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NATIONALISM 




MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

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NATIONALISM 



BY 

Sir RABINDRANATH TAGORE 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1918 



COPYRIGHT 

First Edition 191 7 
Reprinted 19 18 {twice) 



I Ais>i^ 






CONTENTS 



PAGE 
I 



Nationalism in the West ...... 

Nationalism in Japan 47 

Nationalism in India . , ' . . . . 95 

The Sunset of the Century , . . . .131 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 



B 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 

Man's history is being shaped according to the 
difficulties it encounters. These have offered us 
problems and claimed their solutions from us, 
the penalty of non-fulfilment being death or 
degradation. 

These difficulties have been different in 
different peoples of the earth, and in the manner 
of our overcoming them lies our distinction. 

The Scythians of the earlier period of Asiatic 
history had to struggle with the scarcity of their 
natural resources. The easiest solution that they 
could think of was to organize their whole popula- 
tion, men, women, and children, into bands of 
robbers. And they were irresistible to those 
who were chiefly engaged in the constructive 
work of social co-operation. 

But fortunately for man the easiest path is 
not his truest path. If his nature were not as 
complex as it is, if it were as simple as that of a 



4 NATIONALISM 

pack of hungry wolves, then, by this time, those 
hordes of marauders would have overrun the 
whole earth. But man, when confronted with 
difficulties, has to acknowledge that he is man, 
that he has his responsibilities to the higher 
faculties of his nature, by ignoring which he 
may achieve success that is immediate, perhaps, 
but that will become a death-trap to him. For 
what are obstacles to the lower creatures are' 
opportunities to the higher life of man. 

To India has been given her problem from 
the beginning of history — it is the race problem. 
Races ethnologically different have in this country 
come into close contact. This fact has been and 
still continues to be the most important one in 
our history. It is our mission to face it and 
prove our humanity by dealing with it in the 
fullest truth. Until we fulfil our mission all 
other benefits will be denied us. 

There are other peoples in the world who 
have to overcome obstacles in their physical 
surroundings, or the menace of their powerful 
neighbours. They have organized their power 
till they are not only reasonably free from the 
tyranny of Nature and human neighbours, but 
have a surplus of it left in their hands to employ 
atrainst others. But in India, our difficulties 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 5 

being internal, our history has been the history 
of continual social adjustment and not that of 
organized power for defence and aggression. 

Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmo- 
politanism, nor the fierce self-idolatry of nation- 
worship, is the goal of human history. And 
India has been trying to accomplish her task 
through social regulation of differences, on the 
one hand, and the spiritual recognition of unity 
on the other. She has made grave errors in 
setting up the boundary walls too rigidly between 
races, in perpetuating in her classifications the 
results of inferiority ; often she has crippled her 
children's minds and narrowed their lives in 
order to fit them into her social forms ; but for 
centuries new experiments have been made and 
adjustments carried out. 

Her mission has been like that of a hostess 
who has to provide proper accommodation for 
numerous guests, whose habits and requirements 
are different from one another. This gives rise 
to infinite complexities whose solution depends 
not merely upon tactfulness but upon sympathy 
and true realization of the unity of man. Towards 
this realization have worked, from the early time 
of the Upanishads up to the present moment, 
a series of great spiritual teachers, v/hose one 



6 NATIONALISM 

object has been to set at naught all differences 
of man by the overflow of our consciousness of 
God. In fact, our history has not been of the 
rise and fall of kingdoms, of fights for political 
supremacy. In our country records of these 
days have been despised and forgotten, for 
they in no way represent the true history of 
our people. Our history is that of our social 
life and attainment of spiritual ideals. 

But we feel that our task is not yet done. 
The world-flood has swept over our country, 
new elements have been introduced, and wider 
adjustments are waiting to be made. 

We feel this all the more, because the teach- 
ing and example of the West have entirely run 
counter to what we think was given to India to 
accomplish. In the West the national machinery 
of commerce and politics turns out neatly com- 
pressed bales of humanity which have their use 
and high market value ; but they are bound 
in iron hoops, labelled and separated off with 
scientific care and precision. Obviously God made 
man to be human ; but this modern product has 
such marvellous square-cut finish, savouring of 
gigantic manufacture, that the Creator will find 
it difficult to recognize it as a thing of spirit 
and a creature made in His own divine image. 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 7 

But I am anticipating. What I was about to 
say is this. Take it in whatever spirit you like, 
here is India, of about fifty centuries at least, 
who tried to hve peacefully and think deeply, the 
India devoid of all politics, the India of no nations, 
whose one ambition has been to know this world 
as of soul, to live here every moment of her life in/ 
the meek spirit of adoration, in the glad conscious- 
ness of an eternal and personal relationship with 
it. It was upon this remote portion of humanity, 
childlike in its manner, with the wisdom of the 
old, that the Nation of the West burst in. 

Through all the fights and intrigues and 
deceptions of her earlier history India had 
remained aloof. Because her homes, her fields, 
her temples of worship, her schools, where her 
teachers and students lived together in the 
atmosphere of simplicity and devotion and 
learning, her village self-government with its 
simple laws and peaceful administration — all 
these truly belonged to her. But her thrones were 
not her concern. They passed over her head like 
clouds, now tinged with purple gorgeousness, 
now black with the threat of thunder. Often 
they brought devastations in their wake, but 
they were like catastrophes of nature whose 
traces are soon forgotten. 



/ 



8 NATIONALISM 

But this time it was different. It was not 
a mere drift over her surface of life, — drift of 
cavalry and foot soldiers, richly caparisoned 
elephants, white tents and canopies, strings of 
patient camels bearing the loads of royalty, 
bands of kettle-drums and flutes, marble domes 
of mosques, palaces and tombs, like tlie bubbles 
of the foaming wine of extravagance ; stories 
of treachery and loyal devotion, of changes of 
fortune, of dramatic surprises of fate. This 
time it was the Nation of the West driving its 
tentacles of machinery deep down into the soil. 

Therefore I say to you, it is we who are called 
as witnesses to give evidence as to what our 
Nation has been to humanity. We had known 
the hordes of Moojhals and Pathans who invaded 

CD * 

India, but we had known them as human races, 
with their own religions and customs, likes and 
dislikes, — we had never known them as a nation. 
We loved and hated them as occasions arose ; we 
fought for them and against them, talked with 
them in a language which was theirs as well as 
our own, and guided the destiny of the Empire 
in which we had our active share. But this time 
we had to deal, not with kings, not with human 
races, but with a nation — we, who are no nation 
ourselves. 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 9 

Now let us from our own experience answer 
the question, What is this Nation ? 

A nation, in the sense of the political and 
economic union of a people, is that aspect which 
a whole population assumes when organized for 
a mechanical purpose. Society as such has no 
ulterior purpose. It is an end in itself. It is 
a spontaneous self-expression of man as a social 
being. It is a natural regulation of human 
relationships, so that men can develop ideals 
of life in co-operation with one another. It 
has also a political side, but this is only for a 
special purpose. It , is for self-preservation. It 
is merely the side of power, not of human ideals. 
And in the early days it had its separate place 
in society, restricted to the professionals. But 
when with the help of science and the perfecting 
of organization this power begins to grow and 
brings in harvests of wealth, then it crosses 
its boundaries with amazing rapidity. For 
then it goads all its neighbouring societies with 
greed of material prosperity, and consequent 
mutual jealousy, and by the fear of each other's 
growth into powerfulness. The time comes 
when it can stop no longer, for the competition 
grows keener, organization grows vaster, and 
selfishness attains supremacy. Trading upon 



10 NATIONALISM 

the greed and fear of man, it occupies more and 
more space in society, and at last becomes its 
ruling force. 

It is just possible that you have lost through 
habit consciousness that the living bonds of 
society are breaking up, and giving place to 
merely mechanical organization. But you see 
signs of it everywhere. It is owing to this that 
war has been declared between man and woman, 
because the natural thread is snapping which 
holds them together in harmony ; because man 
is driven to professionalism, producing wealth 
for himself and others, continually turning the 
wheel of power for his own sake or for the sake 
of the universal officialdom, leaving woman 
alone to wither and to die or to fight her own 
battle unaided. And thus there where co- 
operation is natural has intruded competition. 
The very psychology of men and women about 
their mutual relation is changing and becoming 
the psychology of the primitive fighting elements, 
rather than of humanity seeking its completeness 
through the union based upon mutual self- 
surrender. For the elements which have lost 
their living bond of reality have lost the mean- 
ing of their existence. Like gaseous particles 
forced into a too narrow space, they come 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 11 

in continual conflict with each other till they 
burst the very arrangement which holds them 
in bondage. 

Then look at those who call themselves 
anarchists, who resent the imposition of power, 
in any form whatever, upon the individual. 
The only reason for this is that power has 
become too abstract — it is a scientific product 
made in the political laboratory of the Nation, 
through the dissolution of personal humanity. 

And what is the meaning of these strikes 
in the economic world, which like the prickly 
shrubs in a barren soil shoot up with renewed 
vigour each time they are cut down ? What, 
but that the wealth - producing mechanism is 
incessantly growing into vast stature, out of 
proportion to all other needs of society, — and 
the full reality of man is more and more crushed 
under its weight ? This state of things inevit- 
ably gives rise to eternal feuds among the 
elements freed from the wholeness and whole- 
someness of human ideals, and interminable 
economic war is waged between capital and 
labour. For greed of wealth and power can 
never have a limit, and compromise of self- 
interest can never attain the final spirit of 
reconciliation. They must go on breeding 




NATIONALISM 

jealousy and suspicion to the end — the end 
which only comes through some sudden 
catastrophe or a spiritual re-birth. 

When this organization of politics and com- 
merce, whose other name is the Nation, becomes 
all-powerful at the cost of the harmony of the 
higher social life, then it is an evil day for 
humanity. When a father becomes a gambler 
and his obligations to his family take the 
secondary place in his mind, then he is no 
longer a man, but an automaton led by the 
power of greed. Then he can do things which, 
in his normal state of mind, he would be ashamed 
to do. It is the same thing with society. When 
it allows itself to be turned into a perfect 
organization of power, then there are few crimes 
which it is unable to perpetrate. Because 
success is the object and justification of a 
machine, while goodness only is the end and 
purpose of man. When this engine of organiza- 
tion begins to attain a vast size, and those who 
are mechanics are made into parts of the 
machine, then the personal man is eliminated 
to a phantom, everything becomes a revolution 
of policy carried out by the human parts of 
the machine, with no twinge of pity or moral 
responsibility. It may happen that even through 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 13 

this apparatus the moral nature of man tries 
to assert itself, but the whole series of ropes 
and pullies creak and cry, the forces of the 
human heart become entangled among the 
forces of the human automaton, and only with 
difficulty can the moral purpose transmit itself 
into some tortured shape of result. 

This abstract being, the Nation, is ruling 
India. We have seen in our country some 
brand of tinned food advertised as entirely made 
and packed without being touched by hand. 
This description applies to the governing of 
India, which is as little touched by the human 
hand as possible. The governors need not 
know our language, need not come into personal 
touch with us except as officials ; they can 
aid or hinder our aspirations from a disdainful 
distance, they can lead us on a certain path of 
policy and then pull us back again with the 
manipulation of office red tape ; the newspapers 
of England, in whose columns London street 
accidents are recorded with some decency of 
pathos, need but take the scantiest notice of 
calamities which happen in India over areas of 
land sometimes larger than the British Isles. 

But we, who are governed, are not a mere 
abstraction. We, on our side, are individuals 



^^ 



14 NATIONALISM 

with living sensibilities. What comes to us in 
the shape of a mere bloodless policy may pierce 
into the very core of our life, may threaten the 
whole future of our people with a perpetual 
helplessness of emasculation, and yet may never 
touch the chord of humanity on the other side, 
or touch it in the most inadequately feeble 
manner. Such wholesale and universal acts of 
fearful responsibility man can never perform, 
with such a degree of systematic unawareness, 
where he is an individual human being. These 
only become possible, where the man is repre- 
sented by an octopus of abstractions, sending 
out its wriggling arms in all directions of space, 
and fixing its innumerable suckers even into the 
far - away future. In this reign of the nation, 
the governed are pursued by suspicions ; and 
these are the suspicions of a tremendous mass of 
organized brain and muscle. Punishments are 
meted out, which leave a trail of miseries across 
a large bleeding tract of the human heart ; but 
these punishments are dealt by a mere abstract 
force, in which a whole population of a distant 
country has lost its human personality. 

I have not come here, however, to discuss 
the question as it affects my own country, but 
as it affects the future of all humanity. It is 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 15 

not a question of the British Government, but of 
government by the Nation — the Nation which 
is the organized self-interest of a whole people, 
where it is least human and least spiritual. Our 
only intimate experience of the Nation is with 
the British Nation, and as far as the govern- 
ment by the Nation goes there are reasons to 
believe that it is one of the best. Then, again, 
we have to consider that the West is necessary 
to the East. We are complementary to each 
other because of our different outlooks upon life 
which have given us different aspects of truth. 
Therefore if it be true that the spirit of the 
West has come upon our fields in the guise of 
a storm it is nevertheless scattering living seeds 
that are immortal. And when in India we become 
able to assimilate in our life what is permanent 
in Western civilization we shall be in the position 
to bring about a reconciliation of these two 
great worlds. Then will come to an end the 
one-sided dominance which is galling. What isl^ 
more, we have to recognize that the history of 
India does not belong to one particular race but 
to a process of creation to which various races 
of the world contributed — the Dra vidians and 
the Aryans, the ancient Greeks and the Persians, 
the Mohammedans of the West and those of 



16 NATIONALISM 

central Asia. Now at last has come the turn of 
the English to become true to this history and 
bring to it the tribute of their life, and we 
neither have the right nor the power to exclude 
this people from the building of the destiny of 
India. Therefore what I say about the Nation 
has more to do with the history of Man than 
specially with that of India. 

