The Ramakrishna Mission
It is now nearly 107 years since Swami Vivekananda, the chief disciple of Shri Ramakrishna established the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission with its headquarters at Belur Math, District Howrah, West Bengal, India to propagate the teachings of his Master. These teachings which constitute the core of India's oldest philosophy, Vedanta, stress, among other things, the equal validity of all religions, the potential divinity of man and the service of man as service unto God. The Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission have been serving the community by running schools, colleges, hospitals and orphanages spread all over India and abroad through their more than 113 centres.
Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Narainpur
Started in 1985, the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Narainpur, along with its 5 Service Centres inside Abujhmarh jungle villages of Chhattisgarh State, has been serving the tribal brothers and sisters of the area who had been the mute victims of several centuries of oppression and utter neglect.
Abujhmarh has a tribal population of about 34,000 inhabiting some 233 far-flung villages over a sprawling area of 4000 sq.km. It is described as a "tangled knot of hills" having an inaccessible terrain that remains absolutely cut off from the rest of the civilized world for about 6 months a year even to this day.
Narainpur is the gateway to Abujhmarh Hills in
Chhattisgarh. A 'marh' (Highlands)
which is 'abujh' (unknown) is Abujhmarh. True to its name, it still continues to
be rather unknown and unsurveyed an area. Surrounded on all sides by a chain of
hills and dense forests, this vast tract of land stretching into some 4,000 Sq.
Km. is home to perhaps the most primitive tribes still surviving, and is
sparsely populated. The 'hill Marias' - the Marias living in the hills - happen
to be the most predominant inhabitants of this vast area, backward and
disadvantaged in may ways. The 'hill Marias' live in an inaccessible
geographical terrain that remains cut-off from the rest of the world during the
rainy season. Because of their extreme geographical isolation for long, the Hill Marias have very primitive economy, their mainstay being the slash- and-burn
cultivation practised on the steep hill slopes. They also collect forest produce
like Chironji, Tamarind, Resin, Cocoons, Sinhadi leafs,Mahua,Salseeds, Tendu
Patta, Lac etc.
They make brooms of Fulbahari grass,
some bamboo articles, and rope from grass. Parts of their dietary needs are met
from the crops they grow but they have to depend solely on the outside world for
their meagre necessities of existence like salt, chillies, tobacco, and clothes.
Literacy is very low and ill-health stalks the land with malnutrition, anaemia
and diseases like malaria, lung infections including T.B, skin diseases. The
rate of infant rtality is quite high. Apart from being
disadvantaged by extremely poor communication and few sources of income, they
are economically exploited by various agencies. The tribal areas are thus beset
with problems; low productivity, dispersal habitations, shifting cultivation,
wanton destruction of forests, isolation and inaccessibility, weak co-operative
and marketing infrastructure, rampant and never-ending land grab by outsiders
leading to dispossession and systematic exploitation by vested interest are some
of the common features which characterize the tribal area.
No doubt it is an uphill task to uplift the tribals in India with proper care
and education so as to unite them with the main stream of our national life; but
it must be done, if India is to take her rightful place in the comity of
nations. Swami Vivekananda called upon his countrymen to do something for the tribals and aborigines. He said with great feeling and pathos,“I
consider that the great national sin is the neglect of the masses… They have
been compelled to be merely hewers of wood and drawers of water for centuries,
so much so they are made to believe that they are born slaves".
With a view to undoing the injustices our tribal
brethren continue to be subjected to, consciously or unconsciously, the
Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Narainpur, has undertaken “Tribal Welfare
Services”. Ever since its inception in 1985 it has been serving the needy and
backward tribals of the region (Primitive Tribal Group PTGs) in a spirit of
Service of God in Man, without any distinctions of caste, creed, colour, sex or
religion. As Swamiji understood long ago, “All the wealth of the world cannot
help one little Indian village if the people are not taught to help themselves”.
We try to motivate the target group to develop their self-confidence, innate
qualities in a natural way by providing them the required conditions to do so,
strictly in accordance with the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, without
disturbing their innate tribal culture, to fight against poverty, ignorance,
ill-health, and economic exploitation. With the support of State/Central
Government, Charitable trusts and well wishers we have been able to render the
following services to the area during the last 24 years.