Tagore was a believer in an interactive, dialogic world, given to a deep sense of sympathy, generosity and mutuality, and in which nations would not be parochial, xenophobic and centripetal, or guided by mere selfishness and self-aggrandisement, but poised towards a morally and politically enlightened community of nations through the espousal of a centrifugal outlook, multilateral imagination, principal of universality and reciprocal recognitions. According to Amy Cesaire, the imperial objective is to “thingify” the colonial subjects, and Fanon suggest that the colonisers are inherently bent upon not only plundering the wealth of the colonised nations but also to rob them of their culture: “By a kind of perverted logic, it turns the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it” (154). By its very nature as an organisation, Tagore argued, nationalism could ill afford any altruism in this regard. It implies the individual cannot be coerced into doing things against the own free will. Tagore was opposed to the idea of the nation; he was even more fiercely opposed to India joining the bandwagon of nationalism. It is linked to an imagined whole which supposed to inspire but also exclude those who do not belong to such an inspired group by a single idea. London: Penguin, 1985. Nationalism is the state of mind that merges the self of individual in the self or nation. London: Penguin, 1985.——. Besides its overwhelming political themes, which is relevant even today, watch the movie to see how Ray … In this Tagore questions the idea of nation, and insists that moral principles and … conscience . Tagore explains this process, using a metaphor similar to Whitman’s “grass” in “Song of Myself”:As the mission of the rose lies in the unfoldment of the petals which implies distinctness, so the rose of humanity is perfect only when the diverse races and nations have evolved their perfect distinct characteristics but all attached to the stem of humanity by the bond of love. Innocents were killed and democracy suffered and we are no safer” (Alterman and Green 235); America’s “pre-emptive/preventive” war in Iraq, which Paul O’Neill painfully explains to Ron Suskind, America started hatching at the very first meeting of the current American president with the National Security Council, on “January 30, ten days after his inauguration” (70)6—such destructive events, which have changed the world, leaving humanity peering into the abyss of the future, have all been undertaken in the name of national safety and national security, whether it is the pan-Islamic religious nationalism of the militants or secular nationalism of the West. This remains as valid today, as it was when Tagore wrote. As seen previously, Tagore also found the fetish of nationalism a source of war, hatred and mutual suspicion between nations. . In Greece that question reappears in 2012 when members of the Greek party 'Chyrsi Avgi' appear suddenly with the Greek flag in their hands and start to attack migrants in broad daylight as if they were the enemy number one of the nation. He would not have anything to do with a movement that was hijacked by the Bengali Bhadroloks (elites) for their vested interest, and that saw the individual through the prism of a giant Cause. I believe that it does India no good to compete with Western civilization in its own field. But that was not to be. The mechanism of globalization is a new device to perpetuate the spirit of domination and exploitation of the older imperial times rather than make an attempt to create a new partnership among nations and its people based on equality and shared prosperity. The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America. .Kripalani, Krishna. . This desirable goal has been further hampered by the rise of new nationalism which increasingly is making advanced nations more insular moving away from a world minimum everywhere that Sakharov underlined. Vietnam and Afghanistan. The naked passion of the self-love of Nations, in its drunken delirium of greed, is dancing to the clash of steel and howling verses of vengeance. As Tagore himself has written in the book, Nationalism has its dimension in varied ways. This will need to be altered through the restoration of the soul to its rightful place. Notes*An earlier draft of this paper was read as the Second Visiting Professor Lecture at the State University of New York at Binghamton in March 2004. He was further disheartened to see that many of the impassioned youths turned to the cult of the bomb, hoping to liberate their motherland from the yoke of foreign tyranny by violence and terror. The nation, which represented the organized self-interest of a whole people for politics and commerce, is the ‘least human and least spiritual’. Since literature and poetry play a huge role in the formation of Nationalism – in the case of Greece one needs to think only of Lord Byron but also what was the role of poetry in the years of resistance, if not to bring out a new version of the heroic song as the case