Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Tirupati
Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Tirupati
(A Branch Centre of Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math, Howrah)

History of Ramakrishna Mission, Tirupati

Founding A Centre In Tirupati

In 1981, a group of devotees started Sri Ramakrishna Seva Samithi and conducted weekly satsangas and other service activities.  In 1995, the TT Devasthanams allotted a piece of 0.86 acres for the Samithi to conduct various religious and service activities.  A universal temple for Sri Ramakrishna was built and it was consecrated in 1998 by Srimat Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj, the then Vice President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. 

Early History of Ramakrishna Seva Samithi

Sri Ramakrishna Seva Samithi, Tirupati is a three decade old service organization based at Vinayaka nagar, opposite to ISKCON temple, in Tirupati the famous abode of Lord Venkateswara in Andhra Pradesh. Tirupati town is an educational centre with seven universities and a large student population, besides being an International Hindu pilgrim centre. The Samithi was affiliated to Ramakrishna Vivekananda Bhava Prachar Parishad of Andhra Pradesh. Under the guidance of the holy monks of Sri Ramakrishna Math this Samithi was involved in spreading the message of the Holy Trio along with service activities in a humble way.

Origin of the Samithi:
Revered Swami Nandanandaji Maharaj who used to regularly visit the Ramakrishna Seva Samajam at Pudipatla, a small village 10 km from Tirupati, advised the devotees of Tirupati to start a Samithi in Tirupati in late seventies of last century. The participation of Sri A. Jayachandra Reddy and Sri P.V. Reddy in the second Devotees Convention at Belur Math in December 1980 strengthened the resolve to start the Samithi. Ramakrishna Seva Samajam of Pudipatla was also a source of inspiration for many of the devotees to start Samithis in their towns in Chittoor district of A.P. Under the guidance and inspiration of Swami Nandanandaji the Tirupati Samithi came in to existence on the holy Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti day in March 1981. A group of local devotees assembled in the house of a senior devotee Sri Pannala Syamasundara murthy in 595, Bhavani nagar and resolved to register the Samithi. Eventually the society was registered with Registrar of Co-operative societies, Chittoor dt. (R.No. 279 of 1982). The Samithi was formally inaugurated by Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj later in 1982.
Initially the Samithi members used to meet on every Monday and later Wednesday in one of the devotee's houses of the town by rotation. Usually four such meetings were held in one devotee's house. In these weekly meetings Aratrikam was performed followed by bhajans and brief talks by one of the devotees Meeting in devotees houses had its limitations with disturbances from neighbors, small meeting halls etc. Mean While a Philanthropist devotee from Pakala. Sri V Sudhakara Reddy, who owned a building complex in Reddy colony of Tirupati offered to construct a small pooja room for Sri Guru Maharaj on the terrace of his rented out building and in 1982 the Samithi started functioning from this place. Devotees used to meet every Wednesday evening from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm. Ramakrishna Math Sadhus started visiting the Samithi during these days and several talks were arranged in local educational institutions with the help of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.

During the year 1985 Bramhachari Gopalaswamy (now Swami Vidyaswarupanandaji, Sukabramhasramam, Srikalahasti) became the president of the Samithi and the Jayanthi functions of the holy trio were celebrated in Malayala Sadguru Seva Samajam building in Sri Puram colony every year. Samithi puja room was shifted to a room exclusively constructed on the terrace of Malaya Sadguru Seva Samajam building in the year 1989. By this time the Samithi members were actively searching for a plot of land for the Samithi. It was suggested by devotees of Pakala that the Samithi members of Tirupati should meet every day for Aratrikam instead of weekly meetings to establish the Samithi on a sound footing as they did. From the year 1992 daily Aratrikam was performed.

