Tuesday 31 July 2018

Sister Nivedita writes on Indian National Ideals

A Brief Statement of Some Points
I. What is our civic ideal ? That the people should do the work of their country and not merely enjoy.

What is the work of the nation ?

Our work is threefold :
1. To love the soil and water of the land we live in.
2. To realize the highest ideal, each in his own way.
3. To share in the whole life of humanity—national or international.

With regard to the first point:
We should love the soil of the country. (In this is included our religion which is the product of the land we live in.) We must do some work for the country each in his own humble way. Everybody cannot do work on an elaborate scale. But each can, if he likes, help in the growth of the country in his own way. India requires industrial regeneration and for this purpose, a band of workers.

With regard to the second point :
We have here a solemn duty to perform—each one of us should try to realize the highest ideal each in his own way. To think of certain ideals as the exclusive possession of a man or of a nation is vulgarity, according to the Hindus. The superiority of Hinduism lies in the fact that it acknowledges religious freedom. It never claims certain ideals as the exclusive possession of a particular sect. It is a comprehensive religion. Now, religious freedom may be positive or negative. Western ideals say—Do unto others the thing you would like to be done towards you. While Eastern ideals say — Do not unto others the things you would not like to see others do to you. This fact shows the liberality and the comprehensiveness of the Hindu religion.

With regard to the third point ;
We must expand our narrow self. Our duty should be to share in the whole life of humanity—national or international. One cannot be a cosmopolitan unless one be a nationalist. And to become a nationalist, we must extend our narrow self.


Sunday 29 July 2018

Sister Nivedita on Education of Indian Women -4

But let it be remembered that the true heart of education is in its ideals. There ought to be interaction between school and home. But the home is the chief of these two factors. To it, the school should be subordinated, and not the reverse. That is to say, the education of an Indian girl should be directed towards making of her a more truly Indian woman. She must be enabled by it to recognize for herself what are the Indian ideals, and how to achieve them; not made contemptuous of those ideals, and left to gather her own from the moral and social chaos of novels by Ouida.

Fathers and mothers must not suppose, when their children go to school, that their own task is ended. Rather must the thought of Dharma increase daily in the household. Indian ideals of family cohesion, of charity, of frugality and of honour; the admiration of the national heroes; the fund of poetic legends, must be daily and hourly discussed and commented on. All that makes India India, must flow through the Indian home to make it Indian. The family is something of a club, it must be remembered, and the true school of character, and the best education of children is the conversation of their parents. When the home-duty is done in this way, there is no doubt whatever as to the ennobling effect of school on the womanly, as much as on the manly character. Let us all beware of the danger of leaving our own duties undone, and charging the results to the account of some great cause, like that of the modern education of the Indian woman.


Saturday 28 July 2018

Sister Nivedita on Education of Indian Women -3

Does this mean, however, that Indian women are not to learn to read and write ? Let us ask, in reply, if Indian women are inferior to all the other women of the world? Unless they, are why should it be supposed that they alone are unfit for an extension of the means of self-expression, to which all the other women of the nineteenth century have been found equal? Has Indian Dharma, with all its dreams of noble womanhood, succeeded only in producing a being so feeble that she cannot stand alone, so faithless that the door may not be opened in her presence, so purposeless that added knowledge tends only to make her frivolous and self-indulgent? Modern Europe has produced great women? Is modern India incapable of doing likewise? Is our future evolution to be determined by our faith, or by our fear? Are we to insist on remaining mediaeval, lest harm come of change ?

Even if we were so faithless as to answer 'Yes' to all these questions, it would be useless, for the Mother Herself has taken option out of our hands. Change is upon us, and necessity of change. The waves overwhelm us. Nothing is left for us, but to find out how to deal with them, how to make them forces of construction, how to live in our own day a life so lofty and so heroic that three centuries hence men shall look back upon this as one of the great ages of India, and desire to write a Mahabharata of the twentieth century.

Amongst other things, the education of the Indian woman must be modernized. Fathers feel this, where grandfathers fail, grandfathers know it, where fathers oppose. Let there be no fear! The Indian civilization is at least as great as any other in the world. There is no reason to believe that a little more sunlight will cause it to melt away ! The Indian woman is as great as any. No amount of added knowledge could ever make her mean.


Sister Nivedita on Education of Indian Women - 3

This new knowledge, however, in a truly great woman, will modify every action. Before yielding blindly to prejudice, she will now consider the direction in which that prejudice is working. If she indulges her natural feeling, will it tend to the establishment in India of nobler ideals, or will it merely make for social vanity, and meaningless restrictions? Even the finest of women may make mistakes in the application of these new principles. But honest mistakes lead to knowledge and correct themselves.

