August 5, 2015
Sister Nivedita’s Home and Her School
Visit of Sister Nivedita’s House:
After enjoying their visit to Udbodhan and the Udbodhan Karyalaya, Group 2 then walked to Sister Nivedita’s house. While walking from Udbodhan to Sister Nivedita’s school, we saw two beautiful statues of Sri Sarada Devi and Swamiji.
The statue of Sri Sarada Devi was commemorated in memory of Holy Mother’s first entering Udbodhan in 1909. It is located near Sister Nivedita’s Udyan.
Swamiji’s statue was taken near Nivedita’s School & House, Address: 24 Girish Ave. This was a long walk and we had to make sure that we did not lose anyone especially small children. We walked in a line, one behind the other, while Deba Uncle and Club7 members made sure we were all together. The Club7 umbrellas and flags were a great help. We could easily make out the bright blue umbrellas from a distance. We should also note that the Club7 organizers specially arranged and acquired special permissions for our visits to Sister Nivedita’s house and school.
Group 1 of Bus 1 was going to go to Sister Nivedita’s house after visiting Balaram Mandir. Their walk was very short. Since not all 100 people could visit Sister Nivedita’s house together, Group 1 was going to come after Group 2 finished their visit.
Deba Uncle had prepared a map with the streets, the locations of the places and how the two groups walked to these places. Here is the map:
Sister Nivedita’s House:
Those who had visited Sister Nivedita’s house two years ago, must have seen it as an abandoned building that was and falling apart.
What a sad sight it was to see that such an important place had been totally neglected. This house has great historical significance. Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Brahmananda, and Swami Saradananda had visited this house. Also many luminaries such as Rabindranath Tagore, Girish Chandra Gosh, Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, many artists, writers, scientists, philosophers and freedom fighters had visited this place and had gained inspiration and encouragement from Sister Nivedita.
Two years ago, only a small white marble plaque reminded people that this house was a very special one.
The following is the content of the plaque:
SISTER NIVEDITA’S GIRL’S SCHOOL WAS FIRST HOUSED 16, BOSE PARALANE, BAGBAZAR, (NOW 16A BOSE PARALANE)
HERE SISTER NIVEDIATA STARTED HER GIRL’S SCHOOL (NOW RAMAKRISHNA SARADA MISSION SISTER NIVEDITA GIRL’S SCHOOL) ON THE AUSPICIOUS KALIPUJA DAY, 13 NOVEMBER, 1898.
HOLY MOTHER SARADA DEVI HERSEF CONDUCTED THE FOUNDATION CEREMONY WHICH WAS ATTENDED BY SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AND HIS BROTHER DISCIPLE SWAMI BRAHMANANDA AND SWAMI SARADANANDA.
THIS MARBLE PLAQUE IS PLACED BY THE COURTESY OF THE PEOPLE OF BAGBAZAR AND WITH THE HELP AND COOPERATION OF SUTANUTI PARISHAD, BAGBAZAR ANCHAL. UNVAEILING OF THE PLAQUE: SWAMI PURNATMANANDA Jr MAHARAJ, EDITOR, ‘UDBODHAN’ (MONTHLY ORGAN OF THE RAMAKRISHNA MATH AND RAMAKRISHNA MISSION.
1 BAISAKH 1405 B.S. (15 APRIL 1998)
There was another poster in Bengali with Sister Nivedita’s picture.
We are thankful to Deba Uncle for translating it into English. The following is the English translation of the Bengali
It is every Indian’s responsibility to preserve Sister Nivedita’s historical heritage house
After a considerable effort, the dilapidated house of Nivedita, who offered her body, mind and life for India, has been declared a heritage building by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) In 2005. As a greatest offering in 150th year of Swamiji, KMC and West Bengal Govt handed over this house to Ramakrishna Sarada Mission on 16th March, 2013 for proper maintenance.
