Swami Vivekananda’ Death Anniversary

I bow to Swami Vivekananda on his Nirvan Diwas. His thoughts & ideals remain an inspiration for everyone devoted to serving our nation. Swami Vivekananda conquered the entire world with his life & message. Best tribute to him would be to imbibe his ideals in our daily lives.
Photo: I bow to Swami Vivekananda on his Nirvan Diwas. His thoughts & ideals remain an inspiration for everyone devoted to serving our nation. Swami Vivekananda conquered the entire world with his life & message. Best tribute to him would be to imbibe his ideals in our daily lives.
  • Sid Harth
  • Sid HarthMr Modi’s devotion to Vivekananda’s is contray to Vivekananda’s true spirituality and service to humanity. Monism, one single god or spirit is hated by his Hindutva brothers. Mother Teresa, born outside India but helped destitutes and dying poor people of Calcutta, most similar to Sister Nivedita was a target of Hindutva thugs. How come, Mr Modi?
  • Sid HarthVedanta philosophy has nothing to with Vedic religious beliefs, practice and ‘aadamber’ falsehood. The main proponent, was Adi Guru Shankaracharya, sometimes referred to as Adi Sankara.
  • Sid HarthVivekanand was not the first. Marathi poet and sanyasi, ‘dnyaneshvar’ did the same.
  • Sid HarthIn plain words, Vivekanad committed suicide. So did Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Indians have bad habit of describing suicide as ‘atmasamarpan.; The process with which Vivekanad ended his life is called, ‘urdhvajihvaasan.’ One turns one’s tongue backwards covering passage in the throat, literally choaking oneself to–eventual–death.
  • Sid HarthSwami Vivekananda wrote a poem to Sister Nivedita A benediction to Sister Nivedita. In this poem Vivekananda regarded Nivedita as The mistress, servant, friend in one–[36]

    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.
  • Sid HarthNivedita died at the dawn of 13 October 1911, age 43, in Roy villa, Darjeeling.[34] Today, her memorial is located below the Railway station on the way to the Victoria Falls (of Darjeeling)[35] with these words inscribed in her epitaph – “Here reposes Sister Nivedita who gave her all to India”.[5][34]
  • Sid HarthDuring the outbreak of plague epidemic in Calcutta in 1899 Nivedita nursed and took care of the patients,[1][5] cleaned rubbish from the area, and inspired and motivated many youths to render voluntary service. She inserted appeals for help in the English newspapers and requested for financial support for her plague relief activities.[25] She also organised the day-to-day activities, inspected the work and personally handed over the written instructions for the preventive measures by moving around.

    She was friend to many intellectuals and artists in the Bengali community, including Rabindranath Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Abala Bose, and Abanindranath Tagore. Later she took up the cause of Indian independence. Sri Aurobindo was one of her friends as well.[24]
  • Sid HarthOn 13 November 1898, on the day of Kali Puja, at 16 Bosepara Lane in the Bagbazar area of Calcutta, she started the school.[26] The school was inaugurated by Sarada Devi, in the presence of Swami Vivekananda and some of the other disciples of Ramakrishna.[27] Sarada Devi blessed and prayed for the school saying – “I pray that the blessings of the Divine Mother may be upon the school and the girls; and the girls trained from the school may become ideal girls.”[8]:22

    Nivedita went from home to home in educate girls, many of whom were in pitiable condition owing to the socio-economic condition of early 20th century India. In many cases she encountered refusal from the male members of the girl’s family. Nivedita had widows and adult women among her students. She taught sewing, elementary rules of hygiene, nursing, etc., apart from regular courses.

