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).

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

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

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

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

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

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