Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission President Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj passed away on Sunday after a prolonged illness, said the Belur-based Math. He was 98.
The monk, who was elected President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission on December 3, 2007, had been admitted to Seva Pratishthan hospital from February 21, 2015 for treatment of old-age ailments.
"With deep sorrow we announce the passing away of Swami Atmasthanandaji, President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, on Sunday, at about 5:30 pm at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan hospital, Kolkata," said a statement from the Math.
The cremation will take place at Belur Math on Monday at about 9.30 p.m and the gates of Belur Math will remain open tonight and through Monday till the last rites are completed, it added.
Born in May 1919, at Sabajpur near Dhaka, he received "emantra diksha" from Swami Vijnananandaji Maharaj (a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) in 1938 and joined the Ramakrishna Order at Belur Math in 1941 at the age of 22.
In 1945, Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the sixth President of the Order, gave him Brahmacharya vows and in 1949, Sannyasa vows and the name Swami Atmasthananda.
After serving the Order at Belur Math and the branches at Deoghar (Vidyapith) and Mayavati (Advaita Ashrama), he served Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj himself for a long time and spent several years in his company in the solitude of Shyamla Tal in the Himalayas.
In 1952, he was posted to Ranchi TB Sanatorium branch as an Assistant Secretary. He worked hard to expand itss services in many ways. Sent to Rangoon Sevashrama as its Secretary in 1958, he developed its hospital to make it the best hospital of Burma (Myanmar) at that time.
He was elected a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and Member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1973.
In 1975, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the twin organisations.
Under his stewardship as Relief Secretary, the Math and Mission conducted massive relief and rehabilitation operations in various parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
He became the General Secretary of the Math and Mission in 1992 and continued to be in that post for five years till 1997 when he became a Vice-President of the Order.
Expressing her grief, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in a tweet: "Saddened that Rev. Swami Atmasthanandaji, President, Ramakrishna Math & Mission passed away today at Seva Pratishthan."
"A life of outstanding social and religious service. This is an irreparable loss to mankind," she added.