Sister Nivedita – A beacon for Freedom fighters


Dedicated Daughter of Mother India – by Sadhu Rangarajan

Nivedita 2

Nivedita had emphatically declared,

“If the whole India could agree to give say ten minutes very evening, at the on coming darkness, to thinking a single thought – We are one. We are one. Nothing can prevail against us to make us think we are divided. For we are one and all the antagonisms amongst us are illusions – The power that would be generated can hardly be measured.”

Dr. Rash Behari Ghosh, the great revolutionary said this about sister Nivedita. ” Our sister fell under the spell of India. We in turn fell under her spell, and her bewitching personality attracted thousands of our young men to her. If the dry bones are beginning to stir, it is because Sister Nivedita breathed the life into them.

Birth in the family of freedom fighters

Margaret Noble was born on October 28, 1867, at Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, in far-off Ireland, in a family of revolutionaries. Her grandfather, John Noble, father, Samuel Richmond and her maternal grandfather, Hamilton, were in the forefront of Irish freedom struggle.Completing her college education in Halifax, Margaret took to teaching for ten years from 1884 to 1894. During the later part of this period she came into contact with the famous revolutionary, Prince Kropotskin.

At the Feet of Swami Vivekananda

When swami Vivekanada visited England, after establishing his reputation in the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893, conquered by his magnetic personality, convinced by the depth of his wisdom and realization and carried away by his ideals of sacrifice and service, Margaret dedicated herself at the feet of great sanyasin and came to India in 1897, on march 25, 1898, she was initiated into the order of brahmacharya by swamiji who conferred on her the new name ‘Nivedita’ meaning the ‘Dedicated’.

Revolt Against Imperialism

During the period May to October 1898, Sister Nivedita went on a tour of Almora and Kashmir regions, accompanying Swami Vivekananda. In Kashmir, she observed how the British government refused permission to the Maharaja of Kashmir to hand over a piece of land to her guru to set up a Mutt and Sanskrit College. Her Irish blood revolted and she realized that the emancipation of India and regeneration of Hinduism could be achieved only by putting an end to British rule in India.

Service During Plague

On return to Calcutta, Sister Nivedita stayed for a week with the holy mother Sri Sarada Devi and late shifted to the house in 16, Bosepara lane, where the mother performed the opening ceremony of Nivedita’s school for girls on November 13, 1898. In March 1899, when plague raged in Calcutta, Sister Nivedita organized a group of young men and engaged herself in relief operations. She was seen in every slum in the Baag Bazaar area with a broom stick in her hand, cleaning the streets when no sweepers and scavengers are available. She even sacrificed her regular diet of milk to meet the expenses of patient.

Under the Shadow of British Police

In the middle of June 1899, Nivedita left fo England with Swamiji. Later she proceeded to America on a lecture tour with a view to raise funds for her school. During her visit to Boston, she met the great Indian Patriot, Bipin Chandra Pal. In America, she gave up her western dress and took to simple and graceful gown of whit flannel with a girdle fastened to the waist. From America she went to Paris. When Nivedita returned to England, she had to face the vile propaganda of British Imperialists and the Christian Missionaries against her, but this only kindled the revolutionary spirit in her. In 1902, when she returned to India, she experienced the joy of returning to her own motherland and at a reception accorded to her at Madras, she proclaimed to the Indians at the top of her voice: Just as it has been realized already that in religion you have a great deal to give and nothing to learn from the west, so also in social matter it will be well to understand that what changes are necessary , you are fully competent to make yourselves and no outsider has the right to advise or interfere. Her speech won her the admiration and blessings of her master, but aroused the anger of the British Government who blacklisted her name, Deputed C.I.D. Officials the shadow her and censored her letters.

Resignation from Ramakrishna Mission

Nivedita’s nationalist activities did create anxiety in the circles of the Ramakrishna order, Swami Vivekananda, on his part, allowed her to pursue the path she had chosen. However, after the death of Swamiji on 4th July 1902, the difference of opinion between her and Swami Brahmananda, president of the Ramakrishna Math, grew wider on the issue of Nivedita’s participation in politics and she resigned from the mission.

With Sri Aurobindo

Nivedita soon went on a nation wide tour in response to the invitation of her disciples and admirers. She reached Baroda on Oct 20, 1902, and met Sri Aurobindo. The subject of their discussion was neither religion nor the philosophy of Vivekananda, but the political developments in Bengal. She stressed the need of Aurobindo’s reaching Calcutta to give effective lead to the nationalists and revolutionary forces in Bengal. According to Lizelle Reymond, the famous Biographer of Sister Nivedita, Nivedita was among the few persons in India knew that Sri Aurobindo was the directing brain behind the nationalist movment in Bengal, despite his physical absence. The same author give us the valuable information that Nivedita was one of the five members of the political committee which Aurobindo Ghosh Appointed to unite in a single organization, the small and scattered groups of rebels which had sprung into existence and were acting without reference to one another . During this tour programme Nivedita attracted thousands of young men and women to her and the one inspiring message she gave them was: “By no means be found sleeping when the cry comes for battle”.

