Calcutta, April 25: Swami Ranganathanandaji, the president of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, passed away in a city nursing home this afternoon. He was 96.
'We will miss him, especially since he was such an erudite scholar,' a senior monk at the math said.
A spokesperson for Woodlands Medical Centre, where Swami Ranganathanandaji had been under treatment, said the end came at 3.51 pm.
Swami Smaranananda, the general secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, said: 'Swamiji was admitted to the nursing home on April 17 for treatment of chest infection. In spite of the best medical attention, his condition grew worse and he had a cardiac arrest and passed away this afternoon.'
A spokesperson for the math said Swami Ranganathanandaji's body would be kept at Belur Math and the cremation would take place around 12.30 pm tomorrow.
'The doors will be open for devotees to pay their respects till the last rites are completed,' the spokesperson added.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed his condolences on hearing of the death while mayor Subrata Mukherjee went to the nursing home to pay his respects.
Swami Ranganathanandaji, an internationally acclaimed speaker, had among his devotees former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and former deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.
Born in Trikkur village of Kerala on December 15, 1908, Swami Ranganathanandaji joined the Ramakrishna order at its centre in Mysore in 1926, when he was barely 18.
He was a disciple of Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj, who formally initiated him into sanyasa in 1933.
He became a vice-president of the order on April 1, 1989, and president on September 7, 1998.