The plan of the mission:
- Proper preservation of the house
- Establish a museum and archive on NIvedita
- Conduct research work on Nivedita’s contribution
*For this project any donation will be cordially accepted and exempt from income tax of 80G act. The Check/draft/money order should be sent in favor of Ramakrishna Sarada Mission with a covering letter clearly mentioning that the donation is meant for the ‘Sister Nivedita’s house Restoration Project’.
Contact address: Ramkrishna Sarada Mission, Dakshineshwar, Kolkata-76, Phone – 25645411, 25646566, 8017024512. Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Sister Nivedita Girl’s School, Bagbazar, Kolkata-3, Phone -2555-2109. Contact time: From morning 9 to evening 5-30 minute. email: email@example.com‘
On the right side of the poster there is a picture of a building. On the bottom of the picture it is written “Present condition of Sister Nivedita’s house.”
On the left side, below the picture of Sister Nivedita lies a picture of a flag. On the bottom of the flag, it is written, “Sister Nivedita’s design of India’s national flag.” The symbol on the flag is a Vajra (thunderbolt). On the left side of the flag is written “Vande” and the right side of the flag written “Mataram.”
At Sister Nivedita’s House:
Group 2 of buses 2 and 3 received a warm welcome by the Sadhvijis of Ramakrishna Sarada Mission. The senior Sadhviji explained Ramakrishna Sarada Mission’s plans for restoration of the building and talked about the Mission’s ideas of archive and research. She spoke to us about the historical importance of the building.
Revered Sadhviji told us that Sister Nivedita had a hard time finding students. At the time, families were hesitant to send their daughters to school. So she personally went from home to home to speak to parents and family members to encouraged them to send their daughters to her school. Sadhviji showed us a picture of the first batch of Sister Nivedita’s school.
There was a picture of Sister Nivedita on the roof of her house. That gave us an idea how the house looked when sh was living here.
We learned an interesting incident regarding the starting of this school. We had mentioned in the prior post that on November 12, 1898 Swami Vivekananda arranged a meeting in Balaram Bose’s house to start Sister Nivedita’s girls’ school. Sister Nivedita presented her plan for the girls’ school and encouraged all to send their daughters to her school. Finding that people were reluctant to register their daughters for this school, Swami Vivekananda emphatically asked fathers to get up and register their daughters for school. When no one got up, he forced his friend Haramohan to send his daughter to this school. The fathers were afraid that Sister Nivedita would convert their daughters to Christianity! Today, fathers are dying to register their daughters into Sister Nivedita’s school as it is one of the best school for girls in Kolkata!
On November 13, 1898, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi inaugurated Sister Nivedita’s school in this building on the auspicious day of Kalipuja. The ceremony was attended by Swami Vivekananda, Swami Brahmananda, and Swami Saradananda.
At the time of the inauguration, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi said, “May the Divine Mother of the Universe bless this school. May the girls trained here be ideals for society.”
Restoration of Sister Nivedita’s House (where the school started):
From the Sadhviji’s talk and the literature that was given to us, we learned that the building had undergone a lot of restorations and alterations since the time when Sister Nivedita lived in this house. The building was acquired by the Trinamool-run government from a private owner and was handed over to the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission on March 16, 2013. We all know that 2013 is the year when Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary was celebrated all over the world. This was an appropriate tribute to Swami Vivekananda. As mentioned earlier, we see that according to the white marble plaque, the mission of the construction is to: 1) Restore and preserve the original structure. 2) Establish Museum and Archives as a fitting memorial to the Sister and 3) Conduct research on Sister Nivedita’s contribution on various fields to India and abroad.
The Union Ministry of culture assigned the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to restore the structure of the building. Two years ago, Mr. A. K. Patel, the superintendent archeologist of the ASI said it is immensely challenging to restore this 115-year old building because of its several alterations and additions over the years. ASI are providing skilled masons and old Indian traditional construction materials such as lime, shurki, mortar, molasses, khayar and bonding solutions which are needed in restoration.
Justice Mr. Shyamal Sen had expressed hope that this historic building would be restored to its former glory and will become a must visit place for Kolkatans and tourists visiting Kolkata.
