Agey George (140038)
Miss. Sharon Pillai
BA English Honours 1
October 9, 2014
Discuss Ghare Baire as a Critique of Extremist and Expedient Nationalism.
Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861, a period during which the
nationalist movement in India against the British rule was crystallising and
gaining momentum. In 1857, only four years before the poet was born, the
first military uprising for self-rule broke out in India. In 1905, the
Swadeshi movement started on Tagore‟s doorstep, as a response to the
British policy of partitioning Bengal. (2)
“Ghare Baire” is a critique of the extremist and expedient nature of nationalism by India‟s
incandescent writer and Asia‟s first Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941).
“Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. 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” (quoted. in Sen 86). Tagore denounced patriotism that, like religious formalism, “breeds
sectarian arrogance, mutual misunderstanding and a spirit of persecution” (5).
In a letter to C.F. Andres, written from New York, he explained, “This is the ugliest side of
patriotism. For in small minds, patriotism dissociates itself from the higher ideal of humanity. It
becomes the magnification of self, on a stupendous scale— magnifying our vulgarity, cruelty,
greed; dethroning God, to put up this bloated self in its place” (5).
reduced to an incomplete. Quayum “. even if he has to force others. As the two
men negotiate the demands of the nationalist project through different means… to accomplish
the common end.. supports extreme nationalism. as change
harbingers. a traditional "pativatra" who worships her husband [Nikhilesh] and
wants to be no where except in her home.” in
most of his writings. whereas Sandip. and believes that if he wants
something. present a fundamental opposition between the two contesting ideologies.
through the characterizations of the three main protagonists. as Tagore
himself was highly patriotic and penned 'his' notions about a patriotic nationalist through his
characters. like the protagonist Nikhilesh (Home and The World) who championed “the doctrine
of non-violence well before Gandhi . death and destruction. must choose between the two men and their respective
visions.that nationalism is a
source of war and carnage. including this novel. an idealistic landowner.
Bimala is portrayed with a “physiological and psychological resemblance of the nation” (3) to
represent the “dilemmatic view on nationalism” (3) and this signifies the crossroad of changes in
fate of the entire nation in that era. but yet the utter contradiction occurs.” (7)
The story unfolds as Bimala. is patriotic but wouldn‟t place nation above truth or
The Home and The World tries to deal with three distinctive ideologies about nationalism. monolithic and unipolar ideology ” (2) . he must struggle for it... “The two modernists. and places humanity above the limitations induced by
nationalism. rather than a concept encouraging a more
united vision of the country or the world— remains at the heart of Tagore‟s imagination.George 2
This anti-nationalistic sentiment— as quoted by Mohammad A.
but are drawn to it like „flies to flame‟ merely
excited by the desire of basking in the glory of being a patriot and an insensate love for tyranny. make a goddess of her [India]” (6).George 3
Throughout the narrative Tagore also identifies several of those "emblems of nationalism:
bonfires. firstly. all in the name of „the love for the
nation‟. forcing the
poor traders to stop dealing with foreign good and burning them up in bonfires and even stealing
her husband‟s money. An insidious act of invoking the nation as visual image. goes to illustrate the
Sandip argues that “True patriotism will never be roused in our countrymen unless they can
visualise the motherland….
Tagore here. we find her [Bimala] obsessively drawn towards Sandip who. and most frequently of all.
“Gradually. of the citizens who lacked a fairly
incisive political understanding of the movement. ignoring Muslim population. to portray the dangers of such iconography. they worsened their condition by
forcing the poison of patriotism down their throat” (8). including violently protesting. hypnotizing the masses with powerful speeches and using phrase "Bande
Mataram" with deep sense of patriotic passion. blinded by the impulsive passion
becomes willing to do anything for this „noble cause‟. with his flamboyance
and jingoistic rhetoric appeals to her own sense of patriotism. capable of
gathering large crowds.
instead of “bailing the poor out of their pitiable condition.”(1)
Captivated by Sandip‟s magnificent and dominating persona-an ambitious leader. the
phrase „Bande Mataram‟” (1). that
can only appeal to the minds of the Hindus. She too. the image of Bengal or India as a woman and a goddess. conducts a multidimensional analysis.
