Swami Yatiswarananda, known as Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya in his pre-monastic life, was born on Wednesday, the 16th January, 1889 in his maternal uncle’s house, in a village named Nandanpur in the District of Pabna, which is now in East Pakistan. His father, Ishan Chandra Bhattacharya, a teacher in a Government School, was a devout Brahmin and his mother Bidhumukhi Devi too was a pious lady and he was fortunate in being born in a religious family.
He had his early education in Jalpaiguri and Bogra and passed the Entrance examination from a school in Rangpur. He studied at Rajsahi and Cooch-behar colleges and afterwards at the Bangabasi College, Calcutta. Finally, he got admitted into the Presidency College, Calcutta, from where he passed the B.A. examination, securing a gold medal for having stood first in Sanskrit in the Calcutta University. He continued his post-graduate studies in Chemistry up to the sixth year, but did not come out successful, obviously because of his indifference to his studies. At this time, he was being filled with the spirit of renunciation as a result of his contact with the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna at the Belur Math. His parents naturally wanted him to lead a householder’s life, but he plainly told his mother some day towards the end of 1911 that he was going to join the Ramakrishna Order to attain God-realisation and that, if he failed in his mission, he would surely come back and accede to their wishes.
With the little money that his parents gave him he came straight to the Belur Math and joined the Order in 1911 at the age of 22. He was an initiated disciple of Srimat Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj, one of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and was invested with Sannyasa by him in 1917 at Madras.
In 1921 he became the Editor of Prabuddha Bharata, in which capacity he continued for two years. Thereafter, he was made the President of the Sri Ramkrishna Ashrama at Bombay for about a year. In 1926 he was appointed President of the Madras Math and he continued as such up to 1933. In 1928 he was made a Trustee of the Belur Math and a member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission. At the invitation of a group of earnest souls, he was deputed to Weisbaden in the Rhineland (Germany ) where he arrived in November, 1933. From the winter of 1935 to the end of 1938 he extended his activity to Switzerland, forming study circles at St. Moritz, and later at Geneva and other places, and also worked for several months at the Hague, in Holland, as also in Paris and London. In 1940, at the beginning of the Second World War, he left Germany and went to U.S.A. There, in December, 1942, he was able to start a Vedanta Centre at Philadelphia and was the head of that Centre up to1949. He returned to India in 1950 from the U.S.A. via Europe. In 1951 he became the President of the Bangalore Ashrama, and in view of his sterling spiritual attainments, he was authorised by the Trustees of the Belur Math in 1952 to give initiation to spiritual aspirants. In 1962 he was elected Vice-President of the Ramkrishna Math and Mission.
The Swami was well versed in Eastern and Western philosophies. He was an impressive speaker, a good writer, and was the author of Adventures in Religious Life, Universal Prayers, and Divine Life. His winning manners, feeling heart, catholic views, and spiritual attainments earned for him the admiration and devotion of a large number of friends and admirers, devotees and disciples in India and abroad whose lives were very much influenced by him. From about the middle of 1965, he had been suffering from various physical ailments. He was brought down to the Belur Math from Bangalore in December 1965 for change of climate along with treatment as advised by the attending physicians there. Unfortunately, his health went on deteriorating and on the 24th of January 1966 he had to be admitted to the Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan, Calcutta, due to a sudden flare up in his diabetic and other complications. In spite of the best medical care, the end came at 1-15 a.m. on 27th January, due to shock from diabetic acidosis with acute cardiorespiratory failure.
For some time before the final end, he had been feeling that the end was approaching. He was often heard saying: “Sri Maharaj has taken away all power from me “There is no use of this body any longer. Better it is cast away.”