Pravajika Gyanadaprana , a senior monk of Ramakrishna Sarada Mission said, “It (the whole project) will be a blend of deep-rooted culture and modernity. We will plan the restoration in a way that will reflect the ideals of Swami Vivekananda and his disciple Sister Nivedita. Both of them had dreamt of making India a modern nation, based on deeply rooted religion and culture.”
Pravajika Amalaprana, the General-Secretary of the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission has appealed to all citizens to donate generously for this great cause of restoration and other plans. One can write a check payable to “Ramakrishna Sarada Mission” with a note that it is for the “Sister Nivedita’s House Restoration Project.” All donations are tax-exempt.
Revered Sadhviji also showed us a place and a window where a very special picture of Swami Vivekananda and his brother disciples have been taken. We were very happy to see the exact place of the photo that was hanging in our homes for many years.
It is not inappropriate to briefly look at the life of Sister Nivedita.
Sister Nivedita’s name was Margaret Elizabeth Noble. She was born on October 28, 1867 in the town of Dungannon, Ireland. Her father’s name was Samuel Richmond, and her mother’s name was Mary Isabel. Her father was a priest who taught her that service to mankind is the true service to God. Her father died when she was ten years old. It was her maternal grandfather who raised her. She studied at the Church boarding school in London and went to Halifax College.
Margaret started teaching at the age of seventeen. She established a school in Wimbledon and followed her own unique method of teaching. She was involved in church activities and had written in newspapers and periodicals. She was engaged to be married to a Welsh youth who died soon after the engagement. Margaret turned to spirituality for peace and solace.
Meeting Swami Vivekananda:
In November 1895, Swami Vivekananda came from America to London and stayed there for three months. During that time, on a cold afternoon, upon an invitation, he was explaining Vedanta philosophy in the drawing room of an aristocratic family. Lady Isabel Margesson, a friend of Margaret had invited her to the meeting. Margaret described her experience on that occasion. ‘A majestic personage, clad in saffron gown and wearing a red waist-band, sat there on the floor, cross-legged. As he spoke to the company, he recited Sanskrit verses in his deep sonorous voice.’ Margaret was familiar with eastern philosophy found nothing new in what she heard on that day. But, what was new to her was the personality of Swami Vivekananda himself. She attended several other lectures of Swamiji. She raised lots of questions whose answers dispelled her doubts and a deep faith and reverence grew in her heart for Swami Vivekananda.
Sister Nivedita wrote to her friend in 1904 regarding the decision she made to follow Swami Vivekananda as a result of her meeting him on England in November 1895: “Suppose he had not come to London at that time! Life would have been like a headless dream, for I always knew that I was waiting for something. I always said that a call would come. And it did. But, if I had known more of life, I doubt whether, when the time came, I shuld certainly have recognized it. …Always, I had this burning voice within, but nothing to utter. How often I sat down, pen in hand, to speak, and there was no speech! And now there is no end to it! As surely I am fitted to my world, so surely is my world in need of me, waiting-ready. The arrow has found its place in the bow. But, if he had not come! If he had meditated on the Himalayan peaks!….I, for one, had never been here…”
Dedicating Her Life For a Noble Cause:
Seeing the fire and passion in Margaret, Swami Vivekananda could foresee her future role in India. Swami Vivekananda saw that the rejuvenation of India was not possible without the proper education of her women. Even before starting the Belur Math, he was planning to start a center where girls could be educated on national lines. Sister Nivedita’s noble heart was quick to respond to his suggestion to work for the Indian women, and she dedicated her life to the cause. She landed in India on January 28, 1898. Swami Vivekananda devoted a few days in molding her character and making her familiar with India’s history, philosophy, literature, life of common people, social traditions, and personalities both ancient and modern. On March 11, 1898 Swamiji introduced Sister Nivedita in a public meeting held at the Star Theater. Swami Vivekananda said, “England has sent us another gift in Miss Margaret Noble.” Sister Nivedita expressed her desire to serve India and her people. On March 25, 1898 Swami Vivekananda formally initiated Margaret in the vow of Brahmacharya and gave her the name “Nivedita” meaning the dedicated one.
