PM Modi likely to spend Saturday night at Belur Math

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to spend Saturday night at Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, in the neighbouring Howrah district, officials of the Mission said.

If Modi spends the night at the Math, probably he will be the first PM of the country to do so.

Former PM Indira Gandhi and a number of other prime ministers had paid a visit to the Math several times but never stayed overnight there.

As per the earlier itinerary, Modi was scheduled to spend Saturday night at the Raj Bhavan here.

"There is a slight change in the schedule. Earlier, the PM was not scheduled to stay here. But now we have been told by the Special Protection Group (SPG) in-charge of his security that the PM may spend the night in our Math. "If he stays here he will be hosted at the International Guest House inside the Math premises," a senior official of the Mission told PTI.

The decision of the PM's spending the night there at the Math could have been taken considering the fact that the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, founder of the Ramkrishna Mission, falls on Sunday, the official said.

"As told by the SPG, the PM may meditate probably at the Swamiji's temple here at the Math tomorrow in the morning before leaving for his pre-scheduled programme," he said. A prayer meeting is also being organised at the Math on Sunday morning and the PM may attend it, the official said.

During his visit to the Math, the PM is scheduled to meet president Swami Smaranananda after paying his respect to Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Saradha Devi and Swami Vivekananda, he said.

"The PM will be given prasad when he arrives here. And if he stays at night he will be given bhog. There will be no special treatment. The bhog and prasad will be the same we serve to other bhakts (devotees)," the official said.

The enitre Math will be taken over by the SPG group and no common visitor will be allowed to get inside the premises, he said.

"From this evening, the SPG will be in total command of the Math. They will be taking all the decisions whether to allow any visitor inside the premises or not," the Mission official said.

The camaraderie and mutual respect between Modi and the Ramkrishna Mission order, founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897, goes back to mid sixties when a teenager Modi inspired by the teachings of Vivekananda had arrived at the Mission Ashram, Rajkot branch in Gujarat and expressed desire to join the order.

Swami Atmasthananda, who later went on to become fifteenth president of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission, then heading the Rajkot branch in 1966, had advised him that sanyas was not for him and he should work among people and not in seclusion.

During those days, Modi used to regularly meet Athmasthanandaji Maharaj and sought his spiritual guidance.

Although Modi after spending some time there went back, but the relationship with Swami Atmasthananda and the Ramkrishna Mission remained intact.

Whenever Modi used to visit Kolkata, even during his days as Gujarat chief minister, he would travel to the Ramkrishna Mission.

In 2013, during his tour to Belur Math, he went to Ramkrishna Mission and had sought blessings from Athmasthananda.

In 2015, during his trip to the city as Prime Minister, Modi had called on ailing Swami Atmasthananda at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan, a hospital run by the Mission in south Kolkata and enquired about his health.

After Atmasthananda's death in 2017, Prime Minister Modi had termed it as a "personal loss". 

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