Margaret E. Noble, born in Ireland on October 28, 1867, was a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, who gave her a new name, Sister Nivedita, meaning the offered one.
Sister Nivedita met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London and travelled to Calcutta in 1898. Vivekananda initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya on March 25, 1898. Swamiji wanted her to work for women's empowerment, especially in the field of health and education. And she dedicated her life to these causes.
To introduce Sister Nivedita to the local people, in his speech, Swami Vivekananda said–England has sent us another gift from Miss Margaret Noble.
She organised and opened a girls' school in the Bagbazar area of Calcutta to educate girls. Her dedication was so much for a cause that she visited the girls' houses to pursue them to join in her school. Sister Nivedita always tried to educate her students with the nationalist spirit. She introduced the singing of Vande Mataram in her school as a prayer. She was very close to Sarada Devi, wife of Swami Ramakrishna Paramhans.
Dedicated social worker
She played a pivotal role during the plague epidemic in Calcutta. She nursed and took care of poor patients and helped in clearing garbage from the streets. She inspired and motivated youths to render voluntary services. She was a social worker, teacher, and author. She was inspired by her father and college teachers that service to mankind is the true service to God.
Association with Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose
She is known for her unwavering support for Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose and his work. She helped him in carrying on his work and provided the necessary financial aid.
Rabindranath Tagore said: On the day of his success, Jagadish gained an invaluable energiser and helper in Sister Nivedita, and in any record of his life's work, her name must be given a place of honour. Nivedita took an active interest in Jagadish Chandra Bose's scientific activities.
Sister Nivedita as a dedicated Freedom Fighter of Bharat
She was among the five members of the political committee appointed by Aurobindo Ghosh to unite the small and scattered revolutionaries into a single organisation. She used to organise Sunday get-togethers of scientists, artists, journalists, nationalists and revolutionaries at her home and prominent among them was Barindra Ghosh, the younger brother of Aurobindo.
She condemned the appointment of the 'University Commission' to strangulate the national education system in 1902. She spoke strongly in support of the resolution moved by the famous revolutionary Anand Mohan Bose against the British government's decision to divide Bengal in 1905 in her public meetings.
She was a prolific writer and contributed articles for Prabuddha Bharat, Sandhya, Dawn and New India. The plan for the revolutionary newspaper "Yugantar" by Aurbindo, his brother Barindra Ghosh and Swami Vivekananda's younger brother Bhupendra Nath Dutta, was made at her house on March 12, 1906.
She was also the inspiration behind 'Vande Mataram' by Bipin Chandra Pal and Bala Bharath by Tirumalachari. She ensured the uninterrupted publication of Yugantar when Bhupendra Nath Dutta was imprisoned and helped collect funds for paying a fine of Rs 10000/. She helped revolutionaries at home but also abroad. She went to England in 1907 and started publishing the reports of meetings and interviews with British parliamentarians.
She helped several revolutionaries, like Bhupendra Nath Dutta, Tarak Dutta in exile, and collected funds for the uninterrupted publication of revolutionary journals from abroad and their distribution. Sister Nivedita was an extraordinarily multifaceted individual. She merged her identity with the spirit of Bharatiya.
Life dedicated to people
During the plague outbreak in Calcutta in 1899 and the great East Bengal famine of 1906, she risked her own life to treat patients. After treating people during the famine, Sister Nivedita contracted a severe form of malaria that eventually took her life. She died in Darjeeling on October 13, 1911, at the age of 44. On her memorial, these words are mentioned. Here reposes Sister Nivedita, who gave her all to India.
Sister Nivedita’s Quotes
- A single generation enamoured of foreign ways is almost enough in history to risk the whole continuity of civilisation and learning. Ages of accumulation are entrusted to the frail bark of each passing epoch by the hand of the past, desiring to makeover its treasures to the use of the future. It takes a certain stubbornness, a doggedness of loyalty, even a modicum of unreasonable conservatism may be, to lose nothing in the long march of the ages; and, even when confronted with great empires, with a sudden extension of the idea of culture, or with the supreme temptation of a new religion, to hold fast what we have, adding to it only as much as we can healthfully and manfully carry.
- The whole history of the world shows that the Indian intellect is second to none. This must be proved by the performance of a task beyond the power of others, the seizing of the first place in the intellectual advance of the world. Is there any inherent weakness that would make it impossible for us to do this? Are the countrymen of Bhaskaracharya and Shankaracharya inferior to the countrymen of Newton and Darwin? We trust not. It is for us, by the power of our thought, to break down the iron walls of opposition that confront us and to seize and enjoy the intellectual sovereignty of the world.
- I believe that India is one, indissoluble, indivisible.
- Our whole past shall be made a part of the world's life. That is what is called the realisation of the national idea. But it must be realised everywhere,
- In the world idea, in order to attain a larger power of giving, we may break through any barrier of custom. But it is written inexorably in the very nature of things that if we sacrifice custom merely for some mean and selfish motive, fine men and women everywhere will refuse to admit us to their fellowship.
- Our daily life creates our symbol of God. No two ever cover quite the same conception.
- For thousands of years must Indian women have risen with the light to perform the Salutation of the Threshold. Thousands of years of simplicity and patience, like that of the peasant, like that of the grass, speak in the beautiful rite. It is this patience of women that makes civilisations. It is this patience of the Indian woman, with this her mingling of large power of reverie, that has made and makes the Indian nationality.