Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Palace for the Poor

Published: 2007
Publisher: Ramakrishna Mission Students' Home, Chennai

This book is brought out by Ramakrishna Mission Students' Home, Chennai (endearing called the "Home" by its close associates) on occasion of its centenary celebrations . The 'Home' was established in 1905 Swami Ramakrishnananda, (the direct disciple of the saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa) along with Sri Ramaswamy Iyengar. It was intended to aid the students from poor families by providing food, clothing, shelter and education. The selection criteria for selecting such students being "poorest among the best " .
Subsequently it started several schools and technical institutes and completed its 100 years of illustrious history in 2005.
The book describes the origin and growth of the Home, establishment of educational institutions under its aegis , life sketches and anecdotes about its founders, close associates and some outstanding old students, glimpses of the life of the inmates of the Home. It also deals with its recent developments and its future plans.
This book will be of interest only to a select audience - mainly those who have been associated with the Home in particular and Ramakrishna Mission in general.
But it is a special book for me, since my grandfather Sri C. Ranga Iyengar was the teacher and then later the Headmaster of the Residential High School run by the Home, from mid 1930s (or probably even earlier) till he retired in 1959. His contribution towards Home has been recognized in this book with a two page write up about him along with his photograph. Through this writeup I came to know a couple of incidents which reveals his strange mixture of sterness and love to all boys residing in the Home without any bias or discrimination. I was not aware of these facts. Also the photograph of his is from his younger days which I had never seen, having always known him as an old man past his seventies.
My father and my uncle were also Old Boys of the Home and this book gave me some idea about the lives they would have lead when they were the inmates of the Home

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