History- Sudhira Devi: The Significant Link

Sudhira Devi −The Significant Link

Sudhira Bose Sudhira Bose, who joined the School as a teacher in 1906 made a significant contribution. She worked with Sister Christine, and due to her love, energy and resourcefulness, the School’s enrollment and recognition in society increased greatly. In 1912, Sudhira left home to live with Sister Christine and dedicated the rest of her life to the School. When Sister Christine left for America in 1914, in failing health, Sister Sudhira became the next administrator.

Sudhira expanded the work when she started an Ashram for dedicated women workers and a boarding house for students in the School. It also accommodated poor women, who earned their livelihood through needlework and other crafts. The Ashram was first called‘Matri Mandirand was housed at 68/2B Ramkanto Bose Street and then at 53/1 and -2 Bosepara Lane.

Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi was very happy about the Ashram for women and said ‘At last my daughters will have a place to lay their heads.’ In 1919, Holy Mother stayed for a month in the Matri Mandir. At that time, there were thirty-five boarders in the Ashram of whom twenty-four were students, six were dedicated women workers living asBrahmacharinis, and five were poor women earning their living. After the passing away of Sri Sarada Devi in 1920, theMatri Mandirwas renamed theSarada Mandir. This Ashram was a prelude to a Math for women.

Parul (later Sarala)Sister Sudhira was courageous and had firm conviction. A young girl named Parul (or Sarala, was a student of Nivedita) with Sudhira’s help, left home to lead a spiritual life under the direction of Holy Mother. Sarala served her for three years until Sri Sarada Devi passed away. She also served Golap-Ma and Yogin-Ma. In 1924 Swami Saradananda initiated her into sannyasa and gave her the name Sri Bharati.

Sudhira Devi was entrusted with the administration of the Ramakrishna Mission Home of Widows in Varanasi, started in 1917. A branch of the Nivedita School was also opened in Comilla in 1919.

Although Sudhira was the administrator of the Nivedita School and Ashram, Belur Math managed the funds for the maintenance of the School in accordance with Nivedita’s Will. For this reason, the School Reports from 1912 onwards were prepared and published by Swami Saradananda, the General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. The legal affiliation of the School to the Ramakrishna Mission was made in 1918, and the School came to be known as the Ramakrishna Mission Sister Nivedita School. Until then, it was known simply as ‘Nivedita School’.

Foreign devotees referred to it as the ‘Vivekananda School’ and Nivedita herself named it the ‘Ramakrishna School for Girls’.

The evolution of the women’s Math was hampered when Sudhira Devi had a fatal accident on the 24th November 1920. While travelling to Varanasi she accidentally fell from a running train. The management of the School was then transferred to some elderly women devotees including Meera Devi, Bani Devi and others. Swami Saradananda provided guidance and support. In order to construct a School building of its own, he purchased a plot of land with a loan in November 1917. The lane on which this plot was located was later named Nivedita Lane and the foundation of the present School building at 5 Nivedita Lane was laid by Swami Brahmananda. When the building was partially completed in 1922, Swami Saradananda inaugurated the prayer hall of that building and the Sarada Mandirwas transferred there.

Swami SaradanandaSwami Brahmananda

Swami Saradananda kept the school open by forming a body of trustees. He guided Sri Bharati’s (Parul / Sarala) life, sending her to live a life of austerities at Varanasi and preparing her to be the spiritual leader of the future women’s Math as envisioned by Swami Vivekananda.