George 1

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).

and believes that if he wants something. whereas Sandip. as change harbingers. even if he has to force others. must choose between the two men and their respective visions.that nationalism is a source of war and carnage.” in most of his writings. but yet the utter contradiction occurs.George 2 This anti-nationalistic sentiment— as quoted by Mohammad A. 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. As the two men negotiate the demands of the nationalist project through different means… to accomplish the common end. Nikhilesh. . as Tagore himself was highly patriotic and penned 'his' notions about a patriotic nationalist through his characters. and places humanity above the limitations induced by nationalism.” (7) The story unfolds as Bimala. an idealistic landowner. death and destruction. monolithic and unipolar ideology ” (2) . supports extreme nationalism. rather than a concept encouraging a more united vision of the country or the world— remains at the heart of Tagore‟s imagination. “The two modernists. reduced to an incomplete. including this novel. like the protagonist Nikhilesh (Home and The World) who championed “the doctrine of non-violence well before Gandhi . a traditional "pativatra" who worships her husband [Nikhilesh] and wants to be no where except in her home. present a fundamental opposition between the two contesting ideologies. Quayum “... is patriotic but wouldn‟t place nation above truth or conscience. he must struggle for it.. through the characterizations of the three main protagonists. The Home and The World tries to deal with three distinctive ideologies about nationalism.

make a goddess of her [India]” (6). instead of “bailing the poor out of their pitiable condition. 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.”(1) Captivated by Sandip‟s magnificent and dominating persona-an ambitious leader. blinded by the impulsive passion becomes willing to do anything for this „noble cause‟. firstly. She too. including violently protesting. ignoring Muslim population. “Tagore vehemently opposes the idea of turning the nation into a goddess for it was a superfluous deification of nation. they worsened their condition by forcing the poison of patriotism down their throat” (8). Tagore here. that can only appeal to the minds of the Hindus. of the citizens who lacked a fairly incisive political understanding of the movement. Sandip argues that “True patriotism will never be roused in our countrymen unless they can visualise the motherland…. all in the name of „the love for the nation‟. An insidious act of invoking the nation as visual image. and most frequently of all. to portray the dangers of such iconography. “Gradually. forcing the poor traders to stop dealing with foreign good and burning them up in bonfires and even stealing her husband‟s money. conducts a multidimensional analysis. capable of gathering large crowds. goes to illustrate the . with his flamboyance and jingoistic rhetoric appeals to her own sense of patriotism. we find her [Bimala] obsessively drawn towards Sandip who. the image of Bengal or India as a woman and a goddess. hypnotizing the masses with powerful speeches and using phrase "Bande Mataram" with deep sense of patriotic passion.George 3 Throughout the narrative Tagore also identifies several of those "emblems of nationalism: bonfires. the phrase „Bande Mataram‟” (1).

completely shutting out the possibility of any other point of view. as he brings numerous loopholes into the spot light. which prompts oneself to declare himself as “an Indian first. losing sight of their dharma of dispassionate. The reasons cited for such a remark is the striking similarity between real life Tagore and the fictitious character of Nikhilesh. also the heartless practice “…of denouncing commodities (even people like Mrs.George 4 exclusivist and sectarian nature of the movement." (1) This precise harm is also caused by of the over-use of „Bande Mataram‟ as it dominates over any other forms of expression. “…gradually becoming self-obsessed and vainglorious in their cause. a citizen of the world second. Tagore captures the paradoxes of the Swadeshi movement and in turn nationalism. and use violence as a fetish for personal gain. 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. 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. thus their early optimism is replaced later by a sense of nada. 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).Gilby as English commodities) simplistically as “foreign” is in fact the . disinterested action (as advised by Krishna to Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita). “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. even though he has the power to do that as he thinks that it violates human rights and human.” (2) Nikhilesh acts as Tagore‟s mouthpiece and brings out a lot of his own views in the matter.

sacrificing righteousness and conscience. “The novel dramatises how exploitation. Tagore too had a hard time. violence and killing become ritual acts when the individual sacrifices his self to an abstraction.” (8) This explains Nikhilesh‟s rejection of the extreme nationalism.” (2) “Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism. But like Nikhilesh. Nationalism . shamelessly overemphasizing commercial and political aspects. 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.” ― Rabindranath Tagore. and nationalism is put on a pedestal. at the expense of man‟s morality. a traitor and an ally of the British. is the goal of human history.” (3) Yet.George 5 intolerance towards the country‟s pluralism and multiplicity. 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. which stifles the innate and instinctive human conscience. Yet. nor the fierce self-idolatry of nationworship. Nikhilesh calls into question both the constructed aspect of nationalism. this is clever representation of Tagore‟s anxiety and skepticism towards the future of India. which could only arouse passions” (2). just as Bimala realizes that her devotion to Sandip is not appropriate since. “Nikhilesh‟s morality was vastly superior to Sandip‟s empty sloganmongering.

"Reading Tagore: Seductions and Perils of Nationalism" Asiatic. No. Amartya. Vol.George 6 Works Cited (1)Tagore.sgtbkhalsadu. 4. June 2010 (4) Tagore. India: A Mosaic.V Wadhawan . 1. University Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rabindranath. http://www. All references to the text are from this edition.” Ed. (3) Aikant. “Rabindranath Tagore’s Critique of Nationalism” Imagining “One World”: (6) Riza Sovia Nur Priandhita. translated by Surendranath Tagore. Robert B. New York (8) Tagore Dualistic Modernity and the Illegitimacy of Nationalism in Tagore's The Home and the World. The Home and the World. Rabindranath.pdf. Inayatul Fariha “The Representation of Indian Nationalism in Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and The World” State University of Malang (7) Sen.ac. “Tagore and His India. 1997 (2)The Home and the World: “A critique of Nationalism and the Swadeshi”. Satish C. Mohammad A. (5) Quayum.the-criterion. Silvers and Barbara Epstein.in/colleges/tutorial/112703052009120709.com . Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful