DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 25 Ravindra Nath Tagore (1861—1941)
Discuss Tagore’s views on human environment essential for building a strong nation and a stable society.
Tagore was an internationalist besides being lover of his motherland and champion of liberty. Tagore wrote “Parasites have to pay for their ready nutrition by losing the capacity of assimiliating food in its natural, form. In the history of man the same sin of a capacity allowed to deaden has brought about degeneracy. Man parasitical not only when he lives on others, but also when he lethers himself inescapably to exterior circumstance, to things as they are and always have been, and drives, helpless, in the stream.
This total surrender to the outward has no sanction from within. When, as a result, man ceases to move by his own volition and is borne by sheer habit, he becomes a kind of parasite. For he looses the capacity to carry out his assigned task to turning the seemingly impossible, the way of progress which is his true human destiny.’’ This opinion points out that all the lower animals are parasites.
Carried along by the environment, they live or die by natural selection they make an advance or get retarded as nature’s dictate, and their minds, lacking the power of growth, remains stunted. The bees, for millions of years, could not do anything but shape their hives on one set pattern ; thus, while the cells have reached a certain perfection of form, the bees have been victims of the limited and changeless habits of their hive-life.
Nature has own a curious timidity with regard to the lower types of life ; she has held them in the protection of her apron strings and kept their instincts circumscribed lest they stray into bold bat dangerous experiments.
Emphasis on the Creative Faculty of Human Beings.
Providence, however, displayed a new creative courage when it came to man. His inner nature was set free while outwardly he was weak, naked defenceless. Exulting in this freedom, man stood up and declared, “I will achieve the impossible. I will not accept the perpetuity of things as they are. I will bring about happenings that have never been before.”
So it was that, early in his history, when man found his lot cast among tusked and taloned creatures, he did not seek escape in fight like the deer or in hiding like the tortoise but set himself to work with flints to do the impossible – to make weapons of superior power. The new “tusks and talons” of his were the product of his inner faculties and no gift from nature, and free, therefore, from dependence for their protection on the caprices of naturals election.
Tagore continues to explain, ‘His instruments grew, advancing from flint to iron, proving that his mind was ever questing and not struck, moribund, to environmental limits. What seemed beyond reach came within his grasp. Not content with the flint ready at hand he knocked at the iron are under the earth’s surface. Not satisfied with the easier process of chipping flints, he proceeded to smelt iron ore and hammer it into shape – what was hardest and most resistant came to be his best support.
It is man’s nature that he must seek joy, not mere success, in constant action. He must work tirelessly to penetrate from the surface to the depths, from the obvious to the hidden, from the easy to the difficult, from paraltism to free will, from drive of his passions to steadiness of self-discipline. That is the way of his conquests.
What is ‘creation’ of one’s own country ?
What precisely do we mean when we speak of creating one’s own country ? We mean that we spread our inner spirit to the vast outward realm, and apply to it our thought, action and service. A man’s homeland has to be a projection as well as mirror of his in most life.
Years back, in an article entitled “Society and State”, I discussed how we could make the land of our birth truly ours. I underlined that we must win over our country, not from some foreigners but from our own inertia, our indifference. Whenever, we have sought boons at the door of the alien government, we have only made our inertia the more intense. The credit for all progress goes to the government, with the effect that our country is
increasingly lost of us. We pay out in spiritual values for what we secure as material benefits.
To give vent to one’s wrath is a kind of emotional luxury, there was nothing in those days to stop our revelry of self-insulgence we went about picketing, burning bales of cloth, admonishing all who did not follow at our heels, with no restraint in language or conduct. Shortly after it was all over, a Japanese friend asked me : “How is it that you people cannot carry on your work with quiet patience and firm resolve ?
This dissipation of energy is not the best way to try to arrive at one’s goal.” I had to reply : “If the goal were clear in our view, we would naturally act with restraint, but since we can merely indulge in gestures of wrath, our mounting frenzy, with the purpose lost, throws our energy into reckless waste until nothing of it is left.”
Anyhow, there were my countrymen, tolerating no check to the exhibition of their outraged feelings. It was all too fantastic. At that point I came to the scene pleading for a different line of action, and succeeded only in drawing some of the wrath on to my own head.
