Saturday 31 March 2018

Letter to Miss J. Macleod - 2

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

I have a great hope that if Olea goes off to one place or another, it will prove to be my lot to stay on at Ridgely till I have finished my retreat and done more writing. I am finding out this morning - though I thought I had no preference-that I am exceedingly averse to going till then. I hope the idea is true and right.

Mrs. Bull has a cleaver way of making all her guests intimate with each other, but the result is that Swami does not seem to have the whole stage as he has at Ridgely. And he shrinks from strangers in this way. Yesterday, Mrs. Leggett, Mrs. Bull and I were together and he came with such relief, "Ah - how lovely- there's no one here! Let's have a chat!"

Rama was called "the blue - lotus - eyed." And he trusted to Mother to help him to carry off Sita. But Rabon had prayed to Mother too, and Rama came and found him in Her arms, so he knew that he must do somthing tremendous, and he vowed 1001 blue lotuses to Her Image if She would help him. Lakshmana went off and got the lotuses from I, [lake] Manas Sarobar [Manasarovar] and Rama began the great "Call upon the Mother" - (And it was autumn - and the time of Her Puja was the spring - so it is in memory of that untimely worship of Rama that the  great Mother worship has ever since then been held in September.) Now he covered Her feet with blue lotuses till 1000 were offered ("and Mother had stolen one!")and lo, the last was missing. But Rama was determined. He was not to be beaten. And calling for a knife, he was about to cut out the his own eye that the tale of blue lotuses might be complete. And that won the Mother and She blessed the great hero-so that his arms prevailed. Though not indeed his arms, altogether, for in the end Rabon was betrayed by his own brother, and so the stuggle was broght to an end.

"But it was great about the traitor-brother in one place," said the King. For he was taken away to reside at the Court of Rama, and thither came the widow of Rabon to look upon the face of the warrior who had robbed her of her husband and sons. Rama and hsi Court stood prepared to receive the cortage, but to his amazement, he could see no great queen adorned in splendour. Only a simple-looking woman attired in the simple garb of a hindu widow. "Who is this lady?" he asked the brother in bewilderment, and he replied - "Behold, O King, the lioness whom thou hast robbed of her lion and her whelps! She comes to gaze upon thy face!"

Oh Yum, what ideals of womanhood Swami holds! Surely no one, not even Shakespeare or Aeschylus when he wrote of Antigone or Sophocles when he created Alcestis had such a tremendous conception. As I read over the things he has said to me of them, and as I realise that it is all, every word of it, a trust for the women of the whole world's future-but first and chiefly for them of his own land-it seems a trifling thing whether oneself should ever be worthy or not-and EVERY thing that a heart so great as his should have willed to create. Oh to be the chisel in his hand-is great great great but I would not even be that, if without a tool, HIS power to fashion the statue were the more apparent to the world.

To be continued ....

Friday 30 March 2018

Letter to Ridely Manor - 1

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Ridely Manor
Firday, Oct. 27th [1899]

My sweet Yum-Yum

Your first letter reached me yesterday, and I was overjoyed to hear from you of your brother, and your joy in being on a pumpkin throne yourself, instead of merely loafin' around Swami's! Swami was there, we were all sitting in Olea's bedroom in fact, and he laughed at your rude remarks about the said throne-and just loved it. He has always declared that the time would yet come for him to be in Kali's land with you. It certainly is too funny about his picture! "Ramkrishna's people! Ramkrishna's people!" Yes Darling -I quite agree- if you will be so sectarian-that they should be called, rather, "Swami's people!" I didnot mean it any other way.

He did not sleep well last night-our poor King-and is still in his room, trying to rest, at 1/4 past 10. He sent for me to come down from retreat: on Tuesday evening, so I have had 2 days of complete relaxation. Mrs. Briggs and a Mrs. Hale and a friend of Olea's are staying here.

Swami was doing wonderful things for Olea -poor child - as it seemed, but you know she is ill and changeable and freful -and life is a matter of growth for allof us, save those who come free and rise to their own in a flash. She has had her touch of the new birth, and now it may be that she wants time for assimilation more than anything else.

For my part, I finished the last of my little papers on Kali the Mother last Sunday, and am now cogitating over Swami's order for a book on India-and one that Mrs. Bull and I are to write together on Love and Marriage. I wish now that I might stay here without moving-for weeks to come-and marching orders may be just arriving.

