This centre, established in 1938 elsewhere and shifted finally to its present premises in 1961, has a threefold aim: (a) Proper interpretation and appraisal of Indian culture, (b) Promotion of mutual understanding between India and other countries, and (c) Promotion of the study of the cultural heritage of India and of humankind as a whole.
From a modest beginning, the Institute has now grown into a centre of learning and research, recognized by the Universities of Calcutta, Burdwan and Jadavpur. It has drawn the interest of the public as well as many leading scholars of India and other countries.
The Institute has the following wings:
- The main library with three sections, general, junior and children sections. It had 2,75,215 books and 429 periodicals and newspapers this year. It also has a number of international e-journals, and an air-conditioned reading room.
- A school of languages (teaching 14 foreign languages, viz. Ancient Greek, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and 5 Indian languages, viz. Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu). 21,406 students were on roll this It has a separate library with 7548 books and a reading room.
- The research department (Centre for Indological Studies and Research) is engaged in research work, both at the pre- and post-doctoral levels. It offers courses on the following subjects: (i) Indology, (ii) Functional Sanskrit (preliminary, intermediate and advanced levels), (iii) Vedanta for Beginners, (iv) Higher Vedanta, (v) Fundamental Concepts of Indian Philosophy, (vi) Major Religions of the World, (vii) International Understanding for Human Unity (in collaboration with UNESCO), and (viii) Ramakrishna Movement. The department has a separate library with 9025 books and 810 periodicals and Swami Vivekananda Archives. It conducts national and international seminars on a variety of topics related to culture, philosophy, history, etc and workshops on Sanskrit.
- An audio-visual mobile unit which screened 10 educative films in 10 villages benefiting 5000 people.
- A museum and art gallery with a good collection of paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, folk arts, ivory paintings, textile, pata painting, litho prints, silver ornaments, terracottas, laminated photographs, etc was visited by a number of people. The department also conducted a ten- month certificate course on Appreciation of Indian Art for 25 students. The attached Sarada Devi School of Fine Arts and Crafts for children had 375 students during the year.
- An International House, which accommodated 2809 scholars, students and guests this year.
- Academic counselling is offered to unfocussed students with the help of professionals and psychoanalysts. This year 53 students were counselled.
- Universal Temple (a meditation hall and shrine). Celebration of the birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda and also Saraswati Puja.
- Public lectures and scriptural discourses by eminent scholars, seminars, recitals and music festivals; 330 in all during the year.
- Publication of the monthly Bulletin (69th year, 4156 subscribers) and books on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda and other religious literature (22 new titles and 80 reprints; total number of titles: 268).
- Vivekananda study circles, 210 youth conferences across West Bengal attended by 39,831 youths, three teachers’ conventions, weekly Vivekananda Anushilan classes, academic counselling, etc.
- A non-formal primary school (Gadadhar Pathshala) with 73 poor children and a coaching centre for 60 children at Rajendrapur, South 24 Paraganas.
- Welfare work by way of distribution of scholarships to poor and meritorious students for studies in India and abroad, providing pecuniary help and medical help to the needy, and regular distribution of milk and snacks to poor children, etc.