The Swami and the people he knew
Nivedita wrote in 1904 to a friend about her decision to follow swami Vivekananada as a result of her meeting him in England in November 1895:
'Suppose he had not come to London that time! Life would have been like a headless dream, for I always knew that I was waiting for something. I always said that a call would come. And it did. But if I had known more of life, I doubt whether, when the time came, I should certainly have recognized it.
Fortunately, I knew little and was spared that torture....Always I had this burning voice within, but nothing to utter. How often and often I sat down, pen in hand, to speak, and there was no speech! And now there is no end to it! As surely I am fitted to my world, so surely is my world in need of me, waiting — ready. The arrow has found its place in the bow. But if he had not come! If he had meditated, on the Himalayan peaks!...I, for one, had never been here.'
In her "Studies from an Eastern Home" Nivedita has given an account of the plague and the death of this child, leaving out the part she herself played in fighting the epidemic.
It is worth mentioning that her plague work was continuing alongside of her school work and that she was spending her last penny to provide medicine and other necessities to patients.
On this Dr. Kar wrote, "During this calamity the compassionate figure of Sister Nivedita was seen in every slum of the Baghbazar locality. She helped others with money without giving a thought to her own condition. At one time when her own diet consisted only of milk and fruits, she gave up milk to meet the medical expenses of a patient."
I met ….Miss Margaret Noble, the gifted young Irishwoman to whom Vivekananda had given the beautifully appropriate name of Nivedita, the Offered One, one dedicated and consecrated to the service of India . I first met Sister Nivedita at Srinagar in Kashmir and next at Lahore where I saw a great deal of her. And again in Calcutta where she came to my house more than once. I took her through the slums of Lahore and showed her the Ramlila,* which greatly interested her. She made eager inquiries about everything relating to India . She was in splendid health when she first came out to India , but the austerities which she practised affected her health, and she rapidly spent herself and was spent in the service of India . Of her fine intellect and gift of literary expression she has left abiding evidence in her exquisite books.
- Nagendra Nath Gupta
Reminiscence of Dr. R. G Kar of Sister Nivedita during the plague relief efforts in 1899
"During that time (1899), one day, when I returned home at noon-time after seeing the patients, I saw an European lady sitting on a dusty chair near the door. She was Sister Nivedita. She had been waiting for me for a long time in order to get some information. That morning I had been to see a plague-stricken patient in a slum in Baghbazar. Sister Nivedita had come to enquire about the arrangements made for the patient and to take upon herself the task of nursing him. I told her that the patient's condition was critical. Having discussed with her the possibilities of hygienic nursing in the slums of the poor people, I asked her to take precautions. When I went to visit the patient again in the afternoon I saw Sister Nivedita sitting with the child in her lap in the damp and weather-beaten hut in that unhealthy locality. Day in and day out, night after night, she remained engaged in nursing the child in that hut, having abandoned her own house. When the hut was to be disinfected she took a small ladder and began whitewashing the walls herself. Her nursing never slackened even when death was a certainty. After two days, the child lay in Eternal Sleep in the affectionate lap of that merciful lady."
Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Nivedita
Sister Nivedita's sketch of her room
- www.vivekananda.net edited by Frank Parlato Jr.