This history has come to a stage when the 
moral man, the complete man, is more and more 
giving way, almost without knowing it, to make 
room for the political and the commercial man, 
the man of the limited purpose. This process, 
aided by the wonderful progress in science, is 
assuming gigantic proportion and power, causing 
the upset of man s moral balance, obscuring 
his human side under the shadow of soul-less 
organization. We have felt its iron grip at the 
root of our life, and for the sake of humanity 
we must stand up and give warning to all, that 
this nationalism is a cruel epidemic of evil that 
is sweeping over the human world of the present 
age, and eating into its moral vitahty. 

I have a deep love and a great respect for the 
British race as human beings. It has produced 
great-hearted men, thinkers of great thoughts, 
doers of great deeds. It has given rise to a 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 17 

great literature. I know that these people love 
justice and freedom, and hate lies. They are 
clean in their minds, frank in their manners, true 
in their friendships ; in their behaviour they are 
honest and reliable. The personal experience 
which I have had of their literary men has 
roused my admiration not merely for their power 
of thought or expression but for their chivalrous 
humanity. We have felt the greatness of this 
people as we feel the sun ; but as for the Nation, 
it is for us a thick mist of a stifling nature 
covering the sun itself. 

This government by the Nation is neither 
British nor anything else ; it is an applied 
science and therefore more or less similar in its 
principles wherever it is used. It is like a 
hydraulic press, whose pressure is impersonal, 
and on that account completely effective. The 
amount of its power may vary in different 
engines. Some may even be driven by hand, 
thus leaving a margin of comfortable looseness 
in their tension, but in spirit and in method their 
differences are small. Our government might 
have been Dutch, or French, or Portuguese, and 
its essential features would have remained much 
the same as they are now. Only perhaps, in 
some cases, the organization might not have 



18 NATIONALISM 

been so densely perfect, and, therefore, some 
shreds of the human might still have been 
clinging to the wreck, allowing us to deal with 
something which resembles our own throbbing 
heart. 

Before the Nation came to rule over us we 
had other governments which were foreign, and 
these, like all governments, had some element 
of the machine in them. But the difference 
between them and the government by the Nation 
is like the diiFerence between the hand-loom and 
the power-loom. In the products of the hand- 
loom the magic of man's living fingers finds its 
expression, and its hum harmonizes with the 
music of life. But the power-loom is relent- 
lessly lifeless and accurate and monotonous in 
its production. 

We must admit that during the personal 
government of the former days there have been 
instances of tyranny, injustice and extortion. 
They caused sufferings and unrest from which 
we are glad to be rescued. The protection of 
law is not only a boon, but it is a valuable lesson 
to us. It is teaching us the discipline which is 
necessary for the stability of civilization and for 
continuity of progress. We are realizing through 
it that there is a universal standard of justice to 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 19 

which all men, irrespective of their caste and 
colour, have their equal claim. 

This reign of law in our present Government 
in India has established order in this vast land 
inhabited by peoples different in their races and 
customs. It has made it possible for these 
peoples to come in closer touch with one another 
and cultivate a communion of aspiration. 

But this desire for a common bond of comrade- 
ship among the different races of India has been 
the work of the spirit of the West, not that of 
the Nation of the West. Wherever in Asia the 
people have received the true lesson of the West 
it is in spite of the Western Nation. Only 
because Japan had been able to resist the domin- 
ance of this Western Nation could she acquire 
the benefit of the Western Civilization in fullest 
measure. Though China has been poisoned at 
the very spring of her moral and physical life by 
this Nation, her struggle to receive the best 
lessons of the West may yet be successful if not 
hindered by the Nation. It was only the other 
day that Persia woke up from her age-long sleep 
at the call of the West to be instantly trampled 
into stillness by the Nation. The same pheno- 
menon prevails in this country also, where the 
people are hospitable, but the Nation has proved 



20 NATIONALISM 

itself to be otherwise, making an Eastern guest 
feel humiliated to stand before you as a member 
of the humanity of his own motherland. 

In India we are suffering from this conflict 
between the spirit of the West and the Nation of 
the West. The benefit of the Western civiliza- 
tion is doled out to us in a miserly measure by 
the Nation, which tries to regulate the degree 
of nutrition as near the zero-point of vitality as 
possible. The portion of education allotted to 
us is so raggedly insufficient that it ought to 
outrage the sense of decency of a Western 
humanity. We have seen in these countries 
how the people are encouraged and trained and 
given every facility to fit themselves for the 
great movements of commerce and industry 
spreading over the world, while in India the only 
assistance we get is merely to be jeered at by the 
Nation for lagging behind. While depriving us 
of our opportunities and reducing our education 
to the minimum required for conducting a foreign 
government, this Nation pacifies its conscience by 
calling us names, by sedulously giving currency 
to the arrogant cynicism that the East is east 
and the West is west and never the twain shall 
meet. If we must believe our schoolmaster in 
his taunt that, after nearly two centuries of his 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 21 

tutelage, India not only remains unfit for self- 
government but unable to display originality in 
her intellectual attainments, must we ascribe it 
to something in the nature of Western culture 
and our inherent incapacity to receive it or to 
the judicious niggardliness of the Nation that 
has taken upon itself the white man's burden of 
civilizing the East ? That Japanese people have 
some qualities which we lack we may admit, but 
that our intellect is naturally unproductive com- 
pared to theirs we cannot accept even from them 
whom it is dangerous for us to contradict. 

The truth is that the spirit of conflict and 
conquest is at the origin and in the centre of 
Western nationalism ; its basis is not social co- 
operation. It has evolved a perfect organization 
of power, but not spiritual idealism. It is like 
the pack of predatory creatures that must have 
its victims. With all its heart it cannot bear to 
see its hunting-grounds converted into cultivated 
fields. In fact, these nations are fighting among 
themselves for the extension of their victims and 
their reserve forests. Therefore the Western 
Nation acts like a dam to check the free flow 
of Western civilization into the country of the 
No -Nation. Because this civilization is the 
civilization of power, therefore it is exclusive, 



22 NATIONALISM 

it is naturally unwilling to open its sources of 
power to those whom it has selected for its 
purposes of exploitation. 

But all the same moral law is the law of 
humanity, and the exclusive civilization which 
thrives upon others who are barred from its 
benefit carries its own death - sentence in its 
moral limitations. The slavery that it gives rise 
to unconsciously drains its own love of freedom 
dry. The helplessness with which it weighs 
down its world of victims exerts its force of 
gravitation every moment upon the power that 
creates it. And the greater part of the world 
which is being denuded of its self-sustaining life 
by the Nation will one day become the most 
terrible of all its burdens, ready to drag it down 
into the bottom of destruction. Whenever 
Power removes all checks from its path to make 
its career easy, it triumphantly rides into its 
ultimate crash of death. Its moral brake 
becomes slacker every day without its knowing 
it, and its slippery path of ease becomes its path 
of doom. 

Of all things in Western civilization, those 
which this Western Nation has given us in a 
most generous measure are law and order. While 
the small feeding-bottle of our education is 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 23 

nearly dry, and sanitation sucks its own thumb 
in despair, the military organization, the magis- 
terial offices, the police, the Criminal Investiga- 
tion Department, the secret spy system, attain 
to an abnormal girth in their waists, occupying 
every inch of our covmtry. This is to maintain 
order. But is not this order merely a negative 
good ? Is it not for giving people's life greater 
opportunities for the freedom of development ? 
Its perfection is the perfection of an egg-shell, 
whose true value lies in the security it affords to 
the chick and its nourishment and not in the 
convenience it offers to the person at the breakfast 
table. Mere administration is unproductive, 
it is not creative, not being a living thing. It 
is a steam-roller, formidable in its weight and 
power, having its uses, but it does not help the 
soil to become fertile. When after its enormous 
toil it comes to offer us its boon of peace we can 
but murmur under our breath that "peace is 
good, but not more so than life, which is God's 
own great boon." 

On the other hand, our former governments 
were woefully lacking in many of the advantages 
of the modern government. But because those 
were not the governments by the Nation, their 
texture was loosely woven, leaving big gaps 



24 NATIONALISM 

through which our own life sent its threads and 
imposed its designs. I am quite sure in those 
days we had things that were extremely distaste- 
ful to us. But we know that when we walk 
barefooted upon ground strewn with gravel, 
our feet come gradually to adjust themselves to 
the caprices of the inhospitable earth ; while if 
the tiniest particle of gravel finds its lodgment 
inside our shoes we can never forget and forgive 
its intrusion. And these shoes are the govern- 
ment by the Nation, — it is tight, it regulates 
our steps with a closed-up system, within which 
our feet have only the slightest liberty to make 
their own adjustments. Therefore, when you 
produce your statistics to compare the number 
of gravels which our feet had Jo encounter in 
former days with the paucity in the present 
regime, they hardly touch the real points. It is 
not a question of the number of outside obstacles 
but the comparative powerlessness of the indi- 
vidual to cope with them. This narrowness of 
freedom is an evil which is more radical, not 
because of its quantity but because of its nature. 
And we cannot but acknowledge this paradox, 
that while the spirit of the West marches under 
its banner of freedom, the Nation of the West 
forges its iron chains of organization which are 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 25 

the most relentless and unbreakable that have 
ever been manufactured hi the whole history of 
man. 

When the humanity of India was not under 
the government of the Organization, the elas- 
ticity of change was great enough to encourage 
men of power and spirit to feel that they had 
their destinies in their own hands. The hope 
of the unexpected was never absent, and a freer 
play of imagination, on the part both of the 
governor and the governed, had its effect in 
the making of history. We were not confronted 
with a future, which was a dead white wall of 
granite blocks eternally guarding against the 
expression and extension of our own powers, 
the hopelessness of which lies in the reason 
that these powers are becoming atrophied at 
their very roots by the scientific process of 
paralysis. For every single individual in the 
country of the No-Nation is completely in the 
grip of a whole nation, — whose tireless vigilance, 
being the vigilance of a machine, has not the 
human power to overlook or to discriminate. 
At the least pressing of its button the monster 
organization becomes all eyes, whose ugly stare 
of inquisitiveness cannot be avoided by a single 
person amongst the immense multitude of the 



26 NATIONALISM 

ruled. At the least turn of its screw, by the 
fraction of an inch, the grip is tightened to the 
point of suffocation around every man, woman 
and child of a vast population, for whom no 
escape is imaginable in their own country, or 
even in any country outside their own. 

It is the continual and stupendous dead 
pressure of this inhuman upon the living human 
under which the modern world is groaning. 
Not merely the subject races, but you who live 
under the delusion that you are free, are every 
day sacrificing your freedom and humanity to 
this fetich of nationalism, living in the dense 
poisonous atmosphere of world - wide suspicion 
and greed and panic. 

I have seen in Japan the voluntary submission 
of the whole people to the trimming of their 
minds and clipping of their freedom by their 
government, which through various educational 
agencies regulates their thoughts, manufactures 
their feelings, becomes suspiciously watchful 
when they show signs of inclining toward the 
spiritual, leading them through a narrow path 
not toward what is true but what is necessary 
for the complete welding of them into one 
uniform mass according to its own recipe. The 
people accept this all-pervading mental slavery 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 27 

with cheerfulness and pride because of their 
nervous desire to turn themselves into a machine 
of power, called the Nation, and emulate other 
machines in their collective worldliness. 

When questioned as to the wisdom of its 
course the newly converted fanatic of nationalism 
answers that "so long as nations are rampant 
in this world we have not the option freely to 
develop our higher humanity. We must utilize 
every faculty that we possess to resist the evil 
by assuming it ourselves in the fullest degree. 
For the only brotherhood possible in the modern 
world is the brotherhood of hooliganism." The 
recognition of the fraternal bond of love between 
Japan and Russia, which has lately been cele- 
brated with an immense display of rejoicing in 
Japan, was not owing to any sudden recrudescence 
of the spirit of Christianity or of Buddhism, 
but it was a bond established according to the 
modern faith in a surer relationship of mutual 
menace of bloodshedding. Yes, one cannot but 
acknowledge that these facts are the facts of the 
world of the Nation, and the only moral of it is 
that all the peoples of the earth should strain 
their physical, moral and intellectual resources 
to the utmost to defeat one another in the 
wrestling match of powerfulness. In the ancient 



/ 



28 NATIONALISM 

days Sparta paid all her attention to becoming 
powerful ; she did become so by crippling her 

i humanity, and died of the amputation. 

