Swami Niranjanananda (Niranjan Maharaj)
Rajar Hat - Bishnupur, Bengal Presidency, British India
Swami Niranjanananda (Senior)(Bengali:স্বামী নিরঞ্জনানন্দ) born as Nitya Niranjan Ghosh, usually called by the shortened name of Niranjan, was one of the foremost monks of Ramakrishna Mission and was one of the direct monastic disciples of Ramakrishna. Swami Niranjanananda was one of those few disciples, whom Sri Ramakrishna termed as "Nityasiddhas" or "Ishwarakotis" - that is, souls who are ever perfect. [Swami Niranjanananda (Senior)is termed Senior since there was another Swami Niranjanananda (Junior) also known as Pandalai Maharaj, later in the Ramakrishna Mission who died in 1972]. Even though<...and this is a reply> his tenure with the newly formed Ramakrishna Mission was short lived owing to his early death, he left an indelible mark in spiritual and philanthropic activities. He had a majestic appearance, being tall with broad shoulders and strong physique.
Swami Niranjanananda was born as Nityaniranjan Ghosh and he was called by the short name of Niranjan. Little is known about his early life except that he came from a village called Rajarhat-Bishnupur in 24 Paraganas of Bengal province. He lived in Calcutta with his maternal uncle Kalikrishna Mitra. In his boyhood he became associated with a group of spiritualists and was considered as a successful medium. He was very frank and open minded, a trait which was appreciated by Sri Ramakrishna. He had an abhorrence for married life and a relatively short temper, even though he was tender in nature. He later took up job with an indigo planter in the district of Murshidabad.
Influence of Sri Ramakrishna
Niranjan was about eighteen years old when he met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time. When he came to know of his leanings towards spiritualism, Sri Ramakrishna apparently chided him saying that, "if you think of ghosts and spooks, ghosts and spooks you will become, if you think of God, divine will be your life."  He later told Niranjan when he visited him for the second time, "My boy, days are passing, when will you realize God?". Niranjan was very impressed and he continued his association with Sri Ramakrishna. Once when Niranjan was travelling by a boat to Dakshineswar, some of his fellow passengers began to speak ill about his master. At this, Niranjan got angry and threatened to drown the entire boat. When Sri Ramakrishna heard about the incident he disapproved by saying that, "Anger is a deadly sin, why should you be subject, to it? Foolish people in their pitiable ignorance say many things. One should completely ignore them as beneath notice". Sri Ramakrishna also disapproved of Niranjan working in an office, but he consented when he heard that Niranjan took up the job to maintain his aged mother. When the master was ill and was kept in Shyampukur by his devotees, Niranajn quit his job to work as the gatekeeper of the house. There he was fooled by actress Binodini Dasi who visited an ailing Sri Ramakrishna in the disguise of a European gentleman.Later when Sri Ramakrishna was shifted to Cossipore garden house he continued with his role as a gatekeeper with utmost devotion and prevented at least two lay disciples of Sri Ramakrishna from entering the premises when the master was critically ill, among them Ramachandra Dutta and Atul Ghosh, the brother of Girish Chandra Ghosh. After the death of Sri Ramakrishna, there was a dispute among his disciples with the ownership of the relics which was mitigated with the help of Narendra (later Swami Vivekananda). Niranjan, together with Shashi Maharaj (later Swami Ramakrishnananda) preserved most of the relics in a separate urn and this they kept in the house of Balaram Bose, which was later removed to Belur Math.
Niranjan took his monsatic vow along with other brother disciples in 1887 and came to stay permanently in the Baranagar Math, the first abode of the monks of the Ramakrishna order. He was given the monastic name of Swami Niranjanananda (Niranjan - the blameless or the guileless one, and ananda - bliss), by Swami Vivekananda. In the monastery he did most of the laborious tasks, being physically stronger. He travelled to Puri and returned in April 1887. He made an altar for the Master in the old monastery house and also planted a Bel Tree on the same spot where Sri Ramakrishna was cremated in Cossipore and created an altar around the tree. He went for a pilgrimage in November 1889 to Deoghar and stayed in Banshi Dutt's garden house living on alms. He went to Prayag (Allahabad), travelled through various parts of India and went to Colombo in Sri Lanka. For sometime he lived there as a preaching missionery teaching the ideals of his Master. In 1895 he returned to the Alambazar monastery before the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna. When Swami Vivekananda returned to India, Swami Niranjanananda went to Colombo to receive him in 1897. He travelled with Swami Vivekananda all over Northern and Southern India. In 1898 he went to Almora and there he initiated Swami Shuddhananda (Sudhir Maharaj). He then went to Varanasi and lived on alms. He inspired a group of youth to follow the path of service and renunciation, who later organized the home of service. He later went to Kankhal near Haridwar and became ill and came back to Calcutta for treatment. Upon recovery he went back to Varanasi, met Swami Vivekananda there. During Swami Vivekananda's illness he arranged for Ayurvedic treatment and during the latter's last days he was his gatekeeper, preventing people from crowding and disturbing an ailing Swami Vivekananda in his room. After Swami Vivekananda's death he returned to Haridwar. During his last days he suffered from chronic dysentery. He died 9 May 1904.
With Holy Mother
Swami Niranjanananda, like his brother disciples held the holy mother Sri Sarada Devi in very high esteem. He took Girish Chandra Ghosh to the holy mother in her native village of Jairambati when the latter was going through a period of depression. Before his death he came to meet the holy mother and insisted that she did everything for him, including preparing food for him and feeding him.
Character and legacy
According to Sri Ramakrishna, Niranjan was an ever pure soul and it was easy for him to realize god because he was guileless. According to the memoirs of his associate Swami Achalananda (Kedar Maharaj) and the accounts of other brother disciples, Niranjan was marked for his simplicity, truthfulness, purity, fearlessness, steadiness (in any matter of principle) and renunciation. He once saved Sarada (Swami Trigunatitananda), a brother disciple from drowning. He earnestly took up philanthropic and charitable work at the behest of Swami Vivekananda and later formed the Sevashrama or the Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service at Varanasi, by inspiring a group of young men to renounce the world and take up the service of the poor. Despite in need for fund he refused donation from a rich person when the latter went back on his promise. He nursed many of his brother disciples, including Swami Yogananda (Yogen Maharaj) whenever they were ill. He believed in sri Ramakrishna as the infinite god in human form, did not put much stress on rituals, and had tremendous faith in the doctrine of service.
- Swami Advaitananda (Buro Gopal)
- Swami Turiyananda (Hari Maharaj)
- Swami Ramakrishnananda
- Swami Yogananda (Yogin Maharaj)
- Swami Adbhutananda
- Swami Brahmananda
- Swami Saradananda (Sarat Maharaj)
- Swami Abhedananda
- Swami Vijnanananda
- Swami Subodhananda
- Swami Nirmalananda
- Baburam Maharaj (Swami Premananda)
- Swami Akhandananda
- Swami Trigunatitananda
- Swami Shivananda
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (February 2013)|
- Swami Niranjanananda, RMIC
- Swami Nrmalananda, a Unique Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna
- The Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, published by Advaita Ashram, Mayawati, 1943, page 126
- Ibid. page 129
- Ibid. page 127
- Ibid., page 130
- "God Lived with Them", by Swami Chetanananda, published by Advaita Ashrama, 1997, page 243
- Ibid. page 243
- Ibid., page 243