About Kali Mandir Ramakrishna Ashram
In 1993, a beautiful Kali image brought from India was ritually awakened by Sri Haradhan Chakraborty, the late main priest of the Dakshineswar Kali temple. He named her Sri Ma Dakshineswari Kali. Devotees who had very little background in the intricacies of India’s temple puja standards gradually adopted this vastly rich devotional tradition one detail at a time—out of a simple love and desire to please Mother. This simple daily worship grew organically into present-day Kali Mandir / Ramakrishna Ashram, where devotees can pour forth their hearts’ yearning to the Great Mystery at the center of existence
Sri Ramakrishna, the great world-teacher and incarnation of divinity, who taught the universality of religion, the motherhood of God and the mystical path of love, is considered by many as the central force behind the spiritual awakening of this age. Through his extraordinary purity and devotion and his unprecedented spiritual disciplines and experiences, Sri Ramakrishna unleashed a spiritual current of grace, making the divine mystery accessible to all.
When You Visit
Kali Mandir Ramakrishna Ashram is a shrine to the Divine Mother in a personal home on a private street in a residential neighborhood. Our ashram’s mission is to promote the traditional culture of Sanatana Dharma, to enable all devotees to come closer to Divine Mother Kali and to encourage spiritual values like modesty and respect. The way we dress and the way we act has an impact on ourselves as well as others around us. To help maintain the sanctity and purity of the mandir, we request that you follow our dress code, etiquette guidelines and hours.
Kali Mandir Ramakrishna Ashram is traditional Hindu temple and ashram dedicated to the worship of the Divine Mother Kali in the mother/child relationship. We aim to create a tangible spiritual atmosphere through daily worship, rituals, singing, chanting, volunteer service, scriptural study, and spiritual discussions. Respectful of all religious traditions, we follow implicitly the spiritual tradition of Sri Ramakrishna. Kali Mandir worships Goddess Kali in the mother/child relationship.
Worship is conducted in a similar manner as that of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple in accordance with dakshina-marg or the right-handed path of Tantra which adheres to conservative Hindu norms in the mood of selfless devotion. No practices associated with a sectarian cult or left-handed forms of Tantra are performed. While devotees may have their individual gurus, there is no guru or personality cult here.
Our ashram’s focus is on the awakened deity Ma Dakshineswari Kali and the universal teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda. Promoting traditional Goddess worship, we aim to remove misconceptions about such worship, propagating a spiritual culture that forms a bridge between East and West. We hope to inspire devotees to lead ideal lives of love and service.
Although we have close spiritual relationships with the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Ramakrishna Math & Mission, and Yoga-Vedanta Kutir, Kali Mandir is a fully independent organization.
We have no affiliation with any political organizations anywhere in the world. We have no membership and are financially supported by voluntary donations. (A small portion of income is derived from our gift shop.)
Elizabeth Usha Harding
Born in Vienna, Austria, Usha Harding (pictured here with Sri Haradhan Chakraborty) lived most of her adult life in Laguna Beach, California. Usha has been a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna since 1970. She wrote a book entitled Kali, the Black Goddess of Dakshineswar. The publication of the first edition of this book in 1993 helped start public Kali worship in the United States. When the book sparked interest in worship, Usha brought Sri Haradhan Chakraborti, the main priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata, to Laguna Beach to perform a grand worship festival of Goddess Kali in Laguna Beach, CA. He and his assistant Sri Pranab Ghosal brought a beautiful Kali image from India and ritually awakened Her (prana-pratishtana) with the name Sri Ma Dakshineswari Kali (The Goddess from Dakshineswar). In her professional career, Usha worked as a journalist covering the computer software industry. Since she retired from working as a journalist, she has dedicated her life full time to work for the Divine Mother Kali.
