Belur Math

Belur, West Bengal

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Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is located on the west bank of Hooghly River, Belur, West Bengal, India and is one of the significant institutions in Calcutta. This temple is the heart of the Ramakrishna Movement. The temple is notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions.

The design of the temple was envisioned by Swami Vivekananda and the architect was Swami Vijnanananda, a direct monastic disciple of Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna Temple was consecrated on 14 January, the Makar Sankranti Day in 1938.

The Ramakrishna temple at the Belur Math is designed to "celebrate the diversity of Indian Religions" and resembles a temple, a mosque, a church if seen from different positions. The architectural style and symbolism from a number of religions have been incorporated into the design of the temple at Belur Math, to convey the "universal faith" in which the movement believes. The temple is considered as a prime example of the importance of "material dimension" of religion.

The main entrance of the temple, has a facade influenced by Buddhist styles in the Buddhist stupa at Sanchi & the main entrance of the Ajanta Caves.The structure which rises over the entrance is modelled on the Hindu temples of South India with their lofty towers. The windows and balconies inside the temple draw upon the Rajput (Hindu) and Mughal (Islamic) style of north India. The central dome is derived from European architecture of St. Maria-Del-Florence in Italy built during the Renaissance period. The ground plan is in the shape of Christian cross.

The height of the temple is 112.5 feet (34.3 m) and covers a total area of 32,900 sq ft (3,060 m2). The temple mainly is built of chunar stone and some portion in the front is of cement. The high entrance of the temple is like a South Indian Gopuram and the pillars on both sides represent Buddhistic architectural style. The three umbrella-like domes on the top built in Rajput-Moghul styles give an idea of thatched roofs of the village Kamarpukur.

The circular portion of the entrance is an intermingling of Ajanta style with Hindu architecture and within it, placing the emblem of the Order is representation of beauty and solemnity. Just above seen is a replica of a Shiva lingam. The natmandira, the spacious congregational hall attached to the sanctum, resembles a church, especially of St Peter's Church in Rome.The pillars in a line on its both sides are according to Doric or Greek style. The beam above is held by decorative brackets similar to the Meenakshi Temple at Madurai in Tamil Nadu.The elaborate designs on the pillars resemble the Orissa style.

The hanging balconies above the natmandir and the windows show the effect of Moghul architecture used in the Fatehpur Sikri.The broad parikrama path for doing circumambulatory rounds on all sides of the garbhamandira (sanctum sanctorum) are built like Buddhist chaityasand Christian Churches. The lattice work statues of Navagraha figures are etched on semi-circular top of outside the temple. The golden kalasha is placed on the top of the temple and has a full-bloomed lotus below. The architecture of the big dome and of the other domes show a shade of Islamic, Rajput, Bengali terracotta and Lingaraj Temple styles. The entrance doors on both east and west of the temple having pillars on both sides are like the elegant gateways of the Manmandir in Gwalior Fort. Ganesha and Hanuman images, representing success and power are carved above them.

The Statue

A full size statue of Sri Ramakrishna is seated on a hundred petalled lotus over a damaru shaped marble pedestal wherein the Sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna are preserved. The swans on the front represents Paramatman. The statue of Sri Ramakrishna was made by the famous sculptor late Gopeswar Pal of Kolkata and the decorations of the temple were conceived by artist late Sri Nandalal Bose. The Canopy above the deity and all the doors and windows are made of selected teakwood imported from Myanmar.

 

Swami Vivekananda Temple

Swami Vivekanda's Samadhi at Belur Math on the shore of Hubli river at Howrah, where swami's hash was placed.

The Swami Vivekananda Temple stands on the spot where Swami Vivekananda’s mortal remains were cremated in 1902. Consecrated on 28 January 1924, the temple has in its upper storey an alabaster OM (in Bengali characters). Beside the temple stands a bel (bilva) tree in the place of the original bel tree under which Swami Vivekananda used to sit and near which, according to his wish, his body was cremated. On 4 July 1902 at Belur Math, he taught Vedanta philosophy to some pupils in the morning. He had a walk with Swami Premananda, a brother-disciple, and gave him instructions concerning the future of the Ramakrishna Math. He left his body (died) in the evening after a session of prayer at Belur Math. He was 39. Vivekananda had fulfilled his own prophecy of not living to be forty-years old.

 

Holy Mother's Temple

The Holy Mother's temple is dedicated to Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Ramakrishna.The holy mother's temple is right at the entrance of Belur Math . The temple is over the area where her mortal remains were consigned to flames. The temple of the Holy Mother was consecrated on 21 December 1921.

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