One hundred and fifteen years after her visit, to Salem. on January 5, 1903, Sister Nivedita's statue was unveiled at the Ramakrishna Asharam dispensary on R.K Road on Friday.
It was part of the series of functions to commemorate the 150 birth anniversary celebration of Sister Nivedita by the Ramakrishana Asharam.
The seven feet statue, made of fiber glass is the first statue to be installed for Sister Nivedita in Tamilnadu said Ramakrishna Aharam monks. Srimad Swamy Taltwavidananda Maharaj,Assistant General Secretary Ramakrishana Mission, Belur Mutt, West Bengal unveiled the statue and delivered presidential speech.
The chief foreign disciple of Swamy Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita visited Salem on January 5, 1903 as part of her visit to Tamilnadu between December 19, 1902 to January 20,1903, on the invitation of devotees of Swamy Vivekananda in Chennai.
She delivered a series of speeches and met prominent Congress leaders in Salem. The Ramakrishna Ashrama, Salem has published in an commemorative article rare vignettes and interesting episodes during her visit to Salem (which are recorded in Brahmavadin a magazine published then from Chennai).
The article notes - Sister Nivedita spoke with great feeing on what one could contribute to the Nation. Swamy Vivekananda preferred people of action than those who just talked glibly, she told to her audience in Salem.
Moved intensely by her speech, the president of the meeting, said, “Sister Nivedita is the true disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She has spoken in a mellifluous voice resembling that of a cuckoo. Her speech was clear and crisp. Today we have had the blessed opportunity of hearing a lecture in good English.”
Sister Nivedita couldn’t tolerate these remarks. She sprang to her feet and said, Fools who are immersed in slavery….Puppets dancing to the tune of the British rue.. you are without patriotic feeings…. You have become intoxicated to flowery Engish, shame on you,” she thundered and left the meeting immediately.
During her speeches in Salem on January 5, 1903, Mohammedan gentleman, Syed Ismail Albuny, of Salem Fort area was present throughout her series of lectures. He handed over a letter and a paper intended to be read to the audience. It read,” while listening to your lecture on two precious occasions, I found your manner of interpretation to be the same as that of the pure mohamemedan Sufi”.
She had written the impressions of her visit to Salem in her book, "Studies from an Eastern Home". In the work we find her mention about worship of neem as a sacred tree near Salem.
She also visited Dharmapuri which was part of Salem district then and inaugurated a society called Vivekananda Sangam. She lectured in the Vivekananda Town Hall there.
After the unveiling of the statue the150 th anniversary function was inaugurated in the Ramakrishan Asharama, by Srimad Swamy Taltwavidananda Maharaj. Dr.Iriai Anbu.V.,Principal Secretary, Commissoner Statistics Department and N.Krishnamoorthy, Editor, Viveka Vani, Vivekananda Kendra, Kaniyakumari delivered special address touching elaborately on relevance of Sister Nivedita’s teachings for present day youth of the country.
In his introductory speech, Swamy Yatatmananda, Secretary, Ramakrishna Asharama, Salem spoke about the importance Sister Nivedita’s belief in one, indissoluble India,national unity, its rich past, the future of India, and her deep commitment to the teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda who she believed were the unity of India and all that was necessary is that Indians should keep them in their hearts.
Special poojas, bajans, recitals of Vedas were held as part of the function.
(Centre for Community Media)