Ramakrishna Sarada Mission - Pangot (Nainital), Uttaranchal

Ramakrishna Sarada Mission maintains a Cultural-cum-Retreat Centre for the devotees and scholars at Pangot.

The Background 
In 1989, Janet (Jenny) Cochius, Jeanne Bakker, and Sujata Leemans of Holland co-founded the Sarada Vedanta Stichting (SVS) Foundation, in Holland to assist women who wanted to walk the spiritual path. Their quest was to set up a retreat centre somewhere in Europe for the benefit of western women. Pravrajika Vivekaprana, who had been travelling to the west since then and sharing her views on Vedanta with many aspirants, was requested to help set up such a centre. Jenny passed away in 1994, but her dream was fulfilled when the SVS Foundation became the impetus and financial base for the Retreat Centre at Pangot. In 1999 the SVS Trust funds were donated to Sri Sarada Math and for the purpose of developing such a centre that would assist women to develop their spiritual lives. Pravrajika Vivekaprana accepted the responsibility for the planning and construction of such a Centre.

The Uphill Task 
A barren hilltop, shrouded in low-lying clouds, hidden away in the remote village of Pangot in the Kumaon hills, at the foothills of the Himalaya and 15 kilometres from Nanital, was purchased by the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission. The construction work started in November 2001.

The Inauguration 
October 19, 2003 was the opening of the Vedanta Centre. Revered Bhaktiprana Mataji, Vice President of Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, had come to Pangot especially for the occasion.

Retreat House

Purpose and Philosophy of the Centre 
This Centre has been established to provide those in search of Vedanta, a place for in-depth study and practice. The Centre has been developed around the philosophy of Vedanta in all of its phases, keeping the lives and experiments of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda in view.

In-depth study and practice of Vedanta: A well furnished library with books in different languages is at the disposal of the students. This is a place for self-directed, independent study and spiritual practice. Group retreats are organized at regular intervals for formal study of the scriptures. Devotees from Delhi, Bombay, Lucknow, Raipur, Chennai among others have come regularly for retreats. Western women who have taken the opportunity to come and live at this centre for varying lengths of time.

Sunday Class

Studying at Library

Other Activities 
As an adjunct to this main purpose and philosophy, an effort is made to involve the local village population also in the life of the centre.

Sunday school: Over 40 children from eight neighbouring villages, at walking distance of 6-8 kilometers happily come every Sunday, often braving rain and snow! They are taught simple Sanskrit shlokas and told about the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda, among others. Free Tiffin is provided to all the students. Coaching classes are held to some students in English, Mathematics and Science. They are encouraged to participate in short plays variety entertainment programmes, quizzes and elocution competitions organized for them on special occasions. The children are taught handicraft and they make articles such as little handkerchiefs, painted postcards, colourful embroidered handbags, decorative wall hangings, ingenious floor mats, and other sundry items from locally available materials.

Cottage Industry

Women's knitting group: Started with wool donated by devotees from Delhi, and with further donations from the Sarada Mahila Samiti USA; taught by a devotee from Delhi. Forty village women have come a long way from learning how to hold knitting needles. They have now set themselves up as a mini cottage industry. Orders are pouring in for the mufflers, caps, shawls, sweaters, and socks that they are producing. This gainful employment enables them to improve their economic standard. Once a month, the ladies gather at the centre for Satsang during which they learn and sing Bhajans.

Education support: Financial assistance for education is given for 17 children seeking to study in schools in neighbouring villages and in Nainital, ranging from classes 1 to 10. Clothes, sarees and warm garments were also occasionally distributed among the needy villagers.

Ramakrishna Sarada Mission 
Pangot, Dt. Nainital 
Uttaranchal. Pin: 263 001 
Phone No.: 9368486267
e-mail: rksmpangot@gmail.com