Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama
(A branch of Ramakrishna Math, Belurmath)
Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama, Ponnampet Is A Branch Centre Of Ramakrishna Math, Belur Math, Howrah, West Bengal, India. It Was Started In 1927 With The Support Of Local Devotees By Swami Nirmalanandaji With The Noble Idea Of Spiritual Upliftment And Service To The Local People Of Kodagu And Nearby Areas.
Ramakrishna Sevashrama – Its beginning and growth
[ Excerpts from the forthcoming book on the history of SRK Sharadashrama , Ponnampet]
Rarely one comes across any social service activity or an institution dedicated to the service of society having a smooth run successfully progressing towards its allowed purpose. The healthcare activities which has functioned today in the form of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama (Hospital) could not belong to that rare category. Concerted in a small way around 1928 with Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama, Ponnampet, as its nucleus, the medical services to the people of Coorg, reached its peak with its activities entering about 30 villages in and around Ponnampet. It also had its share of ups and downs and days of eclipses for want of funds and man power to manage.
Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama (Hospital) inaugurated in 1958 is today well placed to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee celebrations. A study of the developments of the medical services rendered by Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama to the people of Coorg leads us to the year 1928 when the first President of the Ashrama pulsated to the sufferings of the innocent villagers in and around Ponnampet from the dreaded malaria fever. He walked from village to village to distribute freely, quinine tablets among the patients. He enlarged his healthcare activity when he made all out efforts to educate the innocent villagers about the cause, effect of malaria and the steps to be taken for its eradication. He composed a long poem in “Kodavathakk” (the local dialect) to explain in detail about the Vector, the anopheles mosquito and how it carried the disease. In order to drive home his message, Swami Shambhavananda carried with him a heavy magic lantern and with the help of glass slides projected pictures on the problem and the methods to check prolification of the vector. The impact of the visual effects was seen when the villagers practised to keep their surroundings neat and tidy, free from water logging. The Swami’s initiative was the most important medical services to Society offered by Ponnampet Ashrama during its formative days.
The credit of contemplating a regular Charitable Dispensary goes to Swami Pranaveshananda, the second President of the Ashrama (1941). Initially he thought of an allopathic dispensary in the Ashrama. Since it needed a great out-lay, some of the well wishers of the Ashrama suggested to commence a Homeopathic Dispensary for which no great outlay was required. The Swami requested the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math to spare a trained homeopath who knew biking and who was prepared to visit distant villages often for treatment of serious patients (mostly malaria cases) and who had an aptitude to learn the local language. Towards the end of 1941, a small beginning was made to start the Sri Ramakrishna Charitable Dispensary. The Swami wrote to HQ “….some such public activity is absolutely necessary to justift the existence of the Ashrama there…” (Letter dated 11th January 1941).
Swami Vivekananda’s Contribution:
Sri Yadurkala Shankaranarayana Bhat, a long standing devotee of the Ashrama, in his valuable account on “ The Birth and Growth of Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama” recorded in Kannada, “… During the tenure of Vishwambarananda (who succeeded Swami Pranaveshanda in 1943), many activities especially medical services were developed greatly….”. The Swami alongwith
his brother monk, Swami Gitananda, managed the homeopathic dispensary. The number of patients increased by day. The need for a separate dispensary building became imminent…”.
Sri Ramakrishna Charitable Homeopathic Dispensary:
The foundation for a modest building to house Sri Ramakrishna Charitable Homeopathic Dispensary was laid in the Ashrama campus April 8th, 1944 by Dewan Bahadur Sri K. Chengappa, B.A., the Chief Commissioner of Coorg. The construction work prolonged for nearly three years mainly owing to want of funds. With the arrival of money in response to an appeal, it was possible to inaugurate the Charitable Dispensary on April 26, 1947. Rao Bahadur Sri K.T.Uthappa, B.A., Asst.Commisioner of Coorg inaugurated the Sri Ramakrishna Charitable Homeopathic Dispensary. The number of patients treated during the eight months ending on December 31, 1947 was 18,777 with a daily average of 117 patients.
Funds from other Sources:
Swami Viswambharananda put all his efforts to get funds from several sources:
The Government was pleased to sanction a grant of Rs. 2,000/- for the year 1947 and Rs.3,000/- for 1948.
The Ashrama appealed to Kasturba Memorial Fund for financial assistance to render greater medical help to women and children of the area as there was no Child Welfare Centre or any othe special dispensary catering to the needs of women and children.
