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Book: Translocal Lives and Religion

Chapter: 3. The Making of the Ideal Transnational Disciple: Unravelling Biographies of Margaret Noble/Sister Nivedit

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34763


Margaret Noble (1867-1911) was born in Ireland but educated in England where she established herself in her chosen career as an educator. Having met Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) at meetings in London, she followed him to India after he returned there in 1897. In 1898, Margaret Noble dedicated herself to the service of India as his disciple, under her initiated name of Sister Nivedita ("The Dedicated"). The extent of the regard in which she came to be held in India is reflected in the Government of India’s decision to mark the centenary of her birth by issuing a postage stamp in 1968 to commemorate her service to the nation. The complexity of Margaret Noble’s transnational life, with its movement between regions of Ireland and England during her formative years and her later relocation to India, was not framed by national boundaries but characterised by its mobility, including social mobility. Her spiritual life was similarly complex and fluid, defying rigid categorisation. The breadth of her activities in India extended far beyond her association with the movement Vivekananda created, the Ramakrishna Mission, which is why her life has attracted the interest of, not just scholars of religion, but also historians of the Indian independence movement and Hindu nationalism, scholars of postcolonial studies, and historians of Indian art and early expressions of pan-Asianism.

Chapter Contributors

  • Gwilym Beckerlegge ( - gwilymbeckerlegge) 'Open University'