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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).
he must struggle for it. but yet the utter contradiction occurs. 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. whereas Sandip. . as change harbingers.George 2 This anti-nationalistic sentiment— as quoted by Mohammad A. a traditional "pativatra" who worships her husband [Nikhilesh] and wants to be no where except in her home. Quayum “. supports extreme nationalism. an idealistic landowner. as Tagore himself was highly patriotic and penned 'his' notions about a patriotic nationalist through his characters. “The two modernists. like the protagonist Nikhilesh (Home and The World) who championed “the doctrine of non-violence well before Gandhi ..” in most of his writings. and places humanity above the limitations induced by nationalism.that nationalism is a source of war and carnage. death and destruction. reduced to an incomplete. Nikhilesh. rather than a concept encouraging a more united vision of the country or the world— remains at the heart of Tagore‟s imagination. and believes that if he wants something. must choose between the two men and their respective visions. even if he has to force others. monolithic and unipolar ideology ” (2) . The Home and The World tries to deal with three distinctive ideologies about nationalism. is patriotic but wouldn‟t place nation above truth or conscience.. present a fundamental opposition between the two contesting ideologies. including this novel. through the characterizations of the three main protagonists.. As the two men negotiate the demands of the nationalist project through different means… to accomplish the common end.” (7) The story unfolds as Bimala.
they worsened their condition by forcing the poison of patriotism down their throat” (8). and most frequently of all. firstly. make a goddess of her [India]” (6). conducts a multidimensional analysis. capable of gathering large crowds. of the citizens who lacked a fairly incisive political understanding of the movement. forcing the poor traders to stop dealing with foreign good and burning them up in bonfires and even stealing her husband‟s money. all in the name of „the love for the nation‟. that can only appeal to the minds of the Hindus. instead of “bailing the poor out of their pitiable condition. She too. 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‟. the image of Bengal or India as a woman and a goddess.George 3 Throughout the narrative Tagore also identifies several of those "emblems of nationalism: bonfires. we find her [Bimala] obsessively drawn towards Sandip who. including violently protesting. “Gradually. Sandip argues that “True patriotism will never be roused in our countrymen unless they can visualise the motherland…. “Tagore vehemently opposes the idea of turning the nation into a goddess for it was a superfluous deification of nation. the phrase „Bande Mataram‟” (1). goes to illustrate the . to portray the dangers of such iconography. ignoring Muslim population. 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. An insidious act of invoking the nation as visual image. with his flamboyance and jingoistic rhetoric appeals to her own sense of patriotism.”(1) Captivated by Sandip‟s magnificent and dominating persona-an ambitious leader. Tagore here.
" (1) This precise harm is also caused by of the over-use of „Bande Mataram‟ as it dominates over any other forms of expression. Tagore also uses Nikhilesh to make the readers aware of the perils of nationalist chauvinism. which prompts oneself to declare himself as “an Indian first. even though he has the power to do that as he thinks that it violates human rights and human. He points out these hidden pitfalls of the nationalist movements. disinterested action (as advised by Krishna to Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita). completely shutting out the possibility of any other point of view. a citizen of the world second. Tagore captures the paradoxes of the Swadeshi movement and in turn nationalism. “both the benevolent landlords tried to establish alternate economies to help the poor.” which would then lead to other corollaries invoking caste and creed and so on. losing sight of their dharma of dispassionate. “…gradually becoming self-obsessed and vainglorious in their cause.Gilby as English commodities) simplistically as “foreign” is in fact the . also the heartless practice “…of denouncing commodities (even people like Mrs. and use violence as a fetish for personal gain. The reasons cited for such a remark is the striking similarity between real life Tagore and the fictitious character of Nikhilesh. 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). thus their early optimism is replaced later by a sense of nada. as he brings numerous loopholes into the spot light.” (2) Nikhilesh acts as Tagore‟s mouthpiece and brings out a lot of his own views in the matter.George 4 exclusivist and sectarian nature of the movement. 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.
” (3) Yet. this is clever representation of Tagore‟s anxiety and skepticism towards the future of India.” (8) This explains Nikhilesh‟s rejection of the extreme nationalism. Nationalism . just as Bimala realizes that her devotion to Sandip is not appropriate since. “The novel dramatises how exploitation. 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. Bimala‟s and Nikhilesh‟s fate is not known. “Nikhilesh‟s morality was vastly superior to Sandip‟s empty sloganmongering. Tagore too had a hard time. But like Nikhilesh. Yet. Home and The World stands on Tagore‟s hopes that people will eventually open their eyes to reconsider extreme nationalism. which stifles the innate and instinctive human conscience. which could only arouse passions” (2).” (2) “Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism. sacrificing righteousness and conscience. a traitor and an ally of the British. shamelessly overemphasizing commercial and political aspects. Nikhilesh calls into question both the constructed aspect of nationalism. is the goal of human history.George 5 intolerance towards the country‟s pluralism and multiplicity. nor the fierce self-idolatry of nationworship. and nationalism is put on a pedestal. at the expense of man‟s morality. violence and killing become ritual acts when the individual sacrifices his self to an abstraction.” ― Rabindranath Tagore.
Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore. 4. “Rabindranath Tagore’s Critique of Nationalism” Imagining “One World”: (6) Riza Sovia Nur Priandhita. All references to the text are from this edition. June 2010 (4) Tagore.George 6 Works Cited (1)Tagore. (3) Aikant. India: A Mosaic.” Ed. Rabindranath. Robert B.ac. The Home and the World.pdf. 1997 (2)The Home and the World: “A critique of Nationalism and the Swadeshi”. New York (8) Tagore Dualistic Modernity and the Illegitimacy of Nationalism in Tagore's The Home and the World. Vol. Inayatul Fariha “The Representation of Indian Nationalism in Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and The World” State University of Malang (7) Sen. http://www.in/colleges/tutorial/112703052009120709. 1. Amartya.the-criterion. No. translated by Surendranath Tagore. (5) Quayum. Mohammad A.V Wadhawan . “Tagore and His India. University Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.sgtbkhalsadu. Satish C. "Reading Tagore: Seductions and Perils of Nationalism" Asiatic. Silvers and Barbara Epstein. Rabindranath.com .