Swami Pramathanandaji Maharaj

An Obituary of Vidyapith's First Headmaster

Swami Pramathananda was born Dhiren Sinha on September 19, 1920. He was initiated into spiritual life by Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. He joined the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in 1950 at the Deogarh Vidyapith in India. He received sannyasa in 1958. He served in many branch centres of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in India, including Kankhal, Cherrapunji and Deoghar. He joined the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Purulia at the call of Swami Hiranmayananda, the Founder Secretary. He was the Headmaster of the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Purulia from 1959 to 1962. He returned there to serve as the Secretary from 1969 to 1975. He was one of the most popular Headmasters and Secretaries of the Vidyapith. He was also the chief patron of the Alumni Association of the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Purulia. In fact, he was the writer of the patriotic pledge recited by the students daily in the school assembly. Swami Pramathanandaji's main interest was in the field of education and culture, and he was extensively involved in developmental work in rural areas in India.
Swami Pramathananda
In 1982, he was appointed as the Assistant Swami at the Vedanta Society of Sacramento, where Swami Shraddhananda was the Swami-in-charge. After serving there for 7 years, he was appointed as president of the Vedanta Society of Toronto. He continued in that post until his passing away in 2003. The Vedanta Society of Toronto was founded in 1968. It became an official branch center of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in 1989.

In Toronto, Swami conducted all the regular services including lectures and scripture classes. Since 1992, he was also the Chaplain for Hinduism at the University of Toronto where he gave monthly classes on the Upanishads. He also traveled and lectured extensively throughout Canada and the United States.

In the spring of 2003, Swami Pramathananda was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the progress of the disease, he remained alert and focused on the work of the center and the well being of the congregation.

Swami Pramathananda provided extensive counseling for many people. He always stressed the importance of strengthening the family unit and spoke to parents and children from this point of view. The other aspect that deeply interested him was education. He wanted to be able to provide education that included moral and spiritual values. Towards his end, in June 2003, the Vedanta Society began the "Vedanta Vidya Mandir" - a children's school that teaches yoga, music, vedic chanting, Indian history, and moral and spiritual values through stories. The detailed plans for this school were written by the Swami himself during one of his last visits to the hospital.

Swami Pramathananda's last public lecture was aptly titled "Spiritual Journey" and was given on Sunday, July 20, 2003 during the Annual Summer Retreat. A few days later, he lost his voice and communicated through handwritten notes. On July 27, 2003, he coordinated and was present at the welcome reception for Swami Kripamayananda (Murari Maharaj, also an ex-Headmaster of Vidyapith at Purulia) who had just been appointed by the Ramakrishna Math and Mission Headquarters to serve as Assistant Swami at the Vedanta Society of Toronto. Swami Pramathananda's address was read out to the congregation.

Swami's physical condition deteriorated rapidly in the following weeks. During this time, physicians, nurses and attendants were astonished at the degree of Swami's self-control, mental alertness and concern for others. He left his physical body at 8.25 a.m. EST on Tuesday, August 12, 2003 at the age of 83. The final moments were peaceful.

Swami Pramathananda leaves behind a large congregation of devotees and admirers who have benefited in many ways from his teaching, counseling and personal example. These remain with us as a continuing source of light and inspiration.

Portion of this article was collected from the Vedanta Society of Toronto website.
Click here to know more about Swami Pramathananda (Dhiren Maharaj).
The article "Our Vidyapith" by Swami Pramathananda.

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