Mark Twain, the famous American writer one said: “India, the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition.”
Indeed, he made this remark by understanding the depth of this country’s ancient roots, its philosophy and mathematics, which became one of the most interesting and pathbreaking sources of ideas and innovations, and contributed in the advancement of human civilization around the world.
Today, the global community acknowledges the contributions made by India in every field of society. India, through its philosophy and principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum, which means ‘the whole world is one single family’, has always been engaged in the progress of global peace and prosperity. The Indian sages and saints have inspired leaders, scientists, writers, artists, and academicians not only inside the country but also around the world. In 1893, when Swami Vivekananda delivered his enlightening speech in the Parliament of religions, held in Chicago, US, the entire humanity applauded the remarks made by him. He resonates the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita which states: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me.”
The concept of ‘Nationalism’ varied during different periods of the Indian history. It had various connotations at various points of time. Interestingly, Rabindranath Tagore in his famous essay ‘Nationalism’ has beautifully and categorically argued the essence of Nationalism. According to Tagore, the very idea of Nationalism is the promotion of unity and brotherhood, among different communities: complete absence of hate between different faiths and ethnic groups. Nationalism does not mean to invade the weaker one, annihilation of minorities, or dissemination of false propaganda. These parameters tend to divide the people under the pretext of religion, ethnicity, eating and living habits, etc. In a letter that Tagore wrote to his friend AM Bose in 1908, he mentioned: “Patriotism can’t be our final spiritual shelter. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.”
Conversely, in the present scenario, the idea of nationalism propagated by Tagore might be deemed controversial as we are witnessing various narratives of nationalism which are stringent in their outlook and do not want to compromise with their set idea or version of nationalism. This is because we are lacking in the qualities of tolerance and universal acceptance.
We should never forget that India thrives in its legacy of ‘unity in diversity’; our differences forge our strength. The very idea of India, defined by great figures and the makers of modern India led by stalwarts as Swami Vivekananda, Dr BR Ambedkar, Raja Rammohan Roy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Pandit Nehru is an India, where every Indian, irrespective of their religion, caste, ethnicity, regional background, complexion or gender loves and respects each other; where their difference is not the reason to dispute rather, it is the reason to cherish in peace and harmony.
The author is Teaching Assistant, Indian Institute of Legal Studies, Siliguri.