Swami Shivamayanandaji(1934-2021), known as Ranendranath Sen (or simply Ranen) in his pre-monastic days, was born in Supaul town of Bihar on 20 December 1934. His ancestors belonged to Mulghar village in the Khulna Division of Bangladesh. His father Jitendranath Sen was a physician by profession. Their family moved to Varanasi in 1941 where Ranen began his education. He completed the postgraduation degree in mathematics from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). All through his academic career, he was a brilliant student.
Ranen’s acquaintance with the Ramakrishna Order started at the age of 15 when he began visiting the Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama in Varanasi. He had the good fortune to mix there with many senior sadhus of the order who were disciples of Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Brahmananda or Swami Shivananda. Gradually his visits to the Advaita Ashrama became more frequent and he started rendering some voluntary service there occasionally. Swami Vishuddhanandaji Maharaj, who was also staying in the Ashrama, bestowed mantra diksha on Ranen in 1956.
Within a few years, the seed of renunciation started sprouting in Ranen’s mind. He expressed his desire to embrace monastic life to his guru Swami Vishuddhanandaji. The latter advised Ranen to go and report to Swami Premeshanandaji Maharaj at Sargachhi centre. Ranen came to Belur Math in 1959 and, after remaining there for two or three weeks, went to Sargachhi ashrama to start his monastic life. At the insistence of Swami Premeshanandaji, the head of Sargachhi ashrama engaged Ranen in the work of the ashrama’s school. Thus began Ranen’s long association with the educational work of the Ramakrishna Mission.
As advised by the authorities at Belur Math, Ranen studied Bachelor of Teaching (B.T.) during 1960-61 at Sikshanamandira (of Saradapitha at Belur). Ranen received sannyasa diksha from Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj in 1969 and came to be known as Swami Shivamayananda.
During the next few decades Shivamayanandaji worked in Vidyamandira college (of Saradapitha), the Mission’s school at Katihar, and Vivekananda Centenary College (under Rahara centre in Kolkata). Everywhere he faced difficult challenges. He had to deal with the Naxalite disturbance while in Vidyamandira. Soon after he put that college on a firm footing, he was transferred to Vivekananda Centenary College at Rahara which was witnessing violent protests by the teaching staff. He was openly insulted, gheraoed and threatened. But he bore them all with infinite patience and tried to win over the hearts of the opponents.
He was appointed a trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and a member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1990. In 1992, he was elected an Assistant Secretary of the twin organizations in which capacity he served for thirteen years. Besides, he was the Convenor of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Bhava Prachar Committee at the headquarters for more than two decades. He also actively participated in various relief operations at different times. In addition to the centres already mentioned, Shivamayanandaji served the order at Seva Pratishthan hospital as an assistant, and Saradapitha, Swamiji’s Ancestral House and Cossipore centres as the head at different periods.
Swami Shivamayanandaji started his spiritual ministry in 2016 by giving mantra diksha to devotees. The following year he was elected a Vice-President of the twin organizations. He blessed many devotees with mantra diksha in India, Bangladesh, Singapore and Malaysia.
For the last few years, he suffered from hypertension, bronchial asthma and kidney disease. In May 2021, while in Cossipore Math, he contracted the Covid infection. He was admitted to Seva Pratishthan hospital where he succumbed to the pandemic on 11 June 2021. He was 86.
Swami Shivamayanandaji was known for his openness and bold nature, his boundless energy, the courage of his convictions, and also for his enthusiasm to participate in different activities. His love for the Himalayas and for a life of penance and austerities, for scriptures and seva, and his feeling for the poor endeared him to all.