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).

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

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

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

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

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