Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashrama of Pittsburgh

Mandira Chattopadhyay

Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashrama of Pittsburgh was established in September 2009 with the help of a handful of devotees.   Swami Swahananda, a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order of India, the minister and spiritual leader of the Vedanta Society of Southern California inaugurated the Ashrama. The active participation of devotees will someday make this place thrive with activities that will benefit all community members.  Though the Ashrama started in a small home in Monroeville, it is growing in popularity with larger and larger gatherings, so the facilities need to be expanded.  In a short period of time, the Ashrama has achieved a lot.  The devotees dedicate much time and energy to make this place as welcoming as possible.   The Ashrama truly seems to be God’s gift; it was never expected such a thing would come in existence, though the city of Pittsburgh is noted for its numerous temples.  The dedicated efforts of the volunteers have created a special place to nurture our spiritual activities. 

On Saturday March 27, the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was celebrated at the Ashrama (417 Beatty Road, Monroeville).  Although he was born on February 17, 1836, his birthday celebration had to be moved because of inclement weather during February and March.   It was a beautiful spring day and the activities started around noon with Puja and Aratrikam.  At 5:00 pm the evening Puja (Sandhya Puja) took place followed by Aratrikam.  The entire building resonated with the hymns composed by Swami Vivekananda – “Khandana Bhava.”  Devotees poured in from all around Pittsburgh and its surroundings with some worshippers driving over two hours to get there.  They all came to witness this happy occasion and to be blessed by Swami Brahmarupananda of Vedanta Society of Greater Washington who was present there.  Swami’s talk on Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa began around 6:00 pm.  He described the spiritual teaching of Ramakrishna based on the concept that everything is pervaded by God.  He mentioned how Ramakrishna would only see good things in people, whether they were good or bad.  He outlined a set of nine instructions Sri Ramakrishna gave to the householders: (a) repeat God’s name time and again, (b) chant His glories, (c) seek holy company, (d) go into solitude, (e) meditate on God, (f) discriminate between the real and the unreal, (g) focus on God while performing duties, (h) develop a deep yearning for God, and (i) be truthful.  After his discourse, there was a question and answer session, followed by devotional songs performed by some of the devotees.  The event ended with a sumptuous vegetarian dinner.

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