By Newsgram Staff Writer
During his visit to Kolkata, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also pay a call to Swami Atmasthanad Maharaj, the current head monk of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission Order in Belur Math. The 97-year-old Maharaj has been unwell for quite some time now, and it is most likely that the PM would have to meet him at the hospital itself.
It is a known fact that Modi is a devout follower of the Mission and its ascetic ideals. The last time he had paid a visit to Swami Atmasthanad was in the year 2013.
When Modi led BJP through a whopping victory in the Lok Sabha elections last year, he had received an invitation from Swami Ji to visit Belur Math. Swami Atmasthanad had written in a letter to Modi, “I am eagerly looking forward to your visit to Belur Math as the Prime Minister of India. . .I am happy to learn that you have got a thumping majority. Sri Ramakrishna has given you the opportunity to serve the people of India irrespective of caste, creed and religion.”
The Prime Minister has often been criticized for being aligned towards Hindutva philosophy and discriminating other religions. His visit to Belur Math can be read as an attempt to move above this censure as the architectural design of the Ramakrishna Temple is famous for symphonizing the diversity of the Indian religions. The structure of the establishment, if seen from different spots, resembles that of a temple, a mosque and a church. The architectural designs of various religions have been the inspiration of the temple at Belur Math. For example, the main entrance sought inspiration from the Buddhist style of architecture whereas the structure over it is based on the building style of Hindu temples. The ground plan is in the shape of the Christian Cross, while the windows and the balconies emanate from the Hindu and Islamic style.
PM Modi holds Swami Atmasthanad in high esteem and in the words of Subirananda Maharaj, Modi “treats him as his guru. When both of them were in Rajkot, Modi used to go to him to seek guidance”.
Even while taking his oath as the Prime Minister of India, according to a Times of India report, Narendra Modi kept a ‘’prasadi’ flower in his coat pocket, which came along the invitation letter sent by Swami Ji. Therefore, through this visit, he is keeping up his promise and paying homage to his guru while giving out a hint towards his belief in the unity of religions.