Friday 22 June 2018

Sister Nivedita’s Battle for Indian Ideals in America - 3

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Nivedita had a few strong supporters among Swamiji's followers to start: Mrs Ole Bull of Boston, who was Swamiji's main supporter, Sarah Farmer who was Mrs Bull's co-worker and friend and the originator of the Greenacre, Maine retreat centre, 'Betty' (Besse) Leggett, whose guest Nivedita was in New York. Betty, the sister of Josephine MacLeod and wife of a millionaire, contributed a thousand dollars. When Sara Bull, with her American sense of organisation, formed 'The Ramakrishna Guild of Help' in America for the purpose of raising funds for Nivedita's proposed widows' and girls' home and school in Calcutta, Betty became its President and Mrs Bull, its national Secretary. There were Vice-Presidents and Secretaries representing different cities: Josephine MacLeod and Vivekananda's devotee, the famous opera-singer, Emma Thursby, were Secretaries in New York, Mr Mead and Edna Cheney in Boston, Thomas Higginson, Lewis Janes, and Marion Briggs in Cambridge, and Christina Greenstidel in Detroit. The Project of the Ramakrishna School for Girls was published as a booklet through Mr Leggett.

In it, the following plan was written: "We intend, if we succeed in acquiring means, to buy a house and piece of land on the banks of the Ganges, near Calcutta, and there take in some twenty widows and twenty orphan girls—the whole community to be under the guidance and authority of that Sarada Devi, whose name has been lately introduced to the world by Professor Max Muller in his 'Life and Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna'. ...We ask each child to choose for herself the life of marriage or of consecrated national service. For those who choose the first, we shall hope to provide ways and means that are entirely creditable. With any who may prefer to devote their lives to unremitting toil on behalf of their country and her womanhood, we shall expect, after an extended education, and using the older women as guard and protectors, to start new Ramakrishna schools in other centres."

From Betty's country home, Ridgely Manor in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, Nivedita decided to go first to Chicago to lecture, hoping to raise funds there. Betty Leggett's daughter, Alberta and Mr Ole Bull's daughter, Olea, graciously invited Nivedita to join them on the journey to Chicago, where Swamiji had many friends. Both Sara Bull and Josephine MacLeod had written to Mary, encouraging her to help Nivedita. Mrs Bull wrote to Mary about Nivedita: 'She has intuitions and courage worthy of Swami's daughter, and she will find a way. I am sure you will all love her as we do, and your personal sympathy and truth, and your sisters' will do so much for her.'9 Swami Vivekananda also helped Nivedita by sending a letter ahead, introducing her to Mrs Milward Adams, whom he knew from Greenacre.

Nivedita and her companions arrived in Chicago on Wednesday, November 1899 and Mr Adams met them at the station and took them to home and dinner with Mrs Adams. Things moved quickly. Mrs Adams arranged for Nivedita's speaking engagements. Nivedita wrote to Mrs Ole Bull: 'This morning my name will be brought before a board of missionaries—with the idea of my speaking there.' And in the same letter, she wrote: 'Two ladies of strong missionary and educational interests are coming on Sunday to interview us' (ibid.)

- Pravrajika Prabuddhaprana : Pravrajika Prabuddhaprana is a senior Sanyasini of the Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission.

To be continued...........

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