atmasthanandaji, president, Ramakrishna Math and Mission, passed away today at Seva Pratishthan. I paid my last visit to him this afternoon. A life of outstanding social and religious service. This is an irreparable loss to mankind," she said. "In this moment of loss, I convey my condolence to all his associates in Ramakrishna Math and Mission. May his soul rest in peace," she added. Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi also condoled the death. He had been on ventilation since Saturday night. "In spite of best medical attention, his condition became worse and he passed away around 5.30pm on June 18," said Swami Suvirananda, RKM general secretary. The cremation will take place at Belur Math on Monday around 9.30pm.

Born on the holy Buddha Purnima day in May 1919 at Sabajpur near Dhaka, he joined the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math on January 3, 1941 at the age of 22 years.

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