In addition to collecting funds from the local donors, the Swami decided to contact a few people of Coorg settled well in Bombay. One Brahmachari was deputed for the purpose who succeeded in collecting Rs.5,000/-.
The Swami’s intention was to build up a permanent fund to run the dispensary smoothly and to meet the expenses of a permanent doctor as well.
Land procured for hospital building:
As the number of patients of getting the benefit of the charitable dispensary increased, the Swami pondered on the idea of permanent building for the Dispensary/Hospital at a place outside the Ashrama Compound. This step was also aimed at avoiding crowding in the Ashrama campus. Fortunately, the Chief Commissioner of Coorg, sanctioned free of cost, a piece of Govt. Land (64 cents) lying vacant in front of the Ashrama across the road. Since the land was too small for putting up a hospital, the Ashrama approached a muslim family (Ahira family) living adjacent to the land assigned by the Govt. The Ashrama remains indebted to the Ahira family for gifting 25 cents of land and further, giving one acre of land for cost, for the proposed hospital building.
Lt. Col. D.S. Bedi, I.P.S, the Chief Commissioner of Coorg laid the foundation for the Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama (Hospital) on December 27, 1953, the day coinciding with the auspicious Birth Centenary Day of Holy Mother Sri Sharada Devi. Funds for this hospital project came from several sources.
The Central Govt. Sanctioned Rs.9,500/-
The erstwhile Coorg Govt. Gave Rs.15,000/-
Through the efforts of Sri Kodendara M Nanjappa, a sum of Rs.10,000/- was collected from devotees of Bombay.
Sri C.Kushalappa, Chernad Dr. Somaya and Ajjikutira brothers contributed generously for the wards.
Sri C.M.Poonacha and Sri K.Mallappa, the two ministers of erstwhile Coorg Govt. Evinced keen interest in the construction of the hospital from the very start.
Sri M.R.Krishnamoorthi Rao, Superintendent Engineer, Barapole Project prepared the plan and the estimate for the hospital building with ground and first floor. The dispensary was housed in the ground floor while a few beds for the indoor cases were provided on the upper floor. Sri P.P.Muthanna, Asst.Engineer, Central P.W.D rendered free service in supervising the construction work. The project took nearly four years to complete.
By the Grace of of the Holy Trio, Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama (Hospital) was inaugurated on January 3, 1958 by Sri R.M.Patil, Minister for Health, Govt. of Mysore. Sri C.M.Poonacha, Minister for Industries and Home Affairs, Govt. Of Mysore, presided. Swami Viswambharananda who read the Report on the hospital project requested Sri R.M.Patil to dedicate the Hospital in the name of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna for Service of God in man.
The report presented a few more details:
The new building could accommodate the dispensary and also 10 beds, the Child Welfare activities was completed at a cost of Rs.44,000/-
The sanitary fittings and wash basins costed Rs.30,000/-
To make full use of the accommodation, a few more things had to be done like kitchen, cots, beds, linen, electrification… at a cost of Rs.5,000/-.
The brief Annual Report of the Ashrama for the year 1957(presented after the inauguration of the Sevashrama) said,
The Ashrama proposed to open wards to accommodate indoor male patients, 12 in number and
With the assistance of Indo American Agreement Aid Programme, the Ashrama distributed milk and cheese worth Rs.1,05,233/- among children, expectant and nursing mothers and invalids belonging to more than 2000 families in 30 villages surrounding Ponnampet.
The Sevashrama faced a new problem in about 1960. The public and the Govt. insisted on admitting women in-patients as it was the only hospital catering to the needs of the patients in the surrounding villages. Their stand was that the Ashrama was not justified in running the hospital only for men in-patients.
The Ashrama had to face financial difficulties to make the hospital a viable and a useful unit. By God’s grace it received money from well wishers and philanthropists. Swami Viswambharananda wrote to HQ (July 15, 1961), “….I am glad to inform you that the Govt. has sanctioned one third
of the estimated expenditure. One gentleman has proposed to donate 20 acres of land out of the sale proceeds of which to build a ward, another gentleman also promised to give
Rs.10,000….. In this way, we are going very slow and it would take one or two years more to
have a full fledged regular hospital with different departments.
The Annual Report of Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama for the year 1962-63 revwaled:
The Govt. of India gave a generous grant of Rs.15,000/- to the hospital, a microscope and other needed equipments were purchased from the grant to facilitate better clinical examination.
The X-Ray unit worked satisfactorily with 7567 cases being screened and radiograms taken.