in Elytis' 'Axion Esti' – be praised - this debate about Nationalism received an interesting impuls once Gabriel Rosenstok proposed to look into the writings by Tagore and what some scholars such as Mohammad A. Quayum made of his criticism of Nationalism. (Nationalism 17-18). He had seen enough and he was infinitely sad and unhappy” (qtd. Anderson defines the nation as, "an imagined political community - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign…It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their… in Desai 7). Hugh Seton-Watson maintains, “no ‘scientific definition’ of the nation can be devised” (5). London: Routledge, 1998.The Bhagavad Gita. . “Touched by a Divine Afflatus: The Life, Works, and Ideology of Rabindranath Tagore.” An unpublished talk delivered at the occasion of the opening of the Tagore exhibition, organised by University Putra Malaysia, August 1998.Rabindrantha Tagore. And my feeling is this that Tagore’s hostility to nationalism came from the awareness that the nation state system and the idea of nation and nationality and nationalism were totally incongruent with Indian self-definition and went against the basic principle on which the Indic civilization as well as Indian unity as such is organised. "At home and outside") is a 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore.The book illustrates the battle Tagore had with himself, between the ideas of Western culture and revolution against the Western culture. . Elaborate. See . IntroductionIn a poem entitled, “The Sunset of the Century,” written on the last day of the nineteenth century, India’s messianic poet and Asia’s first Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), launched a fierce diatribe on nationalism. Imagining "one world": Rabindranath Tagore's Critique of Nationalism, Mohammad A. Quayum of International Islamic University Malaysia, "Our mind has faculties which are universal, but its habits are insular. in Sen 61). It is historically a more recent development than, and differs in motive and degree from, expropriation, or eminent domain, which is the right of government to take property, sometimes without compensation, for particular public purposes (such as the construction of roads, reservoirs, or hospitals). Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983.Hirst, Paul. Tagore argued that when love for one’s country gives way to worship, or becomes a “sacred obligation”, then disaster is the inevitable outcome. Nations and Nationalism. I have also pointed out in the introduction of the essay how nationalism is often used as a pretext for terrorism, factional or state, and war. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)’s perception of the dual role, one positive, the spirit of the West’ and the other negative, “the nation of the West” is the starting point of his analysis of nationalism, as it developed in the West. He spurned it as “a cruel epidemic of evil . Tagore’s vision of a free India— free from the fetters of materialism, nationalism as well as religious and racial orthodoxy—actively seeking a common destiny with the rest of mankind, constantly evolving towards a global society, is most ardently and expressly expressed in the following poem in Gitanjali, written in the form of a supplication: Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;Where knowledge is free;Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;Where words come from the depth of truth;Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action—Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. It may be appropriate at this time to look back at some of the Modern Greats of the past century and re-examine their messages of wisdom for their relevance today. So were Romain Ronnald from … New York: Viking, 2004.Anand, Mulk Raj. (Dutta 213), Tagore’s indictment of nationalism elicited furious criticisms from many of his contemporaries, especially in the West, with the Marxist critic, Georg Lukacs, and the English writer, D. H. Lawrence, leading the pack, making the duo strange bedfellows in their Tagore hatred. He argues that the rise of nationalism in Western Europe was made possible by the decline, if not the death, of religious modes of thought, in the wake of the rationalist secularism of the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. Thus a more pragmatic and worldly socio-political system of nationalism emerged to suit the post-religious, secular world. in Quayum, “In Search of a Spiritual Commonwealth” 32-33). 