    Collecting money for the school was not an easy task. She had to earn money from her writings and giving lectures and later she spent all to meet the expenses of the school.[8]:14

    She took part in altruistic activities. She worked to improve the lives of Indian women of all castes.
  • Sid HarthNivedita was planning to open a school for girls who were deprived of even basic education.[24] She toured England and America, gave lectures on England and America and raised funds to establish a girls school.[25] The main reason why Swamiji invited Nivedita to India was to spread education to the women of the country. That’s why when Nivedita informed Vivekananda about her planning he felt very excited. He organised a meeting at Balaram Bose’s house on this issue. Many lay devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, including Mastermashay (Sri M., the chronicler of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna), Suresh Dutta, Haramohan etc. attended this meeting. In this meeting Nivedita explained her plan of the proposed school and requested everyone to send their girls to the school to study. During her speech Vivekananda entered the room and took seat behind everyone. Nivedita did not notice it. But, when Nivedita appealed to collect girl students for the school, she suddenly discovered Vivekananda in the room pushing others and prompting – “Ye, get up, get up! It’s not good enough to just become girls’ fathers. All of you must cooperate in the matter of their education as per national ideals. Stand up and commit. Reply to her appeal. Say, ‘We all agree. We shall send our girls to you.’” But no one stood up to support Nivedita’s proposal. Finally Vivekananda forced Haramohan to agree to the proposal and behalf of Haramohan Vivekananda promised to send her girls to the school.[8]:21–22
  • Sid HarthSwami Vivekananda, master of Nivedita died at ten minutes past nine p.m. on 4 July 1902. At that night Nivedita dreamed Ramakrishna leaving his body a second time. On the next morning, Swami Saradananda from Belur Math sent a monk with a letter to Sister Nivedita and conveying the message of Vivekananda’s death. Instantly everything around Nivedita’s eyes became blank. She immediately rushed to the Math and reached the place around 7 a.m and entered the room of Vivekananda. There she found Swamiji’s body was laid on the floor. She sat near Vivekananda’s head and started to fan his (dead) body with a hand-fan. Till 1 p.m. she sat like that and continued fanning Swami Vivekananda’s body.[8]:34

    In the afternoon of 5 July, Swami Vivekanand’a body was taken for cremation. Vivekananda’s body was wrapped with a saffron cloth. Nivedita wished to take a small portion of that cloth so that she could send it as a memento to Josephine MacLeod. Understanding the mind of Nivedita Swami Saradananda asked her to cut a small portion of the Swami’s cloth. But, Nivedita was unsure whether the act would be proper or not and decided not to take it. When Vivekananda’s body was being cremated she sat sat all the while looking at the burning pyre. Around six o’clock in the evening the burning flame was about to go out. Suddenly Nivedita felt somebody had pulled her sleeve. She turned around and found a small piece of saffron cloth which had somehow come out of the pyre during cremation. Nivedita lifted it and took it considering it as a blessing of the Swami.[8]:35
  • Sid HarthNivedita travelled a lot of places in India, including Kashmir, with Swami Vivekananda, Josephine Mcleod and Sara Bull and this helped her in connecting to Indian masses, Indian culture and its history. She also went to United States to raise awareness and get help for her cause. On 11 May 1898 Nivedita, along with Swami Vivekananda, Sara Bull, Josephine MacLeod. and Swami Turiyananda, set foot for the Himalayas. From Nainital they travelled to Almora. On 5 June 1898, she wrote a letter to her friend Nell Hammond exclaiming, Oh Nell, Nell, India is indeed the Holy Land.[20] In Almora she first learned the art of meditation. She wrote about this experience, “A mind must be brought to change its centre of gravity…again open and disinterested state of mind welcomes truth.”[21] She also started learning Bengali from Swami Swarupananda. From Almora they went to Kashmir valley where they stayed in houseboats. In summer of 1898 Nivedita travelled to Amarnath with Swami Vivekananda.[22] Later in 1899 she travelled to America with Swami Vivekananda[23] and stayed in Ridgely Manor.
  • Sid HarthNivedita wrote in a letter to Nell Hammond about Sarada Devi after her first few meetings with her, “She really is, under the simplest, most unassuming guise, one of the strongest and greatest of women.”[18] An excerpt is taken here from the Gospel of Holy Mother, where Sarada Devi’s impressions about Nivedita are captured vividly:

