Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysuru

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Temple at Rama Krishna Ashram, Yadavagiri, Mysuru

Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysuru was established on 11th June 1925 by Swami Siddheswarananda an initiated disciple of Swami Brahmananda. In 1932 the Maharaja of Mysore made a grant which enabled construction of a small building and for holding a Vedanta study circle for Swamis. Many reputed scholars took classes for Monks and Brahmacharis who came from various centres of the Ramakrishna Order.

A devotee performing sashtanga Pranaam in front of the portraits of Swamy Rama Krishna Paramahamsa, Swamy Vivekananda and mathe Sharada Devi inside the Temple

All our stalwart monks were studying in this Mysore study circle. The Mysore study circle was in a way the nucleus of the now well established Training Centre for the monastic probationers in Belur Math. The literary colossus of Karnataka, K.V Puttappa (Kuvempu) had his initial training in Mysore Ashrama during his student days, and he had his spiritual initiation from Swami Shivananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj the 13th president of the Ramakrishna Order joined the order in Mysore and had his initial training for 9 years.

Ashrama Timings:

  • Daily 5 am to 12 noon and 3.30 pm to 8.30 pm
  • Mangalarati: 5 AM
  • Chanting : 7 am
  • Puja : 9 AM
  • Evening Arati: 7 PM– 7.45 PM

Activities:

  • Publication of Kannada books: 26 new titles and 130 reprints were brought out this year; total number of titles: 436.
  • Publication of a monthly magazine in Kannada, titled Viveka Prabha (19th year with 13,840 subscribers).
  • A library with 18,630 books and 20 newspapers and periodicals.
  • A Yuvaka Sangha (attended by 25 youths).
  • Cleanliness drives and awareness campaign.
  • Regular worship and bhajans, and fortnightly Ramnam Sankirtan, regular scriptural classes, occasional lectures at different places, and retreats for students, devotees, etc.
  • Celebration of local festivals and the birth anniversaries of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and other spiritual luminaries.
  • Vivek Shikshana – free supplementary coaching classes for 391 students.
  • Two units of Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa with 121 underprivileged children.
Rama Krishna Vidya Shala, Yadavagiri, Mysuru
  • Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala, a residential higher secondary school for boys, stands on an extensive plot of land, a five- minute walk from the It had 428 students this year. The school offers the following facilities:
    • A library (21,102 books), an astronomical observatory with a computerized telescope, a knowledge park and a nature classroom.
    • An audiovisual theatre, a bakery and a
    • A swimming pool, twenty-two playgrounds including an outdoor stadium, an indoor stadium, a multi-gym and an NCC unit.
RIMSE Campus, Yadavagiri, Mysuru
  • The Ramakrishna Institute of Moral and Spiritual Education (RIMSE), is a premier institution for higher education working in the field of imparting human values since its inception in 1970. The Institute is recognized as a nodal centre for values education by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Activities of the unit are:
    • Two-year B.Ed. course, with moral and spiritual education as one of the compulsory subjects, (48 students).A library with 30,903 books.
    • Short-term values education courses for teachers and values orientation workshops for industrial workers and management staff.
    • Personality development programmes for students and residential spiritual retreats for devotees and youths.
    • Rural and tribal welfare work at B R Hills and Tenkanamole village in Chamarajanagar district.
Decorated temple at Rama Krisha Ashrama, Yadavagiri, Mysuru

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The Truth About Mahishasura Mardini Idol

Is the original idol of Chamundeshwari taken on procession on top of the elephant?

Elephant Abhimanyu carrying the golden howdah adorned with the idol of Mahishasura Mardini

The idol that now adorns the 750 KG golden Howdah is not the original utsava murthy of Goddess Chamundi.

The idol was carved as “Mahishasura Marini” – The one
who killed the demon Mahishasura. And this is the main reason why Mysuru got its name.

After the decline of privy purse, the kingdom of Mysore was unable to spend huge amount of money to celebrate yearly dasara activities. Hence, the then erstwhile king Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar wrote to the govt of Karnataka to take care of these huge celebrations from 1972. When His Highness passed away some time later, the govt of Karnataka decided to takeover the Dasara Celebrations. Since a responsible govt cannot conduct any religious activities, the Dasara Festival was raised to the state festival rank – “Nada Habba”

The original utsava murthy from the chamundi hills could not be brought down to Mysuru to place her on the golden howdah due to agama shastra impositions. Hence, another small Mahishasura Mardini idol was required to be carved. When the work was finished, the idol was small and resembled chola style of sculpting rather than Karnataka’s own Hoysala Style. People were quite angry at the govt for the grave mistake and demanded another idol be built to suit the grandeur of the Nada Habba. This task was taken over by a famous sculptor of Mysuru who used about 72 kilos of Panchaloha to erect this beautiful idol of the goddess that we see today.

Once the procession is over, the idol is carefully unmounted from the elephant & howdah and is kept in Bombe Thotti for visitors to see. She will remain there till the next dasara festivities unfold.

