Shortly after the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, the prophet of harmony of all religions, in August 1886, a Monastic Order bearing his name was organized in pursuance of his own instructions with a monastery (Ramakrishna Math) at Baranagore, a northern suburb of Kolkata, by his Sannyasin disciples, headed by Swami Vivekananda and was later, in 1899, moved to Belur on the west bank of the Ganga near Kolkata where it stands to this day. The Ramakrishna Mission was founded on 1st May, 1897 and was registered on May 4, 1909. The Ramakrishna Math was registered as a Trust in 1901. Of the twin organizations, the Ramakrishna Math is meant for the training of monastic workers and for disseminating spiritual teachings. The Ramakrishna Mission is meant for carrying on social welfare activities. Through these two different channels, the same stream of spiritual energy as directed by Swami Vivekananda flows.
AIMS AND IDEALS :
Renunciation and Service. To practice and preach the universality of eternal religion, as embodied and exemplified in the lives and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, and to worship God through services to human beings.
Though Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, with their respective branches, are distinct legal entities, they are closely related inasmuch as the Governing Body of the Mission is made up of the Trustees of the Math, the administrative work of the Mission is mostly in the hands of the monks of Ramakrishna Math, and both have their headquarters at Belur Math. The Math Organisation is constituted as a Trust with well-defined rules of procedure. The Mission is a registered Society. Though both the organizations take up charitable and philanthropic activities, the former lays emphasis on religion and preaching while the latter is devoted mainly to welfare services of various kinds. This distinction should be borne in mind, though Ramakrishna Mission is loosely associated to people engaged in Math activities also. It is necessary, moreover to point out that the appropriation of the name of Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda by any institution does not necessarily imply that it is affiliated either to Ramakrishna Math or to Ramakrishna Mission.
The Math and the Mission own separate funds and keep separate accounts of them. Both the Math and the Mission accounts are annually audited by qualified auditors.
Excluding the Headquarters at Belur Math there are as on March 31, 2010, 128 Centres in India and 43 Centres outside India.