Thursday 28 June 2018

Sister Nivedita’s Battle for Indian Ideals in America - 9

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

The next day the fight was over different points of view of the caste system in front of Mrs Bull's other guests, which was an embarrassment to Mrs Bull. It seems she had invited about a hundred school teachers to tea. Nivedita reconsidered her tactics and wrote out a plan for her first talk in Boston on 1st June 1900. It was arranged by Mrs Cheney, Mrs Ole Bull, and Dr Lewis Janes, who were members of the board of directors of the Free Religious Association. Nivedita wrote to Miss MacLeod: 'The day after tomorrow—Free Relig. Ass. [Free Religious Association]—I have not yet defined my speech to myself. I half thought of talking it over with you.' Nivedita proceeded to write an outline of her talk and elaborate some of the points in her letter which she completed the next day, saying: 'Mr. Pal precedes me, on "India's Contribution to Free Religion." Oh Yum! My hand just trembles with nervousness!' (1.355).

Nivedita was apprehensive at the thought of facing her antagonist in front of an audience of intellectuals, all well-known speakers themselves. Nivedita had a more passionate love for India than many Indians. Pratap Chandra Majumdar was to speak about Ram Mohan Roy at the same meeting. Nivedita had one great advantage over the other speakers, as a person coming from another culture she had a viewpoint far more vast and universal and far deeper and more insightful. She also knew the Christian standpoint of her general audience. She was well aware that the audience believed the civilisation of the West superior to the East. She invited questions after her speech: 'I should be glad to accept any challenge on the subject that might be offered me by Western people.'18 Nivedita spoke of the detachment of civilisation from religion in the West as men and women live for something that is not included in Christianity. Nivedita pointed out the rift between science and religion and between truth and mythology that had occurred in Christianity in the West and declared that there was no such distinction in India. 'How different it is in India,' she said, 'where it is expected that every man on his own account practices within the silence of his own soul that religious idea which appeals to him most' (ibid.). She pointed out that if a religion were not universal and inclusive, it would be militant against those who do not find salvation by its path. In this lecture, Nivedita touched her favourite point, and a practical one for the failing economies of the West today, when she said: "We of the West are yet to be beholden to the people of the East for the most passionate impulse of simplicity and renunciation in common life that the world has ever seen. I think that the hope of this country and the hope of England and of all the luxurious and money loving West, lies not in driving poverty out, but in the love of poverty—in espousing it as the old saints and people espoused it, and this, if it is to come to us at all, will come through the genius of the people of the Orient (366–7)."

Nivedita prophesied that in one to three hundred years afterward people will realise the influence of Sanskrit (by which she meant Sanskrit culture or India) by the rest of the world. She also saw the day in the future when 'the Christian would be found in China or Japan, as here and the Hindu will be found here, as often as there; the Buddhist and the Moslem will be found the world over' (367). After this lecture, Nivedita wrote to Miss MacLeod on 6 June 1900: 'My speech last Friday was more successful than it deserved to be ... R. W. Trine paid me a compliment. As soon as I began to speak ... he classed me [as one of] ... the "highest type of women."'

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

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

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