Devotees queue up to pay respect to Swami Atmasthananda

19 Jun 2017

Thousands of devotees today thronged the Ramakrishna Math and Mission headquarter at Belur in Howrah district to pay their last respect to its president Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj who died on Sunday.

Long queue of the devotees was heading towards 'Sanskriti Bhawan', a building inside the sprawling premises of the headquarters, where the monk's body was laid for the public to pay their last respect. Besides them, VIPs were also seen at the Belur Math, the gates of which remained open since Sunday night. Howrah district magistrate Chaitali Chakraborty placed a wreath on the monk's body on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who considered him as his 'guru'. Modi, who got spiritual guidance from Swami Atmasthananda in Rajkot and described the monk's death as his "personal loss", had visited the ailing Swami on April 17 last year.

Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy, West Bengal ministers Rajib Banerjee, Arup Roy, Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, Trinamool Congress MP Prasun Banerjee, BJP leader Locket Chatterjee and other prominent personalities also paid their last respect to the monk. A tight security arrangement has been made by the police in view of the gathering of thousands of devotees in the complex. Outside the complex, vendors were having a brisk business selling wreaths, garlands, flowers. Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj, under whose stewardship major relief operations were conducted in various parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh during natural calamities, passed away at a city hospital on Sunday after a prolonged illness.

The 98-year-old monk, who had spent several years at Shyamla Tal in the Himalayas, had been undergoing treatment for age-related ailments since February 2015. A statement released by the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, said: "Despite the best medical attention, his condition deteriorated over the last few days and he passed away around 5.30 pm today at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan hospital."