Then, the question of avarice. Worthwhile objects have always been attained only the hard way. We, however, hit upon a device to get them cheap-begging, not with folded hands, but in a tone that carried a threat. The country was overjoyed at the ingenuity of this trick. It was like being at reduced price sale-goods in the political market were market at cut rates. He whose means are slender gets so taken up with low prices that he pays no need to quality and rushes to attack anyone who has doubts in that respect.
Concern for the growing inclination towards wealth.
The outer appearance, maya, possessed us in these days. Significantly, a. political leader of the time said, “I have one hand at the throat of the British Government and the other at it feet.” So he had no hand left for his country. That attitude has changed since. No gestures concerned merely with the foreigner can help.
In those days the stimulus from every side was directed at the heart of Bengal. But emotion by itself, like fire, only consumes its fuel which it reduces to ashes – it has no creative power. The mind of man must be at work with patience, skill and foresight, employing this fire to melt the hard material at hand and make them malleable. We failed to rouse our intellectual forces, and so we could not build any organisation of permanent worth out of the vast, flaming emotion of the time.
Opposed blind obedience and favoured disciplined reason.
The cause of our failure was within ourselves. For a long time past all our actions bad been dominated by emotion on the one hand and habit on the other. Our power of thought had remained dormant, we dared not give it free play. So, when we had to be roused to action, it was our emotion which requisitioned in a hurry and the hypnotism of some mystical formula was applied to our intellect.
In the excitement of the partition days a hand of youths sought to bring about the millennium by revolution. They cast themselves as a sacrifice into the fare they had lighted and, on that account, deserve salutation not from us alone but best from all the world. Even their failure carriers the radiance of spiritual glory.
Through supreme self-dedication and travail they had to realise at last that when the country was not ready, the path of revolution led nowhere, The false track which had seemed a short cut to the goal did not reach it and thorns and brambles tore at the marching feet. To pay part price for a thing may lose both the price and the thing. The youths of those days had thought that the sacrifice of their lives on behalf of all the people would bring a revolution.
They paid the highest price in their power but it was not enough. The deliverance of a people must spring out of all their hearts, not partment with all its rich fittings cannot go faster than the third-class coaches attached f to it. I feel sure that the survivors in that patriotic band have now realised that the country has to be the creation of all ill people, a concrete expression of mass mind and will, every faculty pressed into full use.
When we turn our gaze upon the progress of other nations, the political cart-horse comes prominently into view-on it seems to depend wholly the speed of the vehicle. We forget that the cart , behind the horse must also be in a lit state to move its wheels must have the right alignment, its parts must have been properly assembled. The cart is the product not simply of materials on which saw and hammer had worked ; thought, energy applicable have gone into its making.
We have seen countries that are outwardly free, but as they are drawn by the horse of politics the rattle rouses all the neighbourhood from sleep and the joining makes the limbs of the passengers acuts : the vehicle break down repeatedly on their way and to put them in running order is to terrific business. Yet they are vehicles of a sort, after all, the fragments that pass for our country not only lack cohesion oat are comprised of parts of odds with one another.
To hitch it to anger or avarice or some other passion drag it along painfully with much din and bustle, and call this political progress. How long could the driving force last ? Is it not wiser, then, to keep the horse in the stable for the time and take up the task, first, of putting the vehicle in good shape ?
To make the country our own by means of our creative power is indeed a great call. It cannot be a mere summons to some mechanical exercise. No, man does not limit himself in the manner of the bee building endless replicas of cells, or the spider weaving webs of one pattern. His greatest strength is within him and it is up to him to draw on that strength and not on blind habit.
To tell him, “Do not think out act”, is to help prolong the age old delusion that has held this country in its deadly grip. We have been content much too long to surrender our greatest right – the right to reason and decide for ourselves – to the blind forces of sacred in functions and established habits. We have said : “We must not cross the black water ; it is forbidden by Manu. We cannot partake a of meal with a Muslim ; it is against prescribed usage.” In other words, we have pursued a routine of habit in which the mind has no place.
We have thus been reduced to the helpless condition of the master, I repeat, is the man within ; he gets into endless trouble when he ties himself down to outward circumstance, a parasite, an automation built in the workshop of sheer servility. The inertia from which our slave mentally has grown could hardly be broken by a further dose of blindfold submission or the imposition of the motions of a wound-up mechanical doll.
