Previous Presidents /

From 1942 onwards

Swami Nischalananda (1942 - 1965)

From his youth Mr D C Naidoo was inspired by the life and message of Swami Vivekananda, characterised as it was by Renunciation and Service. He travelled to India in 1948 to the International Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission where he was initiated into spiritual life by Swami Virajananda, the 6th President of the Ramakrishna Order. He undertook further training under Swami Purushottamananda in a cave, Vasistha Guha, on the banks of the Ganga at the foothills of the Himalayas. He returned to South Africa in 1953 as the first South African born Hindu monk. He recognised that selfeffort and an indomitable will to succeed were the essential ingredients that were needed if the disadvantaged and marginalised people of South Africa were to overcome the negative effects of decades of political, cultural and economic servitude. To this end, he worked with a missionary zeal to arouse Hindus to take their rightful place in society. Renaissance Swami Nischalananda heralded an epoch of spiritual renaissance never before seen among the Hindus in South Africa. His depth of understanding, masterful oratory, tireless work and compassionate heart made the Centre the focal point of Hinduism. In 1959 he acquired a property in the Glen Anil suburb of Durban. A worship hall, clinic, printing press, bookshop, outdoor auditorium and residential quarters for monks and novicesintraining were part of this initial Ashram premises. This came to be known as the local Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa.

Swami Shivapadananda (1965 - 1994)

Swami Nischalananda was succeeded by his only monastic disciple, Swami Shivapadananda in 1965. The present Ashram campus in Durban, comprising a Universal Temple to Sri Ramakrishna and ancillary buildings for the humanitarian projects of the Centre was initiated by Swami Shivapadananda (1938 – 1994). The charm of his unassuming personality and the silent influence of his deep spirituality left a lasting impression on all who came in contact with him. Administrative Reorganisation Under Swami Nischalananda’s inspiration, Prayer Groups were established in almost every village, suburb and town where Indians had settled. The local community would meet at weekly intervals in congregational worship using private homes or any other local amenity. This pattern has now become the norm on the South African Hindu religious landscape. Many of these groups have matured into independent societies with their own constitutions and premises. Among these local organisations were those that had imbibed the spirit and ethos of the worldwide Ramakrishna Movement. Swami Shivapadananda nurtured these and brought them under the umbrella of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa as ‘branches’ under a unified constitution.

Swami Saradaprabhananda (1994 - 2007)

Swami Saradaprabhananda succeeded Swami Shivapadananda in 1994 and led the Centre upto the time of its affiliation to Belur Math in 2007.

Swami Vimokshananda (2007 - 2014)

Swami Vimokshananda, after serving as President of the Centre for over 7 years, was posted by the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission (Belur Math) as the President of the Ramakrishna Mission, Singapore. We convey our gratitude and appreciation to Swami Vimokshananda for his leadership and guidance to the Centre, its devotees and to the people of South Africa. Swami Vimokshananda departed from South Africa on 29 December 2014.

Swami Vishwatmananda (2014 - 2015)

Swami Vishwatmananda joined the Ramakrishna Order in 1968 and was ordained into sannyasa in 1979. Maharaj has served in various capacities at the Ramakrishna Ashrama (Rajkot), Ramakrishna Mission Higher Secondary Residential School (Arunachal Pradesh) until his posting to the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh from 1984 to 2009. From 2009 to this year, Maharaj has been the Coordinator of the nationwide (India) humanitarian and educational projects undertaken by the Ramakrishna Mission to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. He is an initiated disciple of Swami Vireshwarananda, tenth President of the Ramakrishna Order from whom he also had his monastic vows in 1978. On 7 November, 2014 he took over as President of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, Durban from the outgoing 4th President Swami Vimokshananda.

Swami Sumanasananda (2015 - present)

Swami Sumanasananda assumed the Presidency of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, Durban, on 23 July 2015. Revered Maharaj was ordained a Monk of the Ramakrishan Order in 1991 by the 12th President of the Ramkrishna Math and Mission, Most Revered Swami Bhuteshanandaji. Before becoming President of the Durban Centre, Maharaj served at various educational institutions in India. His most recent appointment was as the head of the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya, North East India. Maharaj succeeded Revered Swami Vishwatmanandaji who departed from South Africa on 27 July 2015.

Words of Wisdom

"They alone live who live for others. The rest are more dead than alive." - Swami Vivekananda

"Japa (i.e. the repetition of the name of God) leads to perfection" - Sri Sarada Devi

"Not even the God's can harm my children" - Sri Sarada Devi

"He finds God quickest whose concentration and yearning are strongest" - Sri Ramakrishna