In service of humanity

O P Sharma
The Ramakrishna Mission, located at Ramakrishna Vihar, Udheywala, Jammu, is emerging fast as a bright  spiritual Centre and also as a centre of social service. A new dimension has been added to it with the starting of an educational and cultural complex which is gaining popularity among the people. In addition to propagating the message and philosophy of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, this place is joining the chain of other such branches of the Mission across the country (142 centres) and abroad (over 46 centres in 20 countries). It may be recalled that the sensitive and stress-torn Jammu and Kashmir stand in urgent need of harmony, peace and universal brother-hood and this Mission can certainly play a pivotal role in soothing the soul through spiritual enlightenment.
Spread over five acre area, this Ashram is well managed and maintained, quite clean and green, with fruit trees and  beds of multi-coloured flowers, giving a calm and congenial environ amidst the impressive building blocks and prayer halls.
Origin & Growth
In an exclusive interview, Swami Nirantarananda, Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission, Jammu told  about the activities and achievements of this centre which was established on December 6, 2000 and the purposeful work done for transforming the masses especially the younger generation. He informed about the role being played in shaping the life of the people with positive thinking  which is rooted in our ancient wisdom tampered with modern scientific outlook having vision for the bright future. It will be worthwhile to mention the pioneer service rendered by Swami Girijeshanandaji, the founder secretary for  13 years.
We were at the newly constructed “Educational and Cultural Complex” inaugurated by the Governor, N N Vohra last month who evinced keen interest in its completion and functioning. The Academic building adorns India’s map on ground floor, Swami Vivekananda’s portrait on the first floor and on the second floor a picture of Sister Nivedita, spiritual daughter of Swami Vivekanandaji. A library, an academic coaching centre and a computer training institute are housed in this building. Yoga-classes for all are also running on.  Spacious cultural auditorium will prove very useful.
Dedicated Service
The soft-spoken Swamiji clad in gerua struck me as a learned monk,  gave specific replies to my queries and explained the message of the Ramakrishna-Vivekanandaji with great depth and clarity. He took me round the entire campus which kindled my “thirst” for knowledge of the lives, the great philosophy and the immortal message of the Holy Trio.
He said, “That service to man (man and woman as well) is worship to God  and this is the core philosophy behind all the humanitarian services of the Ramakrishna Mission. The focal point is to undertake activities in the field of spiritual, educational, medical, cultural and various other philanthropic services. The Jammu Ashram is also adopting this very ideal, Swami Nirantarananda pointed out.
The centrally located spacious shrine and prayer hall is simple but inspiring place to provide spiritual ambience to aspirants for self-development through prayer and meditation.  Puja and celebrations as also lectures and discourses are held here regularly. Daily Puja, Arti, Bhajans and readings from sacred books are regularly conducted for the people. It was stated by Swamiji that “Ramnam Sankirtan” is conducted on every Ekadashi day while Sunday lectures and other special discourses by invited Swamis from outside Jammu are also occasionally arranged.
Welfare Activities
Significantly, a Book Centre has been set up about religious and philosophical ideals and ideas of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda and of Vedanta.  A few books in Dogri and Urdu are also available.
There is Pilgrims’ Guest House which provides short-term accommodation for pilgrims proceeding towards holy Mata Vaishno Devi, the Amarnath Cave shrine in Kashmir valley and also to other pilgrimage places.
Bal Vikas Kendra: A Sunday School for Children, for giving social and moral education to a group of 25-30 children. Other welfare activities are also carried on; some female students studying from HS to PG are provided token scholarship. It was informed that 30 poor widows are given 10 kg of rice and a cash of Rs. 50 pm each. In addition, 10 sewing machines are given and thereby many women are imparted tailoring training to enable them to stand on their own.
Free Coaching Centre is to be  provide to more than 40 school children with coaching.
The Medical Centre in the Ashram serves the poor and needy patients of Jammu with over 75 patients daily on an average. Qualified doctors manage the multi-specialty clinical consultation as also a well-equipped diagnostic laboratory with X-Ray and Ultrasound facility is there. Besides, there are units of  Physiotherapy, Dental Care, Eye clinic. A Mobile Medical Service is extended for two days a week to the villagers. Relief and rehabilitation activities whenever situation demands are undertaken.
‘Arise, Awake ..’
Vivekananda’s oft-quoted message is “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. He also advocated: “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy-by one, or more, or all of these-and be free.”
It is worth mentioning that Swami Vivekananda, the great teacher of the nineteenth century, twice visited Jammu and Kashmir in 1897 and in 1898 and had cherished the desire to establish a centre in this part of the country. Now both the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu have realised his vision and propagating his eternal message.
( Starline Syndicate Service)