Swami Advaitananda

An introduction | The life story

An introduction

Monastic Name: Swami Advaitananda

Pre-Monastic Name: Gopal Ghosh

Born in Rajpur – 25 miles north of Kolkata

Sometime in 1883
Lost his wife (at the age of 55), and was broken hearted and depressed.

March/ April 1884
Meet Sri Ramakrishna for the first time.

12 January 1886
Got ochre cloth (monastic robes) and rosaries distributed by the Master among 12 of his disciples.

Took final monastic vows. Left the monastery at the end of the year and went to Varanasi, lived on alms and practiced austerities.

1892 onwards
Lived at the Belur Monastery and made strenuous efforts to mould his life according to the spiritual ideas of the Master.

Was made a trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission by Swamiji, and later became Vice-President

28 December 1909
Passed away. Until the end he was fully conscious, chanting the name of Sri Ramakrishna.

Sri Ramakrishna made Swami Advaitananda a role model for elderly seekers of God. He will be remembered for his cheerful manner and methodical ways, his self-reliance, his untiring zeal in every work he undertook, his implicit devotion to the Master and his cause.

Compiled from various sources

The life story

Swami Advaitananda in his pre-monastic days was known as Gopal Chandra Ghosh. He was the oldest of the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, being older than even the Master by a few years. Besides, as there were two Gopals, Sri Ramakrishna would address Swami Advaitananda as “aged Gopal”, while others would call him Gopalda or Gopal the elder brother.

Gopalda was a married man. At the death of his wife he received such a great shock that he did not know what to do.

As he began to frequent Dakshineshwar, the overwhelming burden of his grief was completely removed. The Master’s simple explanation of the unreality of the world made a deep impression on his mind, and he began seriously to think of giving up the world in search of god, Ultimately he renounced the world and devoted himself heart and soul to the service of the Master in his last illness. He was very neat and clean and the embodiment of method and orderliness.

Gopalda made strenuous efforts to mould his life according to the life and example of the Master, and would sometimes express disappointment that he fell so short of the ideal. But this feeling of disappointment indicated only his real spiritual height. Because of his age, Gopalda did not engage himself in any public activity, philanthropic missionary, or other, so that his monastic life was quite uneventful. But so long as he was in the physical body, he definitely set an example to all, and he was the source of inspiration to many. His uniform steadfastness in Sadhana till the last days of his life elicited admiration, if not reverence, even from his brother-disciples. His love for truth was wonderful. He heard the Master say that one should not twist truth even to make fun. Gopalda obeyed this instruction in letter and in spirit and insisted on others doing likewise.

Compiled and Edited by Swami Gambhirananada
The Apostles of Sri Ramakrishna
Advaita Ashrama; Mayavati; June 1995