But it is no consolation to us to know that 
the weakening of humanity from which the 
present age is suffering is not limited to the sub- 
ject races, and that its ravages are even more 
radical because insidious and voluntary in peoples 

\ who are hypnotized into believing that they are 
free. This bartering of your higher aspirations 
of life for profit and power has been your own 
free choice, and I leave you there, at the wreck- 
age of your soul, contemplating your protuberant 
prosperity. But will you never be called to 
answer for organizing the instincts of self- 
aggrandizement of whole peoples into perfection 
j and calling it good ? I ask you what disaster 
has there ever been in the history of man, in its 
darkest period, like this terrible disaster of the 
Nation fixing its fangs deep into the naked flesh 
of the world, taking permanent precautions 
against its natural relaxation ? 

You, the people of the West, who have 
manufactured this abnormality, can you imagine 
the desolating despair of this haunted world of 
suffering man possessed by the ghastly abstrac- 
tion of the organizing man ? Can you put your- 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 29 

self into the position of the peoples, who seem 
to have been doomed to an eternal damnation of 
their own humanity, who not only must suffer 
continual curtailment of tlieir manhood, but 
even raise their voices in peeans of praise for 
the benignity of a mechanical apparatus in its 
interminable parody of providence ? 

Have you not seen, since the commencement 
of the existence of the Nation, that the dread of 
it has been the one goblin -dread with which the 
whole world has been trembling ? Wherever 
there is a dark corner, there is the suspicion of 
its secret malevolence ; and people live in a per- 
petual distrust of its back where it has no eyes. 
Every sound of a footstep, every rustle of move- 
ment in the neighbourhood, sends a thrill of 
terror all around. And this terror is the parent 
of all that is base in man's nature. It makes 
one almost openly unashamed of inhumanity. 
Clever lies become matters of self-congratulation. 
Solemn pledges become a farce, — laughable for 
their very solemnity. The Nation, with all its 
paraphernalia of power and prosperity, its flags 
and pious hymns, its blasphemous prayers in the 
churches, and the literary mock thunders of its 
patriotic bragging, cannot hide the fact that the 
Nation is the greatest evil for the Nation, that 



30 NATIONALISM 

all its precautions are against it, and any new 
birth of its fellow in the world is always followed 
in its mind by the dread of a new peril. Its one 
wish is to trade on the feebleness of the rest of 
the world, like some insects that are bred in the 
paralysed flesh of victims kept just enough alive 
to make them toothsome and nutritious. There- 
fore it is ready to send its poisonous fluid into 
the vitals of the other living peoples, who, not 
being nations, are harmless. For this the Nation 
has had and still has its richest pasture in Asia. 
Great China, rich with her ancient wisdom and 
social ethics, her discipline of industry and self- 
control, is like a whale awakening the lust of 
spoil in the heart of the Nation. She is already 
carrying in her quivering flesh harpoons sent by 
the unerring aim of the Nation, the creature of 
science and selfishness. Her pitiful attempt to 
shake off her traditions of humanity, her social 
ideals, and spend her last exhausted resources in 
drilling herself into modern efficiency, is thwarted 
at every step by the Nation. It is tightening 
its financial ropes round her, trying to drag her 
up on the shore and cut her into pieces, and 
then go and offer public thanksgiving to God for 
supporting the one existing evil and shattering 
the possibility of a new one. And for all this 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 31 

the Nation has been claiming the gratitude of 
history, and all eternity for its exploitation ; 
ordering its band of praise to be struck up from 
end to end of the world, declaring itself to be the 
salt of the earth, the flower of humanity, the 
blessing of God hurled with all His force upon 
the naked skulls of the world of No-Nations. 

I know what your advice will be. You will 
say, form yourselves into a nation, and resist this 
encroachment of the Nation. But is this the 
true advice ? that of a man to a man ? Why 
should this be a necessity ? I could well believe 
you if you had said, Be more good, more just, 
more true in your relation to man, control your 
greed, make your life wholesome in its sim- 
plicity and let your consciousness of the divine 
in humanity be more perfect in its expression. 
But must you say that it is not the soul, but the 
machine, which is of the utmost value to our- 
selves, and that man's salvation depends upon 
his disciplining himself into a perfection of the 
dead rhythm of wheels and counterwheels ? that 
machine must be pitted against machine, and 
nation against nation, in an endless bull-fight of 
politics ? 

You say, these machines will come into an 
agreement, for their mutual protection, based 



32 NATIONALISM 

upon a conspiracy of fear. But will this federa- 
tion of steam-boilers supply you with a soul, a 
soul which has her conscience and her God ? 
What is to happen to that larger part of the 
world where fear will have no hand in restraining 
you ? Whatever safety they now enjoy, those 
countries of No-Nation, from the unbridled license 
of forge and hammer and turn-screw, results from 
the mutual jealousy of the powers. But when, 
instead of being numerous separate machines, 
they become riveted into one organized gre- 
gariousness of gluttony, commercial and political, 
what remotest chance of hope will remain for 
those others, who have lived and suffered, have 
loved and worshipped, have thought deeply and 
worked with meekness, but whose only crime 
has been that they have not organized ? 

But, you say, ''That does not matter, the 
unfit must go to the wall — they shall die, and 
this is science." 

No, for the sake of your own salvation, I say, 
they shall live, and this is truth. It is extremely 
bold of me to say so, but I assert that man's 
world is a moral world, not because we blindly 
agree to believe it, but because it is so in truth 
which would be dangerous for us to ignore. And 
this moral nature of man cannot be divided into 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 33 

convenient compartments for its preservation. 
You cannot secure it for your home consump- 
tion with protective tariff walls, while in foreign 
parts making it enormously accommodating in 
its free trade of license. 

Has not this truth already come home to you 
now, when this cruel war has driven its claws 
into the vitals of Europe ? when her hoard of 
wealth is bursting into smoke and her humanity 
is shattered into bits on her battlefields ? You 
ask in amazement what has she done to deserve 
this ? The answer is, that the West has been 
systematically petrifying her moral nature in 
order to lay a solid foundation for her gigantic 
abstractions of efficiency. She has all along 
been starving the life of the personal man into 
that of the professional. 

In your mediaeval age in Europe, the simple 
and the natural man, with all his violent passions 
and desires, was engaged in trying to find out a 
reconciliation in the conflict between the flesh 
and the spirit. All through the turbulent career 
of her vigorous youth the temporal and the 
spiritual forces both acted strongly upon her 
nature, and were moulding it into completeness 
of moral personality. Europe owes all her great- 
ness in humanity to that period of discipline, 

D 



34 NATIONALISM 

— the discipline of the man in his human 
integrity. 

Then came the age of intellect, of science. 
A^'^e all know that intellect is impersonal. Our 
life, and our heart, are one with us, but our mind 
can be detached from the personal man and then 
only can it freely move in its world of thoughts. 
Our intellect is an ascetic who wears no clothes, 
takes no food, knows no sleep, has no wishes, 
feels no love or hatred or pity for human limita- 
tions, who only reasons^ unmoved, through the 
vicissitudes of life. It burrows to the roots of 
things, because it has no personal concern with 
the thing itself The grammarian walks straight 
through all poetry and goes to the root of words 
without obstruction, because he is not seeking 
reality, but law. When he finds the law, he is 
able to teach people how to master words. This 
is a power, — the power which fulfils some special 
usefulness, some particular need of man. 

Reality is the harmony which gives to the 
component parts of a thing the equilibrium of 
the whole. You break it, and have in your 
hands the nomadic atoms fighting against one 
another, therefore unmeaning. Those who covet 
power try to get mastery of these aboriginal 
fighting elements, and through some narrow 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 35 

channels force them into some violent service 
for some particular needs of man. 

This satisfaction of man's needs is a great 
thing. It gives him freedom in the material 
world. It confers on him the benefit of a 
greater range of time and space. He can do 
things in a shorter time and occupies a larger 
space with more thoroughness of advantage. 
Therefore he can easily outstrip those who live 
in a world of a slower time and of space less 
fully occupied. 

This progress of power attains more and 
more rapidity of pace. And, for the reason 
that it is a detached part of man, it soon out- 
runs the complete humanity. The moral man 
remains behind, because it has to deal with the 
whole reality, not merely with the law of things, 
which is impersonal and therefore abstract. 

Thus, man with his mental and material 
power far outgrowing his moral strength, is 
like an exaggerated giraffe whose head has 
suddenly shot up miles away from the rest of 
him, making normal communication difficult to 
establish. This greedy head, with its huge 
dental organization, has been munching all the 
topmost foliage of the world, but the nourish- 
ment is too late in reaching his digestive organs. 



36 NATIONALISM 

and his heart is suffering from want of blood. 
Of this present disharmony in man's nature the 
West seems to have been blissfully unconscious. 
The enormity of its material success has diverted 
all its attention toward self-congratulation on 
its bulk. The optimism of its logic goes on 
basing the calculations of its good fortune upon 
the indefinite prolongation of its railway lines 
toward eternity. It is superficial enough to 
think that all to-morrows are merely to-days, 
with the repeated additions of twenty - four 
hours. It has no fear of the chasm, which is 
opening wider every day, between man's ever- 
growing storehouses and the emptiness of his 
hungry humanity. Logic does not know that, 
under the lowest bed of endless strata of wealth 
and comforts, earthquakes are being hatched to 
restore the balance of the moral world, and one 
day the gaping gulf of spiritual vacuity will 
draw into its bottom the store of things that 
have their eternal love for the dust. 

Man in his fulness is not powerful, but 
perfect. Therefore, to turn him into mere 
power, you have to curtail his soul as much as 
possible. When we are fully human, we cannot 
fly at one another's throats ; our instincts of 
social life, our traditions of moral ideals stand 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 37 

in the way. If you want me to take to butcher- 
ing human beings, you must break up that 
wholeness of my humanity through some 
discipline which makes my will dead, my 
thoughts numb, my movements automatic, 
and then from the dissolution of the complex 
personal man will come out that abstraction, 
that destructive force, which has no relation to 
human truth, and therefore can be easily brutal 
or mechanical. Take away man from his natural 
surroundings, from the fulness of his communal 
life, with all its living associations of beauty and 
love and social obligations, and you will be able 
to turn him into so many fragments of a machine 
for the production of wealth on a gigantic scale. 
Turn a tree into a log and it will burn for you, 
but it will never bear living flowers ^nd fruit. 

This process of dehumanizing has been going 
on in commerce and politics. And out of the 
long birth-throes of mechanical energy has been 
born this fully developed apparatus of magnificent 
power and surprising appetite which has been 
christened in the West as the Nation. As I 
have hinted before, because of its quality of 
abstraction it has, with the greatest ease, gone 
far ahead of the complete moral man. And 
having the conscience of a ghost and the callous 



38 NATIONALISM 

perfection of an automaton, it is causing disasters 
of which the volcanic dissipations of the youth- 
ful moon would be ashamed to be brought into 
comparison. As a result, the suspicion of man 
for man stings all the limbs of this civilization 
like the hairs of the nettle. Each country is 
casting its net of espionage into the slimy 
bottom of the others, fishing for their secrets, 
the treacherous secrets which brew in the oozy 
depths of diplomacy. And what is their secret 
service but the nation's underground trade in 
kidnapping, murder and treachery and all the 
ugly crimes bred in the depth of rottenness ? 
Because each nation has its own history of 
thieving and lies and broken faith, therefore 
there can only flourish international suspicion 
and jealousy, and international moral shame 
becomes anaemic to a degree of ludicrousness. 
The nation's bagpipe of righteous indignation 
has so often changed its tune according to the 
variation of time and to the altered groupings 
of the alliances of diplomacy, that it can be 
enjoyed with amusement as the variety per- 
formance of the political music hall. 

I am just coming from my visit to Japan, 
where 1 exhorted this young nation to take its 
stand upon the higher ideals of humanity and 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 39 

never to follow the West in its acceptance of 
the organized selfishness of Nationalism as its 
religion, never to gloat upon the feebleness of 
its neighbours, never to be unscrupulous in its 
behaviour to the weak, where it can be gloriously 
mean with impunity, while turning its right 
cheek of brighter humanity for the kiss of admira- 
tion to those who have the power to deal it a 
blow. Some of the newspapers praised my utter- 
ances for their poetical qualities, while adding 
with a leer that it was the poetry of a defeated 
people. I felt they were right. Japan had been 
taught in a modern school the lesson how to 
become powerful. The schooling is done and 
she must enjoy the fruits of her lessons. The 
West in the voice of her thundering cannon had 
said at the door of Japan, Let there be a nation 
— and there was a Nation. And now that it has 
come into existence, why do you not feel in your 
heart of hearts a pure feeling of gladness and say 
that it is good ? Why is it that I saw in an 
English paper an expression of bitterness at 
Japan's boasting of her superiority of civilization 
— the thing that the British, along with other 
nations, has been carrying on for ages without 
blushing ? Because the idealism of selfishness 
must keep itself drunk with a continual dose of 



40 NATIONALISM 

self-laudation. But the same vices which seem 
so natural and innocuous in its own life make it 
surprised and angry at their unpleasantness when 
seen in other nations. Therefore, when you see 
the Japanese nation, created in your own image, 
launched in its career of national boastfulness 
you shake your head and say, it is not good. 
Has it not been one of the causes that raise the 
cry on these shores for preparedness to meet one 
more power of evil with a greater power of 
injury ? Japan protests that she has her bushido, 
that she can never be treacherous to America, to 
whom she owes her gratitude. But you find it 
difficult to believe her, — for the wisdom of the 
Nation is not in its faith in humanity but in its 
complete distrust. You say to yourself that it 
is not with Japan of the bushido, the Japan of 
the moral ideals, that you have to deal — it is with 
the abstraction of the popular selfishness, it is 
with the Nation ; and Nation can only trust 
Nation where their interests coalesce, or at least 
do not conflict. In fact your instinct tells you 
that the advent of another people into the arena 
of nationality makes another addition to the evil 
which contradicts all that is highest in Man and 
proves by its success that unscrupulousness is 
the way to prosperity, — and goodness is good 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 41 

for the weak and God is the only remaining 
consolation of the defeated. 