Albert has been staying here with me for a day or two and I love both her and Olea very much. Baby too has come very close to me. I fled from the appearance of her charms at the front door just now-for I knew that if I delayed to talk with her one moment-I could not write to you today. We have endless fun. She insists on sitting like a Hindu all the time, and having long stories about boiling rice and laying dinner on plantain leaves for our (Hindu) husbands.

Mrs. Bull read me Mr. Sturdy's letter yesterday, and then I think she sent it on to you. I must say that it commanded my respect for coolness and honesty. One could not deny his perfect right to say all he felt in such a manner, and to feel so reasonably. The worst of it is of course that his reasoning was utterly uninfluenced by his higher perceptions. And I can only own that whatever has happened, I have too evidently been the cause. How wonderful Mrs. Bull's sense of motherhood is! I listened to it yesterday in every word she spoke-and felt awed. She is a great woman. Swami might well say "perhaps the very noblest!"When Mr. Sturdy wrote to Swamiji about his faults and the disappointment generally, one could not resent it. That was between themselves. Quite a different thing from his writing to me about Swami, wasn't it?

The little book m.s. is still waiting for the Mrs. Roy, meditation and Boby's story of Kali. I hope you will just cut them out of the Dairy and send them bodily.

Swami came in the blessed me on Sunday night, while I was still in retreat.He stayed about an hour, and told me how it was Sri Ramakrishna's firm belief that every great Incarnation eighter in public or in secret had been a worshipper of Mother. "Or how could he have got the Energy?" Siva and Kali had had to be their worships. Then he talked about the Ramayana. I'll tell you a curious thing. When Sadananda talks about the Ramayana, I become convinced that Hanuman is really the hero: when Swami talks of it Rabon is the central figure.

To be continued ....

Thursday 29 March 2018

निवेदिता - एक समर्पित जीवन - 28

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

निवेदिता की कविताएं
निवेदिता चाहती थीं कि भारतवासी अपनी मातृभूमि की पूजा करें व प्रेम के सूत्र में बद्ध हों। अनेक बार इस विषय पर उन्होंने मार्मिक भाषण दिए, अनेक बार कविताओं के माध्यम से अपने भाव अभिव्यक्त किये। निम्नलिखित शब्दों में उन्होंने अपनी आराधना अर्पित की है:

भारत भूमि! हमारे देवताओं की वेदी
हमारे सन्तों के पदपथ,
हमारे घरों की नीवें,
हमारे वीरों की धूलि!
तुम,भारत के जल,
कमल के वाहन,
आनन्द व शीतलता के स्त्रोत,
सारी पवित्रता के प्रतिक,
मन्दिर की पावनता,
प्रलयकालीन अग्नि के शमनकर्ता!
भारत,जिसकी अम्बर मंदिर-मण्डप है,
पर्वत हैं जिसके स्तम्भ,
जिसके वन उपहार दें,
धाराएँ जिसे प्रेम करें
तथा दक्षिणी पवन चँवर दुलाएं,
इनमें, जल-थल की हम उपासना करते हैं!
पशुओं की पुकार,
सूखे धान के खेतों की पुकार,
जलधाराओं की भूमि की पुकार:
लौट आओ! लौट आओ!
दूर्वा का आशीष : बलवान बनो,बलवान बनो !
ऊँचे वृक्षों की आशीष : अपना मुकुट पहनो !
ऊँचे स्वप्न देखो!
ओ तुम सब जिनकी आशा अपनी भूमि पर है,
व भूमि की आशा तुम में है !
सारा राष्ट्र उत्तर देता है: हम एक हैं !

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...

Thursday 15 March 2018

निवेदिता - एक समर्पित जीवन - 26

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

भारतीय नारी

बागबाजार मुहल्ले में अन्तः पुर की भारतीय नारियों के साथ घनिष्ठ रूप से मिलकर तथा सर्वोपरि श्रीमाँ सारदादेवी को देखकर भारतीय नारियों के सम्बन्ध में उनके मन एक उच्च सम्मान की धारणा बन गई थी। एक दिन वार्तालाप के दौरान स्वामी सरदानन्द ने कहा - हम लोगों की नारियाँ तो अज्ञ  ............... । निवेदिता ने उन्हें अपना वाक्य पूरा करने नहीं दिया। जोर से बोल उठीं, भारतवर्ष की नारियाँ कभी भी अज्ञ नहीं है। परदेश (पाश्चात्य को वे परदेश कहती)  की नारियों के मुहँ से कभी किसी ने ऐसी बात सुनी है ?

