Friday, 6 July 2018

Breakfast with the Sisters: A Meeting of Great Minds - 4

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:


In 1905 Gokhale was elected President of the Congress Party at its meeting in Varanasi, and at his invitation Nivedita attended the meetings. She did not speak during the proceedings, but she did participate in the vote of thanks given to Gokhale afterwards. However, the house she rented during that time—located in the Tilbhandeshvar section of Varanasi—became a meeting place, as in Calcutta, of moderates and extremists alike. Though Gokhale, a moderate, was elected President, the extremists' resolution to accept the Swadeshi movement, and boycott British goods, was accepted unanimously by the Congress Party that year.

But at the 1906 session of the Party, the moderates—led by Gokhale and Romesh Chandra Dutt—and the extremists—led by Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, known together as 'Lal-Bal-Pal', as well as Aurobindo—split the Congress into two parties. Though Nivedita favoured the extremists' position, she was greatly upset by this split, as she felt that only a united front would work against the British rule. But there was nothing she could do about it. Later, when Gokhale had fallen out of favour even with the moderates, she still defended him, as she knew his sincerity.

Part of Nivedita's work for India's freedom was to instil a sense of national unity—nationalism, as she called it—in the country. Thus, she did everything she could to support the Swadeshi movement—the movement to encourage Indians to buy only Indian-made goods. She even helped young men go to the US to learn about Western business and industry so their products could be more competitive. On 21 November 1906, Nivedita wrote to Josephine MacLeod, expressing her gratitude to Mr Whitmarsh for helping a young man tour some factories in the US for this purpose (2.830).

Later, when the British Government tried to crush the Swadeshi movement, another of Nivedita's friends, S N Banerjee, pulled off an outstanding act of defiance—to prove that the movement was not dead—by setting up a Swadeshi Bazaar. As Nivedita proudly wrote to the Ratcliffes on 16 August 1911: 'Yesterday I took the girls [the students of her school] to the Swadeshi mela. S.N. Banerjee has got up this Swadeshi Bazaar—or exhibition—as a demonstration, in place of the processions and speeches of Aug. 7th' (2.1220).

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