Yes, this is the logic of the Nation. And it 
will never heed the voice of truth and goodness. 
It will go on in its ring-dance of moral corrup- 
tion, linking steel unto steel, and machine unto 
machine ; trampling under its tread all the sweet 
flowers of simple faith and the living ideals of 
man. 

But we delude ourselves into thinking that 
humanity in the modern days is more to the 
front than ever before. The reason of this self- 
delusion is because man is served with the neces- 
saries of life in greater profusion, and his physical 
ills are being alleviated with more efficacy. But 
the chief part of this is done, not by moral sacri- 
fice, but by intellectual power. In quantity it is 
great, but it springs from the surface and spreads 
over the surface. Knowledge and efficiency are 
powerful in their outward effect, but they are 
the servants of man, not the man himself. Their 
service is like the service in a hotel, where it is 
elaborate, but the host is absent ; it is more 
convenient than hospitable. 

Therefore we must not forget that the 
scientific organizations vastly spreading in all 
directions are strengthening our power, but not 



42 NATIONALISM 

our humanity. With the growth of power the 
cult of the self-worship of the Nation grows in 
ascendancy ; and the individual willingly allows 
the Nation to take donkey-rides upon his back ; 
and there happens the anomaly which must have 
such disastrous effects, that the individual 
worships with all sacrifices a god which is morally 
much inferior to himself. This could never have 
been possible if the god had been as real as the 
individual. 

Let me give an illustration of this in point. 
In some parts of India it has been enjoined as 
an act of great piety for a widow to go without 
food and water on a particular day every fort- 
night. This often leads to cruelty, unmeaning 
and inhuman. And yet men are not by nature 
cruel to such a degree. But this piety being a 
mere unreal abstraction completely deadens the 
moral sense of the individual, just as the man, 
who would not hurt an animal unnecessarily, 
would cause horrible suffering to a large number 
of innocent creatures when he drugs his feelings 
with the abstract idea of " sport." Because these 
ideas are the creations of our intellect, because 
they are logical classifications, therefore they can 
so easily hide in their mist the personal man. 

And the idea of the Nation is one of the most 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 43 

powerful aiifiesthetics that man has mvented. 
Under the influence of its fumes the whole 
people can carry out its systematic programme of 
the most virulent self-seeking without being in 
the least aware of its moral perversion, — in fact 
feeling dangerously resentful if it is pointed out. 

But can this go on indefinitely ? continually 
producing barrenness of moral insensibility upon 
a large tract of our living nature ? Can it escape 
its nemesis for ever ? Has this giant power of 
mechanical organization no limit in this world 
against which it may shatter itself all the more 
completely because of its terrible strength and 
velocity ? Do you believe that evil can be per- 
manently kept in check by competition with 
evil, and that conference of prudence can keep 
the devil chained in its makeshift cage of mutual 
agreement ? 

This European war of Nations is the war of 
retribution. Man, the person, must protest for 
his very life against the heaping up of things 
where there should be the heart, and systems 
and policies where there should flow living 
human relationship. The time has come when, 
for the sake of the whole outraged world, Europe 
should fully know in her own person the terrible 
absurdity of the thing called the Nation. 



44 NATIONALISM 

The Nation has thriven long upon mutilated 
humanity. Men, the fairest creations of God, 
came out of the National manufactory in huge 
numbers as war - making and money - making 
puppets, ludicrously vain of their pitiful perfec- 
tion of mechanism. Human society grew more 
and more into a marionette show of politicians, 
soldiers, manufacturers and bureaucrats, pulled 
by wire arrangements of wonderful efficiency. 

But the apotheosis of selfishness can never 
make its interminable breed of hatred and greed, 
fear and hypocrisy, suspicion and tyranny, an 
end in themselves. These monsters grow into 
huge shapes but never into harmony. And 
this Nation may grow on to an unimaginable 
corpulence, not of a living body, but of steel 
and steam and office buildings, till its deformity 
can contain no longer its ugly voluminousness, 
— till it begins to crack and gape, breathe gas 
and fire in gasps, and its death-rattles sound 
in cannon roars. In this war the death-throes of 
the Nation have commenced. Suddenly, all its 
mechanism going mad, it has begun the dance 
of the Furies, shattering its own limbs, scattering 
them into the dust. It is the fifth act of the 
tragedy of the unreal. 

Those who have any faith in Man cannot but 



NATIONALISM IN THE WEST 45 

fervently hope that the tyranny of the Nation 
will not be restored to all its former teeth and 
claws, to its far - reaching iron arms and its 
immense inner cavity, all stomach and no heart ; 
that man will have his new birth, in the freedom 
of his individuality, from the enveloping vague- 
ness of abstraction. 

The veil has been raised, and in this frightful 
war the West has stood face to face with her 
own creation, to which she had offered her soul. 
She must know what it truly is. 

She had never let herself suspect what slow 
decay and decomposition were secretly going on 
in her moral nature, which often broke out in 
doctrines of scepticism, but still oftener and in 
still more dangerously subtle manner showed 
itself in her unconsciousness of the mutilation 
and insult that she had been inflicting upon a 
vast part of the world. Now she must know 
the truth nearer home. 

And then there will come from her own 
children those who will break themselves free 
from the slavery of this illusion, this perversion 
of brotherhood founded upon self-seeking, those 
who will own themselves as God's children and 
as no bond-slaves of machinery, which turns 
souls into commodities and life into compart- 



46 NATIONALISM 

ments, which, with its iron claws, scratches out 
the heart of the world and knows not what it 
has done. 

And we of no nations of the world, whose 
heads have been bowed to the dust, will know 
that this dust is more sacred than the bricks 
which build the pride of power. For this dust 
is fertile of life, and of beauty and worship. 
We shall thank God that we were made to 
wait in silence through the night of despair, 
had to bear the insult of the proud and the 
strong man's burden, yet all through it, though 
our hearts quaked with doubt and fear, never 
could we blindly believe in the salvation which 
machinery offered to man, but we held fast to 
our trust in God and the truth of the human 
soul. And we can still cherish the hope that, 
when power becomes ashamed to occupy its 
throne and is ready to make way for love, 
when the morning comes for cleansing the 
blood - stained steps of the Nation along the 
highroad of humanity, we shall be called upon 
to bring our own vessel of sacred water — the 
water of worship — to sweeten the history of 
man into purity, and with its sprinkling make 
the trampled dust of the centuries blessed with 
fruitfulness. 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 



47 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 



The worst form of bondage is the bondage of 
dejection, which keeps men hopelessly chained 
in loss of faith in themselves. We have been 
repeatedly told, with some justification, that Asia 
lives in the past, — it is like a rich mausoleum 
which displays all its magnificence in trying to 
immortalize the dead. It was said of Asia that 
it could never move in the path of progress, its 
face was so inevitably turned backwards. We 
accepted this accusation, and came to believe it. 
In India, I know, a large section of our educated 
community, grown tired of feeling the humilia- 
tion of this charge against us, is trying all its 
resources of self-deception to turn it into a 
matter of boasting. But boasting is only a 
masked shame, it does not truly believe in itself. 
When things stood still like this, and we in 
Asia hypnotized ourselves into the belief that 

49 E 



50 NATIONALISM 

it could never by any possibility be otherwise, 
Japan rose from her dreams, and in giant strides 
left centuries of inaction behind, overtaking the 
present time in its foremost achievement. This 
has broken the spell under which we lay in 
torpor for ages, taking it to be the normal 
condition of certain races living in certain 
geographical limits. We forgot that in Asia 
great kingdoms were founded, philosophy, science, 
arts and literatures flourished, and all the great 
religions of the world had their cradles. There- 
fore it cannot be said that there is anything 
inherent in the soil and climate of Asia to 
produce mental inactivity and to atrophy the 
faculties which impel men to go forward. For 
centuries we did hold torches of civilization in 
the East when the West slumbered in darkness, 
and that could never be the sign of sluggish 
mind or narrowness of vision. 

Then fell the darkness of night upon all the 
lands of the East. The current of time seemed 
to stop at once, and Asia ceased to take any new 
food, feeding upon its own past, which is really 
feeding upon itself. The stillness seemed like 
death, and the great voice was silenced which 
sent forth messages of eternal truth that have 
saved man's life from pollution for generations, 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 51 

like the ocean of air that keeps the earth sweet, 
ever cleansing its impurities. 

But life has its sleep, its periods of inactivity, 
when it loses its movements, takes no new food, 
living upon its past storage. Then it grows help- 
less, its muscles relaxed, and it easily lends itself 
to be jeered at for its stupor. In the rhythm of 
life, pauses there must be for the renewal of life. 
Life in its activity is ever spending itself, burning 
all its fuel. This extravagance cannot go on 
indefinitely, but is always followed by a passive 
stage, when all expenditure is stopped and all 
adventures abandoned in favour of rest and slow 
recuperation. 

The tendency of mind is economical, it loves 
to form habits and move in grooves which save 
it the trouble of thinking anew at each of its 
steps. Ideals once formed make the mind lazy. 
It becomes afraid to risk its acquisitions in fresh 
endeavours. It tries to enjoy complete security 
by shutting up its belongings behind fortifications 
of habits. But this is really shutting oneself up 
from the fullest enjoyment of one's own posses- 
sions. It is miserliness. The living ideals must 
not lose their touch with the growing and 
changing life. Their real freedom is not within 
the boundaries of security, but in the high- 



52 NATIONALISM 

road of adventures, full of the risk of new 
experiences. 

One morning the whole world looked up in 
surprise when Japan broke through her walls of 
old habits in a night and came out triumphant. 
It was done in such an incredibly short time 
that it seemed like a change of dress and not like 
the building up of a new structure. She showed 
the confident strength of maturity, and the fresh- 
ness and infinite potentiality of new life at the 
same moment. The fear was entertained that 
it was a mere freak of history, a child's game of 
Time, the blowing up of a soap-bubble, perfect 
in its rondure and colouring, hollow in its heart 
and without substance. But Japan has proved 
conclusively that this sudden revealment of her 
power is not a short-lived wonder, a chance pro- 
duct of time and tide, thrown up from the depth 
of obscurity to be swept away the next moment 
into the sea of oblivion. 

The truth is that Japan is old and new at the 
same time. She has her legacy of ancient culture 
from the East, — the culture that enjoins man to 
look for his true wealth and power in his inner 
soul, the culture that gives self-possession in the 
face of loss and danger, self-sacrifice without 
counting the cost or hoping for gain, defiance of 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 53 

death, acceptance of countless social obligations 
that we owe to men as social beings. In a word, 
modern Japan has come out of the immemorial 
East like a lotus blossoming in easy grace, all the 
while keeping its firm hold upon the profound 
depth from which it has sprung. 

And Japan, the child of the Ancient East, has 
also fearlessly claimed all the gifts of the modern 
age for herself. She has shown her bold spirit 
in breaking through the confinements of habits, 
useless accumulations of the lazy mind, which 
seeks safety in its thrift and its locks and keys. 
Thus she has come in contact with the living 
time and has accepted with eagerness and aptitude 
the responsibilities of modern civilization. 

This it is which has given heart to the rest 
of Asia. We have seen that the life and the 
strength are there in us, only the dead crust has 
to be removed. We have seen that taking 
shelter in the dead is death itself, and only taking 
all the risk of life to the fullest extent is living. 

I, for myself, canmot believe that Japan has 
become what she is by imitating the West. We 
cannot imitate life, we cannot simulate strength 
for long, nay, what is more, a mere imitation is 
a source of weakness. For it hampers our true 
nature, it is always in our way. It is like dressing 



54 NATIONALISM 

our skeleton with another man's skin, giving rise 
to eternal feuds between the skin and the bones 
at every movement. 

The real truth is that science is not man's 
nature, it is mere knowledge and training. By 
knowing the laws of the material universe you 
do not change your deeper humanity. You can 
borrow knowledge from others, but you cannot 
borrow temperament. 

But at the imitative stage of our schooling we 
cannot distinguish between the essential and the 
non-essential, between what is transferable and 
what is not. It is something like the faith of the 
primitive mind in the magical properties of the 
accidents of outward forms which accompany some 
real truth. We are afraid of leaving out some- 
thing valuable and efficacious by not swallowing 
the husk with the kernel. But while our greed 
delights in wholesale appropriation, it is the 
function of our vital nature to assimilate, which 
is the only true appropriation for a living 
organism. Where there is life it is sure to 
assert itself by its choice of acceptance and 
refusal according to its constitutional necessity. 
The living organism does not allow itself to 
grow into its food, it changes its food into its 
own body. And only thus can it grow strong 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 55 

and not by mere accumulation, or by giving up 
its personal identity. 