‘Bande Mataram’ in School Prayer

The Nivedita Girl’s school in Calcutta was a brilliant example to nationalist institutions all over the country. Nivedita not only refused to take the aid of the government, but even introduced Bande Mataram in the daily news papers of her school, at a time when singing the song in public was a offence. She also introduce swadeshi and spinning wheel in her school. Besides being a school,vher place of residence was also a meeting place of scientists, artists, journalists, nationalists and revolutionaries. Young men inspired by Nivedita used to attend the sunday get-togethers at her home and prominent among them was Barindra Ghosh, the renowned revolutionary and younger brother of Aurobindo.

As Leader of Revolutionaries

In 1902, when Viceroy Lord Curzon appointed the ‘university commission’ to strangulate the national education system, Nivedita came to the forefront in condemning the move. She came to the forefront in condemning the move. She came into close contact with the fiery freedom fighter, Brahmabhandav Upadhyaya. After Aurobindo’s reaching Bengal, when he organized a five member revolutionary commitee consisting of himself, Surendranath Tagore, C.R. Das, Yateendra Banarjee and Sister Nivedita, Nivedita acted as the secretary of the committee and undertook the task of organizing under one banner various revolutionary organizations operating in Bengal, later this revolutionary committee was merged into the Anuseelan samiti, the secret revolutionary society, and Sister Nivedita became a source of inspiration and guidance to the young revolutionaries participating in the underground activities of the Samiti.

Fight Against Bengal Partition

In March 1905, Nivedita fell seriously ill and spent some time in Darjeeling with the family of Jagadish Chandra Bose. But the Explosive Atmosphere aroused in the country in the wake of of the British government’s decision to Partition Bengal, made her return to Calcutta in the First week of July 1905. she addressed mammoth public meetings. In one such meeting, she spoke strongly supporting the resolution moved by the famous revolutionary, Anand Mohan Bose, condemning the unwise move of the British Government.

‘Bhagava Dhwaj’ as National flag

During the benaras session of the Indian National Congress in 1905, Sister Nivedita played the tole of a mediator between the Moderates and the Extremists in the Congress, as she had already won the unstinted love and admiration of leaders of both these wings. It was at her place of stay that these leaders used to have heart to heart talks. At the time of Calcutta Session of the Congress, she organized a Swadeshi Exhibition in which the Nivdita Girl’s School exhibited a ‘National Flag’. The flag chosen by Nivedita for the country was nothing but the saffron ‘Bhagava Dhwaj’, Which stood as the symbol of the hoary culture, heritage and nationalism of the country. And on the flag was portrayed in yellow colour, the Vajraayudha ( the thunderbolt ),reminding the people that the great Rishi Dadheechi donated his back-bone to the Devas for making a weapon to fight the Asuras and it was now for the people to sacrifice their all at the altar of the Mother in this fight against British imperialism.

As a Revolutionary Journalist

The period from 1906 to 1907 was one of busy journalistic activities for Sister Nivedita. Besides writing editorials for Prabuddha Bharata,she was contributing to journals like Sandhya, The Dawn and New India. Aurobindo, his younger brother Barindra Ghosh and Swami Vivekananda’s younger brother, Bhupendra Nath Dutta, started a new weekly,Yugantar,as an organ of the secret revolutionary movement, from March 12, 1906. Not only the decision to start it was taken in Nivedita’s house, but also because of her efforts, the circulation of the journal was built upto more than 50,000 copies. On august 16, 1906, Bipin Chandra Pal started Bande Mataram with the cooperation of Aurobindo. The famous revolutionary of the south, Tirumalachari, started Bala Bharata from Madras, With the poet-patriot, C. Subramania Bharati. An ardent disciple of Nivedita, as Editor.

On July 20, 1907, when Bhupendra Nath Dutta was imprisoned, Nivedita met him in the court, assured him of taking care of his mother Bhuvaneswari, and the publication of Yugantar,and also helped his associates to collect funds for paying a fine of Rs. 10,000/- imposed on him.

