Swami Bhuteshananda

the 12th President of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission

Swami Bhuteshananda

( 1901 -1998 )

Birth and Early Life

Vijay Chandra Roy, the name by which Swami Bhuteshananda was known before he took Monastic vows, was born in 1901 in an interior village of Bengal.

Vijay was intelligent from his childhood. He graduated from the Government Sanskrit College, Calcutta where he mastered Bengali, English and Sanskrit.

Beginning of Monastic life

One day, impelled by an inner urge Vijay set out to Belur Math to become a sannyasin. As he was very young and had not completed his studies, he was asked to come later. The refusal to accept him as an inmate further kindled the fire of renunciation blazing in his heart.

Giving up his residence, he made a Shiva temple on the banks of the Ganges in Baghbazar, Calcutta, and his dwelling place where he practised austerities and lived a strict life of a Brahmachari. During this period he had an occasion of offering pranams to Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and was later present during her funeral in 1920.

He joined the Ramakrishna Order in 1923. He was initiated by Swami Saradananda. He was ordained into sannyasa by Swami Shivananada in 1928 and was given the name Swami Bhuteshananda.

He spent three years performing Tapasya in Uttarkashi (Himalayas) and living on Bhiksha. He studied scriptures from Pandit Tarasar Bhattacharya at Belur Math and Pandit A.D.L. Srinivasacharlu at Mysore and had imbibed the true spirit of the Shastras from Swami Shuddhananda, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda.

His whole life is an example of learning and teaching not merely by precept but by his unique monastic life.

Leading an inspired life, he could infuse inspiration in the most ordinary souls, as a result of which many of the younger generation monks were encouraged towards serious study and austerities.

Swami Bhuteshananda’s profound learning, untiring energy, dedication and a caring heart made him a perfect vehicle for spreading the living message of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. His field of activity had been as diverse as spreading education among the tribal children of Khasi Hills in Eastern India and being the first secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission in Shillong. When he was appointed the Head of the Ramakrishna Math at Rajkot he learnt Gujarati and then arranged for and edited the translation of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda and other major books of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature in that language. This work won him warm appreciation. Devotees in Gujarat still remember him as an unassuming, scholarly monk with colossal spiritual power. On different occasions, he worked in various capacities in the Dhaka, Mysore, and Kankhal centres of the Order.

At the Helm of the Sangha

Swami Bhuteshananda was appointed a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and member of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission in 1965 and was brought to the headquarters at Belur Math in 1966 as an Assistant Secretary.

In 1975 he was elected a Vice­ President of the Order and simultaneously the Head of Ramakrishna Yogodyana Math at Kankurgachhi, Calcutta. During his tenure as the Vice­ President, he travelled widely in India and abroad spreading the message of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda-Vedanta. As a result of his inspiration and guidance, a Vedanta Centre in Japan was affiliated in 1984 under the Ramakrishna Order.

In 1989, Maharaj was chosen to become the President of the Order. During his long period of spiritual ministration since 1975, he gave initiation to devotees from all over the world, making them his disciples.

Although living on a high spiritual plane, his all-encompassing loving heart, childlike simplicity and universal compassion endeared him to untold numbers to whom he taught spiritual truths in simple and understandable language. Both monks and lay devotees were raptured by every word he uttered, whether in merry-making or explaining intricacies of the scriptures and longed to get his blessings in the form of a loving glance or the beautiful smile which rarely left him.

He never wrote a book but took regular classes on the Upanishads, the Bhagavatam and Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) till his health failed. His talks and lectures lacked ornamentation, but enlightened listeners directly. Some books have been published from his lectures and class talks, of which Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita Prasanga (in six vols.), Mundakopanishad, Kathopanishad, Upanishad Ajker Manush, Sharanagati (all in Bengali) and Thoughts on Spiritual Life (in English) are very popular.


Swami Bhuteshananda attained Mahasamadhi on 10 August 1998 at 2.28 p.m.