Dakshineswar Ramkrishna Sangha Adyapeath, founded in 1921 by Sri Annada Thakur, is an organization dedicated to the service of humanity and the worship of the Divine Mother. Sri Annada Thakur believed us all to be the sons and daughters of the same Mother. Therefore, every monk in the Sangha is addressed as bhai (Bengali for "brother").
On a large compound just outside Calcutta in the historic village of Dakshineswar, the Sangha operates orphanages, schools, homes for the elderly, ashrams, and services for the poor, including food, clothing, and medical care. At the center of all this activity is a loving devotion to the Divine Mother, in the tradition of the great Bengali saint, Sri Ramakrishna, in a uniquely beautiful white marble temple.
About the temple
The main temple of Adyapeath is unique in both its architecture and its symbolism. Made of immaculate white marble, it is really three temples nestled inside one another.The temple’s symbolism denotes not only the unity of all aspects of the Hindu faith, but the unity of all religions toward a common goal: humanity’s realization of God. Its spire combines Shiva’s Trident, the Moon and Star, the Cross, and the Hand Fan–the symbols of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism respectively.
The Main Altar
Like the temple itself, the main altar also takes a very unusual configuration: three altars, one atop the other, like stairsteps.On the bottom altar is a murthi of Sri Ramakrishna, with the word “Guru” inscribed nearby.On the middle altar is a replica of the murthi of Adya Ma found by Annada Thakur in the Eden Garden. This murthi is made of eight metals. Nearby is inscribed “Knowledge and Work.”The topmost altar is adorned by the murthis of Radha and Krishna, known all over India as the Divine Couple. They are encircled by the sacred syllable om, and at their feet is inscribed the word "Love." Thus love is the foremost virtue and the clearest path to God.
The temple is constructed in such a way that the altar is clearly visible in its entirety whenever the doors are opened.There are many smaller temples on the Adyapeath grounds. This one, to Radha and Krishna, features Sri Jagganath. Thousands of pilgrims and visitors assemble daily to worship, pray, experience darshan, and receive prasadam. Religious songs and discourses are held every day in the nearby Natmandir (music hall). Adyapeath is considered one of the holiest of holy places not only in West Bengal but far beyond its border.
Daily pujas are performed in the traditional manner. The murthis are lovingly bathed and dressed, then offered flowers, sandal paste, incense, and food. The types and quantities of food offerings were dictated to Annada Thakur by Sri Ramakrishna in dreams, and these instructions are still strictly followed today. Because the temple itself is rather small inside, the food offerings are made in the nearby Bhog Ghar, a separate building in full view of the temple altar. The food thus blessed by having been offered is then distributed as prasad to all visitors.
Charitable Work of the Sangha
Dakshineswar Ramkrishna Sangha Adyapeath is dedicated to serving the needy and alleviating human suffering both in its immediate area and throughout the state of West Bengal. Current activities include the following:
Nara Narayan Seva (Feeding of the Poor): Feeding the poor in the name of God is one of the principal activities of the Sangha. Food is distributed to approximately 300 to 500 people daily, irrespective of caste, color, and creed.
Sadhak Ashram and Sadkika Ashram: Two separate ashrams, one for men and one for women. Together they house about 220 adults who wish to dedicate their lives to spirituality and service.
Adyapeath Balak Ashram (boys' orphanage) and Dakshineswar Balika Ashram (girls' orphanage): Houses, feeds, and educates approximately 700 destitute and orphaned children from throughout West Bengal.
Banaprastha Ashram (Retirement Home): Two separate ashrams for retiring elderly men and women. Currently there are more than 150 in each ashram.
Adyapeath Matri Ashram (Widows' Home): Houses approximately 85 widows without family to support them who wish to lead a religious life.
An outpatient clinic has been set up with X-ray and E.C.G. facilities, dental and eye treatment, and medicines, all free of cost to the patients. A mobile dispensary and two ambulance services are also provided round the clock for the poor.
