The message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada
Devi and Swami Vivekananda is so universal, so full of possibilities, so
beneficial to humanity that it cannot be confined to only one channel,
tradition or institution. In fact it has spread out beyond institutions to
become a global movement or one of the mega-trends of modern
history, as the American professor of history Carl T. Jackson has put it.
One of the unique features of this
Movement is the close cooperation between monks and lay devotees in a
spirit of mutual love and respect. Another unique feature is the spirit of
harmony that prevails in the Movement which enables people belonging to
different castes, religions and races to live together as divine children
of divine parents.
The lay devotees of Sri Ramakrishna are
found in almost all parts of India and in some other parts of the world.
Wherever they are, they form groups and start Ashrams, study circles, etc.
Many of these centres have temples dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna. Some of
these centres were originally started under the influence of some of the
disciples of Sri Ramakrishna or their disciples. Most of these centres are
managed by lay devotees, and function independently of Ramakrishna Math
There are hundreds of such
Non-affiliated centres in India. West Bengal has more than a thousand
Non-affiliated centres; Tamil Nadu has 160; Andhra Pradesh 107, Karnataka
67, Tripura State 40, and Kerala 30. Other states have smaller numbers of
These Non-affiliated centres follow to a great extent the
ideals and principles of Ramakrishna Mission such as
mokshartham jagad hitaya cha,
For ones own salvation and for the good of the world. They conduct
activities similar to those conducted by Ramakrishna Mission such as
running schools, hostels, orphanages, non-formal schools, coaching centres,
dispensaries, mobile medical units, rural development work, and also
undertake relief work during calamities. These activities are carried out
on the basis of the principle, Shiva jnane jiva seva
(Service to man as service to God) and work as worship.
Bhava Prachar Committee
Owing to these common features, the need
to bring these Non-affiliated centres closer to the main stream
represented by Ramakrishna Math and Mission was being felt for many years.
As a first step in this direction an apex committee, known as Bhava
Prachar Committee, was formed at the Headquarters of Ramakrishna Math,
Belur Math, in the year 1980. This Committee consists of senior monks of
the Ramakrishna Order, with the General Secretary as its ex-officio
chairman and another senior monk as its Secretary and Convenor. The
Committee functions only in an advisory capacity.
Bhava Prachar Parishads
Under the overall guidance of the
above-mentioned Committee at the Headquarters, coordinating committees of
lay devotees, called Bhava Prachar Parishads, were formed in the different
districts of West Bengal. A Bhava Prachar Parishad is a representative
body. Each Parishad is formed by two representatives from each
non-affiliated centre in the area. For instance, if there are 10
individual centres in an area, the Bhava Prachar Parishad of that area
will have 20 members. Each Parishad has a Secretary-cum-Convenor who is
elected by the members of the Parishad from among themselves. He does all
the executive work. Apart from the Secretary, each Parishad has one
President and one or two Vice-Presidents, who are monks nominated by the
Committee at the Belur Math Headquarters.
Functions of Bhava Prachar Parishads
A Bhava Prachar Parishad has three main
It provides liaison between
monks and lay devotees, that is, between the Bhava Prachar Committee,
consisting of monks of the Order at the Headquarters of Ramakrishna Math,
and the Non-affiliated Ashramas in a particular area.
The Bhava Prachar Parishad
coordinates the work of the non-affiliated centres of the area, and
provides a common forum for those centres to discuss their problems and
exchange their views.
Each Bhava Prachar Parishad
keeps a watch on the working of the non-affiliated Ashramas under it, and
sees whether they follow the ideals and principles of Ramakrishna
Movement. The apex Committee at Belur Math has formulated 10 guidelines
for the non-affiliated centres. The Bhava Prachar Parishad sees to it that
all the Ashramas under it function within the framework of these
guidelines. These Ten-point guidelines are given below.
To be eligible to be a member of the
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Bhava Prachar Parishad, a Non-affiliated centre,
also known as a Private centre, will have to abide by the following rules:
The Private centre should be
registered as a Religious Trust and/or under the Societies Registration
Act and must follow the spiritual and ethical ideals and principles of the
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and conduct their activities
along the lines of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.
centre should have a close rapport with, and a loyal attitude towards, the
The members of the management
committee of the Private centre (by whatever name that committee be
called) should have no connection whatsoever with politics or political
parties. The members should also have no connection whatsoever with groups
and organizations that are not approved by the Ramakrishna Math and
No Swami who has left the
Ramakrishna Order for whatever reason (except purely medical) should be
allowed to stay in or be associated with the Private centre.
The Private centre should
maintain proper records and books of its finances and accounts which
should be audited annually by Chartered Accountants.
The Private centre, besides its
other activities, must render some social service, curative and/or
preventive, among the poor of the immediate neighbourhood.
The Private centre should take
up some welfare work among the rural Harijans and/or Girijans and/or other
The Private centre should pay
attention to the youth of the locality. Weekly or fortnightly study
circles, annual competition in essay-writing, recitation, music, elocution
etc. may be organized. Grown-up boys and girls should have separate study
circles. Swami Vivekanandas birthday, i.e. 12th January,
declared as the National Youth Day by the Government of India, should be
observed by every centre.
Besides holding classes on the
scriptures, the centre should arrange for sale of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda
literature for propagation of the inspiring message of
arises, the Private centre should render relief services to people
suffering from calamities. It may be done independently or under the
guidance of the Math and the
The centres under a Parishad should
jointly hold an annual celebration. The prominent centres can take up the
responsibility of organizing the annual celebration by rotation. Besides
the traditional puja, aratrikam, prasad distribution and religious
discourses, one day may be devoted exclusively to the cause of the youth
and children. Competitions in recitation, elocution, music, etc., held in
different centres may have their culmination here. One morning, a
procession of devotees and boys and girls of local schools and colleges
may be led through the streets of the town/village where the celebration
will be held. It should usually be followed by a short public meeting.