Japan has imported her food from the West, 
but not her vital nature. Japan cannot altogether 
lose and merge herself in the scientific parapher- 
nalia she has acquired from the West and be 
turned into a mere borrowed machine. She has 
her own soul, which must assert itself over all her 
requirements. That she is capable of doing so, 
and that the process of assimilation is going on, 
have been amply proved by the signs of vigorous 
health that she exhibits. And I earnestly hope 
that Japan may never lose her faith in her own 
soul, in the mere pride of her foreign acquisition. 
For that pride itself is a humiliation, ultimately 
leading to poverty and weakness. It is the pride 
of the fop who sets more store on his new head- 
dress than on his head itself. 

The whole world waits to see what this great 
Eastern nation is going to do with the oppor- 
tunities and responsibilities she has accepted 
from the hands of the modern time. If it be a 
mere reproduction of the West, then the great 
expectation she has raised will remain unfulfilled. 
For there are grave questions that the Western 
civilization has presented before the world but 
not completely answered. The conflict between 



56 NATIONALISM 

the individual and the state, labour and capital, 
the man and the woman ; the conflict between 
the greed of material gain and the spiritual life 
of man, the organized selfishness of nations and 
the higher ideals of humanity ; the conflict 
between all the ugly complexities inseparable 
from giant organizations of commerce and state 
and the natural instincts of man crying for 
simplicity and beauty and fulness of leisure, — 
all these have to be brought to a harmony in 
a manner not yet dreamt of. 

We have seen this great stream of civilization 
choking itself from debris carried by its innumer- 
able channels. We have seen that with all its 
vaunted love of humanity it has proved itself 
the greatest menace to Man, far worse than the 
sudden outbursts of nomadic barbarism from 
which men suffered in the early ages of history. 
We have seen that, in spite of its boasted love 
of freedom, it has produced worse forms of 
slavery than ever were current in earlier societies, 
— slavery whose chains are unbreakable, either 
because they are unseen, or because they assume 
the names and appearance of freedom. We 
have seen, under the spell of its gigantic sordid- 
ness, man losing faith in all the heroic ideals of 
life which have made him great. 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 57 

Therefore you cannot with a light heart 
accept the modern civilization with all its 
tendencies, methods and structures, and dream 
that they are inevitable. You must apply your 
Eastern mind, your spiritual strength, your love 
of simplicity, your recognition of social obliga- 
tion, in order to cut out a new path for this 
great unwieldy car of progress, shrieking out its 
loud discords as it runs. You must minimize 
the immense sacrifice of man's life and freedom 
that it claims in its every movement. For 
generations you have felt and thought and 
worked, have enjoyed and worshipped in your 
own special manner ; and this cannot be cast 
off like old clothes. It is in your blood, in the 
marrow of your bones, in the texture of your 
flesh, in the tissue of your brains ; and it must 
modify everything you lay your hands upon, 
without your knowing, even against your wishes. 
Once you did solve the problems of man to 
your own satisfaction, you had your philosophy 
of life and evolved your own art of living. All 
this you must apply to the present situation, 
and out of it will arise a new creation and not 
a mere repetition, a creation which the soul of 
your people will own for itself and proudly offer 
to the world as its tribute to the welfare of man. 



58 NATIONALISM 

Of all countries in Asia, here in Japan you have 
the freedom to use the materials you have 
gathered from the West according to your 
genius and your need. Therefore your respon- 
sibility is all the greater, for in your voice Asia 
shall answer the questions that Europe has sub- 
mitted to the conference of Man. In your land 
the experiments will be carried on by which 
the East will change the aspects of modern 
civilization, infusing life in it where it is a. 
machine, substituting the human heart for cold 
expediency, not caring so much for power and 
success as for harmonious and living growth, for 
truth and beauty. 

I cannot but bring to your mind those days 
when the whole of Eastern Asia from Burma to 
Japan was united with India in the closest tie 
of friendship, the only natural tie which can 
exist between nations. There was a livincj com- 
munication of hearts, a nervous system evolved 
through which messages ran between us about 
the deepest needs of humanity. We did not 
stand in fear of each other, we had not to arm 
ourselves to keep each other in check ; our 
relation was not that of self-interest, of explora- 
tion and spoliation of each other's pockets ; ideas 
and ideals were exchanged, gifts of the highest 



/ 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 59 

love were offered and taken ; no difference of 
languages and customs hindered us in approach- 
ing each other heart to heart ; no pride of race 
or insolent consciousness of superiority, physical 
or mental, marred our relation ; our arts and 
literatures put forth new leaves and flowers 
under the influence of this sunlight of united 
hearts ; and races belonging to different lands 
and languages and histories acknowledged the 
highest unity of man and the deepest bond of 
love. May we not also remember that in those 
days of peace and goodwill, of men uniting for 
those supreme ends of life, your nature laid by 
for itself the balm of immortality which has 
helped your people to be born again in a new 
age, to be able to survive its old outworn 
structures and take on a new young body, to 
come out unscathed from the shock of the 
most wonderful revolution that the world has 
ever seen ? 

The political civilization which has sprung up 
from the soil of Europe and is overrunning the 
whole world, like some prolific weed, is based 
upon exclusiveness. It is always watchful to 
keep the aliens at bay or to exterminate them. 
It is carnivorous and cannibalistic in its tenden- 
cies, it feeds upon the resources of other peoples 



60 NATIONALISM 

and tries to swallow their whole future. It is 
always afraid of other races achieving eminence, 
naming it as a peril, and tries to thwart all 
symptoms of greatness outside its own bound- 
aries, forcing down races of men who are 
weaker, to be eternally fixed in their weakness. 
Before this political civilization came to its 
power and opened its hungry jaws wide enough 
to gulp down great continents of the earth, we 
had wars, pillages, changes of monarchy and 
consequent miseries, but never such a sight of 
fearful and hopeless voracity, such wholesale 
feeding of nation upon nation, such huge 
machines for turning great portions of the 
earth into mince-meat, never such terrible 
jealousies with all their ugly teeth and claws 
ready for tearing open each other's vitals. This 
political civilization is scientific, not human. It 
is powerful because it concentrates all its forces 
upon one purpose, like a millionaire acquiring 
money at the cost of his soul. It betrays 
its trust, it weaves its meshes of lies without 
shame, it enshrines gigantic idols of greed in its 
temples, taking great pride in the costly cere- 
monials of its worship, calling this patriotism. 
And it can be safely prophesied that this cannot 
go on, for there is a moral law in this world 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 61 

which has its application both to individuals and 
to organized bodies of men. You cannot go 
on violating these laws in the name of your 
nation, yet enjoy their advantage as individuals. 
This public sapping of ethical ideals slowly 
reacts upon each member of society, gradually 
breeding weakness, where it is not seen, and 
causing that cynical distrust of all things sacred 
in human nature, which is the true symptom of 
senility. You must keep in mind that this 
political civilization, this creed of national 
patriotism, has not been given a long trial. 
The lamp of ancient Greece is extinct in the 
land where it was first lighted, the power of 
Rome lies dead and buried under the ruins of 
its vast empire. But the civilization, whose 
basis is society and the spiritual ideal of man, 
is still a living thing in China and in India. 
Though it may look feeble and small, judged 
by the standard of the mechanical power of 
modern days, yet like small seeds it still contains 
life and will sprout and grow, and spread its 
beneficent branches, producing flowers and fruits 
when its time comes and showers of grace 
descend upon it from heaven. But ruins of 
sky-scrapers of power and broken machinery 
of greed, even God's rain is powerless to raise 



62 NATIONALISM 

up again ; for they were not of life, but went 
against life as a whole, — they are relies of the 
rebellion that shattered itself to pieces against 
the eternal. 

But the charge is brought against us that the 
ideals we cherish in the East are static, that they 
have not the impetus in them to move, to open 
out new vistas of knowledge and power, that 
the systems of philosophy which are the main- 
stays of the time-worn civilizations of the East 
despise all outward proofs, remaining stolidly 
satisfied in their subjective certainty. This 
proves that when our knowledge is vague we 
are apt to accuse of vagueness our object of 
knowledge itself. To a Western observer our 
civilization appears as all metaphysics, as to a 
deaf man piano-playing appears to be mere move- 
ments of fingers and no music. He cannot think 
that we have found some deep basis of reality 
upon which we have built our institutions. 

Unfortunately all proofs of reality are in 
realization. The reality of the scene before you 
depends only upon the fact that you can see, and 
it is difficult for us to prove to an unbeliever 
that our civilization is not a nebulous system of 
abstract speculations, that it has achieved some- 
thing which is a positive truth, — a truth that can 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 63 

give man's heart its shelter and sustenance. It 
has evolved an inner sense, — a sense of vision, 
the vision of the infinite reality in all finite 
things. 

But he says, " You do not make any progress, 
there is no movement in you." I ask him, " How 
do you know it ? You have to judge progress 
according to its aim. A railway train makes its 
progress towards the terminus station, — it is 
movement. But a full-grown tree has no definite 
movement of that kind, its progress is the in- 
ward progress of life. It lives, with its aspira- 
tion towards light tingling in its leaves and 
creeping in its silent sap." 

We also have lived for centuries, we still live, 
and we have our aspiration for a reality that has 
no end to its realization, — a reality that goes 
beyond death, giving it a meaning, that rises 
above all evils of life, bringing its peace and 
purity, its cheerful renunciation of self. The pro- 
duct of this inner life is a living product. It will 
be needed when the youth returns home weary 
and dust -laden, when the soldier is wounded, 
when the wealth is squandered away and pride 
is humbled, when man's heart cries for truth in 
the immensity of facts and harmony in the con- 
tradiction of tendencies. Its value is not in its 



64 NATIONALISM 

multiplication of materials, but in its spiritual 
fulfilment. 

There are things that cannot wait. You have 
to rush and run and march if you must fight or 
take the best place in the market. You strain 
your nerves and are on the alert when you chase 
opportunities that are always on the wing. But 
there are ideals which do not play hide-and-seek 
with our life ; they slowly grow from seed to 
flower, from flower to fruit ; they require in- 
finite space and heaven's light to mature, and the 
fruits that they produce can survive years of in- 
sult and neglect. The East with her ideals, in 
whose bosom are stored the ages of sunlight and 
silence of stars, can patiently wait till the West, 
hurrying after the expedient, loses breath and 
stops. Europe, while busily speeding to her en- 
gagements, disdainfully casts her glance from her 
carriage window at the reaper reaping his harvest 
in the field, and in her intoxication of speed 
cannot but think him as slow and ever receding 
backwards. But the speed comes to its end, the 
engagement loses its meaning and the hungry 
heart clamours for food, till at last she comes to 
the lowly reaper reaping his harvest in the sun. 
For if the office cannot wait, or the buying and 
selling, or the craving for excitement, love waits 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 65 

and beauty and the wisdom of suffering and the 
fruits of patient devotion and reverent meekness 
of simple faith. And thus shall wait the East 
till her time comes. 

I must not hesitate to acknowledge where 
Europe is great, for great she is without doubt. 
We cannot help loving her with all our heart, 
and paying her the best homage of our admira- 
tion, — the Europe who, in her literature and art, 
pours out an inexhaustible cascade of beauty 
and truth fertilizing all countries and all time ; 
the Europe who, with a mind which is titanic in 
its untiring power, is sweeping the height and 
the depth of the universe, winning her homage 
of knowledge from the infinitely great and the 
infinitely small, applying all the resources of her 
great intellect and heart in healing the sick and 
alleviating those miseries of man which up till 
now we were contented to accept in a spirit of 
hopeless resignation ; the Europe who is making 
the earth yield more fruit than seemed possible, 
coaxing and compelling the great forces of nature 
into man's service. Such true greatness must 
have its motive power in spiritual strength. For 
only the spirit of man can defy all limitations, 
have faith in its ultimate success, throw its 
search - light beyond the immediate and the 



66 NATIONALISM 

apparent, gladly suffer martyrdom for ends which 
cannot be achieved in its lifetime and accept 
failure without acknowledging defeat. In the 
heart of Europe runs the purest stream of human 
love, of love of justice, of spirit of self-sacrifice 
for higher ideals. The Christian culture of cen- 
turies has sunk deep in her life's core. In Europe 
we have seen noble minds who have ever stood 
up for the rights of man irrespective of colour 
and creed ; who have braved calumny and insult 
from their own people in fighting for humanity's 
cause and raising their voices against the mad 
orgies of militarism, against the rage for brutal 
retaliation or rapacity that sometimes takes 
possession of a whole people; who are always 
ready to make reparation for wrongs done in the 
past by their own nations and vainly attempt to 
stem the tide of cowardly injustice that flows 
unchecked because the resistance is weak and 
innocuous on the part of the injured. There are 
these knight-errants of modern Europe who have 
not lost their faith in the disinterested love of 
freedom, in the ideals which own no geographical 
boundaries or national self-seeking. These are 
there to prove that the fountainhead of the water 
of everlasting life has not run dry in Europe, and 
from thence she will have her rebirth time after 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 67 

time. Only there, where Europe is too con- 
sciously busy in building up her power, defying 
her deeper nature and mocking it, she is heaping 
up her iniquities to the sky, crying for God's 
vengeance and spreading the infection of ugli- 
ness, physical and moral, over the face of the 
earth with her heartless commerce heedlessly 
outraging man's sense of the beautiful and the 
good. Europe is supremely good in her benefi- 
cence where her face is turned to all humanity ; 
and Europe is supremely evil in her maleficent 
aspect where her face is turned only upon her 
own interest, using all her power of greatness 
for ends which are against the infinite and the 
eternal in Man. 

