In 1897 Swami Vivekananda launched the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission – the centre of meditation, knowledge, philosophy and work – for realizing the four-square pursuits of human life – virtue, wealth, love and salvation to ascertain all-round development of the people of India.
The monks of the Order live together, with Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings as their centre. But renunciation is not for all. The worldly people, whose suffering is not yet over, go to the fortunate few whose worldly ties have been cut by the grace of God and who are leading a blissful life outside the boundaries of worldly existence-the inheritors of Sri Ramakrishna’s divine life and divine teachings. The basic purpose of the existence of the Math is for this guidance of monks to the householders.
At the same time, the Ramakrishna Order is not just an organization of Sri Ramakrishna’s followers. This Order is the external physical manifestation of God’s incarnation to establish all-round welfare. Sri Ramakrishna had reprimanded Vivekananda once when he wanted to pass his days meditating on God. He had asked his dear Naren to “commune with God with open eyes”, i.e., see God in living human beings. Accordingly, he was to serve God through the service of the poor, the sick, the hungry and the ignorant.
The monks of Ramakrishna Math and lay devotees co-operate in conducting various types of social service. The basic aim is to bring about harmony and peace for the entire humanity in this modern world of conflict and strife: harmony of religions, of the East and the West, of the ancient and the modern, of caste, creed, race and nationality.
This they do by spreading education, rendering medical service, extending help to villagers through rural development centres, etc., thereby helping develop harmonious personalities by the combined practice of Jnana, Bhakti, Yoga and Karma.
And the person who has given this ideal a permanent form, a sense of authoritativeness, dependability, authenticity, and totality is none other than Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. Lifelong she exerted supreme effort to see the Ramakrishna Order well established and ably managed. Now the Math and the Mission together have more than 180 branch centres all over India and in different parts of the World.