On March 17, 1898 Sister Nivedita met Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and she became one of the closest associates of Holy Mother till her death. In May 1898, she travelled with Swami Vivekananda, Sara Bull, Josephine MacLeod, and Swami Turiyananda to various places in India and in the Himalayas including Nainital, Almora, and Kashmir. On November 13, 1898 she started her girls’ school at 16 Bose Para Lane, Bagbazar (Now 16A Bose Para Lane). In 1899, she travelled to America with Swami Vivekananda to raise funds for her school.
The Passing Away of Swami Vivekananda:
When Swami Vivekananda died on July 4, 1902 Sister Nivedita rushed to Swamiji’s room and from around 7:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. she sat at the head of Swamiji’s body and fanned him continuously. During the cremation of Swamiji’s body, Sister Nivedita wanted a small piece of the saffron cloth of Swamiji. Swami Saradananda asked her to cut a small piece from the cloth. But she thought it was inappropriate and so refrained from doing so. After the cremation, when Sister Nivedita was leaving the place, a small piece of Swamiji’s cloth had flown from the pyre and landed at her feet. She considered this to be Swami Vivekananda’s blessing.
Sister Nivedita and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi:
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and Sister Nivedita had a sweet and loving relationship from the beginning till the end. First time when Sister Nivedita met Holy Mother Swami Swarupananda was the translator between the two. Holy Mother asked her name. She said, “My name is Miss Margaret Elizabeth Noble.” Holy Mother said, “My child, I cannot pronounce such a long name. I will call you “Khooki (a little girl).” Sister Nivedita said, “Yes, Mother I am your child.” Nivedita tried to learn Bengali so that she could talk to Holy Mother directly. Holy Mother also kept Nivedita in her residence 10/2 Bosepara Lane, so that she could teach her about Hindu manners and customs.
When Nivedita moved to 16 Bosepara Lane, she used to visit Holy Mother almost every day and take the dust of her feet. On Sundays, she used to clean Holy Mother’s room. Once, Holy Mother gave her a palm-leaf fan with a woolen lace around the edges that she herself had made. Overjoyed, Sister Nivedita started telling everyone, “This fan has been made by Matadevi and she gave it to me!” She put that fan on her head and touched it to her heart and touched it to the heads of all female devotees who were around. Holy Mother said, “Ah, how simple she is. She is a goddess!” Holy Mother too treasured whatever Nivedita gave her.
On May 22, 1898 Sister Nivedita wrote to her friend Mrs. Eric Hammond in London: “I have often thought that I ought to tell you about the lady who was the wife of Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada as her name is…..She is very soul of sweetness-so gentle and loving and merry as a girl. You should have heard her laugh the other day when I insisted that the Swami must come up and see us at once, or we would go home…..And she is so tender- “my daughter” she calls me. She has always been terribly orthodox, but all this melted away the instant she saw the first two Westerners –Mrs. Bull and Miss MacLeod, and she tasted food with them!….Then you should see the chivalrous feeling that the monks have for her. They always call her “Mother” and speak of her as “The Holy Mother”-and she is literally their first thought in every emergency…..A monk read the Magnificat in Bengali to her one day for me, and you should have seen how she enjoyed it. She really is, under the simplest, most unassuming guise, one of the strongest and greatest of women.”
One day Nivedita and Sister Christine visited Holy Mother. Nivedita said in Bengali, “Matridevi, apani han amadiger Kali.” (Mother, you are our Kali.) At this Holy Mother said with a laugh: “No, my children, I cannot be Kali or any such thing-I would have to stick out my tongue!” They said, “No, you do not have to take that trouble. We shall regard you as our Mother Kali and Sri Ramakrishna as our Shiva.” Holy Mother said with a smile, “That might be alright.”
Holy Mother’s Three Photos:
In the middle of November 1898, Mrs. Bull and Miss MacLeod came to Kolkata and stayed with Nivedita in her house at 16 Bosepara Lane. Holy Mother was staying nearby at 10/2 Bosepara Lane. One day Mrs. Bull asked Holy Mother for her consent to have her photo taken, but she declined. Holy Mother was too shy to take out her veil in front of a male photographer. Mrs. Bull said, “Mother, I wish to take the photo to America and worship it.” Holy Mother agreed if she could find a woman photographer.