Eastern Asia has been pursuing its own path, 
evolving its own civilization, which was not 
political but social, not predatory and mechanic- 
ally efficient but spiritual and based upon all 
the varied and deeper relations of humanity. 
The solutions of the life problems of peoples 
were thought out in seclusion and carried out 
behind the security of aloofness, where all the 
dynastic changes and foreign invasions hardly 
touched them. But now we are overtaken by 
the outside world, our seclusion is lost for ever. 
Yet this we must not regret, as a plant should 



68 NATIONALISM 

never regret when the obscurity of its seed-time 
is broken. Now the time has come when we 
must make the world problem our own problem ; 
we must bring the spirit of our civilization into 
harmony with the history of all nations of the 
earth ; we must not, in foolish pride, still keep 
ourselves fast within the shell of the seed and 
the crust of the earth which protected and 
nourished our ideals ; for these, the shell and 
the crust, were meant to be broken, so that life 
may spring up in all its vigour and beauty, 
bringing its offerings to the world in open light. 
In this task of breaking the barrier and 
facing the world Japan has come out the first 
in the East. She has infused hope in the heart 
of all Asia. This hope provides the hidden fire 
which is needed for all works of creation. Asia 
now feels that she must prove her life by pro- 
ducing living work, she must not lie passively 
dormant, or feebly imitate the West, in the 
infatuation of fear or flattery. For this we 
offer our thanks to this Land of the Rising 
Sun and solemnly ask her to remember that 
she has the mission of the East to fulfil. She 
must infuse the sap of a fuller humanity into 
the heart of modern civilization. She must 
never allow it to get choked with the noxious 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 69 

undergrowth, but lead it up towards light and 
freedom, towards the pure air and broad space, 
where it can receive, in the dawn of its day and 
the darkness of its night, heaven's inspiration. 
Let the greatness of her ideals become visible 
to all men like her snow-crowned Fuji rising 
from the heart of the country into the region 
of the infinite, supremely distinct from its 
surroundings, beautiful like a maiden in its 
magnificent sweep of curve, yet firm and strong 
and serenely majestic. 



II 

I have travelled in many countries and have 
met with men of all classes, but never in my 
travels did I feel the presence of the human so 
distinctly as in this land. In other great 
countries signs of man's power loomed large, 
and I saw vast organizations which showed 
efficiency in all their features. There, display 
and extravagance, in dress, in furniture, in 
costly entertainments, are startling. They seem 
to push you back into a corner, like a poor 
intruder at a feast ; they are apt to make you 
envious, or take your breath away with amaze- 
ment. There, you do not feel man as supreme ; 



70 NATIONALISM 

you are hurled against a stupendousness of 
things that alienates. But in Japan it is not 
the display of power, or wealth, that is the 
predominating element. You see everywhere 
emblems of love and admiration, and not mostly 
of ambition and greed. You see a people whose 
heart has come out and scattered itself in pro- 
fusion in its commonest utensils of everyday 
life, in its social institutions, in its manners, 
which are carefully perfect, and in its dealings 
with things which are not only deft but grace- 
ful in every movement. 

What has impressed me most in this country 
is the conviction that you have realized nature's 
secrets, not by methods of analytical knowledge, 
but by sympathy. You have known her language 
of lines, and music of colours, the symmetry in 
her irregularities, and the cadence in her freedom 
of movements ; you have seen how she leads her 
immense crowds of things yet avoids all frictions ; 
how the very conflicts in her creations break out 
in dance and music ; how her exuberance has 
the aspect of the fulness of self-abandonment, 
and not a mere dissipation of display. You 
have discovered that nature reserves her power 
in forms of beauty ; and it is this beauty which, 
like a mother, nourishes all the giant forces at 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 71 

her breast, keeping them in active vigour, yet 
in repose. You have known that energies of 
nature save themselves from wearing out by the 
rhythm of a perfect grace, and that she with 
the tenderness of her curved lines takes away 
fatigue from the world's muscles. I have felt 
that you have been able to assimilate these 
secrets into your life, and the truth which lies 
in the beauty of all things has passed into your 
souls. A mere knowledge of things can be had 
in a short enough time, but their spirit can only 
be acquired by centuries of training and self- 
control. Dominating nature from outside is a 
much simpler thing than making ha' your own 
in love's delight, which is a work of true genius. 
Your race has shown that genius, not by acquire- 
ment, but by creation ; not by display of things, 
but by manifestation of its own inner being. 
This creative power there is in all nations, and 
it is ever active in getting hold of men's natures 
and giving them a form according to its ideals. 
But here, in Japan, it seems to have achieved 
its success, and deeply sunk into the minds of 
all men, and permeated their muscles and nerves. 
Your instincts have become true, your senses 
keen, and your hands have acquired natural 
skill. The genius of Europe has given her 



72 NATIONALISM 

people the power of organization, which has 
specially made itself manifest in polities and 
commerce and in co-ordinating scientific know- 
ledge. The genius of Japan has given you the 
vision of beauty in nature and the power of 
realizing it in your life. 

All particular civilization is the interpretation 
of particular human experience. Europe seems 
to have felt emphatically the conflict of things in 
the universe, which can only be brought under 
control by conquest. Therefore she is ever ready 
for fight, and the best portion of her attention is 
occupied in organizing forces. But Japan has 
felt, in her world, the touch of some presence, 
which has evoked in her soul a feeling of reverent 
adoration. She does not boast of her mastery of 
nature, but to her she brings, with infinite care 
and joy, her offerings of love. Her relationship 
with the world is the deeper relationship of heart. 
This spiritual bond of love she has established 
with the hills of her country, with the sea and 
the streams, with the forests in all their flowery 
moods and varied physiognomy of branches ; she 
has taken into her heart all the rustling whispers 
and sighing of the woodlands and sobbing of the 
waves ; the sun and the moon she has studied in 
all the modulations of their lights and shades. 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 73 

and she is glad to close her shops to greet the 
seasons in her orchards and gardens and corn- 
fields. This opening of the heart to the soul of 
the world is not confined to a section of your 
privileged classes, it is not the forced product of 
exotic culture, but it belongs to all your men 
and women of all conditions. This experience of 
your soul, in meeting a personality in the heart 
of the world, has been embodied in your civiliza- 
tion. It is a civilization of human relationship. 
Your duty towards your state has naturally 
assumed the character of filial duty, your nation 
becoming one family with your Emperor as its 
head. Your national unity has not been evolved 
from the comradeship of arms for defensive and 
offensive purpose, or from partnership in raiding 
adventures, dividing among each member the 
danger and spoils of robbery. It is not an out- 
come of the necessity of organization for some 
ulterior purpose, but it is an extension of the 
family and the obligations of the heart in a wide 
field of space and time. The ideal of " maitri " is 
at the bottom of your culture, — "maitri" with 
men and " maitri " with Nature. Ana the true 
expression of this love is in the language of 
beauty, which is so abundantly universal in this 
land. This is the reason why a stranger, like 



74 NATIONALISM 

myself, instead of feeling envy or humiliation 
before these manifestations of beauty, these 
creations of love, feels a readiness to participate 
in the joy and glory of such revealment of the 
human heart. 

And this has made me all the more appre- 
hensive of the change which threatens Japanese 
civilization, as something like a menace to one's 
own person. For the huge heterogeneity of the 
modern age, whose only common bond is useful- 
ness, is nowhere so pitifully exposed against the 
dignity and hidden power of reticent beauty as 
in Japan. 

But the danger lies in this, that organized 
ugliness storms the mind and carries the day by 
its mass, by its aggressive persistence, by its 
power of mockery directed against the deeper 
sentiments of heart. Its harsh obtrusiveness 
makes it forcibly visible to us, overcoming our 
senses, — and we bring sacrifices to its altar, as 
does a savage to the fetich which appears power- 
ful because of its hideousness. Therefore its 
rivalry with things that are modest and profound 
and have the subtle delicacy of life is to be 
dreaded. 

I am quite sure that there are men in your 
country who are not in sympathy with yoiu- 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 75 

inherited ideals ; whose'object is to gain, and not 
to grow. Tliey are loud in their boast that they 
have modernized Japan. While I agree with 
them so far as to say that the spirit of the race 
should harmonize with the spirit of the time, I 
must warn them that modernizing is a mere 
affectation of modernism, just as affectation of 
poesy is poetizing. It is nothing but mimicry, 
only affectation is louder than the original, and 
it is too literal. One must bear in mind that 
those who have the true modern spirit need not 
modernize, just as those who are truly brave are 
not braggarts. Modernism is not in the dress of 
the Europeans ; or in the hideous structures, 
where their children are interned when they take 
their lessons ; or in the square houses with flat, 
straight wall-surfaces, pierced with parallel lines 
of windows, where these people are caged in 
their lifetime ; certainly modernism is not in their 
ladies' bonnets, carrying on them loads of incon- 
gruities. These are not modern, but merely 
European. True modernism is freedom of mind, 
not slavery of taste. It is independence of 
thought and action, not tutelage under European 
schoolmasters. It is science, but not its wrong 
application in life, — a mere imitation of our 
science teachers who reduce it into a supersti- 



76 NATIONALISM 

tion, absurdly invoking its aid for all impossible 
purposes. 

Life based upon mere science is attractive to 
some men, because it has all the characteristics 
of sport ; it feigns seriousness, but is not pro- 
found. When you go a-hunting, the less pity 
you have the better ; for your one object is to 
chase the game and kill it, to feel that you are 
the greater animal, that your method of destruc- 
tion is thorough and scientific. And the life of 
science is that superficial life. It pursues success 
with skill and thoroughness, and takes no account 
of the higher nature of man. But those whose 
minds are crude enough to plan their lives upon 
the supposition that man is merely a hunter and 
his paradise the paradise of sportsmen will be 
rudely awakened in the midst of their trophies 
of skeletons and skulls. 

I do not for a moment suggest that Japan 
should be unmindful of acquiring modern 
weapons of self- protection. But this should 
never be allowed to go beyond her instinct of 
self-preservation. She must know that the real 
power is not in the weapons themselves, but in 
the man who wields those weapons ; and when 
he, in his eagerness for power, multiplies his 
weapons at the cost of his own soul, then it 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 77 

is he who is in even greater danger than his 
enemies. 

Things that are living are so easily hurt ; 
therefore they require protection. In nature, 
life protects itself within its coverings, which are 
built with life's own material. Therefore they 
are in harmony with life's growth, or else when 
the time comes they easily give way and are for- 
gotten. The living man has his true protection 
in his spiritual ideals, which have their vital con- 
nection with his life and grow with his growth. 
But, unfortunately, all his armour is not living, — 
some of it is made of steel, inert and mechanical. 
Therefore, while making use of it, man has to be 
careful to protect himself from its tyranny. If 
he is weak enough to grow smaller to fit himself 
to his covering, then it becomes a process of 
gradual suicide by shrinkage of the soul. And 
Japan must have a firm faith in the moral law 
of existence to be able to assert to herself that 
the Western nations are following that path 
of suicide, where they are smothering their 
humanity under the immense weight of organiza- 
tions in order to keep themselves in power and 
hold others in subjection. 

What is dangerous for Japan is, not the 
imitation of the outer features of the West, but 



78 NATIONALISM 

the acceptance of the motive force of the 
Western nationalism as her own. Her social 
ideals are already showing signs of defeat at the 
hands of politics. I can see her motto, taken 
from science, " Survival of the Fittest," writ 
large at the entrance of her present-day history 
— ^the motto whose meaning is, " Help yourself, 
and never heed what it costs to others " ; the 
motto of the blind man who only believes in 
what he can touch, because he cannot see. But 
those who can see know that men are so closely 
knit that when you strike others the blow 
comes back to yourself. The moral law, which 
is the greatest discovery of man, is the discovery 
of this wonderful truth, that man becomes all 
the truer the more he realizes himself in others. 
This truth has not only a subjective value, but 
is manifested in every department of our life. 
And nations who sedulously cultivate moral 
blindness as the cult of patriotism will end their 
existence in a sudden and violent death. In 
past ages we had foreign invasions, but they 
never touched the soul of the people deeply. 
They were merely the outcome of individual 
ambitions. The people themselves, being free 
from the responsibilities of the baser and more 
heinous side of those adventures, had all the 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 79 

advantage of the heroic and the human 
disciplines derived from them. This developed 
their unflinching loyalty, their single-minded 
devotion to the obligations of honour, their 
power of complete self- surrender and fearless 
acceptance of death and danger. Therefore the 
ideals, whose seats were in the ' hearts of the 
people, would not undergo any serious change 
owing to the policies adopted by the kings or 
generals. But now, where the spirit of the 
Western nationalism prevails, the whole people 
is being taught from boyhood to foster hatreds 
and ambitions by all kinds of means — by the 
manufacture of half-truths and untruths in 
history, by persistent misrepresentation of other 
races and the culture of unfavourable sentiments 
towards them, by setting up memorials of 
events, very often false, which for the sake of 
humanity should be speedily forgotten, thus 
continually brewing evil menace towards neigh- 
bours and nations other than their own. This 
is poisoning the very fountainhead of humanity. 
It is discrediting the ideals, which were born of 
the lives of men who were our greatest and 
best. It is holding up gigantic selfishness as 
the one universal religion for all nations of the 
world. We can take anything else from the 



80 NATIONALISM 

hands of science, but not this elixir of moral 
death. Never think for a moment that the 
hurts you inflict upon other races will not infect 
you, or that the enmities you sow around your 
homes will be a wall of protection to you for 
all time to come. To imbue the minds of a 
whole people with an abnormal vanity of its 
own superiority, to teach it to take pride in its 
moral callousness and ill- begotten wealth, to 
perpetuate humiliation of defeated nations by 
exhibiting trophies won from war, and using 
these in schools in order to breed in children's 
minds contempt for others, is imitating the West 
where she has a festering sore, whose swelling 
is a swelling of disease eating into its vitality. 

