Bharat Sevashram Sangha

This is an organisation of Hindu monks established with the twin ideals of empowering the Hindu society and conduct social service activities. It was established by Svāmī Praṇavānanda (A. D. 1896-1941) in 1927.

He was born in Bajitpur (now in Bangladesh) in 1896. As a young man he was extraordinarily strong. A strict vegetarian, he cultivated the habit of meditation right from an early age. At the age of 17, he became a disciple of Bābā Gambhīr-nāthjī and practised severe austerities for five years. He received saṁnyāsa at the age of 28 from Svāmī Govindānanda Giri. He gradually evolved a monastic training programme to be spread over 12 to 14 years.

After setting up a few mobile preaching units in 1924, he officially formed the Bharat Sevashram Sangha—BSS for short—in 1927 with his saṁnyāsin disciples as the trustees led by him. Moral and spiritual regeneration of the Hindu society with special emphasis on physical education was an important aspect of its work.

Famine relief work, disaster relief, eradication of untouchability, uniting the depressed classes of the Hindu society and bringing them into the main stream are some of the other programmes of work undertaken by the organisation. Interdining is one of the methods adopted, especially in the rural areas.

Organising Village Defence Units of young men to protect the Hindus during communal riots is also an important contribution of this organisation.

Apart from enlisting eligible persons for saṁnyāsa, a system of spiritual initiation for householder devotees has also been evolved. This is normally done by senior monks duly authorised by the organisation.

The founder started in 1935, Hindu Milan Mandirs which act as religious meeting places for all Hindus, without any distinction of caste or creed. For all practical purposes they can be considered as the branches of the organisation.

Serious efforts have also been made to reconvert the Hindus who have left their mother religion, with appropriate religious ceremonies.

At present, the organisation has 500 monks, 100 āśramas, 450 Milan Mandirs and a large number of service activities. It has also many branches in foreign countries.