Last days of Sister Nivedita
Everyone hoped that it will be overcome by taking rest in this changed weather. But this sudden deterioration made everyone worried. At that time Dr. Nilratan Sarkar was staying in Darjeeling. No sooner than he got the news of Nivedita, rushed to see her. Regular treatment had been started. Whenever the condition seemed to improve everyone used to be excited in joy, hoping that this time she will definitely recover. But Nivedita was well aware that her last time had come. She was prepared to accept her last. Some years ago when she was bedridden due to brain-fever then also the true face of death was revealed to her. Whenever she deeply thought of death, she found that it means to get merged with deepest of the infinity of eternal existence. She used to recall Swamiji; so many times she heard from him, "Body comes and goes, the 'atman' immortal". Like life death is also a part of the uninterrupted and substantial flow of consciousness. To her obviously it was not a mere thought, but assimilated through direct realization; which was reflected in her face, radiant in pristine beam of spirituality, even reaching at the doorstep of death. The bright calm eyes were conveying nothing but love and benevolence toward everyone. The heart was filled in extreme peace and joy.
She realized death, : "Last night it seemed that this whole material world has some another form of existence invariably incorporated within it - you can name that 'deep meditation', 'chitta', whatever else - probably that is the real meaning of death. Death can not be going to somewhere else; because this existence is not materialistic, so it can't be restricted by places. Death is to get plunged into the deeper than the deepest of that existence by getting freed from the imagination of body and mind. So we can say if it consoles us, that our dear ones, who are dead, they are staying very close to our materialistic existence; yet in spite of this closeness they are indifferent with infinity, extreme freedom and joy."
"I thought and surmised as if infinite is merging with finite, and we are standing on the in between border line, directed to realize infinity within finiteness. Gradually I am realizing more and more from the core of my heart that death means to dive into deep meditation. We start to feel this state in the long tranquil hours before death - when the mind mulls over the particular theme-thought of the life, the thought in which all works and experiences of life are encapsulated. In these hours the soul has already started to leave the body and the beginning of a new life has commenced.
I get amazed to think whether it's possible or not that someone's whole life is transformed into love and fraternity, where not even a single wave of contesting thought can arise, so that in the last hours of the life the soul can immerse into a big perception. Thus he at least getting freed from thinking of himself, will be able to feel the dearth and miseries of the entire world and transcend to a divine existence."
When Abala Bose fell ill in abroad, Nivedita took all the responsibilities of her care and treatment as a loving sister of her own. Now it was her turn. They were friends from a long time, so there was immense love for each other. She was always beside Nivedita's bed and devoted to her care. Dr. Nilratan Sarkar, as he was a good physician and moreover used to have deep respect and affection for Nivedita, put all his effort with his best. But gradually everyone realized that the hope is very poor. All friends and keens of her were upset and brokenhearted, but there was not even a shadow of that in her face. As she was in her life, in her death too she was fearless, gallant. Every morning she used to welcome everyone with a blissful sweet smile. In these last moments the whole of her conscious was thinking of the work she loved most in India, 'The Education of Our Women', the cause for which her master brought her to this country. She was eager to discuss about the future progress of that.
7th October. Nivedita understood that time for the last journey is nearer and so the last duty must had been done soon. On her direction the following 'will' was prepared-'Whatever will Mr. E.G.Thorp of Boston give to me or to the care-taker of my property, the three hundred pound approximate money in my Bengal Bank account, my seven hundred pound share from the property of the wife of late Mr. Olli Bull, all the income from my all sold books and their copyright, these all I am giving to the trustee members of Swami Vivekananda ji's math at Belur. They will keep these as a permanent fund and according to the suggestions given by Miss Christine Greenstydle, will use those for the educating the women of India in our own national method.
Her face was glowing in joy after completing the last duty. Nothing else was left undone. In a letter to Miss Macleod she wrote- "Swamiji has given me only one thing to protect till the end of my life - that is 'Bramhacharya'. I will not be sure of my success if I fail to do so till the last." She had maintained 'Bramhacharya'. Her will to sacrifice her life for the works of Swamiji is fulfilled. The savings of her whole life, all future income from her books, everything were dedicated to Swamiji's most beloved work, Service to the motherland. She dedicated her whole life to the fullest, yet at these last moments it seemed to her that still she could not forget her self, personal, existence. Once she mentioned about her strong personality in some conversation; perhaps that disturbed her; she serenely prayed so that this time she could go and let others work uninterrupted.
