Saturday 23 June 2018

Sister Nivedita’s Battle for Indian Ideals in America - 4

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

That day Swamiji's 'sister' Mary Hale and her married sister were invited for lunch when Mary offered to take Nivedita to the Friday Club to join in a debate that was to follow a paper on Modern India but with the stipulation that Nivedita wear ordinary clothes since she considered it an affectation for her to wear modified nun's clothes, and she advised her not be identified with Swamiji, which suggestions, Nivedita declined. Mary could not understand Nivedita's Indian work. Mrs Bull wrote again to Mary, hoping to help Mary overlook her prejudices about Nivedita, saying: 'Margot is so loyal, untiring and true, she is worth perfecting and waiting for,and she has enough material to bear the friction and polish.'

Untiring, Nivedita must have been. The following week, her two companions continued to stay at the Auditorium Hotel and returned soon to Boston and New York, while Nivedita shifted for a few days to Hull House, where her heavy schedule of lectures began. There, she gave a lecture on 'Religious Life in India'. After that, she gave a talk at the Women's Mending Guild one day, and a lecture on geography the next day, to children in an elementary school. Nivedita wrote: 'On Thursday afternoon I spoke to the Elementary School children, who were just lovely. So well educated! Their teacher has some idea of forming a children's guild for me. Tomorrow I am to go to lunch at the Pullman Rooms and meet Miss Harrison, the head of the Kindergarten World here.'

Then, Mary Hale took Nivedita to join the discussion in the afternoon at the Friday Club and to give a talk to the Missionary Society the same evening. Nivedita wrote to Mrs Bull: 'Last Friday, talking to the Missionary Board, it seemed a terrible failure to me—like contriving to breathe under the weight of the Pyramids. But my chaperon—kind Mrs. Waterman—was entirely unconscious of this and happy in something that pleased her in my little speech—so it perhaps served some end' (1.243–4). Apparently, these were friends of Mrs Bull.

The next day, Nivedita wrote: 'I can't tell you where I am in the battle now. I am not out of heart, but the fight is slow—because the opportunities are so few. I go tomorrow—Thursday ... to spend a few days at Hull House. Then on Friday I hope to have a good practical talk at Miss Hale's' (1.247). On Saturday, Nivedita wrote: 'Yesterday afternoon, at the Hale's, there were about 25 people. Anywhere but in kind America my speech would have been spurned as too grossly uninteresting for words. But there, everyone without exception promised to help as much as they could, to form a Guild, or to try and get me to other towns, or by giving a dollar a year—which was the amount I asked. And Mrs. Adams has a little plan ... [Mrs Adams was going to recommend her to the lecture bureau and they planned to form a Vedanta group in sympathy with her work]' (1.249). Nivedita wrote: 'Tomorrow—Sunday—I go to a new home to talk. I meet some new people at the Studio. ... Kind Miss Farmer sent me yesterday about 10 introductions' (ibid.). 'I gave my second lecture there... and tried to put Real and Unreal and Renunciation in thinkable words' (1.253). She wrote to Mary Hale: 'I am down for another talk here on Friday night, which is to be paid for by a subscription to the work' (1.250)   

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

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

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