    Referring to Nivedita, she [Sarada Devi] said, “What sincere devotion Nivedita had! She never considered anything too much that she might do for me. She would often come to see me at night. Once seeing that light struck my eyes, she put a shade of paper around the lamp. She would prostrate herself before me and, with great tenderness, take the dust of my feet with her handkerchief. I felt that she not even hesitated to touch my feet.” The thought of Nivedita opened the floodgate of her mind and she suddenly became grave… The Mother now and then expressed her feelings towards the Sister. She said at last, “The inner soul feels for a sincere devotee.”[19]
  • Sid HarthWithin a few days of arrival in India, on 17 March 1898, Margaret met Sarada Devi, wife and spiritual consort of Ramakrishna, who, surpassing all language and cultural barriers, embraced her as “khooki” or “little girl” in Bengali.[8]:19 This, recounted Nivedita, was her “day of days.”[16] Till her death in 1911, Nivedita remained one of the closest associates of Sarada Devi. On 13 November 1898 the Holy Mother Sarada Devi came to open the school of Nivedita. After worshiping Ramakrishna she consecrated the school and blessed it, saying: ‘I pray that the blessings of the Divine Mother may be upon the school and the girls; and the girls trained from the school may become ideal girls.’ Nivedita became extremely delighted and recorded her feelings later as ‘I cannot imagine a grander omen than her blessings, spoken over the educated Hindu womanhood of the future.’[17] The first photograph of Sarada Devi was taken at Nivedita’s house.
  • Sid HarthOn 25 March 1898, Swami Vivekananda formally initiated Margaret in the vow of Brahmacharya (lifelong celibacy) and gave her the name of “Nivedita”, the dedicated one.[13] She became the first Western woman to be received into an Indian monastic order.[14] Swami Vivekananda said to here – “Go thou and follow Him, Who was born and gave His life for others five hundred times before He attained the vision of the Buddha.”[8]:19 She later recorded some of her experiences with her master in the book The Master as I Saw Him. She often used to refer to Swami Vivekananda as “The King” and considered herself as the spiritual daughter (Manaskanya in Bengali) of Swami.[1
  • Sid HarthResponding to the call of Swami Vivekananda, Margaret decided to travel to India leaving behind her family and friends, including her mother. Mombasa, the ship bringing Margaret to India reached Calcutta on 28 January 1898.[6]:3–5 On 22 February, Margaret visited Dakshineshwar temple, the place where Ramakrishna did his sadhana.[8]:17

    Swami Vivekananda devoted the initial few days in building her character and developing her love for India and its people. He explained to her India’s history, philosophy, literature, life of the common mass, social traditions, and also the lives of great personalities, both ancient and modern. A few weeks later, two of Swami Vivekananda’s women disciples in America, Sara C. Bull, wife of famous Norwegian violinist and composer Ole Bull and Josephine MacLeod arrived in India. The three became lifelong friends.

    On 11 March 1898, Swami Vivekananda organised a public meeting at Star Theatre to introduce Sister Nivedita to the people of Calcutta. In his speech Swami Vivekananda said – “England has sent us another gift in Miss Margaret Noble.” In this meeting Margaret expressed her desire to serve India and its people.[8]:18

    On 17 March she met Sarada Devi who greeted Margaret affectionately as Khooki (i.e. my daughter).[8]:19
  • Sid HarthShe started taking interest in the teachings of Gautama Buddha, Swami Vivekananda as alternate source of peace and benediction.

    Vivekananda’s principles and teachings influenced her and this brought about a visible change in her. Seeing the fire and passion in her, Swami Vivekananda could foresee her future role in India. Swami Vivekananda narrated to her the pitiable condition of the women in India prevailing at that time and wrote to her in a letter, “Let me tell you frankly that I am now convinced that you have a great future in the work for India. What was wanted was not a man, but a woman—a real lioness—to work for Indians, women especially. India cannot yet produce great women, she must borrow them from other nations. Your education, sincerity, purity, immense love, determination and above all, the Celtic blood make you just the woman wanted.”

