Wednesday, 21 March 2018

निवेदिता - एक समर्पित जीवन - 27

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

भारतवर्ष की रानी - 'सीता'

एक दिन निवेदिता ने बालिकाओं से प्रश्न किया कि भारतवर्ष की रानी कौन है ? छात्राओं ने उत्तर दिया, महारानी क्वीन विक्टोरिया। अंग्रेज शासित भारतवर्ष में इंग्लैंड की महारानी को स्वाभाविक रूप से सभी अपनी रानी समझते थे। छात्राओं का उत्तर सुनकर निवेदिता क्रोध एवं दुःखी से उत्तेजित हो उठीं। धिक्कारते हुए उन्होंने छात्राओं  से कहा, भारतवर्ष की रानी कौन है, यह भी क्या तुम लोग नहीं जानतीं ? उसके बाद खुद उत्तर देते हुए कहा - इंग्लैंड की अधीश्वरी क्वीन विक्टोरिया कभी-भी तुम्हारी रानी नहीं हो सकती। तुम्हारी रानी सीता है। सदा के लिए भारतवर्ष की रानी सीता है।

बालिकाओं की शिक्षा के सम्बन्ध में स्वामीजी ने निवेदिता से कहा था कि सनातन धर्म के आदर्श - 'त्याग एवं सेवा' से कभी-भी उनका अलगाव न हो। भारत की बालिकाओं को शिक्षित करने की परम आवश्यकता है, लेकिन यह आदर्श सर्वोच्च होना चाहिए। निवेदिता मन-प्राण से स्वामीजी के इस निर्देश का पालन किया था।

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 40

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as an Educationalist - 3

Sri Rabindranath Tagore had asked Nivedita to take charge of his younger daughter's education to teach English. Rabindranath felt that being a well-educated English lady, Nivedita was eminently suited to teach his daughter through the English medium, following the existing standards. But Nivedita said to him, 'What is the good in imposing foreign ideals and standards? I think the proper education is to draw out that which lies latent as one's individual potentiality, as also the national skill.' So she did not agree, because she had not come to this land to teach Indian women the English language and culture. Her field of activity was completely different.

Nivedita tried to imprint nationalist ideas in the minds of her girl students through all their activities and behavior including language, dress, education, music, and everything. She introduced everyday singing of the song Vande Mataram in her school in those days when singing of Vande Mataram was frowned upon by British rulers or in some cases was a straight road to jail. Any national object, no matter how insignificant it might be, was dear to her like a worshipped deity. She tried to infuse this reverence into her students also so that they could view any national object in such depth.

When the British Government set some freedom fighters free from the Andaman jails, Nivedita declared a school holiday to commemorate the event and decorated her school premises, placing mangal ghats (earthen pitchers with swastika inscribed on their bodies, symbolic of beneficence) supported by plantain saplings at the entrance. How emotional the scene must have been. It was an opportunity to make students internalize the sufferings of those freedom fighters and also the joy of having them back in the society.

Even in those days when taking girls for outdoor activities were not allowed, she would strive to give them the exposure of the national happenings. In order to hear the lectures of Surendra Nath Banerjee, she used to take the senior girl students in a carriage to the Brahmo School. Surendra Nath gave lectures on nationalist issues in a park and the students heard him standing on the verandah of the Brahmo School situated adjacent to it.
The visit of notable persons also was an occasion to celebrate. One day Amala Bose, wife of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, came to her school. Nivedita became very happy and made her students sing the song 'Banga Amar Janani Amar' (My Bengal, My Mother). When the girls were singing, her delight knew no bounds, tears of joy rolled down her cheeks.

To be continued...

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 39

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as an Educationalist - 2

The school was not known by any particular name as such. In her project for the school Nivedita called it 'Ramakrishna School for Girls'. Some Western friends called it the 'Vivekananda School' and the people of locality referred to it as the 'Nivedita School'.

Swamiji told Nivedita when she asked for his advice, 'Let yourself to be guided. You are going to learn everything from your pupils.' That is how it happened. Nivedita did not force her ideas but saw to it the girls blossomed naturally through the known cultural topics. Initially only 3 to 5 girls came to the school. However, as the people in the locality, started getting some confidence, the number of girls increased in the schools. However, stability was a great issue. After few months or a year of training in school as the girl got married, she would leave the school. How to ensure that the student studied for at least 5-6 years in the school? Then Nivedita started educating the child widows and young women of the area. Some of them even became volunteers in school activities. Whether for girls or women Nivedita was great educationist and inculcated national pride in them.

In one of the classrooms of her school, a picture of Sri Ramakrishna was hung up. On the opposite wall a world map was hanging. One day Nivedita took away the world map and fixed it under the picture of Sri Ramakrishna and smilingly said to the girls. 'Sri Ramakrishna is the Jagatguru (the Preceptor of the World), so the World map should remain at his feet.'

She was soft-hearted no doubt, but when circumstances so required she knew how to be firm. She wanted that her students also should learn to become hard when needed, as softness was very much innate with them. One day she brought down some books for dusting. The white ants had already attacked those books. As the books were being beaten and dusted, the white ants dropped down and began to flee away. She was quick to crush them. While crushing the white ants, she said, 'Indians were extremely kind as a nation. Arjuna being a great hero did not want to fight at Kurukshetra initially. But God advised him to shed imbecility. This is indeed what our scriptures teach us. Don't ever be soft while on duty. The insects are fleeing for their dear life. But if they remain alive they will again eat up the books. So these are to be killed. That which is evil should be destroyed without becoming soft in the least.'

One day Nivedita asked her students, 'Who is the queen of India?' The girls replied: 'Her Majesty the Queen Victoria.' It naturally occurred to them that in the England-ruled India, their queen was Queen Victoria. Nivedita was visibly upset to hear this reply. She was both angry and grieved. She cried out, 'You don't even appear to know who is the queen of India!' Then she explained: 'Look, the Empress of England, Queen Victoria, can never be the queen of India. Your queen is Queen Sita. Sita is the eternal queen of India.' Swamiji had advised Nivedita that in the matter of women's education one must not deviate from the traditional spiritual ideal of renunciation and service. The need for education of the Indian women was certainly important, but the spiritual ideal of renunciation and service must be given the top place above everything. Nivedita tried heart and soul to follow these instructions of Swamiji.

To be continued...