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.............