With Indian Revolutionaries Abroad

In 1907, Nivedita left for England to set a favourable atmosphere for Indian independence through meetings and interviews with British parliamentarians and writings in English journals. One important work of Sister Nivedita was to organize the publication of revolutionary journals from outside India, arranging for their secret distribution in India and organizing the Indian Revolutionaries who were scattered abroad.On Sept 28, 1908, Nivedita left England for America where she met Bhupendra Nath Dutta, Tarak Nath Dutta and other revolutionaries in exile. According to the famous writer Girija Shankar Roy Choudary, Nivedita was, during this tour collecting funds for the rehabilitation of revolutionaries in exile and she had a plan to purchase a building at Chandranagar in the French territory in India, to enable these revolutionaries to settle down there and carry on the activities.

Association with Journals

When Nivedita returned to India in 1909, most of her associates were in jails. Barindra was undergoing 14 years transportation in Andamans. However, Aurobindo was aquitted in the Alipore bomb case and Nivedita celebrated the event in her school with festivities. But soon, Aurobindo fell again a victim to the wrath of the British because of his writings in Karmayogin, and leaving the rresponsibilityof the journals, Dharma and Karmayogin,into the hands of Nivedita, he went into exile in Chandranagar and from there secretly to Pondicherry, another french territory where he settled down for the rest of his life.

Into Eternal Sleep

The enormous strain that Nivedita had undergone over the years had shattered her health. In September 1910, she herself wrote: “I have still two years left, but no more”. In November 1910, she went to America to be by the side of her friend, Mrs. Bull, who bequeathed a large fortune to her for her work in India and died in January 1911. on return to India, Nivedita spent her summer holidays in Mayavati with the Bose family. They wanted to spend the pooja holidays at Darjeeling. Nivedita had the premonition of her end and she bid farewell to every one of her friends in Calcutta before leaving for Darjeeling. The stay in the Hill-station proved unsuitable to her health and she suffered an attack of blood dysentery in the first week of October. She knew that her journey’s end had come. She wrote her last will on October 7, leaving all her possessions and writing in the hands of the trustees of Belur Math to be used for her school. On October 9, she entered in her dairy the note of her complete surrender to the lord and her pen ceased to write. On October 13, 1911, at about 7 am., the sun unusually shone, in spite of the cloudy days in Darjeeling. Nivedita said: “The frail boat is sinking, but i shall yet see the sun rise”. Chanting the Rudra Prayer of the Upanishad “Asatoma sad gamaya, Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya, mrityor maa amritam gamaya– From the unreal lead us to the real, from darkness lead us o the light, from death lead us to immortality” – Nivedita breathed her last breath. The dedicated Daughter of Mother India went to sleep for ever in her lap. Today. In distant Darjeeling, there stands a memorial in which, on a marble tablet, are inscribed these words – Here Reposes Sister Nivedita Who Gave Her All to India.

Nivedita’s Contribution to Literature, Art and Education

Siste Nivedita was not only the merely a patriotic daughter of mother India, she had really sought her identity with the spirit of Bharatamata. Her prolific writings like the Master As i saw him, Kali the Mother, The Web of Indian life, Cradle tales of Hinduism, Footfalls of Indian history, Civic ideal and Indian nationality and Hints on national education in India and her several letters to friends and devotees all reverberate the voice of the sages and seers of ancient India. Her writings on Indian art gave a new direction and sense of purpose to the artistes of modern period like Rabeendranath Tagore. In the educational field, her contributions was unique in that she gave for the first time a practical system harmoniously bleeding the ancient spiritual and cultural values with modern scientific outlook.

Nivedita, A Mystic

The fact that Nivedita had a mystic vision of Kali is pointed out by Bepin Chandra Pal who narrates an incident: Once I was sitting with Nivedita in her house in Bosepara lane, sipping tea out of a quaint swadeshi cup. Suddenly the sky was over cast with black scowling clouds as oftentimes happens in our early summer evenings; and there was immediately a marked change in the mood of my hostess. Her face seemed at once to reflect this awesome dynamic mood of nature. It beamed with a new light, at once to reflect this awfully dynamic mood of nature. It beamed with a new light, at once awful and lovely. And she sat silent, apparently unconscious for the moment of my presence, looking intensely through the window ot the gathering gloom about the earth and the heaven, and listening like one in a trance, to the rising tumult of the glowing storm. And just as there came in a little while the flash of lightning followed by the crash of the first thunder, she cried out with bated breath–Kalee !.