The admission in the ward had doubled from 519 in 1961 to 1158 in 1962, the out-door section recorded 22,729 cases and a few unavoidable labour cases had to be admitted.
Three more wards were constructed to meet the growing needs, the bed strength was increased to 70.
Swami Amitananda, the next President of Ponnampet Ashrama (September 1964), put forth his best efforts to improve the funds of the hospital. Two categories of funds were created:
- The Hospital Endowment Fund and
- The Hospital General Fund
The Swami was able to collect money to build two new wards (Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, P.6). His successors Swami Sridananda and Swami Samprajananda put their efforts to streamline the health-care services of the Sevashrama.
In the year 1986, Swami Veetamohananda became the President of Ponnampet Ashrama. In the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir of the Ashrama, he recorded in his article ‘Brief History of Ashrama/Hospital’.. (excerpts):
The hospital that passed through certain periods of doldrums had been activated in full and given a proper shape to attract public interest.
A total of 16,138 out-patients were treated during the year 87-88 as against 9,720 in 86-87. 878 in-patients were admitted in 86-87.
A multi specialist medical camp was organised in 1988, over 300 persons were benefited by specialised diagnostic investigations.
In response to the appeal for funds, M/s. Consolidated Coffee Ltd, Pollibetta, gave Rs. 1,00,000/- ; Sri K.B.Somanna of Kutta gave Rs.10,000/- : Dharmadhikari of Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala, Sri Veerendra Heggade gave Rs.10,000/- ,Sri S.S.Ramamurthy, Advocate, Virajpet, Sri K.P.Kuppanna of Balele and Sri P.K.Thimmaiah of Dhanagolu contributed Rs.5,000/- each.
The Town Co-operative Bank Ltd., Ponnampet, donated to the Sevashrama the cost of one E.C.G equipment which helped in cardiac investigations.
The hospital was thoroughly renovated, flooring was re-laid, a laboratory was set up for pathological investigations.
Swami Kamalananda who was appointed as President of Ponnampet Ashrama in 1992 ushered in fresh initiatives on the hospital front. Three medical camps were organised. The first was the Cancer Detection camp; out of 63 persons examined 9 cases were detected positive while 15 cases were suspected. The second was the Eye Camp; 220 persons were checked,31 cataract operations were done, 57 persons were given spectacles at subsidised rates and free medicines were given to 76 cases. The third camp was the follow-up of the second when cataract operations were done.
Swami Purushottamananda who became the next President of the Ashrama in 1993, brought in further developments in the Sevashrama
A good male surgeon and a female M.D. (acupuncture) were appointed.
The minor operation theatre needed renovation and a one-bed intensive care unit was to be established. M/s. Consolidated Coffee Ltd. Offered Rs. 3 lakhs to the Ashrama for this purpose.
A ramp was urgently needed for smooth shifting of patients. For this purpose, Swami Prabhuddanandaji donated U.S $2,500 and Rs.1,00,000 collected locally.
Nitte Institute of Technology Education Trust, Mangalore came forward to donate a dental chair and all other equipments.
The Institute promised to arrange residential for the services of a doctor and to bear the salary and boarding expenses of the doctor.
Swamy Jagadatmananda assumed charge as the President of Ponnampet Ashrama in the year 2000. He took up the tribal health project for the whole of Virajpet Taluk. He wrote to Belur Math (on June 5, 2001), “…The tribal population of Virajpet Taluk are deprived of food, health and proper education facilities. Because of this problem they are not able to lead a decent life and not able to compete with the main stream of society… . Therefore, this is the need of the hour where we have to do something… Hence, we have decided to take up the tribal health project work in the whole of Virajpet Taluk.”
Visit of Srimat Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj:
Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama celebrated its Platinum Jubilee from 22 to 24 November 2002.
Among the useful projects undertaken by the Ashrama were :
- Free medical and surgical (Operation) camps.. and
- Upgradation of the minor operation theatre in the hospital
Srimat Sri Atmasthanandaji Maharaj, Vice-President of the Ramakrishna Order kindly inaugurated on April 18, 2003, the upgraded operation theatre and the new dental unit in the Sevashrama.
Grace of Sri Gurumaharaj:
By the Grace of Sri Gurumaharaj Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Deva, the Ramakrishna Shardashrama Ponnampet from 1942 onwards through its activity unit ‘Sevashrama’ is engaged in rendering Medical Service to the needy who mostly are below poverty line in Kodagu. Though humble, this “seva” is continuing for 75 years without interruption.
- First President Swami Shambhavananda, A Disciple Of Swami Brahmananda (A Direct Disciple Of Sri Ramakrishna) In 1927 .
