Sunday, 3 December 2017

Holy Mother and Sister Nivedita - 3

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

One day Nivedita told us that Holy Mother would visit our school, and we should enjoy the festive occasion. She was anxiously running to and fro like a little girl. Holy Mother's carriage arrived in the afternoon instead of morning. Radhu, Golap-ma, and others were with her. As soon as she got down from the carriage, Nivedita prostrated to her and led her to the prayer hall. She gave us flowers to be offered at Holy Mother's feet. The Mother asked the girls to sing a little. They did so and recited a poem composed by the poet Saralabala Sarkar. The Holy Mother listened to it and appreciated the poem. Then she took a little sweet and asked to distribute the prasad to us. Afterwards Nivedita took the Mother around and showed her the whole house, the handicrafts of the girls. The Mother was very pleased and remarked: 'The girls have learned well.' Later Nivedita took the Mother to her own room for rest.

It was due to her acquaintance with Holy Mother that Nivedita developed an exalted opinion of Indian womanhood. One day by the by Swami Saradananda said: 'After all, our women are ignorant and unlettered.' Nivedita interrupted him immediately and forcefully contradicted him, saying : 'The women of India are by no means ignorant. In that country—referring to the United Kingdom—has one ever heard such words of wisdom from women as one does here?' One day Nivedita and Sister Christine visited Holy Mother. Nivedita said in Bengali:'Matridevi, apni hon amadiger Kali; Mother, you are our Kali.'

Christine repeated in English: 'Oh, Holy Mother is our Kali.' At this, Holy Mother said with a laugh: 'No, my children, I can't be Kali or any such thing—I would have to stick out my tongue!'

When this was translated to them, they said: 'No, you won't have to take that trouble. We shall regard you as our Mother Kali; Sri Rama-krishna is our Shiva.'

Holy Mother said with a smile: 'Well, that might be alright.' Then they left after taking the dust of her feet.

A disciple expressed his wonder to Holy Mother as he saw people coming from the West to see her. Holy Mother responded: 'The Master once said in an ecstatic mood: "In course of time I will be worshipped in many homes. Innumerable indeed will be my devotees." Nivedita once said to me: "Mother, we were Hindus in our previous birth. We are born in the West so that the Master's message may spread there.

In 1900 when Nivedita went to the US to collect funds for her school, Holy Mother dictated a letter to her that Saradananda translated into English. Here is an excerpt from that letter "My dear, love to you, baby daughter Nivedita, I am so glad to learn you have prayed to the Lord for my eternal peace. You are a manifestation of the ever-blissful Mother. I look at your photo, which is with me, every now and then and it seems as if you are present with me. I long for the day and the year when you shall return. May the prayers you have uttered for me from the heart of your pure virgin soul be answered!

I am well and happy. I always pray to the Lord that He might help you in your noble efforts and keep you strong and happy. I pray too for your quick return. May He fulfil your desires about the women's home in India and may that would-be home fulfil its mission in teaching true dharma to all He, the Breath of the Universe, is singing His own praise and you are hearing that eternal song through things that will come to an end.

The trees, the birds, the hills and all are singing praise to the Lord. The Banyan of Dakshineswar sings of Kali to be sure, and blessed is he who has ears to hear it. …

My dear love to you and blessings and prayers for your spiritual growth. You are doing good work indeed. But do not forget your Ben gali, else I will not be able to understand you when you come back. It gave me such a delight to learn that you are speaking of Dhruva, Savitri, Sita, Rama and so on there. The accounts of their holy lives are better than all the vain talk of the world, I am sure. Oh! How beautiful are the Name and doings of the Lord!

Your, Mother.

Holy Mother bestowed her grace on Nivedita and remarked: 'Her outside is white and inside is white [meaning pure].' Nivedita wrote about her : I first realised this gift in the Holy Mother, on the occasion of a visit that she paid us in recent years, on the afternoon of a certain Easter Day. Before that, probably, I had always been too much absorbed, when with her, in striving to learn what she represented, to think of observing her in the contrary position. On this particular occasion, however, after going over our whole house, the Mother and her party expressed a desire to rest in the chapel, and hear something of the meaning of the Christian festival.

This was followed by Easter music, and singing, with our small French organ. And in the swiftness of her comprehension, and the depth of her sympathy with these resurrection-hymns, unimpeded by any foreignness or unfamiliarity in them, we saw revealed for the first time, one of the most impressive aspects of the great religious culture of Sarada Devi. The same power is seen to a certain extent, in all the women about her, who were touched by the hand of Sri Ramakrishna. But in her, it has all the strength and certainty of some high and arduous form of scholarship.

The same trait came out again, one evening, when, in the midst of her little circle, the Holy Mother asked my Gurubhagini [Christine] and myself, to describe to her a European wedding. With much fun and laughter, personating now the 'Christian Brahmin', and again the bride and bridegroom, we complied. But we were neither of us prepared for the effect of the marriage vow. …

'For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health,—till death us do part,' were words that drew exclamations of delight from all about us. But none appreciated them as did the Mother. Again and again she had them repeated to her. 'Oh the Dharmmik words! The righteous words!' she said.

