Sunday 24 June 2018

Sister Nivedita’s Battle for Indian Ideals in America - 5

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

From November 28, Nivedita stayed at Hull House, run by Jane Addams. Hull House was a settlement house for poor immigrant working women of various ethnic origins, designed to instil pride in their customs and culture, and yet assimilate them into American life. Upper-class women volunteered to teach classes in this extraordinary community and many of the students went on to study in colleges and universities.

Nivedita wrote to Miss MacLeod on 4 December 1899: 'Hull house has been dear' (1.253). Nivedita felt at home in the austere, natural atmosphere of the place. It was more to her liking: less of comfort and no glare of electric lights. Nivedita called Jane Addams of Hull House a karma yogi. She was a clear-headed quiet and unassuming person. Miss Jane Addams—to be distinguished from Nivedita's hostess in Chicago, Mrs Milward Adams—had written a book Democracy and Social Ethics, explaining her ideas. Her project was to develop a new consciousness to overcome the effects of social Darwinism, the competitive theory of evolution which regarded all other races and classes than successful middle-class white people, that is, all aborigines, especially Native Americans, blacks, and Orientals as representing lower stages of evolutionary development.

Nivedita wrote that after her talk at 'Hull House Arts and Crafts Association, on the ancient arts of India, Kashmir shawl-making, Taj etc. etc.—was paid 15 dollars—and received orders for Hindu brass utensils and some embroideries!!!' (1.254). Nivedita spoke on Sunday morning at a church, and in the afternoon, at a private house. She spoke to a new group of people—Abhayananda's cast-off disciples and some Theosophists. Abhayananda, a sannyasini disciple of Swamiji who had defected, and her disciples, were fresh from her attacks on India and full of questions, but when they came to Kali-worship, Nivedita said she would give a whole evening to that subject. Again, she gave a talk one afternoon at Mrs Adams. She had planned for four more lectures the following week. Nivedita wrote to MacLeod:

 "A note from Mrs. Coonley Ward, [arrived] in reply to Miss Farmer's introduction, saying that she understood I wanted to meet club women, and I might come to lunch with her and [to] a meeting at the Women's Club ...I have had various chances of this sort which have been dreary failures more or less, before—and so expecting nothing, but seeing the clear prompting of duty, I cancelled my arrangements with M. H. [Mary Hale] at once, and proceeded to the Club. Mrs C. W. was distractingly busy—and I had a bewildering hour or two—till she handed me over to someone else, and left the club with an apology, while we waited to hear a paper on Colonisation. It was a clever paper—of which the final proposition was that it was the duty of America to assume the responsibility of spreading the Anglo-Saxon type of Civilisation over the world. It was supported by short disquisitions from a professor of philosophy and a woman politician on 'The Moral Responsibility Involved' and 'The Ethics of War'...Then the meeting was open to discussion ... and I was the only person who rose at once!!! ... I rose as an Englishwoman and poured out my burning heart over Humanity and Freedom and American ideals. Almost every second sentence was applauded. The Chairman rose in the middle to say the meeting dispensed with the time limit in my case—and when I at length went to my seat, I heard 'Fine! Fine!' as I passed along. ... I ran in to tell Mrs. Adams, and she was so pleased. She said I had struck the heart of Chicago in the Women's Club. It had been her ambition for me. And so you see I have had my assurance that the Cause is to triumph. ... The professor of philosophy is to delay his departure. From Chicago to come and talk it out tomorrow afternoon. Friday—I am to talk my work at Mrs. Adams! (1.256–7). "

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

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

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