No woman photographer was found. Finally, a British photographer Mr. Harrington was hired to come to Holy Mother’s residence. In the attic room of her house a black screen was set up as a backdrop, two plants (a palm plant and a fern) were put on the two sides and Holy Mother sat on a cot over a small rug. Sister Nivedita, Mrs. Bull, and Golap-Ma arranged Holy Mother’s cloth, hair, and veil.
Photograph – 1: When photographer came, Holy Mother looked down and went into an ecstatic mood. That was the first photograph.
Photograph – 2: After some time Holy Mother regained consciousness and She looked up. The photographer captured that moment; this is the second photograph of Holy Mother which is now worshiped everywhere.
Photograph – 3: A third photo was taken afterwards of Holy Mother and Sister Nivedita facing each other. This is also a famous photo which we see everywhere.
Sister Nivedita’s Letter: In October 1910, Sister Nivedita went to America to see Mrs. Bull who was very sick. One day she went to a church in Boston and saw Holy Mother in Mother Mary. On December 11, 1910, Nivedita wrote this letter to Holy Mother:
This morning, early, I went to Church-to pray for Sara (Mrs. Bull). All the people there were thinking of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and suddenly I thought of you. Your dear face, and your loving look, and your white sari and your bracelets. It was there. And it seemed to me that yours was the presence that was to soothe and bless poor S. Sara’s sick-room. And-do you know?-I thought I had been very foolish to sit in your room, at the evening service to Sri Ramakrishna, trying to meditate. Why did I not understand that it was quite enough to be a little a child at your dear feet? Dear Mother! You are full of love! And it is not a flushed and violent love, like ours, and like the world’s but a gentle peace that brings good to everyone and wishes ill to none……Dearest Mother-I wish we could send you a wonderful hymn, or a prayer. But, somehow even that would seem too loud, too full of noise! Surely you are the most wonderful thing of God-Sri Ramakrishna’s own chalice of His Love for the world….”
-Ever, my darling Mother, your foolish Khooki
Holy Mother’s Letter to Nivedita:
“My dear, love to you, baby daughter Nivedita,
I am so glad to learn you have prayed to the Lord for my eternal peace. You are a manifestation of the ever-blissful Mother.
I look at your photo, which is with me, every now and then and it seems as if you are present with me. I long for the day and the year when you shall return. May the prayers you have uttered for me from the heart of your pure virgin soul be answered!……My dear, love to you and blessings and prayers for your spiritual growth. You are doing excellent work indeed. But do not forget your Bengali, else I will not be able to understand you when you come back…..”
Once, Holy Mother remarked, “Her (Sister Nivedita’s) outside is white (meaning her skin) and her inside is white (meaning pure).”
Nivedita wrote: “To me is has always appeared that she (Holy Mother) is Sri Ramakrishna’s final word as to the ideal of Indian womanhood. But is she the last of an old order, or the beginning of a new? In her one sees realized that wisdom and sweetness to which the simplest of women nay attain…..Her life is a one long stillness of prayer…..”
Sister Nivedita’s Contribution (in brief):
Along with the school, Sister Nivedita helped greatly and offered her services during the 1899 plague outbreak in Kolkata. There are many moving stories about this time in her life. Later on, she also met many elite people of Kolkata and inspired them in their fields and encouraged freedom fighters to work for the cause of India’s freedom. She wrote several books including “Kali the Mother,” “Cradle Tales of Hinduism,” “The Master as I Saw Him,” “Footfalls of Indian History,” ”Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists,” “Selected Essays of Sister Nivedita” and others. The complete works of Sister Nivedita are available in five volumes.
