“We are a nation, as soon as we recognise ourselves as a nation.”-Sister Nivedita
Miss Margaret Elizabeth Noble, Nivedita of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda’ had sacrificed her rare life in a new direction after receiving her initiation from the Guru, Swami Vivekananda. Her new name proved eventually to be ‘Nivedita of India’. She took rare part for Indian Renaissance. According to Swamiji, ‘Undid cannot yet produce great women; she must borrow them from other nations. Your education, sincerity, purity, immense love, determination, and above ail, the Celtic blood make you just the woman wanted. Her contributions for India’s upliftment were numerous. She participated in the national struggle of India from the end of 1902 to the middle of 1911.
She as foreigner was the great nationalist. Her nationhood was that India is one nation. She addressed to the school students of her school,
“My dear boys, you have all read geography in your school days. What you have read, heard, or seen was only about the physical features of India’s mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, deserts etc. The map which you see now hung on the wall before you is not merely a vast sheet of paper in print, but this is the picture of your Mother. From Kashmir to Kumarika is a living and throbbing entity. The mountains, the hills are Mother’s bones, the rivers and streams are her arteries and veins. The vacant spaces you see are not mere heaps of clay, mud or sand but her flesh. The trees, plants are her hairs…
“She variously worked ‘for the strengthening of a national sense of self-respect, to work for India’s unity through an infusing of the national psyche with the feelings of patriotism and nationalism and along with these, to work to foil conspiracies to defame and denigrate Indian culture as a whole such as countering the anti-India propaganda of Western missionaries and, among other things, to design and prepare a symbol, a flag that would be reflective of the movement for unity and political emancipation’.
Her work for India was not limited with India’s spiritual reawakening and publicity of Vedanta. She realized for India’s independence to remove all sorts of darkness for a progressive united nation. Therefore, she introduced Vande Mataram in the daily newspapers of her school (Nivedita Girl’s school in Calcutta), at a time when singing the song in public was an offence, and she also introduced swadeshi and spinning wheel in her school. She was also an inspiration of scientists, artists, journalists, nationalists, and revolutionaries. At the time of Calcutta Session of the Congress, she exhibited a ‘National Flag’, the saffron ‘Bhagava Dhwaj’, which stood as the symbol of the hoary culture, heritage and nationalism of the country.
She reminded, “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.”
Rabindranath Tagore expressed his gratitude for Nivedita, “…the love that Nivedita had for India was the truest of the true, not just a passing fancy. This love did not try to see the Indian scriptures validated in each action of the Indian people. Rather, it tried to penetrate all external layers to reach the innermost core of persons and to love that core. That is why she was not pained to see the extreme dereliction of India. All that was missing and inadequate in India simply aroused her love, not her censure or disrespect.”
But contemporary politics of India is fabricating the Indian nationhood. India is now in great trouble of nationalism and communal disharmony. Today’s crisis is of one nation and one identity of ‘Bharatiya’.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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