मद्रास में अपने एक भाषण में निवेदिता ने कहा था -भारत की महिलाएँ अशिक्षित तथा अत्यचारित है- यह अभियोग किसी भी प्रकार सत्य नहीं है। अन्यान्य देशों की अपेक्षा यहाँ नारियों के प्रति अत्याचार कम हैं। भारतीय नारियों का महान चरित्र उसके राष्ट्रीय जीवन की एक सर्वश्रेष्ठ सम्पदा है। आधुनिकता की दृष्टि से वे अज्ञ अवश्य है, अर्थात अधिकांश उनमें से कोई भी लिख नहीं सकती। अक्षर परिचय भी बहुत कम स्त्रियों को ही है; किन्तु इसी वजह से क्या वे अशिक्षित है ? यदि वही हो, तो जो माताएँ, बड़ी माताएँ और नानियाँ अपने बच्चे-बच्चियों को रामायण,महाभारत, पुराण एवं नाना प्रकार के उपाख्यान सुनाती है, वे सब अशिक्षित कही जाएँगी तथा वे ही यदि यूरोपीय उपन्यास तथा कुछ व्यर्थ की अंग्रेजी पत्रकाएं पढ़ पातीं,तो अशिक्षित नहीं कही जातीं। यह स्वर क्या परस्पर विरुद्ध नहीं लगता है ?

 'वास्तव में अक्षर ज्ञान संस्कृति का परिचय नहीं है। भारतीय जीवन के साथ परिचित सभी लोग जानते है कि  भारतीय पारिवारिक जीवन की मूल बात है- महत्व, भद्रता, परिच्छिन्नता, धर्मशिक्षा, हृदय तथा मन का उत्कर्ष और प्रत्येक भारतीय नारी के अन्दर ये गुण विद्यमान है। अतएव मातृभाषा नहीं पढ़ पाने तथा अपने हस्ताक्षर न कर पाने पर  भी समालोचकगण जिस दृष्टि से उन्हें देखते  हैं........... उस यथार्थ दृष्टि में भारतीय नारियाँ अपेक्षाकृत बहुत अधिक शिक्षित हैं।'

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 38

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as an Educationalist - 1

During her training period, Nivedita used to be very eager to discuss with Swami Vivekananda about the school for girls, which he wanted her to start. However, Swami Vivekananda always ignored that topic. He wanted Nivedita to be one with India before she opened the school. According to him the plans of work become integrated, and succeed by themselves, when they are the result of self-renunciation. To become a real educator of Hindu women, she must become a Hindu woman herself, even in her most spontaneous reactions.

During the pilgrimage, Swami Vivekananda would speak with a genuine fineness to the three women, at the same time addressing himself more particularly to Margaret, who had come to work with him among the poor. "Open your hearts wide to receive the treasure of the poor," he said to them all as they sat together. "For them you are God Himself entering their house. Famished, degraded, debased, they will confer on you the supreme good, since they see in you the Perfection to be worshiped. What do you bring them in exchange?" The question made them thoughtful.

One day Miss MacLeod asked him, "Swamiji, how can I serve you best?" "Love India!" he replied, "and serve her. Worship this land which is a prayer crying out toward Heaven."

On some days, he would remain entirely absorbed in his thoughts, absolutely inscrutable; and when Nivedita would be overwhelmed by the uncertainty in which she felt herself floundering. "What am I doing here for so long?" she complained to Miss McLeod. "Why doesn't the Swami speak to me about work, about the planned school?"

With the absence of haste that is characteristic of spiritual leaders, Swami Vivekananda was waiting until the heart of his disciple opened, and she learned by herself the secret of the right attitude to adopt. Lizelle Reymond writes, 'She did not realize that her will-to-action and her intelligence were standing between her and the broad road, which he wanted her to take. Blinded by her desire to succeed, to fulfill her task well, Margaret was incapable, as yet, of understanding the first lesson that India was teaching her; to live in the present moment, to find in the absence of "willing" the secret of disinterested work. The Swami remained silent because any words would have been in vain. She had to discover by herself that her progressive and "go ahead" educational methods were of little concern to India, and interested the Swami only a little. If he had summoned her it was because he needed her creative force, her stability and her rectitude, because he knew that she was capable of seeing the ideal behind the goal without worrying about the lack of means at the outset. Plans become integrated, and succeed by themselves, when they are the result of sell-renunciation'.