Stratagem in politics is a barren policy – that was a lesson of which we were surely in need. All honour to the Mahatma, who wakened us to the power of truth. But the cowardly and the weak take easily to cheap tactics. Minds corrupted by untruth cannot grasp the meaning of the great love kindled in the people’s heart by the Mahatma’s love.
This indeed, is the birth of freedom, nothing less. It is the country’s discovery of itself. It has little to do with the alien occupation of India. This love is pure affirmation. It does not involve itself in arguments with the negative attitude. There is no need for arguments of any kind whatever. Some notes of the music of this wonderful awakening of India by the call of love radiated across the seas and reached me abroad.
What joy it was to think we would all be summoned to witness the great arousal in which the splendid power latent in India’s heart was to find full release. This, l did believe, was real liberation. When the Buddha proclaimed his doctrine of compassion for all living beings, the stimulus of the ideal touched every aspect of life and enriched the creative arts in that distant age too, India had been cracking up repeatedly inspite of sporadic attempts at political unity.
The stimulus was so strong that it reached out even beyond the Indian borders and made people in many countries conscious of their inner wealth. No great conqueror or merchant prince could ever achieve anything of this kind – they merely carried with them discord and pain and insult. Love attains its object of redemption by touching life at its taproot, while avarice has to use the instruments of coercion. This we had noticed during the anti-partition struggle, when men often made sacrifices under the outward pressure of avarice, not the inner compulsion of love. Avarice has to get quick results, even if they are impermanent; the fruit of love is durable and it is sufficient by itself.
Freedom of Expression.
So, in the excited expectation or breathing the air a new found freedom, 1 hurried back to my home-land. But what I have seen and felt troubles me. Something seems to be weighing on the people’s spirit ; a stern pressure is at work, it makes everyone talk in the same voice and make the same gestures.
When I wanted to ask questions and decide for myself, my well-wishers clapped anxious hands to my mouth : “Pray be silent.” There is a tyranny in the air – even if intangible, it is worse than open violence. Let any one who doubts the wisdom of the proclaimed policy speak his mind in a bare whisper and he will have to face disciplinary action. One of our newspapers dared give a mere hint of disapproval of the buring of foreign cloth, and the readers’ agitated protest came menacingly ; the flames which had consumed the bales of mill cloth could quickly reduce this paper to ashes.
I see a section of the people fanatically engaged in their assigned task, and another section struck with alarm and dumfounded. The idea prevails that all questioning must stop : there should be nothing but blind obedience. Obedience to Whom ? To some charmed words of incantation, to some reasonless creed.
And why this obedience ? Here again is avarice, our spiritual fee. The country has been given a very attrative promise – it is to have in no time a treasure of instiable worth. Under its lure men have cast reason aside and are full of resentment against all who will not behave likewise. The sadness is that, even those who have not swallowed the bait are anxious to make use of it.
“It will serve a good purpose” they say. They evidently think that the India that declared, “In truth alone is victory, in naught else is unifit for self – government”.
The Mahatma has captured the heart of India with his love ; we all bow down to him on that account. He has revealed to us the full power of truth and for that we are beholden. We read about eternal truths in books, we talk about them, but it is a propitious moment when we encounter truth face to face.
Such an opportunity is rare in one’s life. It is easy enough to go province making political speeches, and even to make and break National Congress. But the golden band of true love that has wakened us out of age-along slumber is not to be easily found. To the possessor of that rare want, our profound salutation.
But them, wheat is the good of it all if, even after we have seen the face of truth, our faith in it is not firm enough ? Our minds must accept the truth of the intellect just as the heart accepts the truth of love. Till now, neither the Congress nor any other institution made a strong impression on the heart of India – it needed the touch or love. Now what we have the truth of love, are we to withdraw our trust in the other truth -just where Swaraj is concerned.
Let me give an illustration. I am looking for a veena player. I have tried everywhere but failed to find the right man. They are all experts, they command high fees, but their technical skill draws my admiraiton without touching my emotions. At last I find a player whose very first notes are sheer rhapsody. I accept him as my master.
I then want a veena made, but my resources turn out to be inadequate. What if the master plying my plight says, “Do not worry. Take this stick, tie a string of its length, and practise on that contraption. On a particular day of a particular month, the stick will turn into a real veena ?” Would that help ? It would in fact be mistaken kindness for the master thus to take pity on my circumstances.
