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Sister Nivedita = Margaret Elizabeth Noble

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(28.10.1867, Dungannon County Tyrone, Ireland – 13.10.1911, Darjeeling), born as Margaret Elizabeth Noble, was a Scots-Irish social worker, author, teacher and disciple of Swami Vivekananda.

She was the eldest daughter of Samuel Richmond and Mary Isabel. The Nobles were of Scottish descent and had been settled in Ireland for about five centuries.

Margaret was educated at the Halifax College run by the Chapter of the Congregationalist Church. She took up teaching work in 1884 at Keswick, in 1886 at Wrexham and in 1889 at Chester. Greatly influenced by the ’New Education’ method of Pestalozzi and Froebel, she started in 1892 a school of her own called ’Ruskin School’ in Wunbkedib. Her remarkable intellectual gifts made her well-known in the high society of London. Since childhood Christian religious doctrines were instilled into her.

She met Vivekananda in 1895 in London and travelled to Calcutta, India in 1898. She came to Calcutta on 28 January 1898. On March 25, 1898, Swami Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita (meaning “Dedicated to God”) when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya.

In November 1898, she opened a kindergarten school for Hindu girls;

From March 1899, joined plague relief works of the Ramakrishna Mission

In July 1899, left for the West to collect funds for her school, formed “The Ramakrishna Guild of Help” in America

In July 1900, went to Paris (where Vivekananda attended the Congress of the History of Religions),

In September 1900, left for England alone

In February 1902, returned to India.

Nivedita’s interest in the Indian political struggle for Independence led her to be disowned from the purely spiritual Ramakrishna Order after Vivekananda’s death in July 1902, though in truth she maintained close relations with the Order and Sri Sarada Devi (the wife of Ramakrishna, the great yogi who the mission is named after). The Ramakrishna Mission’s decision to publically disown themselves from Nivedita was the first in a long line of compromise with the principles which they had been set up for.

In September she toured western India to spread her ideas and raise funds through public lectures and private meetings.

On 20 October she arrived in Baroda. Sri Aurobindo received her at the station. This was their first meeting. The two got along very well, but Nivedita’s meeting with the Gaekwar was a failure.

Nivedita was in touch with the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin and the nationalistic Japanese writer Okakura Kakuzo.

She went on lecture tours throughout India from September 1902 to 1904 to rouse the national consciousness of the people. In 1905-06 she was actively associated with all public affairs in Bengal.

The strain of relief work in the flood and famine-stricken areas of East Bengal in 1906 broke her health. In August 1907 she left for Europe and America, and returned to India in July 1909.

She went to America again in October 1910, and returned in April 1911. In October 1911 she went to Darjeeling for a change. There she resided for a while, but her health failed under her intense work load, and she died on 13 October 1911.

Nivedita wrote extensively and has left behind a legacy of works. Her innumerable articles were published in journals like the Review of Reviews, the Prabuddha Bharata, the Modern Review, etc.

Her first book was ’Kali the Mother’ (1900).

Her principal work — the ’Web of Indian Life’ (1904) gives a more positive picture of India to the blindly critical West. Rabindranath wrote the introduction to the book.

Another her principal work — ’Master As I Saw Him’ (1910) is an interpretation of Vivekananda’s life and teachings.

 

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Bibliography

In English

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

Cradle Tales of Hinduism

•   .— London; New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1917.— 343 p.

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

Footfalls of Indian history

•   .— London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1915.— 276 p.

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists

•   .— New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1914.— 400 p.

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

Studies from an eastern home

•   .— London; New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1913.— 213 p.

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

Religion and Dharma

•   .— London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1915.— 156 p.

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

The master as I saw him

•   : being pages from the life of the Swami Vivekanada.— London; New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1910.— 514 p.; xxvii.

Sister Nivedita (Noble, Margaret Elizabeth)

In English

The Web of Indian Life

•   .—London: William Heinemann, 1904.— 301 p.

In Russian