When Swamiji felt that Nivedita was ready to run the school, the work to get students started. But, who would send their daughters to a school run by a foreigner? Swami Vivekananda himself had to go and canvass for the school amongst his acquaintances. Ultimately, the school was opened on 12th November 1898. Sri Sarada Ma came for the opening and gave her blessings. After worshipping Sri Ramakrishna, she consecrated the school and blessed it, saying, 'I pray that the blessings of the Divine Mother may be upon the school and the girls; and the girls trained from the school may become ideal girls.' Nivedita became extremely delighted and recorded her feelings later as this: 'I cannot imagine a grander omen than her blessings, spoken over the educated Hindu womanhood of the future.' Afterwards too whenever Sri Sarada Devi was in Calcutta at the opening of a new, visited the school and added to joy and enthusiasm of all.

To be continued...

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 37

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as Lokmata – serving the people - 2

In mid-July 1906, a famine broke out in East Bengal. Immediately a few sannyasins and brahmacharins from Belur Math were sent there to begin relief operations. Gradually, very alarming reports of the famine reached Calcutta, and Nivedita became restless to go there. Only recently, she had suffered from brain-fever and therefore, was not keeping in good health then. In spite of that, disregarding everybody's requests, she reached the famine-ravaged areas and joined the relief work already initiated by the sannyasins, brahmacharins and volunteers. She lived there many days and served the people. She became one with them, particularly with the rural women folk of those areas. They also took her as their own and shared with her their tales of distress and woes, fully opening their hearts. They did not fail to identify her as a true well-wisher. Nivedita moved from house to house to inquire about their welfare. This helped her to update her knowledge of the disaster.

At the same time, Nivedita was charmed to find glimpses of nobility and dignity in those hapless people ravaged by famine. When she was leaving a particular village, the entire women folk of the village walked down to the bank of the river to bid her farewell. The boat had sailed past for quite a distance and Nivedita found that they were still standing in the pose of praying. There was not end to their own distress, still they were praying for her! Tears filled Nivedita's eyes!

When some Government officials gave, a wrong picture about the famine-affected people that they had enough or they were greedy etc. Nivedita was pained and she sprang to their defense. She herself had seen their dignity, concern for others amidst utter poverty. The terrible face of the famine cast a deep influence on Nivedita's mind, which she described in a series of essays in her book named 'Famine and Flood'. Immediately after her return from the famine relief work, she fell seriously ill. She suffered from malaria for a long period, which totally broke, down her health and yet her work continued.

Her motherly heart was always concerned for the poor and working people. One day Nivedita took her students for a visit to the Museum. Moving from one room to another in the Museum, she reached a room with her students. The part of Museum was being repaired and white-washed. A number of coolies were working there and one among them had fallen asleep on the floor upon a piece of cloth. With extreme care, Nivedita walked past him and signaled to her students, putting her finger to her lip, not to make any sound. The students tip-toed across the room so that the coolie was not disturbed.

In spite of so much of caution, the coolie got up and finding Nivedita just in front of him, stood up and saluted her. He was visibly scared to see a 'Memsa'ab' before him. Nivedita became very sorry and repeatedly asked him to sleep once again. The more she persuaded the coolie to sleep, the more he felt scared. He had never in his life met with such behavior from any 'Memsa'ab' and he could hardly imagine that any 'Memsa'ab' could make a request in such a manner to an insignificant man like him. He only thought he must have committed some serious crime. It was a wonderful scene indeed! It was because of her such empathy aligned with action for the poor, affected and deprived that Sri Ravindranath Tagore called her Lokamata.

To be continued...

Monday 12 March 2018

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 36

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as Lokmata – serving the people - 1

It was March 1899. Nivedita had come to see Swamiji. While talking to her, Swamiji said, 'We are yet to know the real nature of man. When the real manhood shall emerge… then everybody will be free to do great work. My mission is not Ramakrishna's nor Vedanta's nor anything, but simply to bring manhood to my people.' Nivedita said, 'I will help you, Swami.' Swamiji replied, 'I know it.' We also know that she kept her promise. In fact, she dedicated her life for the purpose and kept her word to the last day of her life.