Far better, if he were to tell me that such things could not be had cheapily ; that a real veena could not be made with a single string that it needed a great variety of materials and skilled craftsmanship; that a single slip would result in its being out of tune.
What was Tagore’s ideas about the solution of complex social problems ?
Tagore reposed great faith in Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts and wrote, “It is a vast enterprise involving complex processes and needing as much study and clear thinking as impulse and emotion. Economists and educationists and mechanical engineers must contribute their ideas and exertions to the pool of this many-sided endeavour. The intellect of the people must be fully awake. So that the spirit of inquiry is untramelled ; minds must not be overawed or made in active by compulsions, open or secret.
Emphasis on modernisation through research.
It has been argued that four-fifteens of the Indian people are engaged in cultivation and for half the year they remain unemployed ; to set an example to them, people of the higher classes should take to the charkha for a time. But to start with, the basic assumptions have to be proved.
How many cultivators become workless, and for how long ? Would they earn more by spinning than by other means It is also open to doubt whether it would be good to offer all the peasantry just one others means of livehood apart from cultivation. In a word, we should not be prepared to formulate a general policy by sheer guess-work. We demand research on scientific lines ; when that is done, it will be time to conclusions.
As everywhere else, Swaraj in this country has to find its basis in the mind’s unfoldment, in knowledge, in the scientific thinking, and not in shallow gestures. It does not make sense to say that we could attain this Swaraj by playing the Spinning-wheel a brief while. If we agree to accept oracular prophecies from human lip, there will be an addition to our thousand and one superstitions.
As soon as it appears that nothing but oracles serve or move us, they will have to be manufactured day and night out of sheer necessity, and, all other voices will then be hussed. As dogma takes the place of reason, freedom will give way to some kind of despotism. This is not a new thing. We in India have enough of the super natural-
mystical revelations, magical healing and all sorts of divine intervention in the affairs of the world. That is just by I am so anxious to reinstate reason on its pedestal.
Faith in the purity of life.
Untruth is impure and is to be shunned, and not simply on the ground that it fails to serve our purpose. Whatever its other effects, it makes our inner nature un¬clean, that is a moral promise above the plane of economics or politics. Besides, if there is anything wrong in using cloth of a particular brand, the offence would be against economics or hygiene or aesthetics but certainly not against ethics.
If a student stumbles in his geometry problem it will do no good to tear up his exercise book – the problem will have to be worked a new by the geometrical method. What if the School master concludes that exercise book itself destroyed the boy will not be convinced of his error ? If this is right, I can only say that the boy needs reformation much more than academic lessons.
Against over mechanisation of human life.
The Mahatma has declared war against the tyranny of the machine which is oppressing the world. Here we are all under his banner. But we cannot accept cowardly in the fight, the slave mentality that is at the root of all the misery and indignity in our national life.
I am ready to burn cloth, but not under the blind pressure of a directive. Let experts give this question their time and thought and convince us with arguments what economic means could cure the economic malady arising from our use of foreign cloth.
If we have committed an economic Crime by using a certain make of cloth, how could we be sure, in the absense of logical data, that by burning cloth we would not simply broaden the basis of the crime, so that the stronghold of Manchester would strengthen all the more ? I am not speaking as an expert, since I am not one : I am only asking a question out of the spirit of inquiry. Not that I accept as gospel truth whatever the experts say. But, then, they do not speak in the idiom of gospels : they make a call on our intelligence arid urge us to frank debate.
Suggestions for achieving international outlook.
It is time for us today to consider another point. India’s awakening is a part of the awakening of the world. With the Great War the door of a new age has flung. All at once, the foundations of civilisation, western civilisation to be a praise, seem to quake. It is evident that the tremors are neither local nor momentary ; they are worldwide and will not stop until human relationship ; reaching from continent to continent, become based on true harmony.
Henceforth, any nation which seeks isolation for itself must come into conflict with the time-spirits and find no peace. From now onward the plane of thinking of every nation will have to be international. It is the striving of the new age to develop in the mind this faculty of universality. There is an attempt to see the problems of India against the framework of the world. There are hindrances to be overcome – self interest attacks enlightened understanding at every step. But, then, it would be wrong to think that self interest alone is genuine.