- Ashrama Was Visited By Mahatma Gandhi On 2 3 . 0 2 . 1 9 3 4 And Vinobha Bhave On 11.08.1957
- A Dispensary Was Started In 1942
- Allopathy Hospital ‘Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama’ Was Opened In A Two Storey Building In 1958.
- An Open-Air Auditorium Was Constructed In 2004.
- Universal Temple Of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Was Built And Consecrated By Most Revered Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj, President Of Ramakrishna Math And Ramakrishna Mission, Belur’ Math, Howrah, West Bengal On 27.10.2009.
- A Naturopathy, Physiotherapy And Yoga Unit Was Started In 2010
Regular Spiritual Activities
- Daily Worship Of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna.
- Celebrations Of The Birthdays Of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Holy Mother Sri Saradadevi, Swami Vivekananda, And Other Direct Disciples
- Celebrations Of The Birthdays Of Incarnations & Spiritual Luminaries Such As Shankaracharya, Buddha, Sri Krishna, Christ, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Rama & Others.
- Popular Festivals Like Guru Purnima, Ganesha Puja, Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Shivarathri Are Conducted In The Ashrama
- Sri Rama Puja And Sri Rama Nama Sankirtanam On Ekadashi Days.
- Satsanga In Satsanga Kendras & Other Gatherings On Invitation.
- Spiritual Classes On Sundays And Wednesdays Regular Spiritual Retreats In The Ashrama.
- Spiritual Discourses In Different Villages, Towns And Colleges Of Kodagu And Other Parts Of Karnataka.
- Bookstall: The Important Service Of Spreading Spiritual Ideas Is Done Through The Ramakrishna —Vivekananda Vedanta Literature Sales Outlet In The Ashrama.
Vivekananda Balaka Sangha
This Is A Moral And Spiritual Training Ground For School Going Boys From 5th Std. Onwards. It Gives A Methodical And Systematic Training In Work, Values, Moral Life, Music And Vedic Chanting. Educational Help Is Also Given To The Members. The Participants Are Provided With Nutritious Food And Milk. The Aim Is To Provide The Environment For All Round Development Of Children To Become Integrated Personalities And Noble Citizens.
Vivekananda Yuvaka Sangha
This Is A Youth Forum To Discuss & Inculcate Man-Making Education As Given By Swami Vivekananda, Among The Youth To Transform Them Into Responsible And Enlightened Citizens Of The Country.
National Youth Day
Every Year, 12th January, The Birth Day Of Swami Vivekananda Is Celebrated As A National Festival Throughout India. It Is Observed As ‘National
Youth Day’ — As Declared By Government Of India In 1984. Ashrama Conducts Essay, Elocution Quiz Competitions Based On The Life And Teachings Of Swami Vivekananda And Distributes Prizes. On Jan 12th A Youth Rally Is Conducted In The Town And A Youth Convention Is Held At Ponnampet Ashrama.
This Is A Summer Camp Held For Boys And Girls Of 10-15 Yrs Age Group Every Year. This Hones The Innate Talents Of Children By Imparting Training In Yoga, Meditation, Art, Culture And Indian Heritage.
Vivekananda Value Inculcation Programme [V.V.I.P]
As A Part Of 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations Of Swami Vivekananda A Novel Programme Has Been Started To Impart Value Education With A Focus Mainly On Youths Of High Schools And Colleges. It Is Also Conducted At Various Levels For People Of All Walks Of Life. V.V.I.P Has All The Ingredients For The All-Round Personality Development, Self Improvement And Character Building. The Workshop Is Usually Conducted In Schools, Colleges, Youth Clubs And Also At The Ashrama With Audio-Visual Presentations And Lectures By Monastics And Other Scholars.
Financial Aid Is Extended By The Ashrama To Poor And Meritorious Students To Help Them Continue Their Education. A Few Selected Meritorious Students Are Provided Scholarships Till The Completion Of Their Higher Studies.
Relief And Rehabilitation Services
Kodagu Being One Of The Main Rain Fall Area Of Karnataka, The Poor People With Meagre Shelter Face The Brunt Of Nature’s Fury. Ashrama Conducts Relief Work In The Form Of Providing Shelters, Distributing Woollen Blankets, Clothes Etc. To The Needy.
Social Welfare Projects
The Ashrama Has Undertaken The Following Three Projects (Gap, Vspp And Aksp) As A Part Of The Swami Vivekananda’s 150″ Birthday Celebrations (2010-14) For Which Government Of India Has Provided Financial And Other Assistance Through Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math.
