The sprawling and majestic present day Ashram had its origins way back in the year 1927. Swami Nirmalanandaji, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, was instrumental in setting up the ashram in Ponnampet. The generous act of Sri Achianda Kalammaiah, in donating 1.57 acres of land for the Ashram when Swami Nirmalananda visited Ponnampet, set into motion Sri Ramakrishna’s divine leela in spreading divinity in this divine land of Kodagu. In the annals of Indian history, we have found many instances of kings, queens and rich nobles wholeheartedly donating for religious ventures. Donating for religious causes is deemed to be one of the noblest acts as per Indian tradition. In the modern age when acts of generosity are few and far between, it was indeed a divine ordination that this Ashram was to be set up in Ponnampet.
The Ashram’s foundation stone was laid on 7th of February, 1927. Within a span of 6 months, a lovely Ashram had sprung up amidst mystical surroundings of the Ashram. Swami Nirmalananda consecrated the Ashram on 10th of June, 1927. The newly set up Ashram had a small pooja room, a prayer hall, a kitchen and a couple of rooms to accommodate resident monks.
Swami Nirmalananda’s message and vision, when the new Ashram was set up, has been fructified during the course of time. The various religious and social activities undertaken by the Ashram as years have rolled by, bears ample testimony to the realization of the vision, as envisaged by Swami Nirmalananda. Swami Nirmalananda had said in 1927 – “Now by the grace of Sri Gurumaharaj, you have got an Ashrama. This will be Premier Ashrama in Coorg…the other Ashramas will come up..….the ideas of Sri Gurumaharaj must be spread.”
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Mahatma Gandhiji, one of India’s greatest social and political reformers, enjoyed the Ashram’s gracious atmosphere in the year 1934.
Acharya Vinobha Bhave, another of India’s foremost social reformers, too graced the Ashram, in the year 1957.
One of India’s most celebrated soldiers, and Kodagu’s proud son, Field Marshall K M Cariappa, was a regular visitor to the Ashram.
The Ashram had the good fortune to be a host to Swami Bhuteshanandaji in the year 1932, who in the later years was to become the 12th President of the Ramakrishna Order, in the year 1989. Swami Bhuteshananda had this to say about the Ashram – ‘The Ashram’s annual events had a feel of Kodagu’s major festivals being celebrated. Multitudes of people from various places made the Ashram as their place of stay, in spite of severe space crunch. Discounting rain, these people sat on the floor, in rapt attention to listen to the religious discourses. I had a firsthand experience of witnessing the utmost discipline of the Kodava people. I was a witness to the Kodava people, listening to the discourses with undivided attention, without highlighting any organizational shortcomings, and without showing the slightest hint of discomfort. One thought which came to my mind after witnessing this spectacle was – “Many great things can be achieved in a Human life through Discipline”’ Thousands of seekers, crossing the barriers of caste and creed, have graced the Ashram during the passage of time.
A few of the landmark events and activities of the Ashram are –
- Setting up a grand Universal Temple for Sri Ramakrishna, was a long cherished dream for every ardent follower of the Ashram. The realization of this dream was seen in the year 2009, when the Universal Temple for Sri Ramakrishna was consecrated with all pomp and grandeur, befitting the stature of Sri Ramakrishna.
- To facilitate the various Ashram activities, an open air auditorium, just next to the Universal Temple, was constructed in the year 2004.
- To disseminate the teachings of the Ramakrishna Mission and Ramakrishna Math, there is a book store in the ashram vicinity.
- There is an allopathic hospital for needy patients, which started in the year 1958.
- A Naturopathy, Physiotherapy and Yoga unit was set up in the year 2011, to cater to enthusiasts who would like to benefit from alternative systems of healing.
- Free medical camps are held regularly for needy patients
- Various social welfare projects have been implemented
- Relief and rehabilitation activities are held as and when required
- Financial and moral support is provided to needy students
- Spiritual retreats are held regularly to inculcate moral and spiritual values to young and old alike