A few days before coming to Darjeeling she translated one prayer from old Buddhist religion, and distributed the printed copies among friends. The prayer was for the well being of the whole universe. Perhaps she came to know that this prayer was going to be her parting message. On her request the prayer was recited - 'May every creature of this universe become amiable, unbarred, prevailed over miseries, and thus proceed spontaneously in their own ways with joyous hearts.'
'From East and West, from North to South, who are amiable, triumphant over sorrow, established on bliss, they all may progress in their own ways without any obstacles.
Her deep concentration of mind, which many time had dissolved her so much into the works and thoughts that she used to forget her body-sense, in these last days of her life prevailed over her to lead into deep meditation of the inner existence. Out of habit she tried to do 'japa' with her 'japa-mala', but it wasn't becoming possible anymore. The 'Rudra-stuti' was favorite to her. Today she was eager to go beyond all ignorance, breaking all worldly bondages ; so she recited -
"Asato ma sat-gamayo, tamaso ma jyotirgamayo, mrityorma amritangamayo, Abirabirmayedhi."
-'Lead me from unreal to the Real (Truth), from darkness of ignorance to the enlighten
Knowledge, from mortality to immortality and peace. O self-expressed 'bramha' get revealed to me in your enlightened form.'
Her face became radiant while uttering this 'sloka' from the 'Upanishad'.
In the serene placid lap of the Himalayas, these last days were covered in clouds and fogs. 13th October (1911) Friday, all clouds dispersed, up above the mountain peaks the endless sky was as if staring with a joyous smile. Sitting beside Nivedita's bed Abala Bose thought of the gospel of 'Uma and Haimabati', which once Nivedita described to them in burning language. She thought that Uma came to her father's house in this season of autumn, and here also another Uma, the daughter of the icy lands had returned to her own land India after a separation of long time. Morning 7 o'clock, Nivedita's face was blazing in divine glory. She murmured in a low voice - "The boat is sinking. But I shall see the sunrise."
The sun had just appeared at the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, a beam of the new sun had just entered into the room, and with that the soul of Nivedita got evanesced into eternal existence. The pledge of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda-devoted worshipper was accomplished.
The news of Nivedita's death burst like thunder in the city of Darjeeling. Nivedita was a person of admiration to almost everyone who had come to Darjeeling during puja vacation. Gradually crowd started to gather in front of 'Roy-Villa'. She herself gave instructions regarding her funeral. At around 2p.m., a procession with the dead body started from 'Roy Villa' towards the cremation ground. Though the news was highly unexpected, and people could not be informed beforehand, yet many distinguished persons and Hindu women of the city took part in the rally to pay last homage to the late sister. Among them were, Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose, Abala Bose, Dr. Prafulla Chandra Ror, Bhupendranath Bose, Principal Sashibhushan Dutta, Professor Subodh Chandra Majumdar, Dr. Nilratan Sarkar, Dr. Bipinbihari Sarkar, Mrs. Sarkar, Jogendranath Bose, Sailendranath Banerjee, Indubhushan Sen, Mr. P. Edgar, Ms. Pigot, S.N.Banerjee, Mrigendralal Mitra, Mrs. Sen, Mrs. Haldar, Surendranath Bose, Roy Nishikanta Sen Bahadur, Govt. Lawyer of Purnia, Bashiswar Sengupta, Editor of 'Darjeeling Advertiser' Rajendranath Dey and many other eminent noteworthy personalities.
When the rally reached the Cart road, the crowd grew massive. It was for the first time that the city of Darjeeling witnessed such huge gathering for someone's funeral. While passing through the market, everyone stood in queue along both sides of the road with their head bent down to honour. Many people showed interest to carry the dead body. The funeral pyre was prepared properly. The face and head of the dead body were cleaned with holy water of the Ganges, the same was sprayed over the whole body. And then the body was placed on the pyre, the head facing the north. Every one soared up saying 'Haribol'. The time was 4:15pm. Branhachari Ganendranath of Ramakrishna Mission reached at the last time getting the news of Nivedita's bad conditions. He performed the ritual of 'Mukhagni' giving fire to the face of the dead body. The pyre started to burn in flames. Gradually the tansitory mortal body was reduced to ashes. The relics was collected after extinguishing the remaining flames and everyone returned mourning with their eyes wet and hearts heavy.
On the sacred cremation ground in the serene lap of the Himalayas, the memorial monument of Nivedita is declaring : 'Here lies in peace Sister Nivedita who has given her everything to India'.