1916. In “Nationalism in India,” he explained, “Even though from childhood I had been taught that idolatry of the nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against the education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity” (Chakravarty 200). He said that if nationalism is something imaginary, humanity has to readjust their imagination by being more inclusive and encyclopaedic, or by extending the horizon of their mind’s eye, so that the fellowship of the species does not stop at a geographical border, like commodities. In a mood of outrage and disenchantment, tempered with intermittent hope, he wrote: "The last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the West and the whirlwind of hatred. Although India is a free country now (ironically broken up into three fragments), the appropriation of nationalist ideology has erased the sense of India’s difference as a society, capable of standing on its own; forging of links with the West on unequal terms (since India has merely copied the Western thoughts and has nothing to offer of her own) has allowed neo-colonialist controls to operate over the country both explicitly and implicitly, spelling political and cultural doom for its people. Thus, ironically, this world of pomp and finery, wealth and power, at its height of crisis, was left to the wisdom of one person; and had Arkhipov been as “insane” as some of the other nationalist chauvinists, the world would have almost surely been extinct now through a major nuclear warfare—if not the world, the Northern Hemisphere. The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. in Quayum, “Touched by a Divine Afflatus 14). The memory of the two World Wars and the increasing realization that for a continued peaceful evolution of the global village there is a need for a universal minimum in defining the good and desirable and mitigating the division between the privileged and the under-privileged. It was education, and not adulation for the Charka (the spinning wheel) that Gandhi suggested, which could liberate India from the tyranny of the past and the towering misery of unreasoned, unbridled orthodoxy. . In a letter to C.F. In 'The Home and the World', Nikhil, Tagore’s alter ego in the novel, who is patriotic but wouldn’t place nation above truth and conscience says, “I am willing to serve my country; but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than country. London: Macmillan, 1959.——. Soul is what brings creativity and sympathy to the self, and makes the individual human and humane. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1962.Nairn, Tom. . A classic example of this later instance was the introduction of English language in India in 1835 with the view of anglicising a group of Indians who would serve the colonial cause. Secondly, a brief account of the emergence of nationalism and debates over its origins will be presented. 1915. Nationalism is defensive, protective. New South Wales: Allen and Unwin, 1998.Gellner, Ernst. That makes it hard to distil his views on various issues. Trans. The truth is that the spirit of conflict and conquest is at the origin and in the centre of Western nationalism; its basis is not social co-operation. In a letter to Foss Westcott, Tagore further wrote, “Believe me, nothing would give me greater happiness than to see the people of the West and the East march in a common crusade against all that robs the human spirit of its significance” (Dutta 197). Tagore could perhaps be faulted for impracticality; his vision for India was too sublime and unrealisable in an imperfect world. Mercantilism is an economic theory that advocates government regulation of international trade to generate wealth and strengthen national power. Chmosky comments, “World opinion strongly favoured diplomatic-judicial measures over military action. Tagore maintained that India’s immediate problems were social and cultural and not political. . Let him burn his foreign clothes; that is his duty today. Yet his transcendent thought provides a testament to his noble and beautiful mind, and strikes a cord in the moral person in each of us. Fanon expresses this misgiving, when he says, “National consciousness, instead of being the all-embracing crystallization of the innermost hopes of the whole people [becomes] a crude and fragile travesty of what it might have been [when] the nation is passed over for the race, and the tribe is preferred to the state” (156). On the suggestion in this article, I visited the project Gutenberg page and glanced through the pages of Book 'Nationalism' by Tagore. Letters to a Friend. This childhood experience became the poet’s lifelong companion; he would feel muffled by any confining circle and challenge it with utmost vigour. The Cuban missile crisis was the most dangerous moment in human history, Chomsky reminds us. to say that it is wrong to cooperate with the West is to encourage the worst form of provincialism and can produce nothing but intellectual indigence” (qtd. The national boundary was another such arbitrary “circle” for him that circumscribed his wish to be one with the rest of mankind. Tagore’s critique of modern civilisation finds clearest expression in his reflections on the concepts of nation and nationalism. Tagore understood the perils that the development of nationalism in such a predicament posed to what he called the Indian samaj. The risks for us not to take up Tagore’s trajectory are too high. Tagore saw very clearly two clear-cut alternatives to the present scenario: one to continue