Rev. Dr. Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati
Mahant/Head Pujari, Vice-President
Pujya Swami Bhajanananda is a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. He met his Guruji, the late HH Param Pujya Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati of Prayagraj in 1987 and received formal monastic ordination (dasnami sannyas-diksha) in 1999 from Sri Mahant Param Pujya Swami Omananda Saraswati at the Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj. He also received further initiations from the late HH Param Pujya Swami Chidananda Saraswati of the Divine Life Society and training in Kali Puja from the late Sri Haradhan Chakraborty. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from UC Berkeley and a Doctorate in Ministry (Applied Theology) from The New Seminary for Interfaith Studies in New York. When in India he stays at his guru’s ashram, the Yoga Vedanta Kutir, Prayagraj. In the US he resides at Kali Mandir Ramakrishna Ashram, where he serves the awakened deity of Ma Dakshineswari Kali and Her devotees as Head Priest, Vice President, and Dean of Ramakrishna Seminary. Swamiji can be contacted at Bhajanananda@kalimandir.org
Rev. Swami Ambikananda Saraswati
Pujya Swami Ambikananda is a disciple of the late Sri Haradhan Chakraborty (head pujari of the Dakshineswar Kali temple) and Rev. Swami Aparananda Puri (senior monk of the Ramakrishna Mission). He has been a student of Swami Bhajanananda for more than 30 years. He received sannyas-diksha (monastic ordination) from Swami HH Param Pujya Swami Omananda Saraswati at the the Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj on Vashant Panchami, 2011.
Swamiji earned his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley and is currently completing his doctoral capstone project at Ramakrishna Seminary. He is presently working on a new translation of the five-volume Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita from Bengali into English (see Kathamrita Project). When not traveling in India, Swami Ambikananda resides at Kali Mandir Ramakrishna Ashram in Laguna Beach, serving Ma and Her devotees rpujari and Secretary of the Board of Directors and can be contacted at: Baba.Ambikananda@gmail.com
Kamalakanta (Naren K. Schreiner)
Kamalakanta is a life-long devotee of Paramahamsa Yogananda. For fourteen years he lived as a monk in Self Realization Fellowship. With a deep love for Mother Kali and rich music dedicated to Her, he studied Indian classical music and Shyaama Sangeet at the ITC-Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkatta under Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty. In 2012 he founded Sangita Yoga to preserve, present and teach the sacred music traditions of India. Kamalakanta has recorded several albums of kirtan, bhajans, and Shyaama Saneet. Trained in Kali Puja by Swami Bhajanananda, Kamalakanta now serves the Divine Mother at Kali Mandir as Her devoted pujari and regularly travels throughout the US and Mexico teaching Sanatana Dharma, singing kirtan and bhajans, and performing pujas.
Devahuti (Heather Hathaway)
Devahuti is a disciple of Rev. Swami Chetanananda, Minister of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis, and trained in Kali Puja by Swami Bhajanananda. She is a mother of two, an elementary school teacher, and doctoral student of the Ramakrishna Seminary. Devahuti and her husband David are both talented musicians and perform and record kirtan under the name Deva.
Ananda Bhai (Charles Sakulpongyuenyong)
Ananda has been with Kali Mandir since 2015 and is a disciple of Swami Bhajanananda. He is presently a student of the Ramakrishna Seminary and teaches Hatha Yoga and meditation in Orange County.
Kali Mandir Board of Directors
President: Elizabeth Usha Harding
Vice President: Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati, DMin
Secretary: Swami Ambikananda Saraswati
Treasurer: Dustin Shultz (Sadananda)
Member: Kajal Roy
Member: Gopa Patnaik, EdD
Member: Trevor Hall (Rampriya Das)
Advisory Committee: Rev. Swami Chetanananda; Sri Pranab Goshal; Kamalakanta Naren K. Shreiner; Shampa Mazumdar, PhD; Ananda Charles Sakulpongyuenyong; Kalyani Laura Dotson; Devadas Dave Alvidera; Atmaram Anthony Martinez; Aparna Lauran Hook; Devahuti Heather Hathaway; Lopamudra Bose; Adikeshava Brain Cambell; Prakash Stephen Barrera; Madhuri Ines Martinez; Melany Daya Avshman.