Our food crops, which are necessary for our 
sustenance, are products of centuries of selection 
and care. But the vegetation, which we have 
not to transform into our lives, does not require 
the patient thoughts of generations. It is not 
easy to get rid of weeds ; but it is easy, by 
process of neglect, to ruin your food crops and 
let them revert to their primitive state of wild- 
ness. Likewise the culture, which has so kindly 
adapted itself to your soil — so intimate with life, 
so human — not only needed tilling and weeding 
in past ages, but still needs anxious work and 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 81 

watching. What is merely modern — as science 
and methods of organization — can be trans- 
planted ; but what is vitally human has fibres 
so delicate, and roots so numerous and far- 
reaching, that it dies when moved from its soil. 
Therefore I am afraid of the rude pressure of 
the political ideals of the West upon your own. 
In political civilization, the state is an abstraction 
and relationship of men utilitarian. Because it 
has no root in sentiments, it is so dangerously 
easy to handle. Haifa century has been enough 
for you to master this machine ; and there are 
men among you whose fondness for it exceeds 
their love for the living ideals, which were born 
with the birth of your nation and nursed in 
your centuries. It is like a child who, in the 
excitement of his play, imagines he likes his 
playthings better than his mother. 

Where man is at his greatest, he is un- 
conscious. Your civilization, whose mainspring 
is the bond of human relationship, has been 
nourished in the depth of a healthy life beyond 
reach of prying self- analysis. But a mere 
political relationship is all-conscious ; it is an 
eruptive inflammation of aggressiveness. It has 
forcibly burst upon your notice. And the time 
has come when you have to be roused into full 

G 



82 NATIONALISM 

consciousness of the truth by which you live, so 
that you nnay not be taken unawares. The past 
has been God's gift to you ; about the present, 
you must make your own choice. 

So the questions you have to put to your- 
selves are these — " Have we read the world 
wrong, and based our relation to it upon an 
ignorance of human nature ? Is the instinct of 
the West right, where she builds her national 
welfare behind the barricade of a universal dis- 
trust of humanity ? " 

You must have detected a strong accent of 
fear whenever the West has discussed the 
possibility of the rise of an Eastern race. The 
reason of it is this, that the power by whose 
help she thrives is an evil power ; so long as it 
is held on her own side she can be safe, while 
the rest of the world trembles. The vital 
ambition of the present civilization of Europe is 
to have the exclusive possession of the devil. 
All her armaments and diplomacy are directed 
upon this one object. But these costly rituals 
for invocation of the evil spirit lead through a 
path of prosperity to the brink of cataclysm. 
The furies of terror, which the West has let 
loose upon God's world, come back to threaten 
herself and goad her into preparations of more 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 83 

and more frightfulness ; this gives her no rest, 
and makes her forget all else but the perils that 
she causes to others and incurs herself. To the 
worship of this devil of politics she sacrifices 
other countries as victims. She feeds upon 
their dead flesh and grows fat upon it, so long 
as the carcasses remain fresh, — -but they are sure 
to rot at last, and the dead will take their 
revenge, by spreading pollution far and wide 
and poisoning the vitality of the feeder. Japan 
had all her wealth of humanity, her harmony of 
heroism and beauty, her depth of self-control 
and richness of self-expression; yet the Western 
nations felt no respect for her till she proved 
that the bloodhounds of Satan are not only 
bred in the kennels of Europe but can also be 
domesticated in Japan and fed with man's 
miseries. They admit Japan's equality with 
themselves, only when they know that Japan 
also possesses the key to open the floodgate of 
hell -fire upon the fair earth whenever she 
chooses, and can dance, in their own measure, 
the devil dance of pillage, murder and ravish- 
ment of innocent women, while the world goes 
to ruin. We know that, in the early stage of 
man's moral immaturity, he only feels reverence 
for the god whose malevolence he dreads. But 



84 NATIONALISM 

is this the ideal of man which we can look up 
to with pride? After centuries of civilization 
nations fearing each other like the prowling wild 
beasts of the night-time ; shutting their doors 
of hospitality ; combining only for purpose of 
aggression or defence ; hiding in their holes 
their trade secrets, state secrets, secrets of their 
armaments ; making peace - offerings to each 
other's barking dogs with the meat which does 
not belong to them ; holding down fallen races 
which struggle to stand upon their feet ; with 
their right hands dispensing religion to weaker 
peoples, while robbing them with their left, — is 
there anything in this to make us envious ? 
Are we to bend our knees to the spirit of this 
nationalism, which is sowing broadcast over all 
the world seeds of fear, greed, suspicion, un- 
ashamed lies of its diplomacy, and unctuous lies 
of its profession of peace and good-will and 
universal brotherhood of Man ? Can our minds 
be free from doubt when we rush to the 
Western market to buy this foreign product in 
exchange for our own inheritance ? I am aware 
how difficult it is to know one's self; and the 
man who is intoxicated furiously denies his 
drunkenness ; yet the West herself is anxiously 
thinking of her problems and trying experiments. 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 85 

But she is like a glutton, who has not the heart 
to give up his intemperance in eating, and fondly 
clings to the hope that he can cure his nightmares 
of indigestion by medicine. Europe is not ready 
to give up her political inhumanity, with all the 
baser passions of man attendant upon it ; she 
believes only in modification of systems, and not 
m change of heart. 

We are willing to buy their machine-made 
systems, not with our hearts, but with our 
brains. We shall try them and build sheds for 
them, but not enshrine them in our homes or 
temples. There are races who worship the 
animals they kill ; we can buy meat from them 
when we are hungry, but not the worship which 
goes with the killing. We must not vitiate 
our children's minds with the superstition that 
business is business, war is war, politics is 
politics. We must know that man's business 
has to be more than mere business, and so should 
be his war and politics. You had your own 
industry in Japan ; how scrupulously honest 
and true it was, you can see by its products, — 
by their grace and strength, their conscientious- 
ness in details, where they can hardly be observed. 
But the tidal wave of falsehood has swept over 
your land from that part of the world where 



86 NATIONALISM 

business is business, and honesty is followed 
merely as the best policy. Have you never 
felt shame when you see the trade advertise- 
ments, not only plastering the whole town with 
lies and exaggerations, but invading the green 
fields, where the peasants do their honest labour, 
and the hill-tops, which greet the first pure light 
of the morning ? It is so easy to dull our sense 
of honour and delicacy of mind with constant 
abrasion, while falsehoods stalk abroad with 
proud steps in the name of trade, politics and 
patriotism, that any protest against their per- 
petual intrusion into our lives is considered to 
be sentimentalism, unworthy of true manliness. 

And it has come to pass that the children 
of those heroes who would keep their word at 
the point of death, who would disdain to cheat 
men for vulgar profit, who even in their fight 
would much rather court defeat than be dis- 
honourable, have become energetic in dealing 
with falsehoods and do not feel humiliated by 
gaining advantage from them. And this has 
been effected by the charm of the word 
** modern.' But if undiluted utility be modern, 
beauty is of all ages ; if mean selfishness be 
modern, the human ideals are no new inven- 
tions. And we must know for certain that 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 87 

however modern may be the proficiency which 
cripples man for the sake of methods and 
machines, it will never live to be old. 

But while trying to free our minds from the 
arrogant claims of Europe and to help ourselves 
out of the quicksands of our infatuation, we 
may go to the other extreme and blind our- 
selves with a wholesale suspicion of the West. 
The reaction of disillusionment is just as unreal 
as the first shock of illusion. We must try to 
come to that normal state of mind by which 
we can clearly discern our own danger and avoid 
it without being unjust towards the source of 
that danger. There is always the natural 
temptation in us of wishing to pay back Europe 
in her own coin, and return contempt for con- 
tempt and evil for evil. But that again would 
be to imitate Europe in one of her worst features, 
which comes out in her behaviour to people 
whom she describes as yellow or red, brown or 
black. And this is a point on which we in the 
East have to acknowledge our guilt and own 
that our sin has been as great, if not greater, 
when we insulted humanity by treating with 
utter disdain and cruelty men who belonged 
to a particular creed, colour or caste. It is 
really because we are afraid of our own weak- 



88 NATIONALISM 

ness, which allows itself to be overcome by the 
sight of power, that we try to substitute for it 
another weakness which makes itself blind to 
the glories of the West. When we truly know 
the Europe which is great and good, we can 
effectively save ourselves from the Europe 
which is mean and grasping. It is easy to be 
unfair in one's judgment when one is faced with 
human miseries, — and pessimism is the result 
of building theories while the mind is suffering. 
To despair of humanity is only possible if we 
lose faith in truth which brings to it strength, 
when its defeat is greatest, and calls out new 
life from the depth of its destruction. We 
must admit that there is a living soul in the 
West which is struggling unobserved against 
the hugeness of the organizations under which 
men, women and children are being crushed, 
and whose mechanical necessities are ignoring 
laws that are spiritual and human, — the soul 
whose sensibilities refuse to be dulled com- 
pletely by dangerous habits of heedlessness in 
dealings with races for whom it lacks natural 
sympathy. The West could never have risen 
to the eminence she has reached if her strength 
were merely the strength of the brute or of the 
machine. The divine in her heart is suffering 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 89 

from the injuries inflicted by her hands upon 
the world, — and from this pain of her higher 
nature flows the secret balm which will bring 
healing to those injuries. Time after time she 
has fought against herself and has undone the 
chains which with her own hands she had 
fastened round helpless limbs ; and though she 
forced poison down the throat of a great nation 
at the point of the sword for gain of money, she 
herself woke up to withdraw from it, to wash 
her hands clean again. This shows hidden 
springs of humanity in spots which look dead 
and barren. It proves that the deeper truth in 
her nature, which can survive such a career of 
cruel cowardliness, is not greed, but reverence 
for unselfish ideals. It would be altogether 
unjust, both to us and to Europe, to say that 
she has fascinated the modern Eastern mind by 
the mere exhibition of her power. Through 
the smoke of cannons and dust of markets the 
light of her moral nature has shone bright, and she 
has brought to us the ideal of ethical freedom, 
whose foundation lies deeper than social conven- 
tions and whose province of activity is world-wide. 
The East has instinctively felt, even through 
her aversion, that she has a great deal to learn 
from Europe, not merely about the materials of 



90 NATIONALISM 

power, but about its inner source, which is of 
mind and of the moral nature of man. Europe 
has been teaching us the higher obligations of 
public good above those of the family and the 
clan, and the sacredness of law, which makes 
society independent of individual caprice, secures 
for it continuity of progress, and guarantees 
justice to all men of all positions in life. Above 
all things Europe has held high before our 
minds the banner of liberty, through centuries 
of martyrdom and achievement, — liberty of 
conscience, liberty of thought and action, liberty 
in the ideals of art and literature. And because 
Europe has won our deep respect, she has become 
so dangerous for us where she is turbulently 
weak and false, — dangerous like poison when 
it is served along with our best food. There is 
one safety for us upon which we hope we may 
count, and that is, that we can claim Europe 
herself as our ally in our resistance to her 
temptations and to her violent encroachments ; 
for she has ever carried her own standard of 
perfection, by which we can measure her falls 
and gauge her degrees of failure, by which we 
can call her before her own tribunal and put her 
to shame, — the shame which is the sign of the 
true pride of nobleness. 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 91 

But our fear is, that the poison may be more 
powerful than the food, and what is strength in 
her to-day may not be the sign of health, but the 
contrary ; for it may be temporarily caused by 
the upsetting of the balance of life. Our fear is 
that evil has a fateful fascination when it assumes 
dimensions which are colossal, — and though at 
last it is sure to lose its centre of gravity by its 
abnormal disproportion, the mischief which it 
creates before its fall may be beyond reparation. 

