Saturday 20 January 2018

Letter About India By Sister Nivedita

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Letter About India By Sister Nivedita

Off Ceylon
June 27th, 1899

We are rounding Cape Dondra. All day long we have been coasting the eastern side of Ceylon, a land lovely with palm-forest and pasture, with roselit cliff and curving broken rock.

It is the Hour of Peace. Every day at this time, as sunlight dies, the sea begins to utter itself in a new tone. A kind of sorrowful sighing mingles with the sound of waves, and every night and all night long, does this low moaning of the waters. But tonight it is as if the soft voice spoke to itself a name - the name of Sita; and again, as a higher surge than common rises, and beats against the ship, "Jai Sita - Ram ! Sita - Ram ! Jai ! Jai ! Jai ! " one hears dying away in the distance.

That snow-white ring of surf against the shore has a significance all its own here, where it girdles he prison of the most perfect wife the world has ever seen.

Bryhild, the warrior princess of the northern story could be come at only through the Circle of Flame but Sita-type and crown of Indian womanhood-has for her magic guard and the "wine-dark sea", and the fair sea foam that breaks among the rocks.

Oh lovely Lanka, and beautiful dreamy Indian sea, fraught with memories like this and the obedience of Hanuman, you under your forests of palm and your groves of cinnamon, are surely one of the jewels of the world!

Great days of the Heroes, come back to us, the weary children of a meaner age waken us from our slumber, redeem us from our weakness, and let us once more breast our own storms, and battle with our own needs, as in the times of old!

But the Hour of Peace is gone, and we are turning to the West. Out there is Galle Point; tomorrow at seven we reach Colombo; only a few days more, and the beloved land will be a memory, an ever-present and ever-beautiful memory truly, but more and actuality. There is pain in all partings; in this, though it is only for a while, how much!

It was eighteen months ago that I, a stranger, passed this way before, and tonight, as a man sums up a situation, I have a fancy to make reckoning with my own soul as to the drift of the impressions that I have gathered, in the year and a half just gone.

In the first place, I remember gratefully privileges accorded to few of my race. Received by the Mother-land as one of her own children, I have been permitted to see her, as it were, without her veil. I have been allowed to share in the life of the people. Kindness has been showered upon me. Neither poverty nor worship has been hidden from my eyes.

And the outstanding impression that I have gathered from such experience. Is that this is a people with a curious habit of producing great men unexpectedly. Whatever may be thought of the average development of character in the race, I am convinced that moral genius is commoner here than elsewhere. For by "greatness" I do not particularly with to imply any kind of intellectual or physical expertness-these I regard as more accessories: I refer rather to a certain largeness of feeling which lifts a man out of all that is individual and makes him stand to humanity as the interpreter of another life. Sometimes that life surrounds him almost as a light upon the face; sometimes we realise it in the growing sweetness with which years of self-sacrifice are borne; in India I have seen it lift even scientific research into sainthood. However it manifests itself, we all know that in some men's veins runs the blood of the gods, and of such men India has more than her due share numerically.

And I can trace this effect to three probable causes. The first two I find in the tremendous emotion and concentration of the Hindu temperament. Hindu feeling is something that makes the merely Western feel himself a dwarf before a giant. That jealous privacy which marks the inner life of Oriental nations causes this feature to be little suspected  by Europeans. They are more or less deceived by the mask of indifference that is worn with such success. To a certain extent, indeed the indifference is real. Strong forces are rarely evoked by a slight stimulus. But when the secret note is sounded in this case, sleeping energies of joy or suffering are apt to be aroused, beside which life itself seems a very very little thing.

Another reason why Europeans as a rule are so completely unaware of the real nature of those with whom they deal is that these energies commonly express themselves in a language outside their ken. The Japanese have applied the same thing to the patriotic, instead of the religious idea, and the West has understood at once. As to Indian concentration, one comes to India to learn that the secret of holiness is here, and having learnt, silence seems the only reverence. When all selfishness, all littleness, all greed, has burnt itself away and the man has become only the voice of the Chosen Idea of his life, then we learn what Renunciation is, what Devotion is, and again India stands supreme.

But these gifts of temperament would scarcely have been enough without the subtle and immense ideals which are the possession of the people of this country. It is not the Vedas so much as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata that are today its Bible, and these epics are known to all. There is indeed a terrible reverse to the medal, for a lofty conception of duty always paralyses. Some in proportion as it inspires others, but one inevitable result of the constant companionship of Hanuman and Bhima, of Rama and Yudhisthira, is sublime attainment on the part of many.

And so I lay one flower of love and worship a the feet of the Motherland. May she receive many of her alien-born children as she has received me! May she bestow on them even some little of that undeserved Motherhood and bounty that she has bestowed on me!


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 :
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