Swami Vivekananda’s days of wandering throughout India ended when he reached Chennai in January 1893. His young, enthusiastic disciples in Chennai were primarily responsible for his historic participation at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Throughout Swamiji’s four-year-long stay in the West, he kept in close touch with his followers in Chennai. Swamiji was given a grand reception on his return from the West in February 1897. During that period, he stayed for nine days at the Ice House (now Vivekanandar Illam). When his devotees in Chennai requested him to start a permanent center in the city, he readily agreed and deputed his brother disciple, Swami Ramakrishnananda, to initiate the Order’s activities in southern India.
Swami Ramakrishnananda was a great thinker, an erudite scholar, a forceful speaker. Above all, he was a God-realized saint. He not only founded Sri Ramakrishna Math in Chennai but was also responsible for spreading the movement throughout parts of southern India. The various activities that the Math carries on today were initiated by the great Swami himself.