The Home and the World | Rabindranath Tagore | Religion And Belief

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).

an idealistic landowner. . including this novel. as change harbingers. monolithic and unipolar ideology ” (2) ..” (7) The story unfolds as Bimala. through the characterizations of the three main protagonists. is patriotic but wouldn‟t place nation above truth or conscience. even if he has to force others.” in most of his writings. death and destruction.. The Home and The World tries to deal with three distinctive ideologies about nationalism. Nikhilesh. supports extreme nationalism. 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. 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. a traditional "pativatra" who worships her husband [Nikhilesh] and wants to be no where except in her home. whereas Sandip. As the two men negotiate the demands of the nationalist project through different means… to accomplish the common end. present a fundamental opposition between the two contesting ideologies. and believes that if he wants something. like the protagonist Nikhilesh (Home and The World) who championed “the doctrine of non-violence well before Gandhi . he must struggle for it.that nationalism is a source of war and carnage. reduced to an incomplete. 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. must choose between the two men and their respective visions. “The two modernists.. Quayum “.

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

thus their early optimism is replaced later by a sense of nada. 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. a citizen of the world second. which prompts oneself to declare himself as “an Indian first. 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). and use violence as a fetish for personal gain." (1) This precise harm is also caused by of the over-use of „Bande Mataram‟ as it dominates over any other forms of expression. The reasons cited for such a remark is the striking similarity between real life Tagore and the fictitious character of Nikhilesh. “both the benevolent landlords tried to establish alternate economies to help the poor. Tagore captures the paradoxes of the Swadeshi movement and in turn nationalism. as he brings numerous loopholes into the spot light.Gilby as English commodities) simplistically as “foreign” is in fact the .” which would then lead to other corollaries invoking caste and creed and so on.George 4 exclusivist and sectarian nature of the movement. completely shutting out the possibility of any other point of view. He points out these hidden pitfalls of the nationalist movements. “…gradually becoming self-obsessed and vainglorious in their cause. losing sight of their dharma of dispassionate. 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).” (2) Nikhilesh acts as Tagore‟s mouthpiece and brings out a lot of his own views in the matter. 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.

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

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

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