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:
- A main library with three sections, viz. general, junior and children sections. It had 2,72,597 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). 23,297 students were on roll this year. It has a separate library with 8300 books and a reading room.
- Certificate courses on Functional Sanskrit with preliminary, intermediate and advanced levels and some fundamental concepts of Indian Philosophy under Vivekananda University.
- The research department of the Institute (Centre for Indological Studies and Research) is engaged in research work, both at the pre- and post-doctoral levels. It the courses on the following subjects: (i) Indology, (ii) Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement (iii) Major Religions of the World (iv) Some Fundamental Concepts of Indian Philosophy, and (v) Vedanta for Beginners. It has a separate library with 5807 books and 810 periodicals and Swami Vivekananda Archive.
- UNESCO-approved course on International Understanding for Human Unity (56 students this year).
- A mobile audio-visual unit (Vivek Chetana Rath) for spreading values education. It covered 5 districts of West Bengal this year and distributed 8475 books.
- A museum and art gallery which conducted a 10-month certificate course on Appreciation of Indian Art for 35 students. The attached Sarada Devi School of Fine Arts and Crafts for children had 280 students during the year.
- An International House, which accommodated 3255 scholars, students and guests this year.
- Academic counselling is rendered to unfocussed students with the help of professionals and psychoanalysts. This year 58 students took help of this service.
- 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.
- Organizing public lectures and scriptural discourses by eminent scholars, seminars, recitals and musical festivals; 204 in all during the year.
- Publication of a monthly Bulletin (67th year) having 4079 subscribers, and some books on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda and other religious literature (9 new titles and 51 reprints).
- Organizing Vivekananda study circles, youth conventions, teachers’ conventions, etc.
- Values education conferences for students, parents and teachers.
- A non-formal primary school (Gadadhar Pathshala) with 150 poor children from slums etc and a coaching centre for 51 children.
- Welfare work by way of distribution of scholarships to poor and meritorious students for studies in India and abroad, regular distribution of milk and snacks to poor children, etc.