12 November 2017

Champion for women's education and Indian independence receives blue plaque

Sister Nivedita's blue plaque was unveiled 150 years after her birth and 70 years after Indian independence
A black and white photograph of Sister Nivedita's face

The London home of Margaret Noble, or Sister Nivedita as she was known, has been commemorated with a new blue plaque. The plaque pays tribute to her work as a staunch campaigner for women's education and Indian independence.

The plaque was unveiled by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Madame Mamata Banerjee. The installment has also attracted praise from Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who acknowledged the plaque as the 'first public recognition of Sister Nivedita in London'.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

'I'm delighted that English Heritage is honouring Sister Nivedita with a blue plaque at her former home in Wimbledon on the 150th anniversary year of her birth.

'The first public recognition of Sister Nivedita in London is a fitting tribute to her lasting legacy, particularly on the 70th anniversary year of India's independence, and I'm sure it will prove a popular addition to the iconic London Blue Plaques Scheme.'

Anna Eavis, English Heritage Curatorial Director, said:

'Sister Nivedita is widely celebrated in India but less well-known in the UK. Our blue plaque at her family home is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman and we hope will make more people aware of her story.'

The installed blue plaque for Sister Nivedita (Margaret Noble)

Who was Sister Nivedita

Born in County Tyrone (now in Northern Ireland), Sister Nivedita devoted herself to philanthropic work among the poor and towards the promotion of women's education in India. She campaigned tirelessly for Indian independence, which the country was granted in the 1940s more than 20 years after her death.

The plaque carries with it another important milestone - the 70th anniversary year of India's independence.

Sister Nivedita opened her own kindergarten, the Ruskin School in Wimbledon in 1895. Here she met Swami Vivekananda, the chief disciple of Indian mystic and yogi Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. She was attracted to his messages of religious universalism and philanthropy. Sister Nivedita helped organise the Vedanta Movement in London until she persuaded Vivekananda to let her join him in India three years later.

Sister Nivedita's blue plaque installed above a coffee shop in Wimbledon

Sister Nivedita 'The Dedicated'

A key turning point in her life, Vivekananda eventually recognised her dedication. He said: 'I am now convinced that you have a great future in the work for India. What was wanted was not a man but a woman; a real lioness, to work for the Indians, women especially'.

The name Sister Nivedita or 'The Dedicated' was given to her when Vivekananda initiated her as a brahmacharini (a female disciple).

Sister Nivedita's plaque can be found outside her former three-storey, late Victorian home in Wimbledon. The ground floor is now a shop front.

Discover more

Find out more about Sister Nivedita by visiting our blue plaques page.

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