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Modi visits Dakshineswar temple, Belur Math

ArrayKolkata, May 10 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spent the morning in spiritual pursuit, praying and meditating at the Dakshineswar temple, the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission’s headquarters Belur Math.

During his hour-long stay at the Math, located in neighbouring Howrah district, Modi meditated for about 20 minutes at ascetic-philosopher Swami Vivekananda’s bedroom, which was specially opened at his request.

“He became deeply emotional on entering the room,” said a Math spokesman.

Modi also paid homage at the temples dedicated to 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Pramahamsa, Swami Brahmananda, Ramkrishna’s consort Sarada Devi and Swami Viveknanada.

Accompanied by West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi, the prime minister spent time with the monks at the main building, where he was welcomed with a bouquet by Ramakrishna Mission vice president Swami Prabhananda.

The monks presented him some booklets on Swami Vivekananda and on his writings and Ramakrishna’s teachings. “We also gave him small compilations of the Bible,” said the spokesman.

“As a youth, Modi had come to the Belur Math. Since then, he has always kept in touch with Belur Math and Ramkrishna Mission. And till today he feels his ideals match with those of the Math and the Mission.

“His visit is an occasion of mutual joy and happiness,” the spokesman said.

Earlier in the morning, Modi became the country’s first prime minister to visit the Dakshineswar temple on the eastern bank of river Hooghly.

Dedicated to ‘Bhavatarini’, an aspect of goddess Kali, the temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and devotee of the goddess.

Modi, on his first visit to West Bengal after becoming prime minister in May 2014, was accompanied by Governor Tripathi and union minister Babul Supriyo among others.

“He visited the sanctum sanctorum and touched the feet of the idol… Modi also performed aarti,” said Kushal Chowdhury, secretary of the temple;s board of trustees.

Modi went to the room where Sri Ramakrishna, who served as the temple’s priest for decades, used to stay.

“He touched the sage’s sacred bed and sought strength. He then went to the Kuthibari, where Ramkrishna had spent over 16 years. There, he offered floral tribute at a statue of Ramkrishna,” said Chowdhury.

The prime minister visited the library and signed the visitors’ book in Guajarati, said Chowdhury.

The temple authorities gifted a handcrafted Ashoka pillar and a replica of the idol of Kali. “He promised us help in the temple’s development.”

On Saturday, Modi called on the ailing Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission president Swami Atmasthananda at the Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan hospital here and sought the monk’s blessings.

Swami Atmasthananda has been warded at the hospital since February 21.

Their relationship goes back to Modi’s youth when he wanted to join the order. Atmasthananda, then deputed to the mission’s Rajkot centre, told him that his calling lay elsewhere.

In 2013, Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, visited Belur Math and sought blessings from Athmasthananda.

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