to fight amongst one another and second, to locate the true basis of reconciliation and mutual help”. Tagore was, in the end, much more than a poet. Edward Waldo Emerson. Timothy Brennan examines the role of literature, especially the novel, in the formation of national consciousness during its early period: “the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries” (173). He would not accept such thorny hedges of exclusion or the labels and divisions that stood on the way to the formation of a larger human community. Leaves of Grass and Selected Prose. (134-35). Rabindranath Tagore: Lecture and Addresses. London: New Left, 1977.Quayum, Mohammad A. “In Search of a Spiritual Commonwealth: Tagore’s The Home and the World.” Journal of South Asian Literature 31.1-2 and 321-22 (1999): 32-45.——. 1 In spite of Tagore’s anti-nationalitarian stance, he was a highly patriotic poet. However, we are not done yet, security of the homeland has not been achieved, as President Bush has thoughtfully declared, “There is no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland” (Chomsky 207). Surendranath Tagore. For further information on this historical event, see Wolpert (281-82). When you borrow things that do not belong to your life, they only serve to crush your life. Tagore, however, never placed patriotism above soul, conscience and love for humanity. It is the increasing strength of nationalism that enables natio… Although apolitical by temperament, Tagore at first was drawn to the movement and started giving lectures and writing patriotic songs with such fervour that Ezra Pound quipped,“Tagore has sung Bengal into a nation” (qtd. In spite of such rejection, Tagore never sacrificed his global vision for mankind or his sense of “creative bond of wholeness,” and he did so fully aware that “It is the sense and craving for wholeness [which] has been the cause of [his] separation from others and also their misunderstanding of [his] motives” (Letters to a Friend 91). The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Tagore’s prediction that joining the bandwagon of nationalism would make India a beggar of the West has also come true. It may be appropriate at this time to look back at some of the Modern Greats of the past century and re-examine their messages of wisdom for their relevance today. I found this essay in English on Tagoreweb, which contains all his writings. It calls for a humanitarian intervention into present self-seeking and belligerent nationalism, through the introduction of a moral and spiritual dimension in the institution. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, eds. Currently, the nation is but an organisation of “politics and commerce,” focused on power and wealth. A Tagore Reader. It forgets the end of goodness, which is the aim of man. The next IPSA World Congress of Political Science will be held in Lisbon (Portugal), 10-14 July 2021. in Desai 8). One might think that Tagore’s critique of nationalism is a little lofty and far-fetched—“too pious” as Pound might have said; his arguments are layered in atavistic spiritualism and romantic idealism. His foremost objection came from its very nature and purpose as an institution. According to Alterman and Green, a Gallup poll after the operation in Afghanistan on nine Muslim countries showed “ 77 percent of the respondents judged U.S. actions in Afghanistan to be unjustifiable; only 9 percent expressed support” (236). London and New York: Routledge, 1997. in Chomsky 16) and that in which, as Radhakrishnan said, “self-interest is the end; brute force, the means; conscience is taboo” (163). (qtd. I wish to thank Professor John Chaffee, the Director of Asian and Asian American Studies, for inviting me to the program. London: Verso, 1991.Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, eds. For the free conscience is only possible if the individual is not over determined, but free to decide. . Tagore argued that British colonialism found its justification in the ideology of nationalism, as the coloniser came to India and other rich pastures of the world to plunder and so further the prosperity of their own nation. The EU youth project about whether or not Patriotism is an alternative form to Nationalism has tried to reflect some answers to this question. A Critique on Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Nationalism’ The dictionary definition of the word ‘nationalism’ is “identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.” The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. London: Macmillan, 1976.Radhakrishnan, S. The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore. (173). (qtd. Tagore's works are mostly in Bengali, and often works of fiction. New York: Modern Library, 1950.Wolpert, Stanley. There was worldwide good will for America after 9-11 but support for military intervention in Afghanistan was low. in Kripalani 268). He wrote to C.F. John A. Kouwenhoven. The call has come to every individual in the present age to prepare himself and his