    Swami Vivekananda felt extreme pain by the wretchedness and misery of the people of India under the British rule and his opinion was that education was the panacea for all evils plaguing the contemporary Indian society,[12] especially that of Indian women. Margaret was chosen for the role of educating Indian women.
  • Sid HarthNivedita wrote in 1904 to a friend about her decision to follow Swami Vivekananada as a result of her meeting him in England in November 1895:

    Suppose he had not come to London 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 should certainly have recognised it.

    Fortunately, I knew little and was spared that torture … Always I had this burning voice within, but nothing to utter. How often and 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.[11]
  • Sid HarthIn November 1895 she met Swami Vivekananda who had come from America to visit London and stayed there for three months.[1] On a cold afternoon, Swami Vivekananda, on an invitation, was explaining Vedanta philosophy in the drawing room of an aristocratic family in London. Lady Isabel Margesson, a friend of Margaret, invited her for this meeting. Margaret described her experience on the occasion. A majestic personage, clad in a 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 being already delved deep into the teachings of the East, found nothing quite new in what she heard on this occasion. What was new to her was the personality of the Swamiji himself. She attended several other lectures of Swami Vivekananda. She raised a lot of questions whose answers dispelled her doubts and established deep faith and reverence for the speaker.
  • Sid HarthMargaret’s father Samuel died in 1877 when she was only ten years old[8]:90 Then Margaret was brought up by her maternal grandfather. Hamilton was one of the first-ranking leaders of the freedom movement of Ireland.[9] Margaret got her education from Church boarding school in London. She and her sister attended Halifax College, run by a member of Congregationalist Church. The headmistress of this college taught her about personal sacrifice.[1] She extensively studied various subjects, including physics, arts, music, literature. She embraced teaching at the age of seventeen. She first worked in Keswick as a teacher of children. Subsequently she established a school in Wimbledon and followed her own unique methods of teaching. She also participated in Church sponsored activities, being religious in nature. She was also a prolific writer and wrote in the paper and periodicals. In this way she soon became a known name among the intellectuals of London. She was engaged to be married to a Welsh youth who died soon after engagement.[10] The regulated religious life could not give her the necessary peace and she began to study various books on religion.
  • Sid HarthMargaret Elizabeth Noble was born on 28 October 1867 in the town of Dungannon in County Tyrone, Ireland to Mary Isabel (mother) and Samuel Richmond Noble (father) and was named for her paternal grandmother.[6]:91 The Nobles were of Scottish descent, settled in Ireland for about five centuries.[7] Her father, who was a priest, gave the valuable lesson that service to mankind is the true service to God. When Margaret was one year old Samuel moved to Manchester, England and there he enrolled as a theological student of the Wesleyan Church. Young Margaret at this time stayed with her maternal grandmother Hamilton in Northern Ireland. When she was four years old she returned to live with her father.[1]
  • Sid HarthSister Nivedita (Bengali pronunciation: [sister niːbediːt̪aː] About this sound listen (help·info)); born Margaret Elizabeth Noble; 28 October 1867 – 13 October 1911)[1][2] was a Scots-Irish social worker, author, teacher and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda.[3][4] She spent her childhood and early days of her youth in Ireland. From her father, from her college professor etc. she learned many valuable lessons like – service to mankind is the true service to God. She worked as school teacher and later also opened a school. She was committed to marry a Welsh youth who died soon after engagement.

    Sister Nivedita met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London and travelled to Calcutta, India (present-day Kolkata) in 1898. Swami Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita (meaning “Dedicated to God”) when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya on 25 March 1898. In November 1898, she opened a girls’ school in Bagbazar area of Calcutta. She wanted to educate those girls who were deprived of even basic education. During the plague epidemic in Calcutta in 1899 Nivedita nursed and took care of the poor patients.

