Swami Bodhananda (1870-1950)
Pre-monastic name Haripada Chattopadhyay. Born on the auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya in Baganda village of Hooghly, second of the five sons of Shivanarayan, a scholarly dialectician, and Mokshada. After studying for some time at the Bowbazar branch of the Metropolitan School including Swamiji’s tenure of a few weeks as Head Master (1886), passed Entrance examination from Jagadballavpur English High School (1890). A brilliant student, said to have learned the entire Chamber’s Dictionary by heart while still in school. As a student of Ripon College with a group of like-minded spiritually inclined friends frequented Kankurgachhi Yogodyan and Baranagore Math. Initiated by Holy Mother at Jayrambati. After graduation (1894) teacher at the Jagadballavpur School. Met Swamiji in February 1897 and received warmly by him. Joined the Order towards the end of 1898, replete with spiritual fervour gained from the company of Swamiji and other monks. Ordained into sannyasa by Swamiji (1898). Set out on pilgrimages and practised austerities (1900). Met Swamiji at Varanasi and returned with him to Belur Math. Immersed himself heart and soul in the service of his ailing Master. Also rendered personal service to Swami Brahmananda during a severe attack of typhoid (1905). Trustee and Member of the Governing Body of the Math and the Mission (1903). For a brief period President of the Bangalore Math. On 15.4.1906 sailed from Mumbai, reaching New York in May, to assist Swami Abhedananda. Sent to Pittsburg to disseminate Vedanta (January 1907), was eminently successful. Appointed Minister-in-Charge of New York Vedanta Society in 1912. Held a special place in the history of Vedanta Movement in America by leading the austere life of a traditional monk. The present building housing the New York Vedanta Society was acquired through his perseverance and endeavour (1925). On his visit to India (10.2.1923) was accorded a grand reception by citizens of Mumbai and felicitated by those of Calcutta at the University Institute Hall on 20.1.1924. Delivered a memorable speech on the occasion of the consecration Swamiji’s temple at Belur Math on 28.1.1924. Visited Rangoon and disseminated Vedanta. Toured South India with Swami Shivananda. Felicitated by residents of Bangalore and inmates of the local jail. Left Mumbai for New York on 15.7.1924 visiting enroute Italy, Switzerland and France. Engaged in teaching Vedanta in America for next 26 years, dying at Roosevelt Hospital on 18.5.1950. An autobiographical article, “Amar Sri Ramakrishna Sanghe Jogdan”, published in the Udbodhan (52.8-12). Members of the New York Vedanta Society and his admirers published a collection of his lectures, Lectures on Vedanta Philosophy. For some time Vedanta Darpan, a quarterly journal, appeared under his direction.