The London She Left Behind
White Chapel & Mile End Station
Her friends and admirers thought she would visit India and soon come back to her own city and work as before since both were irresistibly linked with her personality and passion. But they were wrong.
The Incomparable Journey
On 5 January 1898 Nivedita boarded SS Mombasa from Tilbury Dock in London. When her ship left the port there were her mother, younger sister and brother looking at the vessel which soon went beyond their vision. Three of her close friends were there too. It was a very cold and rainy morning when she bade farewell to those on the dock and her beloved London. On 12 January the ship reached Eden, followed by Madras on 24th before finally arriving at Calcutta on 28 January 1898.
Tilbury Dock, London, 1900s
When the Mombasa slowly entered the Calcutta port Nivedita, eager as well as a little nervous too, kept on looking around. Soon she found Swami Vivekananda waiting at the port to receive her. But she could see that in his home soil the Swami was a different man than what he had been in London. Soon she would know and understand what made the difference. .
The Calcutta Dock, 1900s
Immediately after reaching Calcutta Nivedita went to stay at 49 Park Street. Before moving to Belur Math and live with Mrs Bull and Miss Macleod, Nivedita for a while lived in a house at 34 Beniapukur Road with Miss Henrietta Muller. Mrs Sara Bull and Miss Josephine Macleod came to India in early February 1898. They began to live in a hastily refurbished house on the newly acquired land for the proposed Ramakrishna Math. Nivedita joined them a few days later. The three lived there for about two months before accompanying Vivekananda on his north India tour.
Calcutta Contemporary To Her Times
Calcutta Contemporary to Nivedita's Time
The double-storied house seen above had been a single floor one when the land for the Math was purchased in early March 1898. The house was not in a very friendly state when Mrs Bull and Miss MacLeod decided to live there giving up easily affordable convenience and comforts in any leading Calcutta hotels. For they wanted to live near the Swami Vivekananda, who during those
days mostly lived at the close by Garden House of Nilambar Mukherjee. So they hastily refurbished the house and bought some furniture from the local market to make the place habitable. Nivedita was soon invited to live with them. The three stayed here for about two months before journeying to north India with Swamiji on 11 May 1898. But before that there was incidence of plague in Calcutta. People were panicked and started to leave the city. At this juncture assurance of help from Vivekananda and instant arrangements to implement his words gave new courage to people. Finally the epidemic could be avoided. During this period Nivedita assisted Vivekananda in drafting pamphlets etc., and wrote letters to newspapers.
The Closest Two of Nivedita
Mrs Ole Bull
Widow of world renowned violist Ole Bull (1810-1880). Besides her aristocracy and great wealth, she was known in both America and Europe for her personality and intellect, Since the middle of 1894 she stood behind Vivekananda to promote his cause and message. Later, Nivedita also earned her motherly love and fiscal patronage.
Miss Josephine MacLeod
On 29 January 1895 she first attended a lecture of Swami Vivekananda in New York, which altered the course of her life. Till the very last day of the Swami's life she had been the strongest support to him on many counts. And when he remained no more, Josephine untiringly moved around the globe to diffuse his life and message.
Two Remarkable Addresses
The Brattle Street House of Mrs Bull at Cambridge, MS
Mrs Ole Bull lived in this house. The house was visited by the Swamis Vivekananda, Saradananda, Dr and Mrs Jagadis Chandra Bose, Nivedita and many distinguished Western luminaries whose enduring fame still echoes in the cultural and intellectual history of the world. Mrs Bull breathed her last here.
The Ridgley Manor in New York
About 90 miles from New York city this sprawling country house today functions as the Vivekananda Retreat, Ridgely. It had been built and owned by Francis H. Leggett, husband of Betty Leggett, the elder sister of Josephine MacLeod. Vivekananda and Nivedita both stayed here more than once and that too for long periods.