A new post in Current Events
Lately in India it has become fashionable among some self-styled intellectuals and their unthinking proteges and admirers to say that they don’t believe in the ‘idea’ of nation and nationalism. These can be found saying this sort of thing in some of our university campuses, TV studios, and also social media.
Irony is that all these self-proclaimed progressives and non-believers in the ‘idea of nation’ might be the first to stand up to defend the strangest notion their chosen intellectual cabal has come up with, viz., the ‘idea of India’, whatever that means.
Some of them go to the extent of saying that they want ‘azadi‘, freedom, from the nation in which they are living, where they are getting all the benefits that their nation provides, including but not limited to express any opinion. Some of them even shout in protest marches that they will fight till the nation is broken into pieces.
Of course, the separatists and secessionists of all hues who hatch up their sinister plots against the nation-state of India work with the same premise for destruction of India. Perhaps this should make our pseudo-intellectuals and their followers think twice before mouthing their ill-understood post-modernist notions that nation is not worth defending or that nationalism is a thing of the past. Perhaps these people should also think, twice or more, about the fact that the same separatists and secessionists obviously believe in the ‘separate’ nation they say they are demanding – whether it is Kashmir or Bengal or Kerala or whatever.
But all that thinking requires intellectual honesty and sincerity, not easy qualities to have when radical ideologies and radical-sounding quotes are all that one wants to believe in. Or if one merely wants to escape from the task of thinking. Serious thinking.
Many of these non-believers in the idea of nation are admirers of “Imagine, no countries” idea of John Lennon. I also like Lennon. And I also like that particular song. But I love my nation too. I see no contradiction between the two.
Let us think honestly for a minute here. Are we ready to be one world with no countries? Can you simply go anywhere in the world and live and work there without proper visa, proper permits etc? No. European Union may allow Europeans to do that, but will they allow the Indians, Bangladeshis, Indonesians or Nigerians? Heck, no! So how are we one world?
This maybe a very simplistic example to illustrate the point, but the point is to recognise that we aren’t ready to be one world yet, all equal, all happy, all singing John Lennon.
The world reality is very different.
We have yet to evolve to live in the ideal of One World, One Humanity. The nation is still the single largest collective aggregate that an individual is a part of. There is something akin to a soul-element in this entity called nation. It is up to the individual to recognise that soul of the nation. And because there is a divinity in nation, there is a need to defend the nation, as aggressively as required, from the mad and violent onslaught of the Asuric forces trying to break the integrity and unity of a nation.
Only from nationalism we can move to internationalism. The truth of nation as a real living collective unity can’t be denied just as the eternal truth of ONE humanity can’t be denied. But it is also true that only free and united nations can work toward united world. This is nature’s way.
“In India we do not recognise the nation as the highest synthesis to which we can rise. There is a higher synthesis, humanity; beyond that there is a still higher synthesis, this living, suffering, aspiring world of creatures, the synthesis of Buddhism; there is a highest of all, the synthesis of God, and that is the Hindu synthesis, the synthesis of Vedanta.” (Sri Aurobindo, Karmayogin)
Indian thought has never considered nationalism as the final spiritual shelter, but it has always said that before human beings are evolved to the level of seeing God in humanity, nation remains the last real collective unity.
Sadly, most of us humans aren’t anywhere evolved in our consciousness to see God in anyone, not even our immediate family, not even ourselves! To reach the highest ideals of Indian thought we have to do some serious work on ourselves. More to the point, if we can’t love our nation, without any expectation, do you think we can ever love humanity? From family to clan to tribe to nation to humanity – that is the way evolutionary principle works when it comes to loving and sacrificing for a human aggregate.
“Nationalism is simply the passionate aspiration for the realisation of that Divine Unity in the nation, a unity in which all the component individuals, however various and apparently unequal their functions as political, social or economic factors, are yet really and fundamentally one and equal.” (Sri Aurobindo, Bande Mataram)
An important article, a guest post, is being serialised on our research blog, Matriwords. It is important because it speaks about the different forces trying to break India, the necessity to counter such forces, and what must be done to counter such forces.
This series becomes doubly significant given some of the recent happenings in India. I hope some readers will take the time to go to Matriwords and read the guest-series titled, “India, Indology and Deep Colonialism”
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