Acquisition of a plot of land and temple construction:
Several attempts were made to acquire a plot of land for the samithi. Many philanthropists in the town were re quested to help but nothing materialised. Help came from the good offices of Ramakrishna math. Hyderabad. Most Revered Swami Ranganathanandaji suggested to the then Chef Minister Sri N.T. Ramarao that a plot of Government land should be allotted to the Tirupati Samithi. Sri N.T. Ramarao garu, in the year 1995, announced in a public meeting at Hyderabad that 2 acres of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams land will be allotted to the Samithi. Samithi devotees met the Executive Officer Sri N. Rameshkumar IAS and were advised to identify a plot of land of convenience and suitability. It was felt that a plot opposite to ISKCON in Vinayaka nagar would be ideal. The TTD initially allotted 50 cents of this land on a lease basis (Roc no Rev 1/8213/9 dt 8.12.95and 3.5.99 of EO TTD) and later Executive Officer Sri MKR Vinayak IAS allotted another 35 cents of the adjacent land. On 11th September 1995 most revered Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj laid the foundation for a Universal temple of Sri Ramakrishna.

This temple like many other Sri Ramakrishna temples in AP was designed and constructed under the direct supervision of the great architect Sri G.V. Reddy. An amount of Rs. 23 lakhs was spent on the construction. Swami Paramarthanandaji Maharaj the then Adhyaksha of Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad helped in collecting funds by organizing a music concert in Hyderabad. Swami Harshanandaji Maharaj, Adhyaksha of Ramakrishna Math, Bengaluru and Sri Anantha Ramu IAS, the then Vice Chairman Of Tirupati Urban Development Authority were instrumental in mobilizing funds for temple construction. This beautiful temple was consecrated by Revered Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj on 8th March 1998.

Construction of Sadhu Nivas:
A Sadhu Nivas housing a kitchen, dining hall, guest rooms for the visiting monks and devotees, office room, a library cum reading room was constructed in the premises. The foundation for the Sadhu Nivas named after Swami Nandanandaji Maharaj was laid by Swami Paramarthanandaji Maharaj, the then president of by Ramakrishna math, Hyderabad in 1997 and inaugurated by him in February 1999. Recently (2012) an auditorium and a class room were added on the 2nd floor of Sadhu Nivas with the generous financial help from Drs K.V Subba Rao and Mrs. K. Vasundhra. These facilities were inaugurated by Revered Swami Gautamanandaji Maharaj, Adhyaksa, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai on April 8th, 2012.

Bhava Prachara activities:
Tirupati Samithi organized the first Ramakrishna Vivekananda Bhava Prachara parishad's Bhakta sammelan in the year 1991 at Tirupati. The Sammelan was a grand success with the participation of 1500 devotees from various parts of the state. Besides several monks, Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj attended the Sammelan. This sammelan was a trend setter in a way and paved the way for the successful conduct of the sammelans every year in other centres of A.P.
For a second time the Samithi organized the Bhakta Sammelan (11th) of A.P Bhava Prachara Parishad in December 2001, with the participation of a large number of devotees and monks of the order. This Sammelan was a great success. 
From the beginning the Samithi organized the discourses of Monks of the Ramakrishna order in the Samithi premises and various educational institutions of Tirupati town. Swamis Ranganathanandaji, Smaranananandaji, Ananyanandaji, Harshanandaji, Gautamanandaji, Jitatamanandaji, Nandanandaji, Paramarthanandaji, Srikantanandaji, Tattwabodhanandaji, Dayatmanandaji, Raghavesanandaji, Atmavidanandaji, Jnanadanandaji, Sasikantanandaji, Aksharatmanandaji and Nikileswaranandaji are some of the monks who addressed the devotees and students. Swami Amritanandaji who was the secretary of Vivekananda college, Chennai conducted classes on Bhagavad Gita and Viveka chudamani every month for about three years in the Tirupati Samithi.
The Samithi also regularly organized discourses by eminent speakers like Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma, Sri Malladi Chandrasekhara Sastri, Sri Samudrala Lakshmanaih, Sri Medasani Mohan, Smt. Choodamani and several others on popular devotional topics.
The Samithi organized several youth conventions on a large scale for the school and college students of Tirupati.