The education of woman then is still, as it always was, a matter of developing the heart, and making the intellect efficient as servant, not as lord. The nobility of the will is the final test of culture, and the watch-towers of the will are in the affections.

We must think strongly about education. We must know what are its highest results. Let us suppose that a girl learns to read and write, and spends her whole time afterwards over sensational novels. The fact is, that girl, in spite of her reading and writing, remains uneducated. Reading and writing are nothing in themselves. She has not learnt how to choose her reading. She is uneducated, whatever be her nationality. That many Western people, both men and women, are uneducated in this deepest and best sense, is proved by the character of common railway-bookstall periodicals. Education in reality means training of the will.

It is not enough to render the will noble : it ought also to be made efficient if the true educational ideal is to be attained; and it is this latter clause which necessitates our schooling in many branches of knowledge and activity. But efficiency without nobility is worse than useless; it is positively destructive. Infinitely better, nobility without efficiency; the moral and ideal preparation for life, without any acquaintance with special processes. Let India never tamper with the place that the Mahabharata and the Ramayana hold in the households of the simple. Her own passionate love of Sita and Savitri is woman's best education. Her overflowing admiration for Bhishma, for Yudhisthira, for Karna, is the wife's best offering, and the mother's best schooling, to the manhood of the home.


Thursday 26 July 2018

Sister Nivedita on Education of Indian Women -2

But the situation to be surveyed, may be more or less complex. And according to its complexity will be the training it requires. Very little intellectual training is needed, to enable a woman to watch her daily bazaar. The great land-owner requires more, for the management of her tenants and estates. Some knowledge of engineering, of agriculture, of the laws of banking and returns upon investments, a far sight about building and afforestation, and a generous identification of interests, will all be of value to the woman-zemindar.

Yet even here, it will be noticed that knowledge itself is nothing, without the wisdom and love that are to use that knowledge. And this discrimination it is that tells the woman what virtue to put in practice on any particular occasion. The mother and housewife must above all things be careful about cleanliness and good habits. The great Hindu queen, Ahalya Bai, shows her wisdom by special consideration for her Mohammedan subjects.

The days that are now upon us, demand of each man and woman a wider outlook than was ever before the case. No single question can be settled today, in the light of its bearing upon the private home. Even the food we eat or the cloth we wear, carries a responsibility with it, to those whose well-being will make or unmake the prosperity of our children and grand-children. The interests of the coolie in Madras are knit up with those of the labourer in the Punjab. In order to understand these facts, and weigh them well, it is clear that a good deal of intellectual preparation is necessary. A very ignorant woman cannot even comprehend what is meant by them. This intellectual training is what we usually call education.

But it is evident that the name is mistake. It is her awakened sense of responsibility that constitutes the truly educated woman. It is her love and pity for her own people, and the wisdom with which she considers their interests, that marks her out as modern and cultivated and great. The geography and history that she had learnt, or the English books she has read, are nothing in themselves, unless they help her to this love and wisdom. Scraps of cloth will not clothe us, however great their quantity ! There must be a unity and a fitness, in the garment that is worn.


Education of Indian Women -1

It is not only India, but the world as a whole, that is being agitated today by the question of the future of Woman. In India, discussion centres on her right to education : in Europe, it centres on her right to political expression. In one form or another, Woman is everywhere the unknown quantity, the being of uncertain destiny. We are in no position to help Europe in the solution of her problems : it is sufficient for the present if we can bring a little clear thought to bear on our own. What do we mean by an educated woman? What is ideal for woman : What, for the matter of that, is our ideal for man ? What is an educated man?

As usual, it is easier to say what education is not, than to define what it is, or ought to be. And first, in order to test the depth and extent of education, we go instinctively to the examination of the individual's relation to the community about him. Evidently education is partly a question of social adjustment. If we find a man growing more and more extravagant, as he grows poorer, can we call him an ideally educated person ? If we find a wife making it impossible for her husband to cut down his expenses when necessary, fighting against him, instead of with him, on behalf of personal comfort and enjoyment, rather than the well-being of the family, can we call her an educated woman ? If the captain of a ship behaved in such a manner, could we call him a skilled navigator ? Evidently education is a word that implies the power to survey a situation and put ourself into a right relation to it. A woman cannot do this— she cannot even submit herself to her own husband—unless she has the power and habit of self-control. Self-control, then, with wisdom and love, must be the crown of the educated woman. In other words, education, finally, works on the will, and installs the heart and the intellect as its loyal and harmonious servants. To be able to will nobly and efficiently has been described as the goal of education. The end of all culture lies in character.