Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 11 December 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London – 8-56 am

Post No. 5767

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Greatest of the Modern Tamil Poets Subrahmanya Bharati met Sister Nivedita on his way back to Madras from the Benares Congress Conference. This brief meeting took place at Dum Dum, Calcutta in 1905. This meeting has changed Bharati’s life to a great extent.

Bharati went back via Calcutta with the intention of meeting great Bengali patriots. He was fortunate to meet Nivedita. Their conversation turned towards women’s upliftment. Sister Nivedita casually asked Bharati whether he was married. He replied in the affirmative and immediately Nivedita asked him whether his wife also came with him now. Bharati told her that it was not a normal practice to take women to social and public functions.

This reply made Nivedita very angry. She admonished him and said that we should give equal importance and equal participation for women. This awakened Bharati and opened his eyes. From that day onwards, he had vowed to work for women’s liberation. He came back to Madras (Chennai) and started a separate Tamil magazine (Chakravarthini) for the women.

Just before leaving Dum Dum , Sister Nivedita gave him a leaf which she brought from the Holy Himalayas. She touched his head and blessed him. Bharati preserved this leaf until his death in 1921.

K S Raman in an article writes,

“It may be of interest to know that Bharati had handsomely acknowledged his deep sense of gratitude to the great woman Nivedita by dedicating his two books to her in which he says, ‘in a flash without the aid of speech or reasoning thou revealed to me the sacredness of service to the Motherland and glory of renunciation. To you who by virtue of thy piety and excellence became the spiritual daughter of Swami Vivekananda, I dedicate this book’.

In one of his poems also he speaks of the Sister in most glowing terms, which reads as under,
“An offering to Mercy
A Temple of Love
A sun to his spiritual darkness
Rain to the withering country
A fire to the scroll of meanness’

The enlightenment Bharati derived from the Sister can be gauged from the poems he sang in praise of women and their equal status.
It was Bharati, more than anybody else in Tamil Nadu, who worked untiringly for the social uplift of women and the essays and poems he wrote on this question were legion.

About Sister Nivedita, K S Raman adds,

Born of an Irish parentage at Dungannon (Northern Ireland) in 1867, and despite her manifold pursuits, Margaret Noble (later Nivedita) had the growing consciousness of uncertainty and despair in respect of religion; neither Christian doctrines nor the tenets of Buddhism could provide panacea toher disturbed mental state. The visit of Swami Vivekananda to England in 1895 and his teachings kindled Margaret’s latent religious aspirations and desire to serve humanity selflessly. Therefore, she came to India in 1898, and lived in a cottage at Belur with Swamiji’s other two American disciples, was subsequently initiated into Brahmacharya and given the name of Nivedita (the dedicated). The rest of her life of thirteen years in India were devoted to the cause of Indian freedom and emancipation and upliftment of Indian women till her death in 1911.

Tags- Bharati, Nivedita, Women’s status, upliftment of women

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