In times of an ideological crisis, conversations are imperative to prevent the homogenization of ideas by the authority. Rabindranath Tagore felt the emergence of a crisis during the freedom struggle. As a result, he delivered three speeches in different parts of the world, with two of them talking about the oriental ‘nations’ of India and Japan. The third lecture centered around the West and the ideology exhibited by its people. Tagore believes that the idea of nationalism originated as a measure to counter chaos and disorder. The chapter of nationalism in the west draws a subtle line between truth and untruth, and shows how untruth is lionized as a means to economic attainment. Through a resourceful criticism of the West, he gives them hope and assurance of a better future. The author praises the West for being a lover of individual rights and liberty but denounces its acts of suppression in the colonies. In Nationalism in India, Tagore scrutinizes the Indian society and provides numerous warnings to the same. In the beginning, he gives an explanation for the existence of the caste system and implicitly justifies it by terming it as a legitimate response to the diversity present in Indian society. Towards the end, he calls for action against the caste system, thereby retaining the faith imposed on him by his readers. Tagore showers words of praise for Japan, a nation which, according to him, embraced modernity while retaining its own spiritual and humanitarian values. He writes, “In a word, modern Japan has come out of the immemorial East like a lotus blossoming in easy grace, all the while keeping its firm hold upon the profound depth from which it has sprung.” As seen in the other two essays, he warns the Japanese as well, by saying that they might lose their ideals by racing with the west. “If it be a mere reproduction of the West, then the great expectation she has raised will remain unfulfilled.” The Nobel laureate writes the trio of essays by giving it a poetic touch. He’s able to capture the essence of oriental philosophy in a few pages, long before the world came to blows with each other. His essays draw a distinction between the oriental and the western culture, which serves as a beautiful reminder to the millennials, people who look at their hands and see no history. Tagore’s Nationalism ends with a Bengali poem, The Sunset of the Century, which is translated into English. In the last few lines of the poem, he appeals to the conscience of his readers through words weaved in majestic lines. The last stanza of the poem beautifully sums up his belief. Be not ashamed, my brothers, to stand before the proud and the powerful
With your white robe of simpleness.
Let your crown be of humility, your freedom the freedom of the soul.
Build God’s throne daily upon the ample bareness of your poverty
And know that what is huge is not great and pride is not everlasting.
Feature Image Credits: SifyKuber Bathla [email protected]]]>