Monday 2 April 2018

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India – 41

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita as an Educationalist - 3

When national conference of Congress was to be held in Calcutta Nivedita made her students embroider a design for the proposed national flag of India. It was not just embroidering she explained the concept behind it to her students. According to her, the saffron colour stood for the noble spiritual tradition of India. Thus, the colour of that flag was saffron. On it the symbols of Vajra was embroidered. Vajra was made out of the backbone of Dadhichi Rishi. He had willingly given up his body for that. It became the invincible weapon of Devas over the Asuric forces. Thus, Vajra represented the supreme most sacrifice that one has to do for society and the invincibility of our nation. On one side of Vajra was written 'Vande Mataram' and on the other side was written 'Yato Dharma tato Jaya' i.e. where there is Dharma there is victory. From this we can understand how well she had internalized and imbibed in her students the culture of India which today some of the so-called elites find difficult to understand and own. This symbol of Vajra was so appealing to people that many eminent persons like Dr Jagadish Chandra Bose started using it. 
Nivedita was a mother to her students in the true sense of the term. Hindu widows were required to maintain many restrictions with regard to their food even if they were child widows. So on many occasions they would reach school without taking any food. Nivedita could tell by seeing their faces, which one of them had not taken their meal and would be anxious to feed them. She had one young widow student, named Prafulla Devi, who was her neighbor. On every Ekadashi (the eleventh day after the full moon or new moon, which one spends in full or partial fasting, prayer and worship) she would make this student sit before her, then taking due care to avoid being touched, she would feed her sweets and fruits. On one Ekadashi day, Nivedita had to gone to Jagadish Chandra Bose's house for urgent work. Suddenly she remembered that it was Ekadashi and she had not fed Prafulla. She immediately rushed back to her house and called Prafulla and repeatedly apologized, saying. 'My child, I forgot what a wrong! I have not fed you while I took my meal. What a wrong!'

Education is not just piece of information but awakening the intense feelings for real heroes of our country. Nivedita was full of such feelings. The history of India used to come alive in the imagination of Nivedita. One day she was talking to her students about her visit to Chittor. Nivedita said, 'I went up the hill and sat down on my knees. I closed my eyes and thought of Padmini Devi with her folded hands standing before the burning pyre. I closed my eyes and tried to think of the last thought that might have crossed Padmini's mind….' As she spoke, she became quiet and for a while sat lost in her thoughts. Truly, she appeared to have reached Chittor of the time of Padmini Devi. She completely forgot that she was teaching the girls. We can also imagine how the girls also must have been transported to the Chittor and would have been filled with the thought of Padmini.

To be continued...

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