While living at Bosepara Lane, Nivedita had very cordial relationship with her neighbours. She always stood by their side in their hours of happiness and sorrow. The neighbours also accepted her as their own, convinced of her sincere love for them. She too duly accepted and respected the social customs, including those of touching, etc. One night she was about to take her dinner. Suddenly she heard the sound of wailing from a nearby mud-house. Leaving her dinner, she rushed to the spot. Before her eyes the small child of the house died. Nivedita felt as if one of her dear relations had died. The child's mother was piteously weeping. Nivedita took her head on her lap and sat silently. After a long while, the child's mother stopped crying. She asked feebly, 'Where has my child gone?' Nivedita said, 'Hush, Mother. She is now with the Mother Kali'. Perhaps, the bereaved mother got a little bit of consolation. She heaved a long sigh but did not cry any more. Nivedita had become very much one of them.

In 1899, the plague broke out in Calcutta for the second time. Swamiji entrusted the entire responsibility of fighting the disease to Nivedita. The Ramakrishna Mission formed a Committee of which Nivedita became the Secretary, and Swami Sadananda its Chief Executive. The services rendered by both Nivedita and Swami Sadananda in fighting the plague became memorable in the history of Calcutta. Swami Sadananda moved around with a group of boys and took upon himself the responsibility of keeping clean the localities, including the slums of Baghbazar and Shyambazar.

Endowed with some superhuman power as it were, Nivedita coordinated and supervised the entire range of activities. She inserted appeals for help in the English newspapers. At the auditorium of the 'Classic Theatre', she, along with Swamiji, gave lectures on 'Plague and the Duty of the Students.' Hearing their lectures, ten students immediately joined the work of plague-service. On every Sunday evening, they would gather near Nivedita to report their activities, and leave after taking further instructions. People were astonished to observe her leadership and her organizing capacity during those days. She would personally inspect every bit of work and followed it up if necessary. Moving around each and every locality she used to distribute the printed handbills containing the preventive measures on how to fight the plague.

One day she observed that a pile of rubbish was heaped in a locality at Baghbazar. Whereas none appeared to be concerned about it, Nivedita personally arranged to secure a broomstick and basket and started to clean the rubbish. Seeing her, the young men of the locality felt ashamed and took away the broomstick from her hand and began to clean the rubbish and the pathway.

Nivedita fought an impeccable war. She went through the stricken localities, making inquiries, prepared lists of vacant beds; opened a provisional dispensary in a wooden shed; organized groups of volunteer workers under the direction of Swami Sadananda. Her campaign was pursued so vigorously that the government Health officer with his inspectors came to see her. He expected to be received by a committee, but was met instead by one harassed woman sitting at a desk covered with papers, while little Hindu children played all around her.

To be continued...

Sunday 11 March 2018

Letter to Miss J Macleod

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

17, Boze Para Lane,
Bagh Bazaar, Calcutta
April 14, 1903

My Sweet Yum,
Your letter this week is a little note in the midst of enclosures, and it sounds dreadfully like a sob to me. You are in the city of Kneipp Cure-and I fear you are very weary. I wd. love to come to you-only just at this moment I must not desert my port. But when S. Sara Comes, and some of the responsibilities are transferred to her, who knows what might be possible? I am in correspondence just at present with Mr. Stead about the possibility of making a great Indian review. The whole task now is to give th word "Nationality" to India-in all its breadth and meaning. The rest will do itself. India must be observed by this great conception. Hindu and Mohammedan must become one in it, wiht a passinate admiration of each other.

It means new views of history, of custom, and it means th assimilation of the whole Ramakr. [Rramakrishan] - Vivekananda idea in Religion - the synthesis of all religious ideas.

It means a final understanding of the fact that the political process and the economic disaster are only side-issues, that the one essential fact is realisation of her own Nationality by the nation.

I do not know a better means by which such an end wd. be achieved than a great magazine, and the possibility has come to me unsought. But oh, the difficulties! They seem numberless. Please be very silent on the point, for nothing is so fatal as telling your idea to the wrong man - and almost everyone is the wrong man at present. I can only hope that my letters to you are UN-violated. But it will cheer you, I know, to hear of the ideas that come to one.