    Nivedita had close associations with the newly established Ramakrishna Mission. However, because of her active contribution in the field of Indian Nationalism, she had to publicly dissociate herself from the activities of the Ramakrishna Mission under the then president Swami Brahmananda. She was very intimate with Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Ramakrishna and one of the major influences behind Ramakrishna Mission and also with all brother disciples of Swami Vivekananda. She died on 13 October 1911 in Darjeeling. Her epitaph reads, “Here reposes Sister Nivedita who gave her all to India”.[5]
  • Sid HarthSwamiji’s extraordinary life on earth came to an end on July 4, 1902.
    Swamiji’s temple Belur Math – built at the exact spot where his body was cremated

    The Swami knew his end was nearing. His body was wearing away day by day, and he was preparing for the final departure. “How often does a man ruin his disciples”, he said, “by remaining always with them! leader leaves them, for without his absence they cannot develop themselves.” He refused to express any opinion on the questions of the day. “I can no more enter into outside affairs, I am already on the way” was his reply to those who came to him with problems regarding work. “You may be right, but I cannot enter any more into these matters; I am going down into death”, he told Sister Nivedita when she questioned him on some important matter concerning her educational programme.

    Everything about the Swami in the last days was deliberate and significant. A week before the end, he was seen consulting the Bengali almanac. Three days before, on an Ekadashi day, he fed Sister Nivedita with his own hands, though he himself was fasting. At the end of her meal he helped her wash her hands by pouring water for her, and then he dried them with a towel. “It is I who should do these things for you, Swamiji, not you for me”, she protested. His reply startled her: “Jesus washed the feet of his disciples,” he said. The reply, “But that was the last time” came to her lips, but remained unuttered. Something checked her. Here also it was the last time.

    On the last day, Friday, 4th July 1902, he rose very early. Going to the chapel alone, he shut the doors and bolted them, contrary to his habit, and meditated for three hours. He came down the steps of the shrine, singing a beautiful song to the divine Mother Kali. Then he said in a whisper: “If there were another Vivekananda, then he would have understood what this Vivekananda has done. And yet how many Vivekanandas shall be born in time?” Next he asked his disciple, Swami Shuddhananda, to read a passage from the Shukla Yajur-Veda with the commentary of Mahidhara on it. He did not agree with Mahidhara and exhorted the disciple to make independent research into the Vedas. He partook of the noon meal with great relish, in company with the members of the Math, unlike on other days when he took his meal alone in his room. Immediately after, he gave lessons to the Brahmacharins on Sanskrit grammar for three hours. In the afternoon, he went out with Swami Premananda and walked nearly two miles, discussing his plan to start a Vedic College in the monastery. When questioned as to its utility, he said: “The study of the Vedas will kill superstition.” On his return, he inquired about the welfare of every member of the monastery. Then he conversed for a long time with the members on the rise and fall of nations. “India is immortal”, he said, “if she persists in her search for God. But if she goes in for politics and social conflict, she will die.” At seven o’clock in the evening, the bell announced the worship in the chapel. The Swami went to his room and told the disciple attending him that no one should come to him until called for. He spent an hour in meditation and telling beads, then called the disciple to open all the windows and fan his head. He lay down quietly on his bed. The attendant thought that he was either sleeping or meditating. At the end of an hour, his hands trembled a little and he breathed once very heavily. There was silence for a minute or two, and again he breathed in the same manner. He had breathed his last. He had just completed thirty-nine years, five months, and twenty-four days, thus fulfilling a prophecy which was frequently on his lips, “I shall never live to see forty”.

    Compiled and Edited by Swami Gambhirananada
    The Apostles of Sri Ramakrishna
    Advaita Ashrama; Mayavati; June 1995
  • Sid HarthGreat be those who serve the humanity, irrespective of sex, age, religion, nationality, or race. Ramkrishna Mission, founded by Vivekanand, kept their ideals, true.
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    …and I am Sid Harth