HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
NIRANJAN ASHRAMA AT OTTAPALAM
In December 1926, the Swami went to Kerala again to open the Ramakrishna Niranjan Ashrama at Ottapalam. To the south-east of the Ottapalam Railway Station is a village named Palapuram. Certain Nambudiri Brahmins of the locality had put up a small building on the eastern bank of the Bharata-River. Their intention was to raise a temple on the land. When they came into contact with the Swami, they felt that an Ashrama founded by him would better serve their spiritual needs than the proposed temple, The Swami was approached and he consented to open an Ashrama there. Accordingly, the owners of the property – the Palathol Illom people – and its occupant – A. K. T. K. M. Vasudevan Nambudiripad – made over the land and building to the Swami by a deed of gift in 1925. Close upon this, a Vishnu temple which was in a dilapidated condition was also gifted to the Swami. Contributions of Rs. 1,000 from Srimathi K. P. Parukutty Amma of Palat house, Rs. 500 from Sri K. Sankara Menon and Rs. 500 from Quilandy Ashrama were received just to start the work of constructing necessary buildings. These and other devotees and the sympathising public co-operating, other building and a separate shrine room were put up. On Friday the 10th December 1926, the Swami duly consecrated and opened the Ashrama naming it the Niranjan Ashrama, in memory of a great Iswarakoti disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. The fine image of Vishnu which was in the old temple was also installed in the shrine. It is a strange and happy coincidence that the image is of Gadadhara Vishnu. A Shivalingam was also brought over from the old temple and installed, later on, in a separate shrine. This lingam was subsequently converted by the Swami into a Panchamukha (five-faced) Murthi of Shiva. Additions and extensions to the Ashrama buildings and compound were made from time to time. The garden with its luxuriant growth of flower plants, cocoanut palms and mango trees extends over four acres of land. The broad and winding river, the extensive paddy lands and the numerous gardens reaching up to the high and ever-green hills on the west and south west present a scenery which for picturesqueness and suggestiveness is hard to equal.