Monday, 9 July 2018

Breakfast with the Sisters: A Meeting of Great Minds -7

Sister Devamata, an American disciple of Swami Paramananda, once lived for some time at The House of the Sisters with Sister Nivedita and Sister Christine. She described Nivedita's collaboration with Dr Bose thus: 'Literary work absorbed Sister Nivedita too profoundly to enable her to take part to any extent in teaching. She was occupied also in assisting the famous botanist, Dr. J. C. Bose, in preparing a new book on plant life. He spent several hours every day at the school and sometimes lunched there, so I had a delightful opportunity to know him.'

And in a letter to Josephine MacLeod dated 22 November 1905, Nivedita herself gave a glimpse of the work on one of Bose's books: "We are gradually finishing the gigantic labour of the Bairn's [ J C Bose's] book on Botany. We are now working over the conclusion and will hope by his birthday on the 30th to have put in the inevitable extra discoveries, and even the Introduction. This does not mean the end of the work but it does probably mean no more serious composition—and I am hoping at the end to take a month or two of rest and travel. We work now 3 and sometimes 4 days a week from 8 A. M. till 5/30 P. M. with an hour or two omitted for meals. And in the holidays we do almost more than this, every day. You can imagine how exhausted we both are—for this has been going on continuously since the beginning of October, 1904. But then, on the other hand, one's love and pride are more than satisfied for 20 years hence, when they have had time to understand it all, they will say that the Science of Botany was revolutionised by a Hindu!"

Bose's wife, Abala, and also his sister, Laban yaprabha, took great interest in Nivedita's and Christine's school, and even taught there for some time. In fact, we might even say that both Nivedita and Christine were basically members of the Boses' family. Though Christine was usually Mrs Sevier's guest at the Mayavati Advaita Ashrama during school breaks, Nivedita often travelled with the Boses—sometimes to Darjeeling, once on a pilgrimage to Kedarnath and Badrinath, and at least twice to Europe and the U.S. Moreover, she was with the Boses in Darjeeling in 1911 when she passed away.

Bose was devastated by Nivedita's death, but for the rest of his life he acknowledged his gratitude to her in many ways. Nivedita had worked extremely hard to have Bose's own Research Institute built. It was to be a laboratory where he did not have to work under the direction of anyone else. Unfortunately she did not live to see it built, nor did she live to see him knighted by the British Government. But when the Bose Institute was completed, part of her ashes was placed there in a memorial fountain to her. Bose also left in his will one lakh rupees for another memorial to be built in her name. With this money Abala Bose had the Nivedita Hall built in a women's welfare institution.


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