Swami Ghanananda (Ghana) : The first Hindu Temple Builder in Africa
Swami Ghanananda (12 September 1937–18 January 2016) is a prominent swami of the indigenous Hindu community in Ghana and is the first Hindu swami of African ancestry. He was initiated as a swami by the late Swami Krishnananda of India in 1975 and was head of the Hindu Monastery of Africa in Accra, Ghana.
Early life of Swami Ghanananda (Ghana)
Swami Ghanananda was born in a Senya Beraku village, the central region of Ghana on 12 September into a native Ghanaian faith, but his parents converted to Christianity. From a very early age he thought about the mysteries of the universe and tried to find the answers in religious texts.
Journey to India
Swami Ghanananda then read some books on the Hindu faith and embarked upon a new journey which took him to Rishikesh in the Indian state of Uttarakhand in northern India. He spent some time there with a spiritual guru, who suggested him open the monastery in Accra.
First meeting with Swami Krishnananda
In 1962, Swami Ghanananda moved to Accra and on 24 November, he formed the Divine Mystic Path Society. He then started correspondence courses on the Hindu way of life (Sanatana Dharma) with the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, where he first met Swami Krishnananda of India and became his śishya (disciple), and then in 1975, Swami Krishnananda initiated Swami Ghanananda as a swami.
Swami Satyanand Saraswati, a born Catholic, was initiated into the Divine Order of Sannyasi in 2012 by his Guru Swami Ghananand Saraswati and worked tirelessly for Sanatana Dharma for 35 years. He helped his Guru, Swami Ghananand to restructure the Hindu Monastery of Africa in Ghana to spread the knowledge of Sanatana Dharma.
At the monastery, a shrine dedicated to his Guru was built by Swami Satyanand Saraswati. Swami Ghananand Saraswati, who established Ghana's first African Hindu Monastery in 1975, made accessible the details of the Hindu faith and philosophy to common people. Born in a native Ghanian faith, Ghananand’s parents converted to Christianity. However, in his own words, Ghananand failed to find answers in religious texts.
"From a very early age, I would think about the mysteries of the universe and try to find the answers in religious texts. But I failed,"
----- Swami Ghanananda.
"I am aware that Islam prohibits idol worshipping but then God doesn't make any distinction. I visit this temple because I find solace here."
----- Swami Ghanananda.
He finally stumbled upon religious texts of Hinduism and that started a journey that took him to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, India, and finally to the monastery in Accra. He says that his Guru in Rishikesh had inspired him to open the monastery in Accra.
Swamy made it clear that his goal wasn’t to convert people to Hinduism but only to help those who seek the truth. In the monastery, people born into all faiths including Islam come together. He himself faced opposition from local sections due to his faith, but the visitors to the monastery kept growing.
Jamer Baroudy said he was born into the Islamic faith but his mother introduced him to Hinduism when he was eight years old.