I have now written a good deal of my book -
    1. Threads from an Eastern Loom(Life of bose para lane).
    2. Eastern Mother.
    3. Hindu Woman as Wife.
    4. Love Strong as Death.(=Widows)
    7. Indian Sages.
    8. Noblesse Oblige.(=Caste)
    9. The Evolution of Hinduism. (An immense chapter, showing Swamiji and Sri R. K. as the turning-point of the whole thing).
    10. The wheel of Birth and Death.
    11. The Gospel of the Blessed One. (=Gita)
    12. Siva or Mahadev-a mountain-myth.
    13. An Indian Pilgrimage.
    Perhaps Chaps. 5 and 6 will be "Ideals of Indian Womanhood" - and "Problems of Oriental Women." And perhaps 14,15,16 will be
    The Bazaar and the Crafts.
    The Pageant of India.
    The Needs of India.

Of course the failures are painfully clear to myself. But this I suppose must always be so. Perhaps others may have a good word to say for the book. I think of calling it "the Web of Indian Life." What do you think of this title? Is it not better than "Glimpses of Hindu Life?"

Christine is here. She is so very sweet, but curiously like an Indian Woman, as Nigu[Okakura] said the first evening he saw her. It is a deep likeness, not a superficial. Curiously, I watch her going through some of the phases I went thro.' Today we have been at the math all day by her wish. I lay on the floor in Sarada's room reading Egypt all day, and it was she who went off and meditated. But she is not the least like me, really. She is passive, and faithful, and simple. The boys love her, and she is nearer to simple people in some ways than I am.

She is willing to undertake the work amongst the widows, if only her strength comes back to her, and if the Holy Mother returns to Calcutta, to give her a footing. Beyond this, she is more he winess than anyone I ever saw. Love is everything to her-but it is a sngle ardent solitary passion, not a roaming or all-embracing love. She is at once the most fortunate and the saddest amongst women.

A letter has been publised in a Bengali paper wh. shows how sorely N.has had to fight for the Conference idea, and how completely it is worsted for the present.

Mr. Swinny-President of the London Positivists was in India a little while ago-and he is writing beautifully about India in the Positivist Review. I am much mistaken if he is not absolutely the finest and wholest voice we have yet had.

I do hope you will stick to a cure somewhere-though I know you donot care for the country-for you do need repairing and mending, dear Yum-if we are not to see you die. And please don't do that-for you are absolutely necessary to your own Child and His.



Thursday 8 March 2018

{Daily Katha:1465} Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 35

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as Agnishikha in Freedom Movement - 3

The government in its anti-Indian policy was moving against civil servants and other leaders. Arrests and deportations heralded the outbreak of open rebellion. The bombs exploded in May, 1907. The prisons were full. Bhupendranath Dutta (younger brother of Swami Vivekananda) was arrested and sent to jail. Other members also were arrested. Their families were left in lurch. Nivedita organized relief for the families. Whether she was at Dum-Dum or Bagh Bazar, her house was refuge with food, money and maps for those who had to escape. Nivedita tried to get Bhupendranath released but in the process, she was put on the government list. She did not remain un-implicated in the manufacture of bombs in the Muraripukur Road Laboratory. The nationalist leaders begged her to leave India for time being till the things cooled down.

As such Nivedita had planned the visit of Europe with Bose family and Mrs. Bull. But in the prevailing situation she felt it was much better that Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose and his wife leave before and she would leave later unnoticed. Thus, Nivedita left second time for long tour of Europe.  In the voyage, Nivedita felt the nightmare that was in India for many families of the revolutionaries. When she crossed and reached Europe it was as if coming to the different planet. The freedom of speech and action, the ostentatious show of prosperity, made her think what was she doing here when she was needed in India. But when she reached London, however, she found road of activity opening. The concerned English were listening to her. The doors of House of Commons was opened to her whenever Indian affairs were on the agenda. The information that she got there she made good use of it to write articles raising the Bengal issue. But news from India got worse. All nationalist publications were suppressed. She understood what her function in London was: It was to act as liaison officer between the scattered Indian Nationalist centers in England, in the continent and in America. She organized by clandestine method the publication distribution of banned newspapers. She also organized the stay etc. of the exiles who came to America. 

After Nivedita returned, the situation in India had cooled down but the movement also had scattered. She again started taking active part in it. Through her British acquaintances, she came to know that the police are going to arrest Aurbindo Ghosh. After getting this information Aurbindo escaped and reached to Chadernagor a place in South India which was in possession of French and thus British could not touch him. For few months, Nivedita continued to edit 'Karmayogin', - the paper run by Aurbindo - so well that many did not even realize that it is not written by Aurbindo.
Nivedita and Arubindo Ghosh were two of the five committee members which co-ordinated the activities of the revolutionaries in India. Aurbindo called Nivedita 'Agnishikha' – the flames of fire. Initially the participation of Sister Nivedita in freedom movement was not much known but as the new research and documents are available, her intense participation is evident. Another great thing about Sister Nivedita is that though her heart and support was with the nationalists and the revolutionaries she also had very cordial relations with the leaders of moderates like Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Anyone working for the freedom of India, partially or fully, mildly or vibrantly was supported by her. Due to these protests against the partition of Bengal, British had to give in and the two parts of Bengal were reunited on 12 December 1911 just two months after the demise of Sister Nivedita.

