Almost all of them have voter identity cards but hundreds of monks of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have never voted. "There is no official instruction on this but we never vote as we do not take part in politics or express our political opinion in public," said a senior monk of the monastic order founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda.
He told PTI that voting means taking sides of a particular political party or candidate which will take them beyond the spiritual path. "Swamiji gave us instructions that we should focus on spiritual activities and do humanitarian activities for the uplift of society," the monk said. Headquartered in Belurmath, few km away from Kolkata, the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have around 1500 'Brahmacharis' and 'Sanyasis' living an ascetic life based on the Vedanta philosophy. The Math and the Mission together have 178 branch centres all over India and in different parts of the world.
Interestingly, almost 95% of the monks possess voter ID cards. "For the sake of identification and particularly for travelling, almost 95 per cent of us are forced to seek a voter ID card. But we use it only for identification purpose and not for voting," a monk said. The Mission, had, however, supported the freedom movement, with a section of the monks keeping close relations with freedom fighters of various camps. A number of political revolutionaries had later joined the Ramakishna Order. "As individuals we may have political opinions but those are not meant to be discussed in public," the monk said.
Polling in Howrah district, where Belurmath is located, would be held tomorrow.