Elimination of Indians was all the British wanted. Holding and killing 30 crore people was not easy. The soldier force required for it was also very less. The only remaining ways were, artificial famines and epidemic disease. In Bengal, the white officers had tried these kinds of planned murders. Probably the God Almighty had sent Nivedita to prove these plans abortive?
India has witnessed lesser natural famines. The six-seven famines which obstructed Bengal during the British rule have strongly been recorded. It doesn’t imply that these were natural famines. They were the bad outcomes of devastating the Indian Agriculture arrangements. Nivedita who came from a distant place called Ireland, had understood it in a subtle manner. She who had gone to Bengal to serve the victims of famine, has observed the situations there and has written series of articles. The important one among them is ‘The Tragedy Of Jute’.
Jute is a greyish black coloured long creeper which could be seen at the back yards of houses in Bengal. Farmers cultivated it because of its fibrous nature. The people of Bengal had the practice of constructing houses using the jute fiber to tie tightly to the bamboo. If got dried, jute would be used as medicine. Else, as the string to light lamps. The farmers worshipped this jute fiber every year as a symbol of strength in the misfortune too
Why was it a misfortune? The soil in which jute is cultivated, looses its fertility. Along with that, with the passing time, the yield of jute also reduces. As the fertile soil in which paddy was cultivated earlier, was now being used to grow jute resulted in the decrease of paddy yield in due course of time. The Indian farmer who was aware of all this, still worshipped misfortune jute because it had the strength of fiber. He cultivated jute at the backyard of his house as per his needs.
Outcomes of the shell games of the British:
The British officers wished to use the jute fiber in industries and started inspiring the farmers to cultivate jute as a commercial crop. The Indian farmer who has believed it as a misfortune, went on rejecting it. The officers lured them and granted subsidies to grow jute. At last, they threatened the farmers and forced for jute cultivation. The lieutenant governor of Western Bengal, Sir Andrew Fresor gathered the traders and allured the farmers stating that he would inspire the European manufacturers and sellers to directly buy your jute. These traders pleased the farmers. Gradually, the number of farmers cultivating jute increased.
The first step of Decadence:
Until then, the wealth of farmers was in the form of food grains. Every year, he used to store the quantity of food grains required for his family’s consumption in upcoming two – three years and for future cultivation. Now, the British transformed the wealth of food grains to the wealth of money. And now, the farmer did not store food grains for the upcoming years. Instead, he concentrated on accumulating money. It was the first step of Decadence of the peasant drove.
Man made drought means : food grains don’t easily get exhausted. Money gets exhausted along with the variations in the market. When a farmer had a stock of food grains, even the richest man would stand before him. Back then, farmer was the richest. Now, the intention of accumulating money made farmers more poorer! Once during drought, the cultivable land became barren. Along with that, money was also ruined. With no food grains left, farmer became haggard. Ugliest drought was witnessed. This is what is known as Man made drought.
Nivedita visited every village affected by drought and involved in their service. Her writings during these times stone thawing. If relief feedstocks were taken to the drought victim village, the people there would scream loudly and express their joy. Though they were aware of the fact that the relief aid were not sufficient for their village, they bought smiles to their faces so as to enhance the confidence of the ones who had arrived to help them. Nivedita says, “The squirt of joy which was supposed to be ear damagingly loud, was very low and this was heart wrenching”. The eyes of relief volunteers teared when the people prayed the Almighty to ‘Bring Light soon’
In a village, a starving family which had emptied all the food, roots, leaves and eatables, the head of the family had to leave his village in search of a job, who breathed his last while returning home with a failed attempt of job seeking. This gave great sorrow to his wife and children. On the same path a father who was fed up of famine, got ready to sell his son. Nivedita who heard of it thought, if India too had gone down to the level of eating it’s own people? And got frightened. The very next moment she realized that it was a natural motherly essence of giving the child to a rich man who doesn’t have kids, so that the child would live happily. A Muslim peasant went to the Barisal police station and pleaded before the police to kill him, who had killed his children. ‘why should I live when I’m not able to feed my children? Hang me’ he urged.
