Darjeeling, May 17 (IANS) The house where Swami Vivekananada’s favourite disciple, Sister Nivedita breathed her last over a century ago, in this northern West Bengal hill district, has been handed over to the Ramakrishna Mission which plans to turn it into a centre of excellence for education and cultural studies.
A tripartite agreement was signed between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-run new hill development agency Gorkha Territorial Administration, the state government and the Ramakrishna Mission Thursday in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who announced a grant of Rs.1 crore for the renovation of the building.
The erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council had taken possession of the heritage Roy Villa, about four km from Darjeeling town on Lebong Cart Road, in the 1990s. At present, it houses a camp of the Gorkhaland Personnel – a voluntary armed force of the GJM created to “curb antisocial activities”.
According to the agreement, the GTA handed over the ownership to the state government, which in turn assigned the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission for the maintenance of the house, where Sister Nivedita passed away Oct 13, 1911.
Personalities like Swami Vivekananda and scientist Jagadhish Chandra Bose had also stayed in the house.
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission general secretary Swami Suhitananda announced that a centre for language education and cultural studies would be set up in the house. There would also be facilities for various training programmes for women, and to run a girls school and a campus of the Vivekananda University.
“We will also arrange for coaching students aspiring to be engineers, doctors, as also to join the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service at an affordable cost,” he said.
Banerjee hoped the building would emerge as an international tourism spot in the coming years.
Of Scots-Irish origin, Sister Nivedita was born Margaret Elizabeth Noble in 1867 in Ireland. Inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s speeches and philosophy in London in 1895, she accompanied him to then Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1898.
He rechristened her Nivedita (dedicated to god) when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya in 1898. A social worker, author and teacher, she spent her life in the service of mankind.