In my sixty years’ experience I have discovered that pure hypocrisy is not easy to attain and is a scarce commodity. The fact is that every man is more or less ambivalent in character. But our logical faculty is unable to admit the two opposites together.
When we see the good along with the bad, we rush to the conclusion that the good has counterfeit. In international relations this duality is clear. We are apt to be obsessed by this aspect in view of all our past experience ; but in the light of future promise, we must accept the change in outlook as genuine. Even if the messages do not fully reveal the truth, ‘they strain in all sincerity towards the truth.
At this dawn of the world’s awakening, if our national endeavour holds no intimations of a universal message, the poverty of our spirit will be laid piteously bare. 1 do not say that we should neglect the immediate tasks we have in hand. But when the bird is roused at day break, all its awakening is not absorbed in the quest for food ; its wings respond to the call of the sky and its throat pours forth joyous songs in celebration of the new light.
Regretably, we have narrowed down our’ vision to more material expectations. But even in the west a real concern to rise superior to material interests is not apparent. There I have come across in whom the new spirit of renunciation is personified. These are men who, freed of ther petty bonds of nationalism, feel within them the inner oneness of all mankind, and are ready for every sacrifice in working for the fulfilment of the great ideal.
I have seen such men in England : they have accepted insult and hurt, from the hands of their own people in their struggle to liborate subject races from the tyranny of power. I have watched the faces of students in Europe, radiant with the hope of world unity, and bearing with patience and courage the blows they must suffer for their dream of the glorious age ahead.
Discuss Tagore’s ideas about internationalism.
Tagore was a true statesman and a man of foresightedness. He believed that the whole world is one and to divide it into separate nations small or big is to create enemies with ourselves. The word nation would mean a restricted view separating ourselves from others and would tend to be interested in ourselves may be at the cost of others.
In the words of Tagore, “The word ‘nation’ does not occur in our language nor does it exist in our country. We have learnt of late to prize national greatness by virtue of European education. But its ideals cannot be found in our minds. Our history,’ our religion, our society, our family none of the have recognised the ascendency of the cult of the nation. Europe prizes political independence, we act free by spiritual liberation.
The civilization as manifested in the cult of the nation has yet to be tested. But it is clear that ideals are not ennobling ; they carry the evils of injustice and falsehood ; there is a sort of the terrible cruelty about the cult. The basis of Hindu ‘civilisation’ is society ; the basis of European civilisation is the State. Man can attain greatness either through society or state. But if we think to build up nation after European pattern – the only way and the only aim – we shall be wrong.”
Tagore said, “our history is that of our social life and attainment of spiritual ideas.” He condemned the barbaric manifestation of imperialistic arrogance and social chauvinism.
The basis of internationalism of Tagore were based on the following fundamental beliefs :
1. Life becomes untrue and its burden heavy we do not see ourselves in the infinite ; we have to realise the consciousness of the all. True universalism is not the breaking down of the walls of one’s own house, but the offering of hospitality to one’s guests and neighbours.
2. Our fight is a spiritual fight – it is for man. We are to emancipate man from the meshes that he himself has woven round him – the organisation of national egoism. According to Tagore, “he only knows the reality who sees the universe in one’s self and one’s self in universe”.
3. The amelioration of the lot of all the individuals in all countries can only bring real progress.
4. Politicians mis-handle the situation instead of bridging the gulf between East and West they widen it. He advised the politician to see the light of day and shun their habit of dividing this world into different cells.
5. Every nation is a member of humanity and each must render the account of what it has created for the weal of mankind.
6. Tagore’s gradual world, consciousness and Ins desire to see and know other lands and people and establish with them a relation of goodwill and friendship as also his growing conviction that the world born by conflict and violence needed India’s message of unity and peace impelled him to go to foreign countries.
7. Tagore denounced narrow nationalism as the demon and a false God. He considered the western brand of Nationalism narrower in conception than the Indian outlook.
8. He believed that human truths and humanity were above narrow national interests. Tagore wrote, we do not worship nationalism as the highest god – this is our nationalism.
His internationalism was much a natural and logical manifestation of his humanistic philosophy as it was so of his philosophy of universalism mainly derived from the upanishads. Tagore’s views on Nationalism and Internationalism are more clear in his following words:
‘Before the Nation came to rule over us we had other governments which were foreign, and these, like all governments, had some element of the machine in them. But the difference between them and the government by the Nation is like the difference between the handloom and the powerloom. In the products of the handloom, the magic of man’s living fingers finds its expression and its hum harmonises with the music of life. But the powerloom is relentlessly lifeless and accurate and monotonous in its production.