On October 13, 1911 at the age of 43, Sister Nivedita who had given her whole life to India, died in Roy Villa, Darjeeling. Swami Vivekananda wrote the following poem (Swami Vivekananda himself had written this poem by hand on one side of his own picture. This picture we found in the room of Sister Nivedita) :
“A Benediction to Sister Nivedita”
The Mother’s heart, the hero’s will
The sweetness of the southern breeze,
The sacred charm and strength that dwell
On Aryan altars, flaming, free;
All these be yours and many more
No ancient soul could dream before-
Be thou to India’s future son
The mistress, servant, friend in one.”
When Nivedita died in Darjeeling on October 13, 1911, Holy Mother shed tears and said, “What sincere devotion Nivedita had! She never considered anything too much that she might do for me. She often comes to me at night. Seeing that the light bothered my eyes, she put a shade of paper around the lamp….”
Leaving Sister Nivedita’s House:
As Group 2 was leaving Sister Nivedit’a House, several exciting things happened. One was that at the time of leaving, a Revered Sadhviji gave each of us a bag of gifts.
Second, we were told that we are going to visit Sister Nivedita’s school. The third was meeting our counterpart (Group 1) at the door.
Because, today morning was the only time we were separately visiting places, we were missing each other. When the two groups met, all were joylessly greeting each other.
Visit to Sister Nivedita’s School:
We were told in the morning that we may have some surprise. In the morning we found out that Club7 members were trying to arrange a special visit to Sister Nivedita’s School. With their efforts and by the grace of the Revered Sadhvijis of Ramakrishna Sarada Mission we were fortunate to visit Sister Nivedita’s School. As this is a rare opportunity, we were excited about our visit. We have heard that this is one of the best schools for girls in Kolkata. The school was close to Sister Nivedita’s house. Group 2 started walking to the school. After visiting Sister Nivedita’s house, Group 1 was also going to join Group 1 in Sister Nivedita’s School.
The lane was narrow. But, we found that sometimes the lane was all empty and sometimes there was no room to walk.
The entrance of the school was inviting with a very decorative door and artistically carved Indian figures and designs. The peacock on the top was eye-catching.
As we climbed up the stairs, we saw a big picture of Sister Nivedita’s.
It was as though she was waiting to receive us. Her smiling face made us all happy. We then turned left and from the corridor we saw a big open courtyard in the middle of the school building.
We were given a warm welcome by the Revered Sadhvijis of Ramakrishna Sarada Mission and they asked us to sit in a semi-open corridor, which was also the shrine room. Everyone took off their shoes and placed them in an organized way on the floor. We saw Holy Mother’s picture in the middle of the shrine room.
We all sat there facing Holy Mother’s picture. There were pictures of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Rama Parivar, Shri Shankaracharya, Sister Nivedita, and Rabindranath Tagore on the wall. On one side there was a statue of Lord Buddha. It was a very serene environment.
All Vidyapith devotees intuitively felt like singing for Holy Mother. We all sang “Jaya Sri Sarade Jnanadayini…” dhoon and also offer a bhajan “Jaya Jagadishwari..” to Godess Saraswati since we were at a school, a place for knowledge.
By this time all the Vidyapith people and Club7 members arrived and joined the rest of the group. We were on time as scheduled. The Revered Sadhvijis called the Sister Nivedita’s School students to come down and gather in the open courtyard. We all turned towards them. We were very much impressed by the students, who in their uniform with white frocks, red belt and IDs hanging from their necks, came down in a disciplined way and stood in neatly formed rows. It seemed like there were about hundred students standing there. Our Vidyapith students immediately felt a connection with them as they follow similar discipline at Vidyapith. We were greatly impressed looking at their students’ innocent and serene faces.
Revered Sadhviji then asked them to begin their singing. There was no harmonium or any musical instrument to support them, but they sang in melodious voices “Madhuvata Rutayate,” “Sahana Vavatu…,” a hymn on Sri Sarada Devi, and a Bengali song on Sister Nivedita. The following is the Bengali song on Sister Nivedita as well as its literal translation.
The following are small clips which give some idea of their singing:
(1) Sahanvavatu, (2) Song on Sister Nivedita and (3) Madhuvata…..and Asato ma Sadgamaya..
