यतो धर्म: ततो जय:
Vivekananda could see the past and future of his disciple and acknowledged the intensity of her aspiration. But the realization demanded neither mere change of place nor exchange of objects, but a transformation, a metamorphosis. And transformation is always in the 'I.' We judge people by their works, but thought precedes work, and awareness precedes thought. The content and intensity of this awareness renders power to the thought and these energized thoughts inspire actions. Consecration, if real and life-long, has to stand on the bed-rock of authenticity. It is not just the polishing of the exterior; expressed in the majesty of our works and the fineness of our words. Every brick of the personality structure—from the inner awareness to its subtle percolation in daily action—is to be trained. Thus discipline, deconditioning and the essential rewiring are inevitable. Vivekananda slashed down all personal affection, 'only in order to bestow the Impersonal vision in its place.' Slowly, Nivedita found that her self-identity metamorphosed into selfless being. And from such natural renunciation came the ability to work in conjunction with the divine will.
Magnificent vast objects naturally still the mind and uproot the little ego. The loftiness of the Himalayan peaks had been the haven of Vedic seers and sages. Nature in itself is a shrine. One evening in the pristine precincts of the Himalayan peaks, Nivedita felt an awakening within. She penned it down, "Long, long ago Sri Ramakrishna had told his disciples that the day would come when his beloved Naren would manifest his great gift of bestowing knowledge with a touch. That evening at Almora, I proved the truth of his prophecy. For alone in meditation I found myself gazing deep into an infinite good to the recognition of which no egoistic reasoning had led me..." Her vision cleared, she took note, "I am learning...that there is a certain definite quality which may be called spirituality...that nothing that I have ever called nobility or unselfishness was anything but the feeblest and most sordid of qualities compared to the fierce light of real selflessness. It is strange that it has taken so long to make me see these elementary truths clearly." A life of complete dedication is the result of a transcendental touch somewhere in the soul. Stepping into a higher state of awareness brought its own vision, its own luminosity and understanding. Meditation now became a habit with Nivedita. And in its depths, she found the rationale of her dedication. The 'fierce light of real selflessness' was nothing but the calm resignation of the ego to the Self. When the ego is no longer active in posing and pretence, the Self is able to manifest. When the Self is able to manifest, life becomes one of determined higher purpose—a saga of consecration, a chronicle of devotion. Nivedita's personality was suffused with a divine glow.
Having lost itself, the ego made way for the integration of the best values of life. The silence of the east and the energy that characterized the west conjoined in Nivedita's frame. Herself charged she came to Kolkata and found shelter close to a veritable powerhouse. Nivedita came to live with Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi in the winter of 1898.
In Mother's house at 10/2 Bosepara Lane, she lived gracefully imbibing her first impressions of orthodox Hindu life. Onlookers were surprised at what they saw. Many a time they found Nivedita take a mat and kiss it over and over again and then dust it with great care before it was spread on the floor. Mother would sit on it and so the extreme care! 'I never saw a face so full of love' was Nivedita's acute discernment of Mother. She saw in Mother what everyone saw, but which none could fully articulate. A commingling of womanly virtue, immaculate purity and incredible love radiated from those eyes, leaving no doubt that Mother was the visible embodiment of divine motherhood.
The calmness and consistency of her demeanor revealed the bright light of Self-knowledge. Compelled and thrilled, Nivedita penned these immortal words which come close to a complete description of Mother, "A yearning love that can never refuse us; a benediction that forever abides with us; a presence from which we cannot grow away; a heart in which we are always safe; sweetness unfathomed, bond unbreakable, holiness without a shadow—all these indeed and more is motherhood."
Nivedita saw to her amazement that Mother's lofty life dismissed, without regret, many of the modalities that characterize the modern feminist discourse. East/West, motherhood/career, tradition/modernity—the disparities dissolve, if life is elevated and made into an expression of one's innate divinity, rather than a fiasco of one's false identity. All-hoods, are but a means to an end, and not an end in itself. To get caught up in the means is bad enough, bestowing it ultimate value is cataclysm. It is a deviation from one's source and hence the cause of one's misery. No human mind can find peace unless raised to its true stature. It is against our very grain to live a life of false values and identities. And hence the need to understand the deep sense of self-alienation that throws up the storms of anxieties, fears and insecurities in the conscious mind. Many a time we attribute the solution to a 'raised' sense of identity. And hence the run to build identity. After a long struggle to find the solution, one sees that one cannot build on false grounds. A mansion cannot be raised on shaky ground, nor a monument built on sand. The actual solution lies in a raised, transformed consciousness. Seeing Mother one could perceive the joy of living beyond body consciousness and the harmony it brought into one's daily life. Complicated situations, unpredictable mannerisms, blunders and aches—all the results of inflated egos, got subdued in this divine presence. A Himalayan peace and purity pervaded the household. Every man, woman and child who crossed the threshold felt he had come home and into the lap of his mother. No wonder Nivedita could call Mother, 'Sri Ramakrishna's final word as to the ideal of Indian womanhood.'
Holy Mother recognized in Nivedita the soul of a goddess and would endearingly call her 'Khuki'—daughter. She watched with pride Nivedita's growing intuitions. In fact, Mother's complete acceptance of Nivedita, in the midst of her orthodox setting, is another turning point in Indian history which made the work for women possible in an unexpected way. As if by divine design, it combined the best of the east and west thus making way for an enlightened global civilization. Nivedita went on to play a major role in Mother's movement. The school she started, which Mother inaugurated, became the nucleus of the Sarada movement and cradled its biggest, independent, women's monastic organization—Sri Sarada Math and the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission.
Touched by light and nourished by nectar, the butterfly flutters about radiating the joy of life. As it darts from flower to flower, it gives us the message of freedom—the freedom to change and better ourselves, to rise above our circumstances, to effect the transformations that truly matter. The making of a butterfly is nature's magnificent act of metamorphosis, executed silently, to teach us that change is always within oneself. Change is an unfolding from within, not an imposition from without. This means we are never at the mercy of a world 'out there'.Everything is indubitably entwined with our consciousness which is fully laden with the equipment required for every change. And once the metamorphosis takes place, we may take wing into a life of complete freedom.
( Pravrajika Divyanandaprana is a Sanyasini of the Sri Sarada Math and is presently Principal, Nivedita Vidyamandir, Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, New Delhi. )