At what can rightly be called as the roof of Belagavi, lies the serene and unusually peaceful structure which we know as Gurudev Ranade Mandir. Many would have crossed the road several times a day but few would have strived to know what it stands for and its significance in today’s world. The monument is a symbol of the founder’s lifelong mission towards global unity and peace. Surrounded by numerous trees and plants and the most luxuriant of Frangipani trees, the center was incepted in 1950, when H.H. Sir C.A. Patwardhan, the Rajasaheb of Sangli gifted Dr. R.D. Ranade some land at Belagavi. In 1952, Shri.Gurudev Dr.R.D.Ranade registered the ACPR, Belagavi as a Public Trust in the Educational & Research category.
Dr. R.D. Ranade, M.A. D. Litt. , was one of the greatest mystic saints of modern India. A world-renowned Philosopher, his books are a treasure trove of knowledge. Some of his greatest works include ‘The constructive survey of Upanishidic Philosophy’, ‘Bhagwadgita as the philosophy of God realization, Creative Period [ History of Indian Philosophy], Pathway to God in Hindi literature, any many more.
What strikes one is the clarity about this construct which is that this center is not a temple or Math or Ashram. The same is clearly stated within the main hall of the Academy of Comparative Philosophy and Religion (ACPR), as it is known. Gurudev Ranade conceived this academy solely for the purpose of academic research, debate, discussion, dialogue and creating awareness about the oneness of the philosophy of all religions. In fact, Belagavi owes him for leaving behind his immortal heritage in this city.
Born in 1886, Dr. Ranade was initiated on the path of spirituality at the tender age of 14 by Shri Bhausaheb Umadikar. Winner of the prestigious Jagannath Shankar Sheth scholarship at matriculation, Dr. Ranade began his collegiate education at Deccan College Pune and completed his BA in Mathematics in 1907. Having met Mrs. Annie Besant and Prof. Wodehouse at Benaras in 1908, he declined their offer to join the Theosophical Society of India. He is even seen declining Tilak’s offer to edit the newspaper Kesari later in 1917. He taught at Fergusson College between 1911 and 1913 and then went on to acquire his MA in Philosophy with the Chancellor’s gold medal. Between 1914 and 1925 he achieved many milestones including the founding of the Sanskrit Academy at Bangalore, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Editing the book on Thomas Carlyle, construction of the Carlyle cottage at Pune, publishing of several key essays that are relevant even today, building the Adhyatma Bhavan at Pune, and most important of all, the foundation of the ACPR at Pune in 1924. He delivered several lectures and addressed important gatherings that strengthened his position as a philosopher.
The Belagavi connection: On 21st November 1951, Dr. Ranade even delivered a lecture on ‘The self realization of Kabir’ at the RPD College. Records show that the then principal of the college, Mr. Korea Alphanso, welcomed the gathering.
He shared a great relation with fellow Philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who went on to become the President of India, since the time they first met at the Indian Philosophical Congress in Calcutta in 1925. It was Dr. S. Radhakrishnan who would come to inaugurate the ACPR in 1965 as the President of India, although Dr. Ranade had passed away earlier on 6th June 1957. Prof. N. S. Deshpande, the former Chairman of the Academic Council of ACPR writes about the philosophy of Dr. Ranade “The initial concern of Prof. Ranade was to interpret the Indian Philosophy in modern idiom and modes of thought and to correlate it with the comparable developments in western philosophy…
Another important objective fulfilled by Gurudev Ranade’s literature was to evolve a universal framework of the study of world mysticism.”
What Dr. Ranande’s philosophy evolved into was a beautiful premise of world religion where he lay emphasis on the importance of spirituality towards understanding God. He wrote several books and published the ‘Encyclopedic History of Indian Philosophy’ towards this end.
The greatest contribution of Dr. R.D. Ranande to the world of philosophy is the mystical literature written by him about all the great saints of India. Gurudev Dr. R. D. Ranade has written these Mystical experiences of all the saints of India only after personally experiencing the mysticism in his life. In fact, in April this year, the ACPR has also published the mystical literature of Saints of Maharashtra by Dr. R. D. Ranande about the works by Sant Dnyaneshwar, Sant Tukaram, Sant Eknath, Sant Namdev and Sant Ramdas as independent books which are available at the ACPR.
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Rajendra Prasad, both past presidents of India , were great admirers of Gurudev Ranade. They frequently said that we have studied philosophy intellectually but Dr. Ranande has lived the philosophy.
ACPR today: The Academy is active in furthering the dream held dear by Dr. Ranade, ie. to spread awareness about the philosophy of realizing God through all religions. Hence, you would find the academy organizing programs as varied as lectures, discourses, spiritual symposiums by several sects, women’s groups, senior citizen’s groups, discourses by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Param Poojya Siddheshwar Swamiji, lectures by eminent justices of the High Courts and The Supreme court, lecture series for the students of management, annual lecture series in the name of Dr. Ranande, award of scholarships to meritorious students of the tenth standard, and so on. The ACPR is led by Shri Ashok Saraf as the Chairman, and Secretary Adv. Maruti Zirali and Adv. Ashok Potdar, Vice Chairman of ACPR, Belagavi. The academic council includes eminent personalities from Belagavi including Sri Sri Siddhram Swamiji of Naganur Rudrakshi Math, Dr.H.B. Rajashekhar ,Shri.Saraju Katkar, Dr. Shantinath Dibbad ,Prof. Sushant Joshi, Prof. Tenzing FCA , Dr. Gurudevi Huleppanavarmath, Sri. Vinayak Lokur, Sri. Vinod Doddannavar, Sri. Sandeep Nair, Smt. M.M.Kulkarni and Shri.Ravindra Hiredesai.
The ACPR also opened its branch at New Delhi on 10th December 2015 at the gracious hands of Shri Nitin Gadakariji, Union Minister, Govt. Of India and Prof. S. R. Bhat, Chairman, ICPR, New Delhi, which works to further Gurudev Ranade’s vision of One World, One God, One Humanity.
The ACPR today looks to be evolving into a center which has never been as relevant as it stands today. Students, academicians, businessmen, professionals and thought leaders have been strongly associated with the Academy due to its unique nature and relevance in today’s age. Its rich library houses some of the most invaluable collections on philosophy, including several versions of the Gita, the Vedas and other works. Dr. I.S. Kumbhar, who retired as the Principal of RPD College recently, has taken over as the Registrar of the ACPR.
The 3-days’ National Conference on ‘A paradigm of Integral Human development in the thoughts of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’
The ACPR is arranging a conference, sponsored by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi, from 21st to 23rd May 2016. It includes lectures by eminent speakers from across India, research paper presentation on 7 distinct themes by scholars, as also panel discussion and publication of the proceedings book on the conference theme. Interested persons, scholars, students can attend the conference as a delegate. For details, one can contact ACPR, Gurudev Ranade Mandir, Hindwadi, Belagavi. [email protected] www.acprbgm.org or call 0831-2467231/ 9972174330