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...

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