Ponnampet Ashram History
Past Presidents of Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama, Ponnampet

Swami Shambhavananda was the first president of Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama, Ponnampet. He had his monastic initiation by Swami Brahmananda, who was a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. He was instrumental in pioneering modern bee keeping in Kodagu. Swami Shambhavananda was also instrumental in setting up India’s first beekeepers' co-operative society, in Virajpet in the year 1936.

Swami Shambhavananda is renowned for his effort to eradicate malaria. Singing solle paata ("song of the mosquito") in Kodava language in the 1930s and 1940s, he walked from village to village to educate illiterate citizens about the cause and eradication of malaria.

Bhajans, devotional services and spiritual discourses were a regular occurrence at the Ashram, during Swami Shambhavananda’s tenure as President. Hundreds of people from far and near would congregate at the Ashram during birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. Food was served to all hungry devotees during such congregations. After treating the devotees to sumptuous food, Swami Shambhavananda used to cater to devotees’ yearning for mystical peace. Swami Shambhavananda used to enthrall devotees with rendition of harikatha (Narration of stories from religious epics, interspersed with high volume musical compositions), espousing the glorious tradition of Indian history. The cost incurred for organizing these religious fests were borne by Swami Shambhavananda and his team of volunteers. Swami Shambhavananda and his team of volunteers used to walk from village to village gathering donations, given in cash and kind, and carry them back to the Ashram in sacks.

Swami Shambhavananda’s reputation was that of an efficient administrator, a strict disciplinarian, an enthusiastic colleague, and a visionary educator. After serving in the Sri Ramakrishna Saradashrama, Ponnampet till the year 1940, Swami Shambhavananda went on to head the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram in Mysore till his demise in the year 1972.

The Ashram has been served by various heads during the course of time, who have toiled hard in spreading Sri Ramakrishna’s message. After Swami Shambhavananda, the Ashram has been headed by Swami Pranaveshananda, Swami Viswambarananda, Swami Amitananda, Swami Sridananda, Swami Samprajnananda, Swami Veetamohananda, Swami Sukhatmananda, Swami Kamalananda, Swami Purushottamananda and Swami Jagadatmananda. The present head of the Ashram is Swami Bodhaswarupananda.

Among the recent monks who have headed the Ashram, special mention should be made to Swami Purushottamananda and Swami Jagadatmananda.

Swami Purushottamananda joined the Ramakrishna Order in 1960 at Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama (presently Ramakrishna Math), Bangalore. He was an initiated disciple of Swami Yatishwarananda, the then president of Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Bangalore and the Vice President of the Ramakrishna Order

Swami Purushottamananda was instrumental in setting up several voluntary organizations, Satsangs, as well as independent Ramakrishna Ashramas throughout Karnataka. He took a very active role in the Ramakrishna Mission activities — through his discourses, bhajans, and Satsang programmes. He is also well known for his singing, and for inspiring others to take monastic vows.

Swami Purushottamananda has authored several books, mainly in Kannada, including three biographies: on Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. One of his famous books — ‘A letter to a student’, focuses on students, elaborating various techniques to help them achieve all-round excellence.

Swami Purushottamananda served as the President of the Ramakrishna Saradashram at Ponnampet, during May 1993 - November 2000. A number of spiritual retreats and other religious programmes were conducted during this time. The shrine and the prayer-halls were renovated and Sadhu-Nivas (monks' quarters) was constructed during his tenure as the President.

Swami Jagadatmananda, who served as the Ashram president, from the year 2000 till the year 2010, has been an inspiration to many, all over the world. The suppressed and depressed souls, have found succour and relief through his thought provoking ideas and views, which have been conveyed down the years through his discourses and writings. It was under his tenure as the President of the Ashram, that the beautiful Universal Temple was consecrated in the year 2009.

Swami Jagadatmananda is the author of the book – Learn to Live’, which has received rave reviews by discerning critics, both in India and abroad. The book which was originally written in Kannada, titled ‘Badukalu Kaliyiri’, has been translated into many languages.

Learn to Live’, written by Swami Jagadatmananda is a fascinating and provocative book, which goads and inspires humanity to rediscover the plain and simple ways to live life. Apart from delving deep into the powers of the fathomless reserves of the mind, the book extols humans to rediscover the joy of living, through un-conniving and selfless service to all. The power of love and prayer has been aptly exemplified with illustrative examples from real life. Many unexpected occurrences in life, both eventful as well as uneventful, have been vividly explained with authentic case histories, using the vedantic theory of Karma.

The book highlights the virtues of morality, faith, patience, character and goodness, in tiding over the vicissitudes of life with self-confidence. The value of sincerity in the means to achieve a goal, rather than keeping the end goal alone as the target, has been extolled in the book.

This book has inspired many a person to reach the higher echelons of success, in their own chosen sphere of life. Likewise, many a person seeking answers to the questions posed by the rigorous grind of life, have found it in this book, which inspires a reader to indeed live a life sublime!

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Ashram History
About Kodagu District
Ramakrishna Math & Mission
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