Emblem of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission
Designed by Swami Vivekananda
"The wavy waters in the picture are symbolic of Karma; the lotus, of Bhakti and the rising sun of Jnana. The encircling serpent is indicative of Yoga and the awakened Kundalini Shakti, while the swan in the picture stands for Paramatman (Supreme Self). Therefore the idea of the picture is that by the union of Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Yoga, the vision of Paramatman is obtained."
- Swami Vivekananda
Motto: Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha - "For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world".
After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna in the year 1886, the all-renouncing disciples of the Master, of whom the illustrious Swami Vivekananda was the chief, founded themselves into a brotherhood which was destined to realise the twofold ideals of renunciation and service. This was the beginning of the monastery which came later to be established as the Ramakrishna Math at Belur, near Kolkata.
One of the main tasks which the Math was to take up was to continue in the right spirit the history that was created by Sri Ramakrishna for the establishment of fellowship among the followers of different religions of the world knowing them to be so many forms of the one and the same Universal and Eternal Religion. To this great institution a legal status was divested upon by the Swami through a Deed of Trust executed by him in 1899.
The activities of the Members of the Math became manifold and a number of branches – Math and Ashramas on the one hand, and Sevashramas or Homes of Service (Hospitals) and educational institutions on the other, were established in different parts of India, and also in some parts of America.
The twin institutions – The Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission – both embody the twin ideals of Renunciation and Service, the former laying greater stress on renunciation, and latter on service. The Ramakrishna Mission consists of both monastic and lay members guided by the Governing Body composed of the Trustees of the Ramakrishna Math at Belur.
Therefore, the formal name of Ramakrishna Mission was first given to an Association started by Swami Vivekananda in 1897. With the growth of its scope and public responsibilities, the need of the legal incorporation of the institution was strongly felt by the workers and authorities of the Mission, and consequently the body was formally registered in the year 1909.
Extract from the History of the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission Mumbai, Platinum Jubilee brochure