“Tagore vehemently opposes the idea of turning the nation into a goddess for it was a
superfluous deification of nation.
even though he has the power to do
that as he thinks that it violates human rights and human. Tagore also uses Nikhilesh to make the
readers aware of the perils of nationalist chauvinism. He points out these hidden pitfalls of the nationalist
movements. as he brings
numerous loopholes into the spot light." (1) This precise harm is also caused by of the
over-use of „Bande Mataram‟ as it dominates over any other forms of expression. created by overzealous tendencies of the apparent „public heroes‟ who become “so
unscrupulous that they do not hesitate to abuse the movement for personal and political gain” (1). also the heartless practice “…of denouncing commodities
(even people like Mrs.
“…gradually becoming self-obsessed and vainglorious in their cause. which prompts oneself to declare himself
as “an Indian first. thus their early optimism is replaced later by
a sense of nada. completely
shutting out the possibility of any other point of view. disinterested action (as advised by Krishna to Arjuna in The Bhagavad
Nikhilesh acts as Tagore‟s mouthpiece and brings out a lot of his own views in the matter. “both the benevolent landlords tried to establish alternate
economies to help the poor. and use violence as a fetish for personal gain.” which would then lead to other corollaries
invoking caste and creed and so on.
Tagore captures the paradoxes of the Swadeshi movement and in turn nationalism. did not support the idea of a divided nation and destruction in the
name of the Swadeshi” (8)
Nikhilesh does not use „the force of his will‟ unlike Sandip. The
reasons cited for such a remark is the striking similarity between real life Tagore and the
fictitious character of Nikhilesh. losing sight of their
dharma of dispassionate. a citizen of the world second.Gilby as English commodities) simplistically as “foreign” is in fact the
exclusivist and sectarian nature of the movement.
righteousness and conscience. which
stifles the innate and instinctive human conscience. Nationalism
. and nationalism is put on a pedestal. nor the fierce self-idolatry of nationworship.” (8) This explains Nikhilesh‟s
rejection of the extreme nationalism. violence and killing become ritual acts when the
individual sacrifices his self to an abstraction.
“The novel dramatises how exploitation. “Nikhilesh‟s morality was vastly superior to Sandip‟s empty sloganmongering. Home and The World stands on Tagore‟s hopes that people will eventually open their eyes
to reconsider extreme nationalism. Bimala‟s and Nikhilesh‟s fate is not
known. just as Bimala realizes that her devotion to Sandip is not
appropriate since. this is clever representation of Tagore‟s anxiety and skepticism towards the future of
India. which could only arouse passions” (2). shamelessly
overemphasizing commercial and political aspects. Yet.George 5
intolerance towards the country‟s pluralism and multiplicity.” ― Rabindranath Tagore.
But like Nikhilesh.” (2)
“Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism. a traitor and an ally of the British. at the expense of man‟s morality.” (3)
Yet. Tagore too had a hard time. is the goal of human history. convincing his ideas to people and this attempt
on Tagore‟s part earned him “the flak of the critics and the Bengali bhadralok readers who
branded the Nobel laureate as an anti-Nationalist.
Nikhilesh calls into question both the constructed aspect of nationalism.
Mosaic. Rabindranath. June 2010
(4) Tagore.the-criterion. Rabindranath. Mohammad A. The Home and the World.
.” Ed. New York
(8) Tagore Dualistic Modernity and the Illegitimacy of Nationalism in Tagore's The Home and
http://www. "Reading Tagore: Seductions and Perils of Nationalism" Asiatic.George 6
(5) Quayum. “Rabindranath Tagore’s Critique of Nationalism” Imagining “One
(6) Riza Sovia Nur Priandhita. Satish C. 1997
(2)The Home and the World: “A critique of Nationalism and the Swadeshi”.in/colleges/tutorial/112703052009120709. translated by Surendranath Tagore. Robert B. Inayatul Fariha “The Representation of Indian Nationalism in
Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and The World” State University of Malang
(7) Sen. Vol.V Wadhawan .ac.
references to the text are from this edition.sgtbkhalsadu. Amartya. Silvers and Barbara Epstein. 4. University Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. “Tagore and His India. Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore.