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The Vedanta Centre of Melbourne is part of a worldwide organisation known as the Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897.
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are twin organizations which form the core of a worldwide spiritual movement (known as Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement), which aims at the harmony of religions, harmony of the East and the West, harmony of the ancient and the modern, spiritual fulfillment, all-round development of human faculties, social equality, and peace for all humanity, without any distinctions of creed, caste, race or nationality.
RAMAKRISHNA MATH is a monastic organization for men brought into existence by Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), the great 19th century saint of Bengal who is regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age.
RAMAKRISHNA MISSION is a registered society in which monks of Ramakrishna Math and lay devotees cooperate in conducting various types of social service mainly in India. It was founded by Sri Ramakrishna's chief apostle, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of the foremost thinkers and religious leaders of the present age, who is regarded as 'one of the main moulders of the modern world', in the words of an eminent Australian scholar A. L. Basham. Although Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are legally and financially separate, they are closely inter-related in several other ways, and are to be regarded as twin organizations.
The Math and the Mission together have more than 180 branch centres all over India and in different parts of the world. The Headquarters of these centres are situated in Belur Math, West Bengal, India. All branch centres of Ramakrishna Math come under the administrative control of the Board of Trustees, whereas all branch centres of Ramakrishna Mission come under the administrative control of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission.
The motto of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission is: Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha, "For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world".
Vedanta is philosophy of religion and spirituality, which propounds a universal religion free of all discrimination. It emphasizes the indwelling divine reality in all living beings. When Swami Vivekananda spoke at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in September 1893, he focused on this universal aspect of Hinduism. Since then Vedanta has spread in different parts of the Western world. Swamiji wanted that the message of Vedanta should reach people everywhere so as to bring peace and harmony.
The continent of Australia, didn't get the opportunity to come in contact with Vedanta for decades. At last in the 60's and 70's Vedanta penetrated slowly, but in a steady manner, in some cities of Australia influenced by the pioneering work of some Vedanta devotees. Primarily the annual visits and lectures of Swmai Ranganathanandaji, a senior member of the Ramakrishna Order, who was a brilliant scholar and orator and who became the 13th President of the Ramakrishna Order of monks, was responsible for bringing Vedanta to Australia.
In the year 2000 the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission Headquarters in India (near Kolkata) agreed to take over the management of the Sydney centre and sent Swami Sridharananda as the Head of the new Ramakrishna Centre. Since then the movement is flourishing and is spreading its wings in different citities of Australia.
In Melbourne, a group of initiated devotees of the Ramakrishna Order used to invite the Swamis of the Ramakrishna Mission whenever they visited Australia. In 1980 they invited Swami Damodarananda to Melbourne and collected a group of like-minded people to attend the discourse by the Swami. The same year, they invited Swami Ranganathananda and organised a public meeting with the help of his friends. The was the starting of the formation of the Vedanta Centre in Melbourne.The Vedanta Centres in Australia has its centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.