( 1892 -1985 )
Birth and Early life
Panduranga Prabhu, the name by which Swami Vireshwarananda was known before taking the monastic vows, was born in Madras on 31 October 1892. He completed his graduation from the Presidency College, Madras.
Beginning of Monastic life
After the completion of his graduation, he joined the Ramakrishna Order at its Madras Centre in 1916. He was initiated by Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi at Jayrambati. He had his Sannyasa in 1920 from Swami Brahmananda. He had the rare privilege of being in intimate contact with most of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, which enabled him to absorb the authentic traditions of the Ramakrishna Order handed down through them.
The Swami had an outstanding record in service to the Order. After serving for some years at the Ramakrishna Math, Madras, he became a member of the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, the home of Prabuddha Bharata, and later the Manager of its Calcutta Branch, a major Publication centre of the Order. He was the President of the Advaita Ashrama from 1927 to 1937.
Swami Vireshwarananda was an erudite scholar and has to his credit many publications. His abridged translations Sankara’s and Ramanuja’s commentaries on the Brahma-Sutras have the stamp of scholarship. Other books written by him are the Bhagavad-Gita with Sridhara’s gloss (an English Translation),spiritual Ideals for the Modern Age, our Duty towards the Motherland, the Holy Mother- Ideal of Womanhood and Path to God-realization.
At the Helm of the Sangha
In 1929, he was elected a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and a member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission.
In 1938, he became one of the Assistant Secretary of the Organization and looked after its various activities.
He was in charge of the relief operation during the Bengal famine of 1943-45. He also supervised other relief and rehabilitation programmes of the Organization over a long period. Between 1949 and 1951, when Swami Madhavananda, the then General Secretary, took leave on health grounds, Swami Vireshwarananda assumed this office, which he held again from 1961 until he was elected the President of the Organization in February 1966.
During his stewardship, the Organization saw much expansion and consolidation. He was deeply interested in the rural development work of the Organization and showed a keen concern for the all-round development of the weaker section of society. Till the end, he was counselling and guiding such activities.
Swami Vireshwarananda entered Mahasamadhi at the age of 93, on 13 March 1985, at 3.17 p.m., at Belur Math. The Swami had been ailing for the last few days.