Monikuntala Balika Vidyalaya
Dedicated to the memory of Monikuntala Devi, wife of Sri Sri Annada Thakur and mother of the Sangha, this school offers free education to approximately 650 girls up to class ten (tenth grade).
One of the largest Sanskrit schools in West Bengal, offering free basic Sanskrit teaching to more than 300 students.
Distribution of Clothing
Poor people, irrespective of caste, color, or creed, are given clothes free of charge on various occasions throughout the year.
Aid in Natural Calamities
The Sangha comes to the aid of needy people in natural disasters such as famine, flood, and earthquake.
Atithi Seva (Feeding of Guests)
Sri Annada Thakur said, "A hungry guest should never be refused." Accordingly, every Atithi (guest) is served with food (Prasadam). Each day, 300 to 1000 such devotees are served.
A project has begun to build a well-equipped 100-bed hospital for patients with contagious and infectious diseases. The estimated cost is over five crore rupees ($1.4 million US). The foundation was laid by the acting chief minister of West Bengal. We are collecting donations at home and abroad to fulfill this commitment.Bangladesh Project:A temple and hospital were inaugurated in March, 1998, in the Chittagong district of Bangladesh. The temple serves the spiritual needs of Hindus in this mainly Muslim area, but its charitable outreach, including the hospital, are for the poor of all faiths.
About The Deity
Adya Ma - She was a little more than a foot tall, carved out of one solid piece of black marble, with sparkling jewels set in her eyes. She was completely intact; not one lotus petal, not one finger, was chipped or cracked. Her form was that of the goddess Kali. Annada’s household worshipped her in the traditional manner, offering flower garlands, fruit, cheese, sweets, sandal paste, and incense. As word of Her miraculous appearance spread, devotees came from all over the city to make offerings. Her very presence seemed to inspire the deepest devotion. Even prostitutes wept when they offered flowers to Her. Three men from a Calcutta museum came also. Judging the image to be very ancient, from the Buddhist period, they offered a large sum of money for it, which Annada refused. A later encounter with a sadhu confirmed that the image had indeed originated in antiquity, in a temple in the district of Gaya.
Legend and stories
To find the beginning of this story, it is necessary to go back in time, beyond the remarkable early-twentieth-century life of a Bengali man named Annada Charan Bhattacharya; beyond the even more remarkable nineteenth-century life of the great Bengali saint Sri Ramakrishna; beyond even the carving in antiquity of an exquisite black marble image of the Divine Mother–for this story begins at Creation itself and is continually beginning and being replayed in the cycle of birth, death, and renewal of every soul of every devotee of God.
Dreams and Visions: In 1915, a young Brahmin named Annada Charan Bhattacharya was setting up a successful practice in Ayurvedic medicine in Calcutta. A capable scientist, he had discovered seven patent medicines and went on to become a renowned doctor all over Bengal.
Annada Thakur, as he came to be known, was a deeply religious man, filled with devotion to the Divine Mother Kali and Her great nineteenth-century Bengali saint, Sri Ramakrishna.
Nevertheless, even such a spiritual man as Annada was taken aback by the strange visions and dreams he began to have: A vision of four girls carrying an image (murthi) of the Divine Mother Kali down a Calcutta street, invisible to all but Annada, yet so real that he folded his palms and, to the puzzlement of passersby, bowed to thin air. Two dreams of a sannyasin telling him to shave his head and bathe in the Ganges, to which the outraged Annada replied, “Reverend Sir, if you again talk of head-shaving, I shall hold you by the neck and push you out of the room.” Then, stranger yet, dreams of Sri Ramakrishna himself, so real that Annada was convinced the venerable saint, though long departed from this life, had been in the room with him.
When the order came from Sri Ramakrishna to shave his head and bathe in the Ganges, Annada could hardly refuse. Sri Ramakrishna then told him to go to the Eden Gardens, a magnificent British-built public garden in Calcutta, and to look there for a murthi of the Divine Mother where a coconut tree and a pakur tree grew together. There, at the bottom of a pond, Annada and three companions found the image. A commemorative plaque marks the spot today.Immersion:Then the strangest dreams of all began. The Divine Mother Kali Herself appeared to Annada and, to his horror, commanded him to immerse the image in the Ganges! How could he return Her to the water within days of having brought Her out of it? In three dreams in one night She appeared, commanding, pleading, threatening.
“I do not want to be worshipped only in one place,” She said. “On the contrary, it is my wish to be worshipped in the home of every devotee, not merely according to scriptural rites. . . . If anyone pays homage and gives offerings to me in the simple and sincere language of the heart, such as ‘O My Mother! Take this food, wear this garment,’ and then uses those things himself, it will be regarded as good an act as worship. The prayer of a simple and sincere heart constitutes my worship.”
Finally, She enumerated sixteen reasons for the immersion, and Annada, his reasoning mind appeased, could resist no longer.
According to Her command, the image was photographed the following morning and copies circulated to any devotees who wanted them. Then, with a few companions, Annada hired a boat, rowed out into the middle of the Ganges, and plunged Her into the water. There, as far as anyone knows, She remains today.
The Divine Mother continued to appear to Annada in dreams. “I am Adyashakti (‘Primordial Force’), and I am to be worshipped as Adya Ma,” She said. She dictated to him a Sanskrit hymn in Her honor, the Adyastotram, promising that anyone who sang it with devotion would find favor with her.The Temple:Dream visitations from Sri Ramakrishna also continued. He offered Annada moksha, but Annada, confronted by a vision of thousands of his suffering fellow humans, responded, “I do not care for liberation. I would rather go through a hundred thousand hells doing good to others: This is my religion.”
In 1919, Sri Ramakrishna revealed what Annada’s life’s work was to be: the establishment of a temple to the Divine Mother Adya Ma.
The temple was to be in reality three temples enveloping one another: the first to Sri Ramakrishna, the second to Adya Ma, and the third to Krishna and Radha. The altar was to be three altars built like large stairsteps: Ramakrishna on the bottom, Adya Ma in the middle, and Krishna and Radha on the top, encircled by the sacred syllable om. In conjunction with the temple, there were to be separate ashrams for men and women, boys’ and girls’ orphanages and schools, a free clinic to prevent the spread of contagious disease, and distribution of food and clothing to the poor.
At Sri Ramakrishna’s behest, Annada Thakur spent a year with his parents in Raujan, in what is now Bangladesh, and then returned to Calcutta and carried out spiritual practices for a year on the bank of the Ganges. Then, on January 14, 1921, a celebration was held, which is still celebrated at the temple as Siddhotsab. The same year a committee was formed for the establishment of the Dakshineswar Ramakrishna Sangha.
In early 1927, the Sangha acquired a piece of land with some adjoining old Shiva temples, and on January 31, 1928, Annada Thakur broke ground for the temple on a compound of nearly 14 acres.
The Story Continues: Having seen his dreams begin to bear fruit, Annada died in January, 1929, at the age of 38, of a lung infection. Before his death, however, he wrote his remarkable story in the Bengali book Swapna-Jeevana, later translated into English as A Life of Visions.
The dream of the temple lived on through the work of a group of devotees. The Shiva temples were restored, the girls’ school was built in 1942, and the boys’ orphanage was completed in 1951. The free clinic moved to a new building on the temple grounds in 1959.
The temple itself, built of pure white marble, was completed in a number of phases and consecrated on January 14, 1967. Sri Ramakrishna had predicted that after the establishment of this temple, there would be a new religious stir in the country, starting in Bengal. At least three devotees each year, he said, would receive a direct vision of God in this temple and would dedicate their lives for the welfare of the world. Today, hundreds of pilgrims and devotees visit the temple daily, and its charitable outreach serves many hundreds of needy people.
Stories of The Divine Mother
1. Her Birth
The ancient Hindu text the Chandi tells the story of how the Divine Mother Goddess was born to slay the demons who were threatening the Gods themselves. When the evil demon king Mahishasura declared himself to be the Ruler of the Universe, the blasphemy so enraged the Gods that a powerful beam of light began to issue forth from the forehead ("third eye") of each of them. When the blinding beams of Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Indra, Yama, Agni, and all the other Gods met at one blazing point, the energy came to life in the form of a Goddess. Thus, she is considered Shakti, the creative power of the Divine.
Each of the Gods gave Her His most powerful weapon: Shiva's Trident, Vishnu's Discus, Indra's Thunderbolt. Roaring fiercely, Kali single-handedly battled Mahishasura and his entire army of powerful, magical, crafty demons. She devoured, slashed, tore, and crushed every one. But even after the demons were slain, Kali's battle frenzy raged on. She continued to dance wildly, slashing and ripping at the dead demons, dancing from corpse to corpse, shaking the foundations of the universe itself. The Gods realized they had to stop Her or the universe would be destroyed.
So Shiva, Her Husband, stepped forward. He lay down among the corpses on the battlefield, motionless. As Kali continued her dance of death, She suddenly realized that She was dancing on top of a live body--and it was that of Her Husband! Overcome with shame at the unthinkable disrespect She was showing by touching Her Husband with Her feet, She bit Her tongue and stopped Her dance.
2. Her Many Forms
Kali is usually considered to be an aspect of Parvati, the wife of Shiva. (Parvati is also sometimes known as Uma.) Another aspect of Parvati is Durga, the ten-armed demon-slaying goddess celebrated in September-October during Durga Puja, the largest religious festival in Bengal.
Ma Kali, as devotees affectionately call her ("Mother Kali") is known to take on many different forms or moods, some related to particular places, miracles, or incidents (comparable to the many manifestations of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of the Springs, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Lourdes, etc.). Kali's forms range from the benign protectress to the terrifying demon-slayer. Even robbers who waited in the forests of Bengal to ambush travelers used to worship their very own form of Kali: Dakait Kali.
3. Her Symbolism
In spite of the variety of forms She takes, Kali can always be recognized by certain characteristics. Her long hair flies about wildly (unlike the meticulously plaited hair of a modest Hindu woman), indicating Her infinite freedom. She is usually depicted standing on the prone body of Shiva, with Her tongue out. In contrast to Shiva's pure white complexion (He is smeared with ashes in the tradition of a sannyasin), Kali is the deep black of a limitless Void that has the power to swallow up everything. Her name comes from the Sanskrit word kala, "time"; she is the power of time, which devours all.
She has three eyes and four arms. Her upper right hand makes a gesture meaning "fear not," while the lower right hand's gesture promises the granting of boons to Her devotees. Her left hands hold a bloody sword and a freshly severed human head. Thus She combines the compassionate and the terrible aspects of the Divine. Yet even in Her terrible aspect She is looking out for the good of Her devotees--indeed of all humanity: The head She has severed represents the ego, the biggest obstacle to our realization of God.
She wears nothing but a skirt and a garland--but the skirt is made of human arms, the garland of skulls. Again, however, these symbols transcend the obvious macabre associations with Her destructive nature. The arms represent work or action, also known as Karma: All work belongs to Her and should be dedicated to Her. The fifty skulls in the garland represent the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, the root of all knowledge, indeed of creation itself.
The murthi of Adya Ma found by Annada Thakur in the Eden Gardens and reproduced in the Adyapeath temple reflects most of these characteristics. Missing is the skirt of human arms and the third eye, in whose place appears a mark similar to those made on their foreheads by devout Hindus everywhere. In addition, Adya's hair, instead of flowing free, is matted into three long strands, like the matted locks worn by sannyasins, including the Great God Shiva Himself.
History of Sri Ramakrishna
Sri Ramakrishna, the most revered saint in Bengal, had the astounding distinction of being declared an incarnation of God during his lifetime by many of the prominent scholars of his day.
Born in the Bengali farming village of Kamarpukur in 1836 (where pilgrims gather to this day to honor him), Ramakrishna showed a unique mystical spirituality from an early age. As a small boy, he once fell to the ground paralyzed in ecstasy at the beauty of a flock of pure white cranes against the background of a dark, looming rain cloud.
