Acharaya Srimat Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj was an illustrious patriot and a great spiritual leader of modern India, known and revered for his invaluable contributions to the world not merely through preaching but practically demonstrating the essence of universal love, social service and reformation of the society, nationalistic zeal and above all superlative spiritual power. In a life span of less than 45 years (29th January, 1896 to 8th January, 1941) the Acharya left an impact unparalleled in the history of Indian spiritualism that has continually been guiding the entire human race towards peace and prosperity- epitomizing the Vedic ideals.
The born-yogi need necessarily not to have any master to guide him but to keep the dignity of religious tradition of his faith, he was formally initiated in 1913 by Yogiraj Baba Gambhir Nathji Maharaj who seeing the young Vinod (childhood name of Swami Pranavananda) at first sight instantly noticed his high spiritual achievement already attained. Then within less than four years of strict austerity measures, Vinod was blessed with the supreme enlightenment in 1916 at the age of only 20. In 1914 along with Brahmachary Vinod was put in jail for three months because of his involvement with the freedom fighters. But the British Govt. failed to prove his involvement all the time in jail they released him. Actually Brahmachary loved the freedom fighters and used to help them providing shelter and food in the dark of night when they used to seek his inspiring words and to hide themselves from the British Police.
To carry out his social-service activities and universal teachings, he launched a mission way back in 1917 that took formal shape as Bharat Sevashram Sangha in 1923. Hundreds of selfless monks and thousands of volunteer-followers of the Great spiritual leader now have been untiringly serving the humanity covering virtually the entire India and in few specific foreign countries too.
He took formal Sannyas in January, 1924 at Prayag (Allahabad) Ardh Kumbh Mela from Srimat Swami Govindanandaji Giri Maharaj and known thereafter in the name of Acharya Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj. The same year he for the first time initiated first seven disciples (Seven-Star) into Sannyas on the auspicious Maghi Purnima Day in February. The Acharya initiated 83 youths into Sannyas (Monk-hood) in his lifetime. The 6th President of the Sangha Srimat Swami Tridibanandaji Maharaj and Vice-president Srimat Swami Ramanandaji Maharaj are the only two living monks who are in their nineties now initiated by the Acharya.
As the philanthropic services by the Sangha increased by leaps and bounds, the Acharyadeva created Prachar (Preaching) Party which includes selfless monks, volunteers to collect money to meet the demand of the Sangha’s activities in 1924. Now seven Prachar Parties have been roaming almost the entire India doing this noble cause for the welfare of the country.
Famous Scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy came in contact with Swami Pranavanandaji (Then Brahmachary Vinod) in 1921 when a severe famine outbreak was causing havoc in East Bengal (presently Bangladesh). The Acharya tirelessly organizing hundreds of youths into his already commenced relief and rehabilitation works successfully but scientist Roy meanwhile failed to organize the youths despite his substantial collected money for the relief works. Thus he decided to hand over the money to Brahmachary Vinod. Acharya Pranavanandaji Maharaj bestowed his special blessings on Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who virtually fought to save Punjab and West Bengal from the partition.
In lieu of theoretical philosophy, Acharya Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj emphasized on practical spirituality which would invariably unfold in many hues the dormant divine power and quality of spiritual life that lie unawakened in mankind. It is the result of his own practical experiments with the eternal truth that had led the foundations of our ancient ideals of sacrifice, self-discipline, truth and continence.
He never believed in pouring volumes of sermons to his followers. Instead just narrated the essence of whole spiritual practice and religion in only Ten Questions & Answers to be followed by one and all which is popularly known as Sangha Vani.
Bharat Sevashram Sangha, a non-sectarian, non-communal, non-political Universal Mission of socio-religious-moral cultural services has been ably serving the suffering humanity for the last hundred years and is geared to continue its services till the end of human suffering. It is celebrating the Centenary year (1917-2016) throughout India and abroad. The NGO is run and managed by Sannyasins, Brahmacharees and selfless volunteers it is supported by lacs of devotees, well-wisher and social workers. The registered institution is run on the strength of public faith love and charity. There are seventy branches in India and fifteen abroad. The Head office is at Kolkata and managed by a Governing Council.
The Sangha was established by the Prophet of the Age, Swami Pranavananda in 1917 to fulfil his mission. He was a great Yogi, an Acharya, a philosopher-thinker, a reformer and one of the very few men of the world who can renounce, and he did, everything, for mankind’s sake. He was born in a village, Bajitpur in Madaripur district in Bengal in the year 1896. In his youth, he was popularly called “Binode Sadhu”. From his childhood his behaviour was different than that of other boys of his age. He was a born leader, strong and healthy and keen to help anyone in distress. He was the last person to tolerate any injustice done by anyone in society. He would not accept anything without verifying and testing the truth in it.