Guru of Mahakavi

Mahakavi Bharati, while returning from the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1906, met Sister Nivedita at Dum Dum and recognized in her his spiritual mother. That he accepted her as his Guru and received initiation into Shakti worship is expressed with intense devotion and gratitude by him in a couple of dedications of his poems. Dedicating his work, Swadesha Geetangal, to Nivedita, he says : “I dedicate this small work at the feet of my guru, who showed me the perfect form of Bharata Devi and thought me Swadesha bhakti just as Sri Krishna showed to Arjuna. His Vishwaroopa and expounded to him the truth of the self. Dedicating janma bhoomi(Swadesha Geetangal) to nivedita he says “I dedicate this work to Shree Nivedita Devi, the spiritual daughter of Bhagvan Vivekananda and my guru, who in a short while imparted to me, without speaking the value of devoted service to the mother and the greatness of the renunciation” . He also wrote a soul- stirring song titled Nivedita Devi, offering homage to his Gnana Guru : “My salutations to Nivedita who shone as a dedication to spiritual grace, as a temple of love, the sun which dispelled the darkness in my bosom, one who was to our great country like the showers of rains to crops, a great treasure to those who knew no source of wealth and scorching fire to the bondage of samsaara or worldly life”.

Mother of the Heroes

The Poona plague started dismally and ended disastrously involving the lives of a number of persons, some of whom have brought glory to the nation, struggling for settling accounts with the foreigners wherever possible.

The spirit of sacrifice for a cause was displayed by Damodar and his brothers can be traced back to the great mother who could offer three sons at the altar of the motherland in the course of not as many months.

Sister Nivedita came to know about the momentous event and thought of paying her respect in person to the mother leading the life of devotion and retirement at poona. Te revered lady was engaged in her daily pooja when the sister reached the Chapekar home. She was astounded to find the mother completely composed; no complains, no regrets. There was no necessity of giving expression to sentiments of sympathy and solace to one who needed one. Nivedita with devotional awe bowed down to touch the feet of the mother of the heroes. She came away with a sense of deeper philosophy in an Indian Mother’s life. The spirit of self respect and march towards self-respect and march towards Self-realization of the India nation was well on its way and Nivedita came to realize that it had proceeded far ahead of the stage of which she had any idea.

Nivedita’s Mission – ”Deification of Motherland”

Dr. Bhupendra Nath Dutta the illustrious younger brother of swami Vivekananda and revolutionary has rightly pointed out in his inspiring work, Swami Vivekananda-Patriot-Prophet, the primary object of swami Vivekananda was nationalism. To arouse the sleeping lion of India and put it on its proper pedestal was his life’s mission. His national ideal was the ideal of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya as depcited in the revolutionary novel, Ananda Math. The Swamiji proclaimed to his countrymen that motherland and the children of the mother are the only gods to be worshiped.  Nivedita said that Swamiji advised her to dedicate her life for the service of the Mother. She says, Swamiji asked me to forge a mighty weapon out of the bones of the Bengali youths which can free India.

Freedom of India has been attained, but we are yet to free ourselves from the bondage of intellectual slavery. The western materialistic outlook and a carving to raise the standard of living at the cost of standard of life is eating into the core of vitals of our national life. It is carrying a need of the hour to arouse once again the patriotic sentiments and spirit of deep respect and reverence to the eternal values of life propounded by our great masters, in the hearts of our people, especially the younger generation. She has given the clarion call: Age succeeds age in India, and even the voice of the Mother calls upon her children to worship her with now offerings, with renewal of their own greatness. Today she asks, as a household mother of the strong men whom she has borne and bred that we show to her not gentleness and submission, but manly strength and invincible might. Today she would hat we play before her with the sword. Today se would find herself the mother of a hero clan. Today she cry once more that she is hungered and only by the lives and blood of the Kings and men, can the citadel be saved.

The great task ahead of us is the creation of an order of dedicated missionaries who are prepared to offer their everything at the altar of the mother and worship her by saving her beloved children. What will be the work of these missionaries?

Nivedita herself delineates their task: let the missionary travel with the magic lantern with collections of post cards with a map of India and with head and heart of full ballads stories and geographical descriptions. Let him gather together the women let him gather together the villagers let him entertain them in the garden in the countryards in the verandhas beside the wall and under the village tree with stories and songs and descriptions of India ! India! India. The missionary has to instill in the hearts of the people the great thought, this and no other is our motherland! We are Indians every one!.

Nivedita had emphatically declared,

“If the whole India could agree to give say ten minutes very evening, at the on coming darkness, to thinking a single thought – We are one. We are one. Nothing can prevail against us to make us think we are divided. For we are one and all the antagonisms amongst us are illusions – The power that would be generated can hardly be measured.”

Let us all join together and chant from the bottom of our hearts the immortal Mantra-  “Vande Mataram.


4 thoughts on “Sister Nivedita – A beacon for Freedom fighters

  1. Pingback: Newsletter – Ashwaija Maasam – Yugabdi 5118 | Arise Bharat

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