Saturday, 14 July 2018

Breakfast with the Sisters: A Meeting of Great Minds -12

Sister Christine, however, had her own priorities. She decided to concentrate on what Swamiji had called her to India for, which was women's education. Though she worked with Nivedita at the school, she remained in the Ramakrishna Order as a brahmacharini for the rest of her life. But the freedom movement had her quiet support and sympathy, and she would sometimes express her opinions on things. According to Nivedita, Gokhale, the moderate President of the Congress Party, was very devoted to Christine. Probably Christine's temperament was more agreeable to him than Nivedita's.

After the Congress Party split into two factions—between the moderates and the extremists—Nivedita refused to attend their meetings. But Christine would attend if the meetings were held in Calcutta, and she would give Nivedita reports about the proceedings.

Like Nivedita, Christine had been a school teacher even before coming to India, so she had much experience in education. This was one of the reasons why Swamiji had brought her to India. We can also see from her reminiscences of Swamiji that she was a brilliant woman. She was no mere sidekick to Nivedita. Moreover, her loving, gentle, and motherly disposition endeared her to everyone—students, neighbours, servants, and visitors alike, as well as to the monks of the Ramakrishna Order who knew her. Because of her loving disposition, and also her hard work, the school blossomed under her direction. Not only did more and more young girls start coming, but soon an adult section was also started for women.

Nivedita often mentioned in her letters that Christine was really in charge of the school, and she had mixed emotions about it. Nivedita wanted to remain in charge. Being in control was her very nature. Yet she had very little connection with it anymore as she was spending most of her time writing and lecturing, or helping others with their writing. She probably also felt that the school was her sheet anchor—the one thing that kept her focused on something other than politics. Moreover, because she saw that Christine was really fulfilling the role that Swamiji had brought her to India for, she wondered sometimes if she had failed him. But there was one thing that she did do for the school, and that was to get money for it—and also for Christine.

From : Pravrajika Shuddhatmaprana :  Pravrajika Shuddhatmaprana is a senior Sanyasini of the Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission...to be continued