In his childhood and youth he has seen and experienced the condition of poor and illiterate people. He noticed that no person or organisation, even the then government has come forward to help suffering people during flood, famine or epidemic. He was aghast to see the weakness, timidity, selfishness and lethargy among the majority. There was no unity or fellow-feeling, the educated and rich used to avoid the poor people. The society was fractured due to in-fight based on caste, creed, community and religion. They were physically, mentally, morally and spiritually weak and unable to defend themselves and their friends and family members in case of need. They were always under fear of oppression from other communities and the foreign ruler. The political situation was against them. Later in his life he personally experienced the rude and arrogant behaviour of self-vested persons at major religious centres. He has seen thousands of people dying for non-availability of medical support, health-care and food. He found no one is caring the poor and neglected people and left them at the mercy of God and evil elements in society.
He felt the pain of a mother looking at the suffering of distressed people. Compassion flooded his heart, the lion roared in his head and he keenly felt the need of hour to find ways to save this unfortunate lot. He realised that instead of worshipping the idol of God and Goddess, it is more important to devote full energy to ameliorate the suffering of the poor and distressed people for realising salvation. The Acharya sat himself to fulfil the Divinely entrusted mission. For the purpose he organised the illustrious “Bharat Sevashram Sangha” a religious brotherhood of Sannyasins (Monks) and selfless workers; and trained them up to the pattern of his own life in the practice of the ideals of Self-sacrifice, Self-discipline, Devotion to Truth and Continence. With this battalion of trained missionaries who has given up everything and stood in the street in the name of the Lord and dedicated their lives to the service of mankind, the Acharya came out like a veritable spiritual Field-Marshal and declared war against the world-spread Lust and Mammon Worship. These apostles were to re-organise the Hindu population, their individual, social and national life on the basis of the eternal spiritual ideals of Hindu Dharma and Hindu culture, so that the spiritual genius of the vast Hindu population might manifest itself in all its glory and the revitalised Hindu nation march forward, as the champion of spirituality to wage was for spiritual re-orientation of human life and society.
Today, after hundred years the Sangha has grown like a banyan tree. The multidimensional activities of the Sangha are - Relief and Rehabilitation during natural disaster like flood, earthquake or any such calamities. Medical assistances and healthcare to poor and needy, irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion, character building and man-making education, physical culture and art of self-defence, propagating our age-old culture, morals and ethics to the youths, protecting and providing services to pilgrims at major religious centres in India, Medical and other humanitarian services during special festivals like Ashadi Ekadashi, Sabarimala Pilgrimage, Kumbha Mela at various location.
Mumbai Branch of the Sangha is located at Vashi-Gaon, Navi Mumbai, providing various services to poor and needy, such as free tuition to poor school students, computer basic training to all, Healthcare to public, Havan and Gurupuja for peace and harmony, spiritual and religious preaching for tension free life. The most important is providing free accommodation, transportation to TMH, Parel and milk & biscuits to poor Cancer patients who are with their attendants coming for treatment from all parts of the country and adjoining countries. Financial assistance, medicine is given to deserving cases; subsidised meal is provided to all. The Sangha has set-up a network with other philanthropic organisations to serve the patients.
The Branch has undertaken various programs to celebrate the Centenary year, such as, Youth Development and Character Building through essay. Elocution, drawing competition, conference and seminars for college students, spiritual lectures at various clubs and associations, publication of thoughtful books to spread the message and teachings of the Acharya for unification and regeneration of society. The major program at Navi Mumbai are:
All the programs are formulated and executed with the blessings, guidance and inspiration of Swami Prashantananda, Head of Mumbai and Devbhumi Branches.
Self Realization, Universal Emancipation
Self Sacrifice, Self decipline, Adherence to truth and continence
Forgetfulness of the "self"
Self-Possession, Self-Remembrance, Self-Conciuosness
Heroism, Virility, Manliness and aspiration for Emancipation
Weakness, Fear(Defeatism), Cowardice, Meanness and Selfishness
Patients, Fortitude and Endurance
Self Confidence, Self-Reliance, Self-Respect
Indolence, Slumber, Inertia, Procrastination, Lustful senses and passions
Energy, Initiative, Enthusiasm and perseverance