After all this, Indians didn’t loose fortitude. The solution to his problem was visible to him at a certain distance. His faith on God had not lowered a bit. In a village, an old man accompanied Nivedita in visiting houses of drought victims. At a certain place, he addressed to a starving old woman as a goddess! Lakshmi ! he said. Goddess of wealth. ‘we shall provide you what ever you want as soon as possible. The time of well being will come. Don’t loose courage’ he said. He himself was a drought victim.
Ahh! The frightful face of famine is beyond imagination. It was a mismated situation of poverty experctorating poverty. It pushed life towards darkness. Ignorance circumfuses. This is why a farmer sellers his cow to the butcher. Consumes the food grains stored for next year’s cultivation. Which results in the collapse of the foundation of a farmer’s staddle and he is being pushed into the pit of poverty forever. Begging becomes unavoidable. This is why Indians call famines as ‘Durbhiksha’, identifies Nivedita.
Here, during tough times too, Indians supported each other to exhibit life’s eminent exemplar. On the other hand, the British acted as per their normal personalities. A newspaper wrote, ‘people have already adopted leading life on relief aid. And they don’t even have the thought of surviving without it’. Probably it was the motive of the newspaper to stop people from distant places sending money to the relief fund. The officers at Madras made a statement that collecting drought relief fund, unless formally announced would be perduellion.
Totally, elimination of Indians was all the British wanted. Holding and killing 30 crore people was not easy. The soldier force required for it was also very less. The only remaining ways were, artificial famines and epidemic disease. In Bengal, the white officers had tried these kinds of planned murders. Probably the God Almighty had sent Nivedita to prove these plans abortive? She who had come for the service of Indians, had no love for England and the whites, which she possessed earlier. Her heart had attained magnanimity. She had strong compassion for the poor, ignorant and oppressed. Compassion till head starts reeling and heart stops beating. Swami Vivekananda used to say, ‘when you feel you cannot do anything more, present your heart to the Almighty’s feet. Then, an unbeatable strength will flow in you’. Nivedita had turned out to become that tremendous strength. She had now become the centre of inspiration. Swami Sadananda of Ramakrishna Ashram took up the work of cleaning the colonies of Kolkata. But, none turned up to clean a certain colony. Nivedita herself took the broom in her hand and started sweeping. The ashamed youth of neighborhood too joined hands for cleaning. Same happened during famines as well. Ashwini Kumar Datt joined the relief work. They were able to provide direct relief aid to almost 5 lakh people. Nivedita herself wandering from one house to another, filled inspiration to the youths of India. Indians had accepted the foreign lady who had come to serve them.
Sometimes, after a long relief work when Nivedita returned home empty handed, she saw hundreds of people waiting for her and felt grieved. She distributed one biscuit to each standing there. Those were the biscuits meant for her and her volunteers food. Yes. One biscuit each she distributed. She also gave one biscuit to the ones who stayed at home. She feared that people might shout with anger for not giving them stomach full food. But people’s response was different. They blessed her with love.
Her heart was wrenching. She could not bear the sorrows and pains of people. Her heart bursted and the lava of pain flowed out under the situations when she couldn’t help the needy.
Oh! Who is she? Under odd circumstances we oppose Bengalis on language basis. But, this great mother who came from Ireland, adopted our traditions and sacrificed her everything for the service of people dwelling here. Is it ordinary? That was Swami Vivekananda’s training!
Is it not true? Narendra became Vivekananda by Ramakrishna’s training. Later, Ramakrishna became the deity at the sanctum sanctorum, swami ji became a carnivalesque idol who wanders all over the world. Later, this Western pearl Margaret Nobel which Swami Vivekananda bought, was trained to be transformed into Nivedita. This flower was offered to Mother India. If observed, Vivekananda now stands in the sanctum sanctorum and Nivedita became a carnivalesque idol and wandered into every lane of India.
Translated by Ramya Deshpande