Sunday, 13 May 2018

The Transformation OF Margaret Into Nivedita - 3

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Clash and Conflict

But this was not all. While Swami Vivekananda was thus trying to bring about right understanding about India in Nivedita's mind, he realised that another kind of treatment was also needed.

When they reached the Himalayas, leaving behind the plains, Swamiji's talks shifted to topics like history, literature and sociology of India, England and other nations. But, while Swamiji talked, Nivedita was not a passive listener. As in London and elsewhere, Nivedita argued and fought for her own point of view; and her point of view; as regards England and British imperialism in India, was totally prejudiced. There was a strong bias in Nivedita's reading of India; she idealised the English race and all their deeds in history.
Like most professional humanists who are unable to make the connection between the prolonged and sordid cruelty of such practices as slavery, colonialist and racial oppression, and imperial subjection on the one hand, and the poetry, fiction, and philosophy of society that engages in these practices on the other, Margaret could not suspect, much less free herself from, the common consensus to imperialism in the contemporary British society in which she was born and brought up. Like all other decent men and women around her, she was simply unaware of the moral iniquity involved in imperialism. Margaret's fervent patriotism towards England-except in the question of Ireland-was such that she held that whatever English did was right and noble.
Swamiji saw that, though it would cause infinite pain, the blindness of such half views must be one away with and that the disciple's mind must be brought to change its centre of gravity, must he emancipated from partiality. This was at once her great weakness and her great strength-her total loyalty and dedication, wherever she was committed (and he had aptly named her 'Nivedita'-The dedicated'), always cast its own shadow of prejudice against the other side. This could make or break her life in India; it could, when she was left alone, leave her vulnerable and totally exposed. For her own sake he gave no quarter, and attacked her cherished prepossessions mercilessly. He had always encouraged the fighter in her, and she fought back.

Once during a conversation, exasperated by the impossibility of getting an unclouded judgement from her, Swamiji exclaimed, 'Really, patriotism like yours is sin! All that I want you to see is that most people's actions are the expression of self-interest, and you constantly oppose to this the idea that a certain race are all angels. Ignorance so determined is wickedness!'