President of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj passed away after a prolonged illness on Sunday, 18 June 2017 at about 5:30 pm at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan hospital, Kolkata. He was 98 and had been admitted to the hospital on 21 February 2015 for treatment of old-age ailments. A statement released by the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, said, “ In spite of best medical attention, his condition grew worse over the last few days and he passed away around 5.30 p.m. on 18 June 2017.
The cremation will take place at Belur Math on Monday, 19 June 2017 at about 9.30 p.m. The gates of Belur Math will remain open all through the night of the 18th and through the 19th till the last rites are completed.” Born on the holy Buddha Purnima day in May 1919, at Sabajpur, near Dhaka, he received mantra diksha from Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj (a monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) in 1938 and joined the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math on 3 January 1941 at the age of 22 years.
In 1945, Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the sixth President of the Order, gave him Brahmacharya vows, and in 1949, Sannyasa vows and the name Swami Atmasthananda. In 1952, he was posted to Ranchi TB Sanatorium branch as an Assistant Secretary.
He was elected a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and Member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1973. In 1975, he was appointed an Assistant (General) Secretary of the twin organizations. He became the General Secretary of the Math and Mission in 1992 and continued to be in that post for five years till 1997 when he became a Vice-President of the Order. He was elected President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission on 3 December 2007.
Swami Atmasthanandaji travelled extensively in various parts of the country and visited many branches of the Order and some unaffiliated centres. Prime Minister Narendra Modi commiserate the death of Swami Atmasthananda, terming it as a “personal loss”.As a young boy, Modi had visited the Belur Math to join the Order, but his request was turned down and he was told that his calling was elsewhere.Later, he got spiritual guidance from Swami Atmasthananda in Rajkot, Gujarat.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also condoled the demise of the monk. She paid a visit to the ailing monk earlier in the afternoon, described his passing away as “an irreparable loss to the mankind”.”Saddened that Rev. Swami Atmasthanandaji, President, Ramakrishna Math & Mission passed away today at Seva Pratishthan Kolkata,” she tweeted.”I paid my last visit to him this afternoon. A life of outstanding social & religious service. This is an irreparable loss to mankind,” Banerjee said.