Holy Mother treasured anything that Nivedita gave her. Once Nivedita had given Holy Mother a small German-silver box in which she kept locks of Ramakrishna's hair. She used to say, 'Whenever I look at the box at the time of worship, I am reminded of Nivedita.' In one of her trunks Holy Mother kept an old tattered silk scarf that her attendant wanted to throw away. 'No, child', she said. 'Nivedita gave it to me with great love. Let us preserve it.' She then took the scarf in hand, scattered black cumin seeds—which act like moth balls—in its folds as a preservative, and laid it carefully back in the trunk. She remarked: 'The very sight of the scarf reminds me of Nivedita. What a wonderful girl she was! At first she could not speak to me directly, and the boys acted as interpreters. Later she picked up the Bengali language. She loved my mother very much.

One day Nivedita said to Shyamasundari: 'Grandma, I shall go to your village and cook in your kitchen.' The old lady replied at once: 'No, my child, you must not do that. Our people will ostracise me if you enter my kitchen.' Nivedita had penetrating eyes, a brilliant mind, indomitable energy, and deep spirituality. She observed that although Holy Mother had no formal education, her dealings with people and her teachings were beautiful, catholic, practical, and appealing. Holy Mother's divine love and affection, strong commonsense, and sweet personality captivated her. Nivedita wrote: "To me it has always appeared that she is Sri Ramakrishna's final word as to the ideal of Indian womanhood. But is she the last of an old order, or the beginning of new? In her one sees realised that wisdom and sweetness to which the simplest of women may attain. And yet, to myself the stateliness of her courtesy and her great open mind are almost as wonderful as her sainthood. I have never known her hesitate in giving utterance to large and generous judgement, however new and complex might be the question put before her. Her life is one long stillness of prayer. Her whole experience is of the theocratic civilisation. Yet she rises to the height of every situation. Is she tortured by the perversity of any about her? The only sign is a strange and quiet intensity that comes upon her. Does one carry to her some perplexity or mortification born of social developments beyond her ken? With unerring intuition she goes straight to the heart of the matter, and sets the questioner in the true attitude to the difficulty."

When Nivedita died in Darjeeling on 13 October 1911, Holy Mother shed tears and said: 'What sincere devotion Nivedita had! She never considered anything too much that she might do for me. She often came to me at night. Seeing that light struck my eyes, she put a shade of paper around the lamp. She would prostrate herself before me with great tenderness and take the dust of my feet with her handkerchief. I felt that she hesitated even to touch my feet.' As the women devotees present expressed their sorrow at Nivedita's death, Holy Mother said: 'All creatures cry for a great soul.

A few days after Nivedita's death, Sister Christine and Sister Sudhira [a co-worker] came to see Holy Mother from Nivedita School. Remembering the close relationship between Nivedita and Christine, Holy Mother said to Sudhira: 'Ah, they lived together. Now it will be hard for her to live alone.' She then consoled Christine: 'Our hearts are crying for her, and undoubtedly your feeling will be more intense, my child. What a wonderful person she was! So many people are now crying for her. Saying so, Holy Mother wept. Then she asked Christine about the activities of the school.

One day the Mother was resting on her bed and several women devotees were near her. Someone began to talk about Jesus Christ. The Mother got up and saluted Lord Jesus with folded hands. She then said: "I heard many things about Jesus Christ from Nivedita. She read out many beautiful stories about him to me. Aha, Jesus came to deliver people in this world and how much sufferings he had to undergo. He joyfully endured all. Despite all those persecutions, he loved people and forgave them unconditionally. His own disciple betrayed him. Aha, they killed him nailing at his hands, feet and chest. In spite of that terrible torture and pain, he ungrudgingly forgave them. He prayed to God for not taking their offence. Is it possible for human beings to have such love, power of forbearance, and forgiveness? Who can endure this way other than God? God came as Jesus to teach divine love to the people of the world.

Look at Nivedita, a Western girl, came to our country and worked happily forbearing insult and harassment; and also enduring so much discomfort she tried to educate our children. When she visited some homes to get their children for her school, she was humiliated; some did not allow her to go inside their homes; and some allowed her to get in but later purified the place by sprinkling Ganges water. She saw everything but did not mind. She left the place with a  smiling face. There was no bounden necessity for her to educate the girls of our country by enduring such insult and ill-treatment and ruining her life little by little. You see, my daughter Nivedita had such a wonderful mind that she took over the responsibility to teach our girls on her own shoulder, because her guru Naren wanted and asked her to do it. She did not care for physical suffering and discomfort, insult and incivility of our people. For whom she dedicated her life, they treated her contemptuously. Under such circumstances, could the women of our country sacrifice such a great extent for the sake of their guru? They would say, 'We don't care!' So I say that except the Master no one knows or understands how, when, what, and through whom he makes one work.

(Swami Chetanananda, Prabudhdha Bharat Jan 2017)
To be Continue

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हमें कर्म की प्रतिष्ठा बढ़ानी होंगी। कर्म देवो भव: यह आज हमारा जीवन-सूत्र बनना चाहिए। - भगिनी निवेदिता {पथ और पाथेय : पृ. क्र.१९ }
Sister Nivedita 150th Birth Anniversary : http://www.sisternivedita.org
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