Nationalism by Rabindranath Tagore
Man's history is being shaped according to the difficulties it encounters. These have offered us problems and claimed their solutions from us, the penalty of non-fulfilment being death or degradation. These difficulties have been different in different peoples of the earth, and in the manner of our overcoming them lies our distinction.
The Scythians of the earlier period of Asiatic history had to struggle with the scarcity of their natural resources. The easiest solution that they could think of was to organize their whole population, men, women, and children, into bands of robbers. And they were irresistible to those who were chiefly engaged in the constructive work of social cooperation. But fortunately for man the easiest path is not his truest path.
If his nature were not as complex as it is, if it were as simple as that of a pack of hungry wolves, then, by this time, those hordes of marauders would have overrun the whole earth. But man, when confronted with difficulties, has to acknowledge that he is man, that he has his responsibilities to the higher faculties of his nature, by ignoring -which he may achieve the success that is immediate, perhaps, but that will become a death trap to him.
For what are obstacles to the lower creatures are opportunities to the higher life of man. To India has been given her problem from the beginning of history it is the race problem. Races ethnologically different have come in this country in close contact.
This fact has been and still continues to be the most important one in our history. It is our mission to face it and prove our humanity in dealing with it in the fullest truth. Until we fulfil our mission all other benefits will be denied us.
There are other peoples in the world who have obstacles in their physical surroundings to over- come, or the menace of their powerful neighbours. They have organized their power till they are not only reasonably free from the tyranny of Nature and human neighbours but have a surplus of it left in their hands to employ against others. But in India, our difficulties being internal, our history has been the history of continual social adjustment and not that of organized power for defence and aggression. Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism nor the fierce self-idolatry of nation-wor- ship is the goal of human history.
And India has been trying to accomplish its task through social regulation of differences, on the one hand, and the spiritual recognition of unity, on the other. She has made grave errors in setting up the boundary walls too rigidly between races, in perpetuating the results of inferiority in her classifications; often she has crippled her children's minds and narrowed their lives in order to fit them into her social forms, but for centuries new experiments have been made and adjustments carried out. Her mission has been like that of a hostess to provide proper accommodation to her numerous guests whose habits and requirements are different from one another.
Nationalism in the West -- Nationalism in Japan -- Nationalism in India -- The sunset of the century
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