We must admit that during the personal government of the former day there have been instances of tyranny, injustice, and extortion. They caused sufferings and unrest from which we are glad to be rescued. The protection of law is not only a boon, but it is a valuable lesson to us. It is teaching us the discipline which is necessary for the stability of civilisation and for continuity of progress. We are realising through it that there is a universal standard of justice to which all men, irrespective of their caste and colour., have their equal claim.
This reign of law in our present government in India has established ordeer in this vast land inhabited by peoples different in their races and customs. It has made it possible for these peoples to come in closer touch with one another and cultivate a communion of aspiration.
But this desire for a common bond of comradeship among the different races of India has been the work of the spirit of the West, not that of the Nation of West. Wherever in Asia the people have received the true lesson of the West it is inspite of the Western Nation.
Only because Japan bad been able to resist the dominance of this Eastern Nation could he require the benefit of the Western civilisation in fullest measure. Though China has been poisoned at the very spring of her moral and physical life by this Nation, her struggle to receive the best lessons of the West may yet be successful if not hindered by the Nation. It was only the other day that Persia woke up from her age-long sleep at the call of the West to be instantly trampled into stillness by the Nation.
The same phenomenon prevails in this country also, where the people are hospitable but the Nation has proved itself to be otherwise, making an Eastern guest feel humiliated to stand before you as a member of the humanity of his own motherland.
In India, we are suffering from this conflict between the spirit of the West and the Nation of the West. The benefit of the Western civilization is doled out to us in a miserably measure by the Nation, which tries to regulate the degree of nutrition as near the zero point of vitality as possible.
If we must believe our school master in his taunt that, after nearly two centuries of his tutelage, India hot only remains unfit or self-government and unable to display originality in her intellectual attainments must we ascribe it to something in the nature of Western culture and our inherent incapacity to receive it or to the judicious niggardiness of the Nation that has taken upon itself the white man’s burden of civilising the East ? That Japanese people have some qualities which we lack we may admit, but that our intellect is naturally unproductive compared to theirs we cannot accept even from them whom it is dangerous for us to contradict.
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 cooperation, it has evolved a perfect organisation of power, but not spiritual idealism. It is like the pack of predatory creatures that must have its victims. With all its heart it cannot bear to see its hunting grounds converted into cultivated fields.
In fact, these nations are fighting among themselves for extension of their victims and their reserve forests. Therefore, the Western Nation acts like a dam to check the free flow of Western civilisation into the country of the No-Nation. Because this civilisation is the civilisation of power, therefore it is exclusive, it is naturally unwilling to open its sources of power to those whom it has selected for its purposes of exploitation.
But all the same moral law is the law of humanity, and the exclusive civilisation which thrives upon others who are barred, from its benefit carries its own death-sentence in its moral limitations. The slavery that it gives rise to unconsciously drains its own love of freedom dry. The helplessness with which it weighs down its world of victims exerts its force of gravitation every movement upon the power that creates it.
And the greater part of the world which is being denuded of its self-sustaining life by the Nation ‘will one day become the most terrible of all its burdens ready to drag it down into the bottom of destruction. Whenever power removes all checks from its path to make its career easy.
Evaluate Tagore as a social thinker.
Tagore had implicit faith in self-realisation through love and service of mankind particularly the downtrodden. He believed that the search for the God lay in the service of mankind. His mind was highly affected by the teaching of Buddha and Upanishads. He had declared his faith in his words, ‘To the great evolution of the universe, we have found its significance in a cell of life, then in an animal, then in a man.
From the outer universe we gradually come to inner realm and one by one the gates of freedom are unbarred. When the screen is lifted on the appearance of man on earth we realise the great and mysterious truth of relatedness, of supreme unity of all that is man can declare that those who know truth can enter into the heart of all.”
Tagore did not approve the idea of nationalism. He had a broad idea of the whole world as one. He believed that the nationalism breeds no contempt for others and a desire to overcome the others by means of hook and crook. He developed his idea of nationalism in his lectures delivered in Japan and America.
