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History of the Vedanta Centre, Gretz, Paris

Swamis Siddheswaranda and Ritajananda

In 1936 the Musée Guimet (with Professor Masson-Oursel, holder of the chair of Indian Philosophy) celebrated the hundredth birthday of Ramakrishna. In the same year, the Université de la Sorbonne (with Professor Fouché, Member of the Institute) paid homage to Swami Vivekananda, the disciple of Ramakrishna and founder of the Ramakrishna Mission.


The names Ramakrishna and Vivekananda had been known in France since Romain Rolland (winner of the 1915 Nobel prize for literature) had published biographies of each in 1929 and 1930, respectively.


Following these events, the “Friends of Indian Thought” petitioned the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission in Kolkata to send a member of the Order to reside in France, in order to teach the philosophy of the Vedanta.

Swami Siddheswarananda arrived in Paris the following year and began teaching immediately. His many lectures, both at the home of his hosts (Mr. And Mrs. Sayton), as well as at the Sorbonne and the universities of Toulouse and Montpellier, expanded the Centre’s connections, making it both necessary and possible to acquire after World War II (in 1948) a property to create an ashram.


Swamis Ritajananda and Veetamohananda




In 1961 Swami Ritajananda succeeded Swami Siddheswarananda (who passed away in 1957).


Since the passing of Swami Ritajananda (in 1994), Swami Veetamohananda was, until his passing in November 2019, the monk responsible for the Vedanta Centre.

An initiated disciple of Swami Yatiswarananda, Swami Veetamohananda joined the Ramakrishna Order in India at its centre at Chennai Math in 1961, at the age of 20. He received his Sannyasa (monastic vows) in 1971 from Swami Vireswarananda. Later he worked as one of the assistant Swamis at the centers of the Order at Kalady (Kerala) and Mysore (Karnataka). From 1986, he was in charge of the center in Ponnampet (Karnataka). Thereafter he was posted to the Gretz centre in 1990. 

For about twenty-five years, he has worked untiringly to spread the universal messages and values of Vedanta as exemplified in the lives of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and Swami vivekananda, in France and in many places in the neighbouring countries. He has inspired many spiritual seekers by his benighn presence, his spiritual guidances, pujas, songs, guided meditations, etc. He has also organized seminars, courses, the University of Mankind, the Yoga Institute of Research and Practice, the Open Day, the International Yoga Day, etc.

About four months before his death, he inaugurated the newly built auditorium which was constructed in order to make room for the new developments in the Centre’s activities.


As a representative of Hinduism in France, Swami Veetamohananda was often invited to deliver talks across mainland and overseas France (e.g. Antilles, La Réunion) as well as further abroad. He regularly visited Spain, Italy, Germany and England, as well as Belgium, Holland, Bulgaria, Guatemala, Brazil and the United States of America. Swami Veetamohananda also participated in this capacity in the Monastic Inter-religious Dialogue founded in Assisi.

Since November 2019, Swami Baneshananda—President of the German Centre—has been appointed by the Order of Ramakrishna in Belur Math as acting President of the Ramakrishna Vedantic Centre in Gretz until the permanent arrival of a new Swami. It is not yet known when this will take place, but the process is expected to last one year or possibly longer.


Swami Baneshananda

Swami Baneshananda has been living according to the Vedanta for more than 40 years. He had the privilege of working for more than a decade in Belur Math alongside Swami Bhuteshananda, former President of the Order of Ramakrishna.

Swami Baneshananda is also a scholar, and has been editor-in-chief of the "Vedanta Kesari—one of the two leading English-language periodicals of the Order of Ramakrishna. In 2004, Swami Baneshananda was appointed President of the Ramakrishna Vedantic Centre in Germany.

The Swami teaches theories of meditation, as well as the tangible steps involved during meditation. He also teaches meditation classes that follow Vedanta Yoga. By invitation, he delivers conferences and retreats in the United States and throughout Europe.