Installation of Swami Vivekananda Statue
An eight foot bronze statue of Swami Vivekananda was installed in the SV Medical college circle. The statue was donated by the Ramakrishna math, Hyderabad. TT Devasthanams built the mandapam and Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj unveiled the Statue on 11th September, 1995. The circle has become a land mark in the town and source of inspiration to youth. Samithi coordinated the entire project.

Booksales :
The Samithi opened its first book stall in the railway station of Tirupati in the year 1985. Other book stalls, at Asthana mandapam on the Tirumala hills (1993) Samithi premises, Vinayaka nagar (2002), Sri Nivasam (2006) Sri Padmavathi Ammavari temple Tiruchanur (2007), Sri Kapileswara swami temple (2007), Sri Govindaraja Swamy temple Tirupati (2008) and Sri Vishnunivasam (2011) were started. On average Samithi sells books worth more than Rs.40 lakhs annually and was next only to the Hyderabad Math books sales.

Service activities:
Sadhu Seva:
It is the great good fortune of the devotees of Tirupati Samithi to serve visiting monks. On average at least one monk of Ramakrishna Math /Mission visited Tirupati Samithi every fortnight on pilgrimage to Tirumala. The Samithi members serve visiting monks by taking care their stay and darshan of various temples. When the temple of Chennai Math was consecrated (in 2000) 230 monks were hosted by the Tirupati Samithi. Approximately 100 monks visited us in November 2012, when the Kadapa Math temple was consecrated. It would not be an exaggeration if it is stated that more than 500 monks of the order visited the Samithi so far. All the visiting monks appreciated the way the temple and the premises were maintained and most of the monks felt that the temple is extremely conducive for Dhyana.

Distribution of food, sarees, dothis and blankets (Narayana Seva):

Distribution of food packets, sarees for women, dothis for men, and blankets is done regularly on the Jayanti celebrations of Thakur, Ma and Swamiji every year since inception of the Samithi in 1981. Usually an amount of Rs. 5 to 10 thousands are spent for these items on each Jayanthi day every year. Some years these donations were made to the Navajeevan Blind School at Tiruchanur or the orphanage run by Jaganmatha Institute.

The Samithi organized relief work during the natural calamities like the Latur earth quake, floods in Orissa and Kurnool and Tsunami victims in 2004 by collecting cash and cloths etc. An amount of Rs. One lakh was donated for the relief work in Kurnool floods. 

Scholarships to students:
College Fees reimbursement was provided to deserving poor college students (2 to 3 nos.) every year beginning from 2007. Uniforms and books were distributed to all S.C. and S.T. School students of Ramachandrapuram Mandal (2002and 2003) Erravaripalem High School (2010).
From the year 1982 the Samithi conducts essay writing and elocution competitions to school and college students annually and the prizes for the winners are presented on the holy Sri Ramakrishna Jayanthi day.

Homoeopathic dispensary:
The Samithi started a Homoeopathic free dispensary in collaboration with Master EK Vaidyalaya, Khadi colony in 1999 in the Samithi premises. The clinic functions from 5.00 and 6.30 p.m every day (except Sundays). Initially Dr. CBS Bangaruraju, MSc, RMP voluntarily served the patients. Drs. N. Nagabhushanam, B.Sc., B.HMS and Smt. Radha, M.B.B.S., DCO AMF (Homoeo, London) are also served the patients on regular basis. On average about 10 to 15 patients avail the facility every day.

Library and reading room:

A library and reading room was inaugurated by Rev. Swami Atamavidanandaji Maharaj, Adyaksha, Ramakrishna Math, Kadapa in the first floor of Sadhu Nivas on 6th May 2009. The Library has many Ramakrishna math publications besides journals and news papers and is open from 4.00 to 8.00 p.m. on all week days except Tuesdays.

Accounts and auditing:
Samithi accounts were audited every year and presented to the general body. Donations made to the Samithis exempt from I.T U/S 80G of I.T Act 1951, Vide Hqrs F.No.1(299)CIT/TPT 2009-10 dt. 19.5.2010.