He wrote the word nation does not occur in our language nor does it exist in our country. We have of late learnt to prize national greatness by virtue of European education. But its ideal cannot be found in our minds. Our history, our religions, our family, our society none of them have recognised the accendency of the cult of nation, Europe praises political independence, we set stone by spiritual liberation.
The civilisation as manifested in the cult of nation has yet to be tested. But it is clear its ideas are not enabling ; they carry the evils of injustice and falsehood there is a sort of terrible cruelty about the cult. The basis of Hindu civilisation is society but the basis of European civilisation is state. Man can attain greatness either through society or through state. But if we think that to build up nation after the pattern of Europe is the only way open and the only aim of humanity we will be wrong.
“The nation will all its paraphernatia of power and prosperity, its flag and pious hymns, its blasphemous prayers in the Churches and the literary mock-thunders of its patriotic bragging cannot hide the fact that the nationalism is the greatest evil for the nation, that all its precautions are against it, any new birth of its fellow in the world is always followed in its mind by the dread of new peril”.
According to Tagore, nationalism breeds imperialism and in other words selfishness and hatred for others. The benefit of western civilization is doled out to us in a miserly measure by the nation, which tries to regulate the degree of nutrition as near the zero point of vitality. The truth is that the spirit of conflict and conquest is at its origin and in the centre of western nationalism, its basis is not social cooperation. It has evolved a perfect organisation of power but not spiritual idealism.
With all its heart it cannot bear to see its hunting grounds converted into cultivated fields. Tagore held the view that the creating of separate cell of nations is to encourage and leads to fighting among themselves for the extinction of their victims and reserved forests. Therefore the western nationalists like a dam to check the free flow of western civilisation into the country of no-nation, because this civilisation is the civilisation of power and, therefore, it is exclusive and naturally unwilling to open its sources of power to those whom it has selected for exploitation.
India on the other hand has been trying to accomplish her task through social regulations of differences on the one hand and spiritual recognition of unity on the other – Her mission has been like that of hostess to provide proper accommodation to have numerous guests whose habits and requirements are different from one another. Our history is of social life and attainment of spiritual idealism.
According to Dr. Verma, “He believed in the replacement of the creeds of organisation, efficiency, exploitation and aggressiveness by social co-operation, international reciprocity and spiritual idealism”.
The inter-nationalism of Tagore was based on certain fundamental beliefs. On thorough study of the philosophy of Tagore we can say that his concept of inter-nationalism was based on the following fundamental beliefs :
1. Life becomes un-realistic if we have a limited vision and do not see in the infinite. We have to take into account the consciousness of all the men on the surface of estate. In the words of Tagore, “Man whose inner vision is backed in an illumination of his consciousness, atonce realises the spiritual unity reigning supreme overall different races and his mind no longer awkwardly stumbles over individual facts of separateness in the human world. The true universe finds its manifestation in the individuality which is true. True universalism is not the breaking down of the walls of one’s house but the offering of the hospitality to one’s guests and neighbours”.
2. The object is to emancipate man from meshes that he himself lias woven around him. This is only possible if one sees the whole universe in onc-self and one-self in the universe. The only spiritual discipline for a great nations is that of making itself familiar and friendly with the rest of universe.
3. Tagore emphasised “Let it be known that it is only through the amelioration of the lot of all the individuals in all countries that real progress can come. People who remain in darkness are exploited, and this is becoming a problem for which the whole world is responsible”.
4. His aim was to bridge the gulf between East and West which politicians were widening due xo their political fanaticism.
5. In the words of Tagore, “We must realise that every nation is a member of humanity and each must render that account of what it has created for the weal of mankind. By the measure of such contribution does each nation gain its place”. Tagore’s gradul world, consciousness and his desire to see and know other lands and people and establish with them relation of good will and friendship as also his growing conviction that the world torn by conflicts and violence was in dire need of India’s message of unity and peace impelled him to undertake foreign tours, he visited England, America and Japan. He delivered various lectures in those countries. Tagore denounced narrow nationalism as the demon and a false God.
6. Tagore considered “The Western brand of Nationalism narrow in conception than the Indian outlook, which he believed in the kingship of all mankind. He stressed that humanity and human truths were above narrow national interest. We do not worship narrow nationalism as the highest good -this is our nationalism”.
7. Tagore’s internationalism was a natural and logical manifestation of his humanistic philosophy of universalism.