Gadadhara Abhyudaya Prakalpa [Gap]
(Integrated Child Development Programme)
This Is A Complete Children Development Programme For The Care And Development Which Students Of Their Body, Mind And Intellect. It Provides Nutritious Food, Milk, Nutrition Supplements, Vitamins. Hygienic Items Like Soap, Toothpaste, Hair Oil & Study Materials Like School Bags, Note Books And Stationeries Are Provided. This Is Daily Programme In (Age Group 7 — 12 Years) From Nearby Schools Come To Ashrama every day In The Evening And Participate.
Swami Vivekananda Swasthya Pariseva Prakalpa [Vspp]
(Swami Vivekananda Health Care Project) This Is A Noble Programme For Providing Nutritious Food, Medicines, For Children Suffering From Malnutrition And Lack Of Medical Care. Ashrama Is Running This Unit To Help Them Grow Into Strong, Productive And Enlightened Citizens Of India. It Provides Nutritious Food, Milk, Nutrition Supplements, Vitamins, Soap, Toothpaste, Hair Oil For Their Health & Hygiene. It Is Being Conducted In Three Government Schools.
AKhandananda Seva Prakalpa[Aksp]
(Integrated Village Development Project)
This Is A Poverty Alleviation Programme For People In Rural And Tribal Areas Living In And Around Ponnampet. It Is Helping The Poor People To Get Vocational Training In Many Courses (Like Tailoring, Mushroom Cultivation, Bee-Keeping, Motor Driving Etc.,) And Earn Their Livelihood. Apart From Running Non-Formal School And Creating Public Awareness Of Health And Hygiene, Toilets Are Being Constructed For Many Families. It Conducts Value Based Educational Classes And Also Assists In Social Causes Like Counselling On Alcohol De-Addiction Etc.
The Ashrama Provides Medical Services On A Charitable Basis In The Following Manner
Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama [Hospital]
- Allopathy Section – Has Both Opd And Ipd. It Has 25-Bedded Hospital With A Dedicated Doctor And Staff, Fully Equipped With Pharmacy, Lab, Ecg, X-Ray, And Ultra Sound Scan.
- Yoga, Naturopathy & Physiotherapy Section – This Unit Treats Patients With Drugless System Using Well Equipped Physiotherapy, Hydrotherapy, Oil Massage, Acupuncture And Various Standard Methods. It Is Also Offering Holistic Package For Body And Mental Health, Stress Management And Psycho-Counselling. It Has A Qualified & Dedicated Naturopath Doctor.
- Free Medical Camps And Free Multi-Speciality Camps Are Held Regularly At Allopathy Section Throughout The Slip Year.
- Dental Chair Is Installed And Occasional Camps Are Conducted
- Naturopathy, Yoga And, Physiotherapy Camps Are Held Regularly Along With Daily Service On Nominal Rates. Once A While ‘Free Camp’ Is Also Conducted Depending Upon Availability Of Funds And Sponsorship T O Promote Naturopathy And Yoga.
- Classes On Yoga & Holistic Health Are Conducted For Students Schools & For The General Public In The Ashrama.
Events At A Glance
Daily Activities & Timings
Universal Temple Of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna
5.30 A.M. To 12.00 Noon & 3.30 P.M. To 8.00 Pm.
- 5.30 Am. Mangalarati
- 7.15 Am. Vedic Chanting And Prayers
- 8.00 Am. Nitya Puja To Sri Ramakrishna
- 6.30 Pm. Arati, Bhajans And Meditation
- 7.00 Pm. Weekly Spiritual Discourses (Wednesdays & Sundays)
- On Ekadashi Days – Sri Ram. Nama Sankirtanam At 5.30 Pm
Contributions For All The Activities Mentioned Above Will Be Thankfully Accepted And Acknowledged. All Your Donations Are Exempt From Payment Of Income Tax Under Section 80G Of It Act.
Ashrama Office And Bookstall
9.00 Am. To 12 Noon. & 4.00 Pm. To 6.00 Pm.
4.00 Pm To 6.00 Pm.
Vivekananda Balaka Sangha
4.00 Pm To•6.00 Pm.
Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa (Integrated Child Development Programme)
4.00 Pm To 5.30 Pm
Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama Hospital
(Allopathy & Naturopathy)
Opd Timings: 9.00 Am. To 12.30 Pm. And 2.30 Pm. To 5.30 Pm.
[Works On Sundays. Wednesday Holiday]