We were amazed by their music. After that Revered Sadhviji welcomed all of us and asked Uncle (Dr. Mahendra Jani) to speak. Uncle said that we are very thankful to the Revered Sadhvijis and Club7 members for giving us a wonderful opportunity to visit this great school, meet these wonderful students, and listen to their melodious music. He reminded the Vidyapith family why we were so lucky to have visited this place for Sister Nivedita had given her life for the cause of women’s education and for India. Uncle said that the students are really fortunate to study in Sister Nivedita’s school.
After that all the students in a disciplined way went to their classes.
With the guidance of Revered Sadhviji all the Vidyapith pilgrims went to the office/museum on the second floor.
In that office, we saw some special artifacts including Sister Nivedita personal belongings such as her writing table and Swami Vivekananda’s poster on which his poem for Sister Nivedita was written in his own handwriting,………
The last on above is the famous poem of Swami Vivekananda written in Bengali, called “Sakhar Prati” (To a Friend)
We also saw the students’ excellent projects that were displayed on the walls. They were in Bengali with artistic drawings and handwritten essays.
Deba Uncle wrote the esence of few projects in English.
Poster entitled as “शत मङ्गलशिखा करे भवन आलो” or hundred of auspicious flame illumine the house, describes the backdrop of Nivedita’s school, Sarada Devi’s inspiration and Nivedita’s commitment in initiating the girl’s school, Rabindranath Tagore’s statement on Nivedita, the date of inauguration, and contribution of Sudhira Devi towards further progress of the school. A sketch on the left describes the former school that started in Nivedita’s house (No. 16, Bosepara Lane.) and a sketch on the right displaying the current dwelling.
A sketch on Nivedita’s house at No 16, Bosepara Lane where the school was
A sketch on the current school.
Poster entitled as “शताब्दीर अग्नीयज्ञे तपस्याय नि:शब्द दाहिका” or the silently burnt with austerities during the Yagna of century, describes the silent roles of the two women in the freedom movement of India:
Poster entitled “शिल्पी निवेदिता” or Nivedita as an artist: It describes her Initial design of Indian flag, her role in rejuvenating Indian art through her support for young artist such as Nandalal Ghosh to learn the art work from Ajanta, revival of western FRESCO art and her concept on the fusion of Rajput and Moghul art.
Poster entitled as “स्तिमितचित् सिन्धु भेदि उठिल ज्योतिघन” or the dormant mind pierces Sindhu as a glow concentrate, describes Swami Vivekananda’s relentless adherence to TRUTH and TRUTHFULNESS from his childhood with examples as well as the reference to “सत्यमेव जयते नानृतम”.
Class work on the analysis of conjugated Bengali words: such as splitting of conjugated words, Tapti, Mahananda, Narmada, Tarakeshwar, Suvarnarekha, Godavari, Brahmaputra, Sindhu and Tista.
Poster entitled as “अन्तरे ज्वालाये दीप निजेके ज्वालाये” highlights Nivedita’s sacrifice: The theme is “Illumine the lamp inside by burning yourself”
Poster starts with a reference to popular Tagore’s song “प्रथम आदि तब शक्ति आदि परमोज्वलो ज्योति तोमारइ हे गगने गगने” describes Swamiji’s viewpoints on non duality in Vedanta, concept on Vedas and Vedanta, primordial undivided energy, spirituality, his instruction for us to achieve ultimate goal by referring Nachiketa’s character from Kathoponishad and the poster ends with Swamiji’s motto “Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached”
The best part was to see the students in their classes engrossed in their study. They were sitting on the floor, leaning on the writing tables in front of them. In some classes they were sincerely writing in their notebooks. We could enter in some classes. As soon as we entered into a classroom students respectfully got up and with folded hands said “Namaskar.” We asked them which subjects they liked most. They could understand and speak in English. Students gave their response and were very happy to talk to us. It seemed that they had only lady teachers and they were neatly dressed. All of them had very pleasant attitude. We were greatly impressed by the classroom environment.