Mysuru Dasara, Naada Habba of Kannadigas

Logo of Mysuru Dasara, the official state festival of Karnataka

Mysore Dasara celebrations are Karnataka’s and indeed south India’s best known Dussehra festivities that attract thousands of devotees and tourists alike. The Mysore Dasara celebrations conclude the nine-day Navratri festivities with a grand procession that begins from the illuminated Mysore palace. Indeed, over the decades, Mysore has become synonymous with the extravagant Dasara celebrations and the festival is celebrated with a great pomp every year. The 10-day festival ends with its last day being Vijayadashami. For the duration of Navratri and Dasara, Mysore Palace is illuminated and a procession is carried out through the streets of the city even as Mysore comes to a standstill for that one day.

Kumki & Nishane Elephants walk majestically in front of the Mysore Palace, during the jamboo savari as a Police personnel looks on.

Mysore, which used to be a capital for more than 600 years, is closely associated with Navratri and Dasara legends and the Chamundeshwari Temple is an important city landmark for a good reason. The city also owes its name to a tale from the Hindu mythology, one that involves Chamundeshwari, an incarnation of Durga who battled the demon Mahishasura for nine nights. On the 10th day, Chamundeshwari killed Mahishasura and the town came to be called Mahishasurana Uru (meaning, the town that Mahishasur belonged to). Soon, that name changed to Mahisur or Mysuru, which was then anglicized as Mysore. The Mysore Dasara celebrations span the duration of the epic battle and honor the nine forms of the goddess as well as the victory of good over evil. 2020 marks the 410th anniversary of the Mysore Dasara celebrations, which have more or less remained the same for all these years.

The grandest and the most important day of the Mysore Dasara celebrations is, of course, Vijayadashami. Mysore Palace begins its day with a puja. Also known as the Nandi Dhwaja Puja or the puja of Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle, it begins at noon. Shiva is important to this narrative because it was he who performed the tandava holding the body of Shakti in his hands. Afraid of complete annihilation Vishnu fired his divine chakra and cut Shakti’s body into 52 parts. These parts fell all over the earth and are known as Shakti Peethas. One of them, where the hair of Shakti fell, is right here in Mysore. And that is where the Chamundeshwari Temple now stands.

The first evidence of the Mysore Dasara celebrations appears in a Persian ambassador’s book. This book was his major work and contains the overview of the history of the region from 1304 to 1470. The Wodeyars of Mysore continued to celebrate the Dasara festival even after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire. The Wadiyar royal couple performs a special puja to Goddess Chamundeshwari in the Chamundi Temple, which marks the beginning of the celebrations. This is then followed by a royal assembly in the Mysuru palace and is attended by the royal family members and special guests amongst other people. The successors of Wadiyar king have religiously followed the tradition and do it with the same fervor till today.

Every year, 10 to 15 tamed elephants are brought in to Mysuru city from the nearby Nagarahole National park to take part in the Dasara festivities.

Since 1610, the traditions have been preserved and carried by respective Wodeyar kings. The festival became a tradition of the royal household and reached its zenith during the rule of statesman Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar from 1902-1940 AD.

Dasara Festivities during Wadiyar rule.

The royal durbar, the procession of royal elephants with the king seated in the majestic golden howdah known as ‘Ambari’ followed by his ministers, administrators, the royal staff and the military continued till it came to an end with the end of British rule and the integration of princely states to the Indian Union in 1947. However, Jaya Chamarajendra Wodeyar, the last crowned king of the Wodeyar kingdom tried to revive the tradition in his personal capacity after a few years, but the old appeal was missing.

After the annexation and reorganization of states and upon the death of Jaya Chamarajendra Wadiyar in 1974, the tradition again suffered a setback and Mysuru almost lost its unique festival until the Government of Karnataka decided to celebrate it as a state festival or ‘Naada Habba’ with few modifications in the Dasara celebrations.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah inaugurates Jamboo Savari in Mysore

With the Government of Karnataka celebrating the Mysuru Dasara as the ‘Naada Habba’, the spectacle has now become a state event. The Mysuru Dasara is now part of two ceremonies, one carried out by the royal household and the other being the public celebrations carried out by the state with all the pomp and grandeur.

The Dasara palace ceremonies are largely a private affair of the royal family, witnessed by a select audience. Clad in royal attire and traditional headgear, the head or “custodian” of the erstwhile ruling family of the Kingdom of Mysore, ascend the golden throne and receives symbolic obeisance from the public.

Elephant Arjuna, the main attraction of Jamboo Savari, is seen walking lifting the 750 KG golden howdah (Ambari) with Goddess Chamundeshwari kept inside.

During Dasara, the sight of brightly illuminated Mysuru Palace and the entire city is one of the most vital features of the celebrations. Various cultural and religious programs highlighting the dance, music and culture of the state of Karnataka are performed in front of the illuminated Palace.

Long Exposure shot of well-lit Krishna Raja Circle

The world-famous Mysuru Dasara is not just a celebration of a Hindu festival, but rather a mix of a cultural, spiritual and religious carnival making it one of the greatest national events annually. The sheer scale and magnificence of the festival is unparalleled and hardly matched by any other cultural ceremony of the country.