To be continue...

Wednesday 7 March 2018

निवेदिता - एक समर्पित जीवन - 25

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

छात्राओं से वात्सल्य

लड़कियों के लिए निवेदिता कन्या पाठशाला मायके के समान थी, जहाँ उन्हें अपनी मातृतुल्य शिक्षिका से भरपूर प्यार तथा ममत्वपूर्ण व्यवहार मिलता। रोज लड़कियाँ उस समय की उत्सुकता से राह देखती, जब उन्हें स्कूल जाना होता तथा अपनी प्यारी दीदी से उनकी मुलाकात होती। निवेदिता भी रोज ही पाठशाला के प्रवेशद्वार पर खड़ी रहती और आती हुई लड़कियों की और देखकर स्नेहपूर्ण स्वर में कहती - आ गयीं, मेरी प्यारी बच्चियाँ आ गयीं।

पारिवारिक अड़चनों के कारण जब कुछ लड़कियाँ निवेदिता की कन्या पाठशाला में नहीं आ पाती या पालक उन्हें नियमित पाठशाला में नहीं भेज पाते तो निवेदिता खुद उन लड़कियों के घर जातीं तथा यथासमय उनकी अड़चनों को दूर करने का प्रयत्न करतीं, लड़कियों को पाठशाला में नियमित भिजवाने की व्यवस्था करती। गिरिबाला घोष  जब पाठशाला में जाना प्रारम्भ किया तो वह 22 साल की थी। वह एक विधवा थी तथा उसे एक पुत्र भी था। वह अपने चाचा के यहाँ बागबाजार में रहती थी। वह पाठशाला में जाने के लिए अति इच्छुक थी पर अड़ोस-पड़ोस की कटु आलोचनाओं के कारण उसने पाठशाला जाना छोड़ दिया था। एक दिन उसकी दादी माँ गंगा स्नान हेतु जा रही थी। स्कूल के पास से गुजरते हुए उन्होंने पाठशाला की प्रार्थना सुनी, जिसे लड़कियाँ मधुर स्वरों में गा रही थी। उन्हें वह प्रार्थना बहुत अच्छी लगी। इससे प्रभावित होकर उनका शिक्षा के प्रति अनुकूल मत बना और उन्होंने गिरिबाला को पाठशाला में जाने की अनुमति दी तथा इसकी व्यवस्था भी की| गिरिबाला स्कूल की गाड़ी से ही पाठशाला जाने लगी। पर उसके घर तक जो गली जाती थी वह सँकरी होने के कारण गाड़ी घर तक नहीं जा पाती थी। अतः गिरिबला को पैदल ही घर  तक जाना पड़ता तथा स्कूल जाने के लिए गली के मुँहाने खड़ी गाड़ी तक जाना पड़ता। एक दिन उसे थोड़ी देर हो गयी और गाड़ी उसे छोड़कर चली गयी। पाठशाला में वह अनुपस्थित रही। निवेदिता को यह अनियमितता बिल्कुल पसन्द नहीं थी। स्कूल में किसी लड़की का अनुपस्थित रहना उसे बिल्कुल अच्छा नहीं लगता। अतः उसने गाड़ीवान को गिरिबला के घर तक गाड़ी ले जाने की विशेष अनुमति दे दी।

Tuesday 6 March 2018

निवेदिता - एक समर्पित जीवन - 24

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

छात्राओं से वात्सल्य  (1)

