The parallel

The similar toy train to Darjeeling experience had provided inspiration to one other great person of foreign origin who had made India her home. She had also taken the same train for regaining health. It was Swami Vivekananda’s German disciple Sister Nivedita. She had too made her resolves to serve the poor and sick while on the toy train to Darjeeling in 1899, exactly 47 years back.
She had come to India inspired by the spiritual message of Swami Vivekananda. Once in India she dedicated her life to Swamiji’s mission and to the service of the poor of the land.
It was the British Raj period. Bengal and its capital Calcutta was a neglected region because it was the breeding ground of anti-British nationalists and revolutionaries, the scourge of the rulers. So, British cared little if people there suffered famines or epidemics.
The epidemics were endemic in Calcutta. The roads were rarely swept. As a result filth and rubbish lay everywhere resulting in diseases and epidemics. The city administration was apathetic. The people themselves wouldn’t care. The over all situation was appalling. It shocked Nivedita. No one seemed to care. If the officials were negligent why were not people themselves taking any initiation?
Sister Nivedita decided to lead by example. She picked up broom and started sweeping the Baag Bazaar road. At first, the people stared at her somewhat amused. Then, some youth felt ashamed of themselves and took over the sweeping task. She showed that people should help themselves to goad the administration into action.
When the plague epidemic struck Calcutta Sister Nivedita got busy in relief works. She took care of the suffering people and gave them, medicines. The situation was bad. The people lay everywhere in very pathetic state, soaked in their on refuse and vomit. She would clean them.
After the dead were taken off for funeral she would white wash the houses with workman’s brush. Her selfless service made her a legend of Calcutta.
Naturally, as Mother Teresa had lived for so long in Calcutta she must have heard of Nivedita story and got some inspiration from it.

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