01 December 2008

Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati - 1

Here is some information* on Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, whose murder in August triggered the violence in Orissa's Kandhmal district.

Early Life

- 1926: Born in Orissa's Angul district.
- 1951: Became a sanyasi at the age of 25.
- Meditated in the Himalayas for a few years.
- 1968: Returned to Orissa to take part in anti-cow slaughter and anti-conversion movements.
- Decided to stay back in Orissa, at the request of social activists like Bhupendra Kumar Basu, and continued social works among the tribals and Dalits of Phulbani district (now Kandhmal).

Social Works

- 1969: Set up his first ashram at Chakapada, which soon became the centre of his social service activities.
- Renovated the Birupaksya, Anandeswar and Jogeswar temples with the help of locals.
- Established a Sanskrit school on gurukul pattern (later upgraded to a college).
- Established Sankaracharya Kanyashram, a residential school in Jalespatta for underprivileged girls.
- Was awarded the title of 'Vedanta Keshari'.
- Was awarded the Vivekananda Seva Puraskar.
- Introduced Satsang in all the villages of Kandhmal district.
- Founded Seva schools at Tulsipur and Banki in Cuttack district.
- Founded ashrams in Angul, Koraput and other districts.
- Started night schools for adults and working children.
- Spearheaded anti-liquor movements through his Satsangs. As a result, many villages (like Katingia in Udaygiri tehsil) gave up liquor completely.
- Persuaded tribals and other non-farming communities to take up modern agriculture and grow hybrid crops. Example: G Udaygiri Block in Kandhmal district produces high quality French beans today.
- Formed the Vegetable Cooperative Society for farmers at Katingia village.

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