surroundings for this dawn of a new era, when man shall discover his soul in the spiritual unity of all human beings. This, however, I believe is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return." Perhaps it is not too late for us to wake up from our horrific moral slumber and accept the path of international solidarity, peace, harmony and justice paved by the Indian enlightened humanitarian poet, Rabindranath Tagore; by challenging the reigning ideological system of self-seeking nationalism and jingoism, we could still avert the all-consuming nightmare before us and alter the damning course of history. London and New York: Routledge, 1997. While doing so, the concept of world governance was discussed onhand of the writings by Jürgen Habermas. Discourse on Colonialism. Cavite Mutiny, brief uprising of 200 Filipino troops and workers at the Cavite arsenal on January 20, 1872, which became the excuse for Spanish repression of the embryonic Philippine nationalist movement. India ought to come out of this social stagnation by educating the people out of their trance; only when the immovable walls of society were removed, or made flexible, will India regain her vitality and dynamism as a society and find true freedom. But soon after, Tagore saw the movement turning violent with the nationalists agitating against innocent civilians who were indifferent to their cause, and especially the Muslims who were in favour of the partition for practical as well as political reasons (the partition gave the Muslims of East Bengal a new capital in Dhaka). . "The Nation, with all its paraphernalia of power and prosperity, its flags and pious hymns, its blasphemous prayers in the churches, and the literary mock thunders of its patriotic bragging, cannot hide the fact that the Nation is the greatest evil for the Nation, that all its precautions are against it, and any new birth of its fellow in the world is always followed in its mind by the dread of a new peril." it ranged from 2 percent in Mexico to 11 percent in Colombia and Venezuela” (200). 1928. . sweeping over the human world of the present age and eating into its moral fibre” (Nationalism 9); a terrible absurdity that is seeking to engulf humanity in a suicidal conflagration. 1. 9. As an institution, its chief interest lies in the material well being of its people but not their moral or spiritual health. Trans. Several post-colonial critics agree with Tagore’s view that nationalism begets a disquisition of intolerance and “othering.” Ernest Gellner, Benedict Anderson and Tom Nairn have pointed out the irrationality, prejudice and hatred that nationalism generates, and Leela Gandhi speaks of its attendant racism and loathing, and the alacrity with which citizens are willing to both kill and die for the sake of the nation. However, much of what Tagore said is intellectually valid and some of it is borne out by contemporary post-colonial criticism. In 1905, the Swadeshi movement started on Tagore’s doorstep, as a response to the British policy of partitioning Bengal. To worship my country as a god is to bring curse upon it” (29). in Kripalani 278). . Ironically, the harsh reaction of the Spanish authorities served … (27-28). Baroda: Good Companions, 1961.Schoeff Jr., Mark. Tagore denounced patriotism that, like religious formalism, “breeds sectarian arrogance, mutual misunderstanding and a spirit of persecution” (Letters to a Friend 85). “Tagore and His India.” Ed. Despite literature’s such active complicity in the formation of the institution and the global acceptance of nationalism as the only legitimate form of political organisation, India’s myriad-minded poet, Rabindranath Tagore—whom Bertrand Russell considered “worthy of the highest honour” (qtd. 1912. Let us have a deep association” (Soares 106), he said in his characteristic hopefulness. Jefferson’s point further helps bolster Tagore’s claim that the discourse of nationalism overlaps with the discourse imperialism; the imperialist nations adopt the role of the Lacanian grand Other and seek to inscribe their authority unilaterally over the colonised nations; they are not impelled by the ideology of benevolence towards the colonised countries. The current form of nationalism that works rationally within a “lunatic” doctrinal framework is threatening our very survival. It becomes the magnification of self, on a stupendous scale— magnifying our vulgarity, cruelty, greed; dethroning God, to put up this bloated self in its place” (Letters to a Friend 98). In dissecting the complications and finding remedial measures Tagore’s critique of nationalism provides valuable insights and might provide a rudimentary framework in finding possible solutions. Critics concur that nation is a necessity, it has laboured on behalf of modernity, and it helps to bolster the present civilization; as a political organisation it befits the social and intellectual milieu of present-day society, but they hardly claim itsmoral authority or its beneficial role in the reinforcement of human virtue.