Saturday 12 May 2018

The Transformation OF Margaret Into Nivedita - 2

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

'This indeed is India!'

When two of Swami Vivekananda's American women disciples, Mrs. Sara C. Bull and Ms Josephine MacLeod, came on a few months' visit to India, Swamiji arranged for Margaret's stay with them in their riverside cottage, before a permanent arrangement could be made for her.

During this stay, Nivedita and the American disciples were drenched in the endless flow of stories about India that came from Swamiji. He thus revealed to Nivedita and the other disciples the historical greatness of India, the divinity of her mahatmas and incarnations, the greatness of the simple folk, the valour of her men and the chastity of her women, the filial piety of her children, her art, literature and religion. He analysed the Hindu philosophy, told stories, described anecdotes, explained the historical events, and pointed out her unique traditions. The disciples were enchanted. India was no longer just an idea but was slowly taking shape as a living personality in Nivedita's mind.
This was only theory. Swami Vivekananda wanted his Western disciples to see India face to face. And so during the summer, Swamiji took them on an extensive tour of Northern India, especially in the Himalayas, which lasted from the beginning of May till the end of October, 1898.

Swamiji would describe with great emotion the significance of each place as they reached it and introduce one by one each point of interest with passionate enthusiasm. Nivedita realized with great pain and a sense of shame that the ignorance of educated Westerners about India amounted almost to illiteracy.

Swamiji told them not only about the historically great cities like Patna, the ancient Pataliputra, Benares on the holy Ganga and the wealthy industrial city of Lucknow – but also about the simple villages, surrounded by vast, green fields and groves. As a wandering monk, he had enjoyed hospitality not only from royal hosts but from the humble but loving peasant folk and hut-dwellers as well; it was the memory of this personal experience that so brightened his eyes and thrilled in his voice as he described the villagers and their lives. The wild peacocks or an occasional elephant that they came across became the text books for tales about Rajaputana or the ancient India.
'See! This is India! Not what the travellers and missionaries and administrators saw with eyes of prejudice and partiality,' Swamiji seemed to be saying.

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