On November 13, 1898 Nivedita
stated her school in a small way in a rented cottage.
The very personality of Nivedita commanded respect. Her stately,
handsome figure, dressed in a long, flowing, snow - white gown, held firm with a silk
waist - band lent her a certain majesty which heightened her natural dignity and grace.
The rudraksha rosary around her neck gave her a saintly look. It is recorded that whenever
Nivedita came to address a gathering, people spontaneously rose to their feet and gave her
a standing ovation.
The school was no doubt started, but the problem for Nivedita was to
find pupils. She went from door to door and had long arguments with parents to overcome
their projudices against sending their girls to school. "Putting girls to school?
What an ideal!" exclaimed the shocked parents. A good many openly jeered at her.
Nothing daunted, Nivedita persisted in her search and succeeded at last in roping in a few
girls of varying ages. She taught them to read and write, and instructed them in drawing,
painting and claymodelling.
Nivedita loved all the people around her sincerely and deeply. Their
resistance's were soon broken and they welcomed her into their hearts and into their
homes. Moving about freely among these households, she gradually became a member of their
families. To everyone in north Calcutta she became Sister Nivedita.
Once an unfortunate mother came running to Nivedita, sobbing bitterly;
and dragging her by the hand, she cried frantically, "Come, sister, hurry at once. My
last child is dying even now!" Nivedita ran to the place, led by the poor mother. But
even as they were entering the house, the child breathed its last. The house, the child
breathed its last. The unhappy mother held the baby to her breast and wailed aloud for
hours. And, at last, she folded Nivedita to her bosom and cried, "O sister! What
shall I do? Where is my darling gone?" And in her tender accents Nivedita consoled
the mother, saying, "Hush, mother. Your child is with the Great Mother: She is with
When Nivedita reported this incident to the Master, he gave her a new
and inspiring message: " Worship even death, Nivedita, worship the terrible, even as
you would worship the beautiful!"
Nivedita took the Master's message to heart. She now realised that
death was but the other face of life. And this new realisation of hers was soon put to the