When Nivedita began to live in an old house on the newly acquired land for the proposed Ramakrishna Math with Mrs Bull and Miss MacLeod, the Ramakrishna Order had its centre at the close by Garden house of Nilambar Mukherjee. This house has long become immortal in the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement as its last impermanent Centre, and more so for its association with the great souls who once lived here. It was in this house where Nivedita had her first initiation from Swami Vivekananda on 25 March 1898. On that very day she had been rechristened as Nivedita - the Dedicated. Exactly a year later the Swami again initiated her as a Naishthik Brahmacharini at the Shrine that had have meanwhile come up within the permanent Math.
House of Nilambar Mukherjee with the Shrine in the thatched cottage in the front
A closer look
As it looks today
The north India tour with Swami Vivekananda, which climaxed when she visited the famous Amarnath Cave at Kashmir with him, brought enormous changes in Nivedita - changes in her thoughts, perceptions, the way she looked at the world, judged people, places, history and culture - almost everything. In a word, along with his spiritual gifts the Swami gave her something unique through his tutelage which took away the limiting factors in her thought process. Later when reminiscing on her mindset before then, Nivedita did acknowledge that her 'limitations' had been 'petty and vulgar' - 'compared with the open and disinterested attitude of the mind that welcomed truth.'
The Holy Places
She Visited Before The Trip
The room Sri Ramakrishna lived in
The Panchabati at Dakshineswar
The Unique Meet
Sri Sarada Devi and Sister Nivedita
This had been the glorious point in Nivedita's life when she met the Divine consort of Sri Ramakrishna, who knew hardly a word of her language, or match her brilliance and intellectual repertoire.
Yet both could instantly come to a point of knowing and loving each other, and thus achieved a unique spiritual unison. Nivedita's words on Sarada Devi is a proof to this: 'How wonderful her life is - she lives in the midst of an elaborate system of worship spontaneously organised and maintained by others, for the adoration of her own Husband, whom she worships as GOD, but cherishes a deep human tenderness for nevertheless. "I love simply to look at Him!" I heard her say the other night! And living so, she seems more and more like the drop of water on a lotus itself - touching the world at all points, yet undiverted by it - undeluded - filled with beatitude.'
Influence of the Spiritual Thoughts of India in England
A Lecture in Calcutta
This lecture had been delivered before a large gathering at Star Theatre, Calcutta, on 11 March 1898. Swamiji was also present there. Referring to the occasion the first biography of Nivedita writes: 'Suddenly Swami Vivekananda's voice was heard, "Sister Nivedita is another gift of England to India. . . ." As he spoke, and while he continued with his words of introduction, Margaret was reading the same questions in all the eyes turned on her: Who is this woman? What does she know about us? Is she still another missionary? It was to these dumb interrogations that she replied, quite simply, pronouncing her words clearly so that all could understand her, "You have the
The Star Theatre in Early Days
ingenuity of six thousand years of conser-
vatism. But yours is the conservation of a people who have, through that long period, been able to preserve the greatest spiritual treasures of the world; and it is for this reason that I have come to India, to serve her with one burning passion for service..."
The North India Tour Begins
Nivedita and a few others accompanied Swami Vivekananda in his journey to North India on 11 May 1898 and travelled for about six months. But before the tour began there was an outbreak of plague in Calcutta and Swamiji geared up his men to combat every possibility of its becoming an epidemic. Pamphlets were published, letters went to newspapers - all to make people aware of the dos and don'ts to bring things under control and avoid panic. Nivedita was allowed to take active part in all these efforts. However, shortly everything came under control and they journeyed to Nainital, Almora, Rawalpindi and places in Kashmir. The culminating point of Nivedita's pilgrimage had been when she reached the Cave of Amarnath with Swamiji - it was on 2 August 1898. On 12 October Vivekananda left his entourage at Kashmir while journeying to Calcutta, where he reached on 18 October 1898. From Kashmir Swami Saradananda took Mrs Bull, Miss MacLeod and Nivedita on a tour of north Indian cities like Delhi, Agra etc. Nivedita came back to Calcutta alone via Benares on 1 November 1898; less than a fortnight later Mrs Bull and Miss MacLeod too reached Calcutta.
Miss Macleod, Mrs Bull, Nivedita on a House boat in Kashmir with swamiji
The title page of the book She wrote on her travel with Swamiji
Miss Macleod, Nivedita, Swamiji and Mrs Bull with Swamiji in Kashmir
The Old Shrine at Belur Math
When everyone finally reached Calcutta, the Ramakrishna Math was on its way to have a definite shape and its permanent centre at Belur. This had been a great phase in the history of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda movement, and Nivedita had her witnessing role in the affairs of the budding spiritual organization. The image in the left is of the first Shrine that came up in the permanent Math. This had remained the main Shrine till the present bigger and spacious one was inaugurated in January 1938. The old Shrine is still visited by many with deep reverence for its association with the legends of the movement. It was here where Nivedita got her initiation as a Naishthik Brahmacharini on 25 March 1899 by Swami Vivekananda.