Born a Brahmin, Ramakrishna was schooled in the Scriptures and, at his brother's behest, took a position as a priest of Kali in a newly constructed temple complex in the village of Dakshineswar, about four miles outside Calcutta, the same village where Adyapeath is located today.
Rising majestically on the banks of the sacred Ganges, the original Dakshineswar temple complex, today a popular pilgrimage site, encompasses extensive gardens, orchards, groves, and bathing ghats in addition to the temples and other buildings gathered in its now-famous courtyard. Rising to 100 feet in the center of the courtyard is the main temple, dedicated to Kali and flanked by twelve small Shiva temples, six on each side.
At Dakshineswar, Ramakrishna's mystical tendencies reached new heights. He longed for an actual vision of the Divine Mother. His longing grew so desperate that one day he grabbed Kali's sword from behind the altar, ready to end his own suffering. At that moment, the Mother appeared to him, enveloping him in what he described as "an infinite, conscious sea of light" (Mahendra Nath Gupta. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1984).
From that moment, Ramakrishna lived a double life, hovering between the material world and the Divine Consciousness. His behavior turned so strange that rumors of insanity began to circulate, but the benefactor of the temple, a rich woman named Rani Rasmani, retained faith in Ramakrishna and decreed that he be allowed to worship as he pleased.
In answer to Ramakrishna's prayers, a series of teachers came into his life to introduce him to traditional practices and help him interpret his ecstatic experiences. Sri Ramakrishna Murthi
He studied the paths of Tantra and Vedanta, as well as those of non-Hindu religions: Islam and Christianity. One day he had a vision of Christ, who merged right into his body. These experiences convinced him of the essential unity of all religious paths, echoed later in his dream instructions to Annada Thakur and the architecture of the Adyapeath temple.
During all these mystical events, Sri Ramakrishna had a wife waiting back in Kamarpukur, who was growing more and more concerned as she heard the rumors of her husband's supposed insanity. Yet Sarada, who came to be known by devotees as Sri Sarada Devi, was no ordinary wife. Like Ramakrishna, she harbored an intense devotion to the Divine. At the age of five, she is said to have prayed, "Oh God, even the moon has dark spots on it. Please make my character pure and unblemished." Determined to render help if her husband needed it, she set out on foot for Dakshineswar, a journey of several days, nearly dying of fever in the process but finally coming to the side of Ramakrishna.
Their marriage was never consummated, but the divine love between them was palpable, inspiring the waves of people who began to come to see Ramakrishna. Some came to satisfy their curiosity, some to gawk at an oddity, but many came to be his disciples. The most well-known of these, Swami Vivekananda, brought the philosophy of Vedanta to the West, establishing Vedanta Societies in the United States and elsewhere.
Sri Ramakrishna's life and teachings continue to be revered in India today and form the basis of the philosophy and activities of Dakshineswar Ramkrishna Sangha Adyapeath.
Aarti / Poojas / Sevas
The time at which the deities in the main temple can be viewed are during MangalArati (early morning), BhogArati (day) and SandhyArati (evening). At each Arati time, the doors to the main temple are open for about half an hour. The BhogArati is held everyday at 10:30 am. MangalArati is held about an hour before sunrise, 4:00 am during the summer months and at 5:00 am during winter. SandhyArati is at 6:30 p.m. during winter and at 7:00 p.m. during the summer. Other than these times, on fifty-two special days in the year, the doors to the main temple remain open from Mangalaarati to 12 noon and then from 3:00 p.m. to Sandhyaarati
Special dates when main temple is open during the day
MangalArati at 5:00 a.m. SandhyArati at 6:30 p.m.
19 Paush, : Krishnaa Ekadashi (17th Lunar day)
30 Paush, : Makar Sankraanti (End of month)
1 Maagh, Shuklaa Nabami (9th lunar day)
7 Maagh, : Makar Sankraanti (End of month) Special puja and homa ceremony in celebration of 87th lunar date of Siddhilav of the Founder Sri Annada Thakur and 41th Inauguration day of Main Temple.
