History- The Turning Point

The Turning Point
Soon after, there came a turning point in the history of the School. Educated women, inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings, and some of them even initiated by the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, Swamis Shivananda, Subodhananda, and Vijnananda and other senior monks of the Order, were encouraged by these disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, to live a dedicated life and joined the School. The first to join was Renuka Basu (who became Pravrajika Mokshaprana, the Second President of Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission) who joined in 1946. She was appointed both as the Head Mistress of the School and as Superintendent of Sarada Mandir. Gouri Dasgupta (later, Pravrajika Dayaprana, the Second Vice- President of Sri Sarada Math and the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission) joined as a teacher. Bijoli Sen (Pravrajika Vidyaprana) was one of the dedicated women workers already staying in theSarada Mandir. Lakshmi Sinha (Pravrajika Shraddhaprana, the present President of Sri Sarada Math and the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission) joined in 1948 and took charge of the Sarada Mandir. Several other dedicated women workers joined during this period and later becameSannyasinis of Sri Sarada Math. After independence, the School obtained affiliation and recognition from the Kolkata University in 1949. A government grant was sanctioned from 1948-49.

Swami Virajananda In the fourth Monks’ Conference held in 1946 by the Ramakrishna Math, Swami Virajananda in his Presidential Address said, “The problem of women-workers has not received our due attention so long. They have not been given any appreciable scope for leading the monastic life in the Sangha as yet. ..It is well to remember that Vivekananda wanted to establish a Math for women, and gave it precedence over even that for men.”

In 1949 in the Monks’ Conference, Swami Vireswarananda, then General Secretary, expressed the same views and stressed the idea of sustaining a nucleus under Belur Math, and then making it independent.

The efforts of the dedicated women workers gathered momentum as another group of women in Calcutta living in Sarada Ashram, joined the Ramakrishna Mission in 1950. Their leader was Asha Devi, who later became the first General Secretary of Sri Sarada Math and the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission and worked for forty long years directing the activities of all the Centres.

There was also a small group of women in Thrissur, who were working as teachers in the local Ramakrishna Ashram and desired to join to form a monastic sisterhood under the Ramakrishna Math. Since many young women had come forward to join, the authorities of Belur Math started giving serious thought to Vivekananda’s idea of establishing a Math for women.

In the Monks’ Conference of May, 1952 a recommendation of far-reaching consequences was accepted which was related to the establishment of the women’s Math. In their meeting on the 29th of May 1952 the Trustees of Belur Math accepted the recommendation of the Monks’ Conference as follows:

‘Since women aspirants have been initiated into formal Brahmacharya by Vivekananda, Swami Brahmananda and Swami Shivananda, this Conference recommends that this initiation be given, during the interim period but not afterwards, by the President of our Order to the dedicated women aspirants who are found fit by the President and Trustees for the time being.

Having regard to the fact that Vivekananda, in his writings and utterances and specially in his Math Rules, has strongly advocated Sannyasa for women, this Conference recommends that, at the time of the complete separation of this body of dedicated women workers as an independent organisation, if any of them already formally initiated into Brahmacharya should make a request for Sannyasa and be found fit by the President and Trustees for the time being, the President will ordain them as Sannyasinis, but thereafter there will be no such ordination by our President.’

The Nivedita Girls’ School celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a week long programme from the 11th to the 17th December 1952. The following year on the 27th December 1953, Holy Mother’s birth Centenary Celebration was inaugurated at Belur Math. On that sacred day, a group of dedicated women workers of the Order were initiated into Brahmacharya by Swami Sankarananda, the President at Belur Math. Initiation into Brahmacharya continued until 1958 at Belur Math.

A temporary Home for the Brahmacharinis came into being on the 10th July 1954 in a house gifted to the Mission on C.I.T. Road, Entally, Calcutta till a suitable plot of land was purchased in 1951, which consisted of six acres on the bank of the Ganga, a little North of Dakshineswar Kali Temple. This was secured by the Ramakrishna Math with funds mostly donated by Swami Akhilananda. The Brahmacharinismoved from the temporary location to this permanent home on the 2nd December 1954.