We could see one of the notebook in which “Bengali Varna Vishleshans” were written down, and students showed how each word is constructed from various letters.
Holy Mother’s visit to Sister Nivedita’s School:
(From a report of Sarala, Pravrajika Bharatiprana, a student of Nivedita’s school): Once Holy Mother was going to visit Sister Nivedita’s school. All were eager to enjoy the festive occasion. Sister Nivedita was anxiously running to and fro like a little girl making sure that all the preparations have been made properly. Holy Mother’s carriage arrived in the afternoon instead of the morning. Radhu, Golap-Ma, and others were with her. As soon as Holy Mother got down from the carriage, Nivedita prostrated to her and lead her to the prayer hall. Nivedita gave flowers to the students to offer at Holy Mother’s feet.
Holy Mother asked the students to sing. They sang and recited a poem composed by the poet Saralabala Sarkar. Holy Mother listened to it an appreciated the poem. Then she took a little sweet and asked Nivedita to distribute the Prasad to all the students. Afterwards Nivedita took the Mother around and showed her the whole house and the handicrafts of the girls. The Mother was very pleased and remarked: “The girls have learned well.” Later Nivedita took the Mother to her own room for some rest.
Holy Mother’s comments on Nivedita’s Struggle:
One day Holy Mother told few women devotees who had gathered around her: “Look at Nivedita, a western girl who came to our country and worked happily, forbearing insults and harassment; and also enduring so much discomfort. She tried to educate our children. When she visited some homes to register their children for her school, she was humiliated; some did not allow her to go inside their houses; and some allowed her to go inside but later purified the place by sprinkling Ganga water. She saw everything but did not mind. She left each place with a smiling face. There was no bounden necessity for her to educate the girls of our country by enduring such insults and ill-treatment and running her life little by little.
You see, my daughter Nivedita had such a wonderful mind that she took on the responsibility of teaching our girls on her own shoulders because her guru Naren wanted it and asked her to do it. She did not care for physical suffering and discomfort or for the insults and incivility of our people…..”
Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Sister Nivedita’s Girls’ School (1898 till now):
As we mentioned earlier Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi inaugurated this school on November 13, 1898 on the auspicious day of Kali Puja. Then, in 1902 it turned into a regular school.
In 1903, Sister Christine, an American disciple of the Swami joined her in the work. Their combined sincere efforts soon overcame all the obstacles and the school not only continued to impart education to the girls, but under the personal influence of the Sisters, a devoted band of their students was ready to co-operate with them and dedicate their lives to the cause.
Unfortunately, in October 1911, Sister Nivedita passed away. The school then had to experience many difficulties. As it was, however, the school pulled itself through this critical period by the grace of the Holy Mother. Sister Christine carried on the work till she left India in 1914.
Later, Sister Sudhira, one of the earliest Indian ladies to renounce hearth and home to help the Sisters, came forward to shoulder the entire responsibility of the institution. Nurtured by a band of self-sacrificing lady workers, the institution then passed through various stages, and gradually evolved into its present form.
Management: The school, which was a branch center of the Ramakrishna Mission since 1918, was transferred on 9 August, 1963, to the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, Dakshineswar and henceforward has been known as the branch center of that organization. The management of the school is entrusted to a Managing Committee appointed by the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission.
For more information on the school one can check the following link:
Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Sister Nivedita Girls’ School
Website link is http://www.sisterniveditagirlsschool.org/grandhistory.html
After visiting all the classrooms, we collectively gave a donation to the school. The Revered Sadhvijis gave us few books and materials of the school as a gift & blessing.
All of us were very happy to have this special opportunity to visit this famous school, see its students, and listen to their music.
We could not believe that our morning would be so full of inspiration and joy. We had visited Holy Mother’s House (Udbodhan), Sri Ramakrishna’s fort in Kolkata (Balaram Mandir), Sister Nivedita’s House and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Sister Nivedita’s School. Filled with the joy of thinking about what we had seen and carefully crossing the roads, we reach our buses and headed back to the Hyatt for our lunch and a little rest.
(The original report was prepared by Ekalaya Patel)