Nestled amidst the sylvan surroundings of the Nilgiris, the Ramakrishna Math, Ooty, is one of the oldest centers in South India. It became part of the R.K.Math in 1926, though started in 1924. It was meant to be a Retreat center and had an invaluable library.
Considering the spiritual atmosphere of the place Mahapurush Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj, a direct disciple of Sri RamaKrishna, who was recuperating in the Nilgiris after an illness wished to start a center in Ooty. His wish was fulfilled by a Divine act. A so-called untouchable washer man donated 2 acres of land, after having a dream in which his favorite diety Sri Sri Mariamma appeared and said, “Look, some people will approach you for a piece of land on which to build a monastery, give them that land”. He had the dream on 3 consecutive nights. He was waiting for them and when he met some people searching for a land to build a monastery he donated it. The person was Sri. Thiruvengadan Pillaiof Kil Kodappamund.
Liberal subscription came from the local devotees and some rich people from Madras, Rajas of different provinces. Work was started by Swami Shivananda himself. The building had a shrine opening into a hall 20’x30’ and two living rooms flanked by a veranda and office, a separate kitchen block. It was surrounded by a beautiful garden, grass banks and trees. The sadhus carried out their spiritual and religious activities and also visited the Badaga Villages and educational institutions.
A very significant and attractive event is the observation of public celebrations of the birthdays of the Holy Trio. It attracts large crowds from all over Nilgiris. The program consists of Puja, bhajan, public meeting, cultural presentation and Annadanam. The event still continues.
The consecration ceremony took place on 24/09/1926. The pictures of the Holy Trio was ceremoniously brought in procession amidst Vedic Chanting from Godavari House to the new building and installed. On that day Swami Yatiswaranandaji and a host of others were present.
Srimath Swami Vijnananandaji, another illustrious disciple of Sri Rama Krishna and 4 th president of the order visited Ooty in 1931.
J.J Goodwin, stenographer by profession to whom we owe much for making available many of Swami Vivekananda’s previous lectures which now form part of Swamiji’s 9 volumes of complete works, came to ooty for rest and recuperation but passed away at the young age of 28 on 02/06/1898. His mortal remains were interred at the St. Thomas church Cemetry, Ooty.
Way back in 23/04/1967, the Ooty Ashrama did him honor by a reverent dedication of his tomb by most Rev. Dr. Lakdasa de Mel, Lord Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. The tomb 10’ high is made of polished grey granite is a conically shaped pillar and marble cross embedded & on the marble tablet the poem Requiescat in pace written by Swami Vivekananda engraved.
Sw. Ranganathanandaji the then secretary presided over the function.
Other activities carried out were
1) During the thirties the Ramakrishna Vijayam was edited for 5 years at Ooty Ashram.
2) A Model Gurukula was started and run for about 4 years in 1947.
3) Religious classes were regularly conducted from 1937 both at the Ashram and at town schools, Coonoor and Staff College Wellington.
4) A monthly retreat – Antaryogam – on last Sundays was started from May 1971 and is still continuing.
5) In 1983 April 25 th a beautiful marble image of Sri Rama Krishna was installed and consecrated in the shrine by most revered Swami Vireshwaranandaji.
6) A new building – the monks’ quarters and extended prayer hall were opened on 26/03/1989 by Rev. Tapasyanandaji.
7) The Golden Jubilee of the Ashrama in 09/1976, the 150 th Birthday of Sri Rama Krishna in 1986 and the Platinum Jubilee of the Ashrama in 2001 were celebrated in a quiet and solemn way.
Present activities:- The ashrama maintains a shrine where nityapuja& evening arati are conducted daily.
On Ekadasi days Ramnam Sankirtan is held. Birthday celebrations of Holy Trio is observed and due solemnity providing pecuniary help and ration doles to the poor and destitute, distribution of educational help to school going children is another activity.
From 1992, medical help to the poor is given during rains and winter, whenever need arises, the ashrama provides distress relief in and around Ooty.
The Ashrama manages in a supervisory capacity the Holy Mother Trust established in 1938 by Sri Vasanandaji, consisting now of about 18 acres of land out of which 3 acres are under tea plantation.
The Ooty Ashrama is maintained by devotees, admirers and sympathisers of the Ramakrishna Ideal, by collections made in town and villages of Nilgiris every year. This is a tradition even to this day.
Many distinguished and venerable monks have visited and blessed the Ashram. Many devotees have been initiated by these realized souls.
- Most Revered Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj in 1939
- Most Revered Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj in 1968, 71, 76, 83
- Most Revered Swami Gambhiranandaji Maharaj in 1970.
- Most Revered Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj in 1977.
- Most Revered Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj in 1966, 1991
- Most Revered Swami Tapasyanandaji Maharaj in 1989.
- Most Revered Swami Gahananandaji Maharaj
- Most Revered Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj
The R.K.Math Ooty as a Retreat Centre is trying to fulfil its purpose by awakening spirituality of the people here.