Swami Vijñanananda


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Swami Vijnanananda (born Hariprasanna Chattopadhyaya; 30 October 1868 – 25 April 1938) was an Indian monk of Ramakrishna order, born in an upper-class family near Dakshineswar, and was a direct disciple of Ramakrishna. He was an engineer and worked as the District Engineer in the erstwhile State of United Provinces, India. 

He was a great scholar of Sanskrit with expertise in religio-philosophical works, astronomy, civil engineering etc. He spent considerable time in Allahabad (Prayag) centre of Ramakrishna Math. He became the President of Ramakrishna Mission in 1937. It was under his presidency and direct supervision that the Ramakrishna Temple at Belur Math was constructed and consecrated.

Hariprasanna Chattopadhyaya was born on 30 October 1868, in a respectable family of Belgharia. He had, in all probability, first seen Ramakrishna on 15 September 1879 at Keshab Chandra Sen's spiritual retreat at Belgharia. When studying in the first or second class of a High School, Hariprasanna saw Ramakrishna at Dewan Govinda Mukherji's house. It was on 18 February 1883 that Hariprasanna, then a student of the St. Xavier's College, went to Dakshineswar with his fellow students Sarat, later Saradananda (Sarat Maharaj), and Barada Pal. 

Ramakrishna showed great love and kindness towards Hariprasanna, which bound the latter indissolubly to the former. Hariprasanna took Ramakrishna to be his Master. He however saw the Master only a few more times in his life, as he was compelled to live at Bankipore in Bihar. Hariprasanna's guardians were not in favour of his meeting Ramakrishna. He stayed back in Dakshineswar one night upon request from the Master, and later he divulged that on that night Sri Ramakrishna granted him special spiritual favours. 

Vijnanananda later recalled: 'As I approached the Master he asked me to stick out my tongue. When I did so, he drew a figure on it with his finger. My whole body began to tremble, and I felt an unspeakable bliss within.' He was rebuked by his mother and elder sister for the transgression and could not go to see Ramakrishna for a long time, who sent Sarat to bring him along. Ramakrishna made him enter into a deep meditation and gave him intimate knowledge on various facets of spiritual lives.

As a student, Hariprasanna was very spirited and would be upset at the sight of any moral turpitude or social injustice. After passing the First Arts examination from Calcutta, Hariprasanna went to Bankipore in Bihar. He graduated from Patna college and went to study Civil Engineering in Pune. During this time Sri Ramakrishna died and Hariprasanna had a vision of Ramakrishna on the night he died. He completed his diploma in civil engineering (Licentiate in Civil Engineering or L.C.E) from Poona College of Science. 

He did not appear for his final examination deliberately in order to help a poor but meritorious student to secure a job, as in those days only the first or second ranked students could get a Government job and Hariprasanna's classmates were of the opinion that he was to stand first or second. At that time, Hariprasanna was financially dependent on his elder sister's husband. The next year, he passed the examination successfully and landed with a Government job.

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