Premonastic name :
Sharat Chandra Chakravarty
Date of Birth : 23 December 1865
Place of Birth : Kolkata
Born in an affluent family, Sharat was always calm and quiet and pious
in his boyhood. He joined the medical college with the idea of
becoming a doctor, but discontinued his studies in order to serve Sri
Ramakrishna. Along with his cousin Shashi (who stayed with Sharats
family) he joined the Brahmo Samaj, and in 1883 they went together to
Dakshineswar. Sri Ramakrishna drew them to him like a powerful magnet.
During the Masters last illness Sharat also, like Shashi, dedicated
himself to serving the Master day and night.
After the Masters passing, Sharat joined the Baranagar monastery and
took the vows of sannyasa assuming the name Swami Saradananda. After
spending a few years in pilgrimage and tapasya along with his brother
monks, he returned to Baranagar Math in 1891. When Swami Vivekananda
started extensive preaching work in the West, and felt the need for
another brother monk to assist him, Swami Saradananda was brought to
the United States in 1896. His calm and gentle disposition, courteous
and loving manners and able exposition of Vedanta won him many friends
and admirers in America.
But Swami Vivekananda, who founded the Ramakrishna Mission soon after
his return to India in 1897, saw that a highly capable person like
Saradananda was necessary to manage the affairs of the Math and the
Mission. So Saradananda was called back to Kolkata and made the
General Secretary of Ramakrishna Math and the Mission, a post which he
held for nearly three decades till the end of his life. By his mature
wisdom, clear thinking, strength of mind and devotion to Sri
Ramakrishna and Holy Mother, he guided the course of the twin
organizations in those formative years when political agitation
against the British rule was gaining momentum in India.
Apart from his important work as General Secretary, Swami Saradananda
is remembered for several other types of great service that he
rendered. The first one was his taking over the Udbodhan, the Bengali
journal of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, as its editor and publisher
in 1902 when Swami Trigunatitananda left for America. The second one
was taking upon himself the full responsibility of looking after the
needs of the Holy Mother whether she stayed in Jayrambati or Kolkata.
His third work was writing the monumental biography of Sri Ramakrishna
known as Sri Ramakrishna Lila Prasanga in Bengali (translated later
into English under the title Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master). His
last great work was the construction of the temple dedicated to Holy
Mother in 1921 on the spot where her sacred body was cremated in Belur
Math, and another temple at Mothers birthplace in Jayrambati in 1923.
He was loved and respected by hundreds of people. He was a great
support especially to women. In the first week of August 1927 he
suffered a stroke. Two weeks later on 19 August 1927, he breathed his
For further reading
: 1. Glimpses of a Great Soul by Swami Asheshananda
2. God Lived with Them by Swami Chetanananda.