उनकी छात्राओं में एक थी प्रफुल्ल मुखी, जो पाठशाला के पास ही रहती थी। वह बालविधवा थी। बहुत ही बुद्धिमती तथा उत्साही स्वभाव की इस लड़की को निवेदिता बहुत स्नेह करती। एकादशी व्रत के दिन वह हमेशा ही इस लड़की के लिए फल, मिठाई भेजा करती। एक बार की बात है निवेदिता दिन भर पाठशाला के कामकाज के पश्चात् डॉ. बोस के साथ व्यस्त रहीं। अचानक उन्हें यद् आया कि आज एकादशी का व्रत है और उसने प्रफुल्ल मुखी के खाने के लिए कुछ नहीं भिजवाया है। बस, अब निवेदिता का वहाँ एक पल भी रुकना असम्भव हो गया। वे तुरंत घर की ओर दौड़ी और पहुँचते ही प्रफुल्ल मुखी को बुलावा भेजा। उसे पास बिठाकर खेद प्रकट करते हुए निवेदिता बार-बार कहने लगीं - मेरी बच्ची, मैं तुम्हें फल, मिठाई भिजवाना कैसे भूल गयी ? मैंने तुम्हारे ऊपर कितना अन्याय किया है। मैंने खुद तो खाया; पर तुम्हें भेजना भूल गयी ? मुझसे कितनी बड़ी गलती हो गयी।

Saturday 3 March 2018

Indian Women in the Letters of Sister Nivedita - 2

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Indian Women in the Letters of Sister Nivedita

- Dr Suruchi Pande

Sister Nivedita's letter to Mrs Ole Bull dated 5 March 1905 has a reference to Sri Rama-krishna's birthday and their visit to the Math. Here she has beautifully expressed the memory of the sweet, meditative personality of Holy Mother. She writes,

"And yet, on the soul-side, Sri Ram Krishna is a baby today—and we ask nothing of babies. We give all. So the air is full of worship—and the evening bells sounding at this moment are so sweet! Life without meaning—what an infinite relief ! All evening and starlight, and the new moon and prayer. It is like the Holy Mother's presence. That too, is like the concentrated sweetness of the twilight—especially when she is at worship—oh, how wonderful! (2.726)"

Indian Women and Sister Nivedita

We know the history and development of the girl's school initiated by Sister Nivedita. But slowly her stream of work started taking a different direction. Sister Nivedita is so honest in her contemplation when she writes to Miss J Macleod in a letter dated 24 July 1902(?). She says:
"We talk of 'Woman-making.' But the great stream of the Oriental woman's life flows on—who am I that I should seek in anyway to change it? Suppose even that I could add my impress to 10 to 12 girls—would it be so much gain? Is it not rather by taking the national consciousness of the women like that of the men, and getting it towards greater problems and responsibilities, that one can help? Then, when they have surveyed the great scheme, have they not already become open to new views of life and necessity? Will they not achieve these for themselves? (1.482)"

Sister Nivedita is always very sympathetic whenever she writes about Indian women. She appreciates their qualities and hopes for their betterment. Her sister Mrs Wilson sent some money for Nivedita. While replying her in a letter dated 29 January 1903, she wrote, 'Monday next is the Day of Saraswati—our Indian Minerva and 50 poor widows are to have 1/S worth of provisions each—your money goes to this! The widows are not to be beggars you know but 'decayed gentlewomen'—just the class you will love to help' (2.541).

Sister Nivedita's heart always ached when she saw agony and suffering. She tried to help out in whatever way possible to her. This is seen when she attempted to seek financial help for curing a poor girl. She wrote to Miss J Macleod in a letter dated 26 March 1903, 'If you will give me 100 rupees for a certain case, I shall be very glad. A little girl here of a respectable but poor family has got white leprosy. She has had it a year. She is 9 or 10 years old and in a year or two will have to be married. An allopathic doctor thinks he can cure her with 5 months treatment, cost about 15/- a month. I trusted to your donation and undertook the case. Was I right?' (2.548). Nivedita received the help she needed. She has kept a track and again she has given the updated news to Miss J Macleod in a letter dated 14 January 1904, by writing, 'Your little girl is cured of her leprosy. Are you not glad?' (2.619).

Sister Nivedita respected marriage system and a place of a woman in it. In one of her letters she has seriously analysed the mind of a woman. On 12 July 1905, she writes to Miss J Macleod, "Marriage, to be kept ideal, means walking on a path long and difficult, sharp as the edge of a razor, and the way so hard to find! It is, for good women, ... no yielding to a thirst, no yielding, or self-indulgence of any kind. It is a great giving, an infinite tenderness, a solemn quiet and joy—and such a compassion! ... Motherhood and worship at once.

But why do I say all this? Because I feel that you and I have gone through much torture and confusion of mind from the fact that Swamiji was a man, and could see women only from.

To Be Continued.............