18 Maagh, Shri Panchami (5th lunar day)
29 Maagh, Sankraanti (End of month)
2 Falgun, Shukla Nabami (9th lunar day)
8 Falgun, Maaghi Purnimaa (Full Moon)
Sri Ramkrishna Naam Sankirtan (Chanting) will be held for twenty-four hours at the Natmandir.
19 Falgun, Krishna Ekadashi (11th lunar day)
22 Falgun, Krishna Chaturdashi (14th lunar day) Sivaratri
30 Falgun, Sankraanti (End of month
1 Chaitra, Shuklaa Nabami (9th lunar day)
7 Chaitra, Dol Purnima (Full Moon)
19 Chaitra, Krishna Ekadashi (11th lunar day)
29 Chaitra, Basanti Saptami (7th lunar day)
30 Chaitra, Basanti Ashtami (8th lunar day)
Prasad and Offering
Devotees sing Her song, the Adyastotram, and offer Her flowers, rice, sweets, incense, clothing, or sandal paste, as well as their sincere devotion and childlike love. Devotees can buy sweetmeats and red colored hibiscus flowers from any of the rickety roadside shops as offerings to Adya Ma. A great way to wind up the visit to Adyapeath is by partaking the holy "Prasad" or "Bhog" which consists of Khichudi, Rice, Dal, seasonal vegetable curry and payasam.One has to obtain food coupons, which are available at the Reception.
Best Time To Visit
The most convenient time for outstation tourists to visit Adyapeath temple is in the morning hours between 8 A.M. and 9 A.M. A typical visit takes about two or three hours.
It is unusual indeed to find a single temple combining the worship of Kali (in the form of Adya Ma) and Radha-Krishna, deities that are usually worshipped by two different sects of Hindus. Once again, however, the Adyapeath temple erases the boundaries of sect or creed, revealing that God is One. In this temple all pictures and murthis are covered for a period each day so they may rest. Every year three persons with spiritual bent of mind would be blessed with the direct vision of god at this temple and each one of them would sacrifice their life for the welfare of humanity.
The nearest International Airport is the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.
The nearest Railway Station is Sealdah and the nearest Metro Station is Dum Dum.
One may take a local bus, or a metered taxi to reach the temple from various parts of the city. Share auto rickshaws too are available from Dunlop as well as Belur railway station.
Maa Adya Temple,
Hooghly river bank,
North 24 parganas, West Bengal, India.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Protection from evil
- Destruction of ego
Jayantii Manggalaa Kaalii Bhadrakaalii Kapaalinii Durgaa Shivaa Kssamaa Dhaatrii Svaahaa Svadhaa Namostu Te
Meaning -We salute the Devi Kali, who is always victorious and always auspicious, we offer salutations to Bhadrakali Devi who wears a skull garland, we salute Shiva's consort and the embodiment of self-control and supports all beings, Devi Durga, who is Swaha as well as Swadha. We offer our salutations to you.
Om Maha Kalyai Ca Vidmahe Smasana Vasinyai Ca Dhimahi Tanno Kali Prachodayat
Meaning -Om the great Goddess Kali who stays in the ocean of life and burial grounds, we focus our energies on you, may you grant us our wishes and bless us
Kaalika Kalahey Gorey Paathuthvaam Parameshwari Mandapey Thathra Mathangi Thatha Sowmya Swayamwarey
Meaning -Let the ever charming, mother of the universe, protect us and stay in this mandap and bestow her blessing on us as mother Mathangi.
Katyayani Mahamaye Mahayoginyadheeshwari Nandgopsutam Devipatim Me Kuru Te Namah
Meaning -Oh Goddess Katyayani, the great vigour of the Lord, the owner of great magical power and the mighty one who controls all, please make the son of Nanda Maharaj my husband. I offer my salutations to you.