Therefore I ask you to have the strength of 
faith and clarity of mind to know for certain that 
the lumbering structure of modern progress, 
riveted by the iron bolts of efficiency, which 
runs upon the wheels of ambition, cannot hold 
together for long. Collisions are certain to 
occur ; for it has to travel upon organized lines, 
it is too heavy to choose its own course freely ; 
and once it is off the rails, its endless train of 
vehicles is dislocated. A day will come when it 
will fall in a heap of ruin and cause serious ob- 
struction to the traffic of the world. Do we not 
see signs of this even now ? Does not the voice 
come to us, through the din of war, the shrieks 
of hatred, the wailings of despair, through the 
churning up of the unspeakable filth which has 
been accumulating for ages in the bottom of this 



92 NATIONALISM 

nationalism, — the voice which cries to our soul 
that the tower of national selfishness, which goes 
by the name of patriotism, which has raised its 
banner of treason against heaven, must totter 
and fall with a crash, weighed down by its own 
bulk, its flag kissing the dust, its light extin- 
guished ? My brothers, when the red Hght of 
conflagration sends up its crackle of laughter to 
the stars, keep your faith upon those stars and 
not upon the fire of destruction. For when 
this conflagration consumes itself and dies down, 
leaving its memorial in ashes, the eternal light 
will again shine in the East, — the East which 
has been the birthplace of the morning sun of 
man's history. And who knows if that day has 
not already dawned, and the sun not risen, in the 
Easternmost horizon of Asia ? And I offer, as 
did my ancestor rishis, my salutation to that 
sunrise of the East, which is destined once again 
to illumine the whole world. 

I know my voice is too feeble to raise itself 
above the uproar of this bustling time, and it is 
easy for any street urchin to fling against me the 
epithet of '* unpractical." It will stick to my 
coat-tail, never to be washed away, effectively 
excluding me from the consideration of all re- 
spectable persons. I know what a risk one runs 



NATIONALISM IN JAPAN 93 

from the vigorously athletic crowds in being 
styled an idealist in these days, when thrones 
have lost their dignity and prophets have become 
an anachronism, when the sound that drowns all 
voices is the noise of the market-place. Yet 
when, one day, standing on the outskirts of 
Yokohama town, bristling with its display of 
modern miscellanies, I watched the sunset in 
your southern sea, and saw its peace and majesty 
among your pine -clad hills, — with the great 
Fujiyama growing faint against the golden hori- 
zon, like a god overcome with his own radiance, 
— the music of eternity welled up through the 
evening silence, and I felt that the sky and the 
earth and the lyrics of the dawn and the dayfall 
are with the poets and idealists, and not with 
the marketmen robustly contemptuous of all 
sentiment, — that, after the forgetfulness of his 
own divinity, man will remember again that 
heaven is always in touch with his world, which 
can never be abandoned for good to the hounding 
wolves of the modern era, scenting human blood 
and howling to the skies. 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 



95 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 

OuE real problem in India is not political. It is 
social. This is a condition not only prevailing in 
India, but among all nations. I do not believe 
in an exclusive political interest. Politics in tVie 
West have dominated Western ideals, and we in 
India are trying to imitate you. We have to 
remember that in Europe, where peoples had 
their racial unity from the beginning, and where 
natural resources were insufficient for the inhabit- 
ants, the civilization has naturally taken the 
character of political and commercial aggressive- 
ness. For on the one hand they had no internal 
complications, and on the other they had to deal 
with neighbours who were strong and rapacious. 
To have perfect combination among themselves 
and a watchful attitude of animosity against 
others was taken as the solution of their 
problems. In former days they organized and 
plundered, in the present age the same spirit 

97 H 



98 NATIONALISM 

continues — and they organize and exploit the 
whole world. 

But from the earliest beginnings of history- 
India has had her own problem constantly before 
her — it is the race problem. Each nation must 
be conscious of its mission, and we, in India, 
must realize that we cut a poor figure when we 
are trying to be political, simply because we have 
not yet been finally able to accomplish what was 
set before us by our providence. 

This problem of race unity which we have 
been trying to solve for so many years has like- 
wise to be faced by you here in America. Many 
people in this country ask me what is happening 
as to the caste distinctions in India. But when 
this question is asked me, it is usually done with 
a superior air. And I feel tempted to put the 
same question to our American critics with a 
slight modification, " What have you done with 
the Bed Indian and the Negro ? " For you have 
not got over your attitude of caste toward them. 
You have used violent methods to keep aloof 
from other races, but until you have solved the 
question here in America, you have no right to 
question India. 

In spite of our great difficulty, however, India 
has done something. She has tried to make an 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 99 

adjustment of races, to acknowledge the real 
differences between them where these exist, and 
yet seek for some basis of unity. This basis has 
come through our saints, like Nanak, Kabir, 
Chaitnaya and others, preaching one God to all 
races of India. 

In finding the solution of our problem we shall 
have helped to solve the world problem as well. 
What India has been, the whole world is now. 
The whole world is becoming one country 
through scientific facility. And the moment is 
arriving when you also must find a basis of unity 
which is not political. If India can offer to the 
world her solution, it will be a contribution to 
humanity. There is only one history — the his- 
tory of man. All national histories are merely 
chapters in the larger one. And we are content 
in India to suffer for such a great cause. 

Each individual has his self-love. Therefore 
his brute instinct leads him to fight with others 
in the sole pursuit of his self-interest. But man 
has also his higher instincts of sympathy and 
mutual help. The people who are lacking in this 
higher moral power and who therefore cannot 
combine in fellowship with one another must j 
perish or live in a state of degradation. Only 
those peoples have survived and achieved civiliza- 



100 NATIONALISM 

tion who have this spirit of co-operation strong 
in them. So we find that from the beginning of 
history men had to choose between fighting with 
one another and combining, between serving their 
own interest or the common interest of all. 

In our early history, when the geographical 
limits of each country and also the facilities of 
communication were small, this problem was com- 
paratively small in dimension. It was sufficient 
for men to develop their sense of unity within 
their area of segregation. In those days they 
combined among themselves and fought against 
others. But it was this moral spirit of combina- 
tion which was the true basis of their greatness, 
and this fostered their art, science and religion. 
At that early time the most important fact that 
man had to take count of was the fact of the 
members of one particular race of men coming 
in close contact with one another. Those who 
truly grasped this fact through their higher nature 
made their mark in history. 

The most important fact of the present age 
is that all the different races of men have come 
close together. And again we are confronted 
with two alternatives. The problem is whether 
the different groups of peoples shall go on fight- 
ing with one another or find out some true basis 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 101 

of reconciliation and mutual help ; whether it 
will be interminable competition or co-operation. 

I have no hesitation in saying that those who 
are gifted with the moral power of love and 
vision of spiritual unity, who have the least 
feeling of enmity against aliens, and the sym- 
pathetic insight to place themselves in the posi- 
tion of others, will be the fittest to take their 
permanent place in the age that is lying before 
us, and those who are constantly developing 
their instinct of fight an d intolerance of aliens 
will be eliminatfid^t For this is the problem 
before us, and we have to prove our humanity 
by solving it through the help of our higher 
nature. The gigantic organizations for hurting 
others and warding off their blows, for making 
money by dragging others back, will not help 
us. On the contrary, by their crushing weight, 
their enormous cost and their deadening effect 
upon living humanity, they will seriously im- 
pede our freedom in the larger life of a higher 
civilization. 

During the evolution of the Nation the 
moral culture of brotherhood was limited by 
geographical boundaries, because at that time 
those boundaries were true. Now they have 
become imaginary lines of tradition divested of 



102 NATIONALISM 

the qualities of real obstacles. So the time has 
come when man's moral nature must deal with 
this great fact with all seriousness or perish. 
The first impulse of this change of circumstance 
has been the churning up of man's baser passions 
of greed and cruel hatred. If this persists in- 
definitely, and armaments go on exaggerating 
themselves to unimaginable absurdities, and 
machines and storehouses envelop this fair earth 
with their dirt and smoke and ugliness, then it 
will end in a conflagration of suicide. Therefore 
man will have to exert all his power of love and 
clarity of vision to make another great moral ad- 
justment which will comprehend the whole world 
of men and not merely the fractional groups of 
nationality. The call has come to every in- 
dividual in the present age to prepare himself 
and his surroundings for this dawn of a new era, 
when man shall discover his soul in the spiritual 
unity of all human beings. 

If it is given at all to the West to struggle 
out of these tangles of the lower slopes to the 
spiritual summit of humanity then I cannot but 
think that it is the special mission of America to 
fulfil this hope of God and man. You are the 
country of expectation, desiring something else 
than what is. Europe has her subtle habits of 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 103 

mind and her conventions. But America, as yet, 
has come to no conclusions. I realize how much 
America is untrammelled by the traditions of the 
past, and I can appreciate that experimentalism 
is a sign of America's youth. The foundation 
of her glory is in the future, rather than in the 
past ; and if one is gifted with the power of clair- 
voyance, one will be able to love the America 
that is to be. 

America is destined to justify Western civiliza- 
tion to the East. Europe has lost faith in 
humanity, and has become distrustful and sickly. 
America, on the other hand, is not pessimistic or 
blas^. You know, as a people, that there is such 
a thing as a better and a best ; and that know- 
ledge drives you on. There are habits that are 
not merely passive but aggressively arrogant. 
They are not like mere walls, but are like hedges 
of stinging nettles. Europe has been cultivating 
these hedges of habits for long years, till they 
have grown round her dense and strong and high. 
The pride of her traditions has sent its roots deep 
into her heart. I do not wish to contend that it 
is unreasonable. But pride in every form breeds 
blindness at the end. Like all artificial stimu- 
lants its first effect is a heightening of conscious- 
ness, and then with the increasing dose it muddles 



104 NATIONALISM 

it and brings an exultation that is misleading. 
Europe has gradually grown hardened in her 
pride in all her outer and inner habits. She not 
only cannot forget that she is Western, but she 
takes every opportunity to hurl this fact against 
others to humiliate them. This is why she is 
growing incapable of imparting to the East what 
is best in herself, and of accepting in a right 
spirit the wisdom that the East has stored for 
centuries. 

In America national habits and traditions 
have not had time to spread their clutching 
roots round your hearts. You have constantly 
felt and complained of your disadvantages when 
you compared your nomadic restlessness with 
the settled traditions of Europe — the Europe 
which can show her picture of greatness to the 
best advantage because she can fix it against 
the background of the Past. But in this present 
age of transition, when a new era of civilization 
is sending its trumpet-call to all peoples of the 
world across an unlimited future, this very free- 
dom of detachment will enable you to accept its 
invitation and to achieve the goal for which 
Europe began her journey but lost herself mid- 
way. For she was tempted out of her path by 
her pride of power and greed of possession. 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 105 

Not merely your freedom from habits of 
mind in individuals, but also the freedom of 
your history from all unclean entanglements, fits 
you in your career of holding the banner of 
civilization of the future. All the great nations 
of Europe have their victims in other parts of 
the world. This not only deadens their moral 
sympathy but also their intellectual sympathy, 
which is so necessary for the understanding of 
races which are different from one's own. 
Englishmen can never truly understand India, 
because their minds are not disinterested with 
regard to that country. If you compare 
England with Germany or France you will 
find she has produced the smallest number of 
scholars who have studied Indian literature and 
philosophy with any amount of sympathetic 
insight or thoroughness. This attitude of 
apathy and contempt is natural where the 
relationship is abnormal and founded upon 
national selfishness and pride. But your history 
has been disinterested, and that is why you have 
been able to help Japan in her lessons in Western 
civilization, and that is why China can look upon 
you with her best confidence in this her darkest 
period of danger. In fact you are carrying all 
the responsibility of a great future because you 



106 NATIONALISM 

are untrammelled by the grasping miserliness 
of a past. Therefore of all countries of the 
earth America has to be fully conscious of this 
future, her vision must not be obscured and 
her faith in humanity must be strong with the 
strength of youth. 

A parallelism exists between America and 
India — the parallelism of welding together into 
one body various races. 

In my country we have been seeking to find 
out something common to all races, which will 
prove their real unity. No nation looking for 
a mere political or commercial basis of unity 
will find such a solution sufficient. Men of 
thought and power will discover the spiritual 
unity, will realize it, and preach it. 

India has never had a real sense of nationalism. 
Even though from childhood I had been taught 
that idolatry of the Nation is almost better than 
reverence for God and humanity, I believe I 
have outgrown that teaching, and it is my 
conviction that my countrymen will truly gain 
their India by fighting against the education 
which teaches them that a country is greater 
than the ideals of humanity. 

The educated Indian at present is trying to 
absorb some lessons from history contrary to 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 107 

the lessons of our ancestors. The East, in fact, 
is attempting to take unto itself a history which 
is not the outcome of its own living. Japan, 
for example, thinks she is getting powerful 
through adopting Western methods, but, after 
she has exhausted her inheritance, only the 
borrowed weapons of civilization will remain 
to her. She will not have developed herself 
from within. 

Europe has her past. Europe's strength 
therefore lies in her history. We, in India, 
must make up our minds that we cannot 
borrow other people's history, and that if we 
stifle our own we are committing suicide. 
When you borrow things that do not be- 
long to your life, they only serve to crush your j 
life. 

And therefore I believe that it does India no 
good to compete with Western civilization in its 
own field. But we shall be more than compen- 
sated if, in spite of the insults heaped upon us, 
we follow our own destiny. 

There are lessons which impart information or 
train our minds for intellectual pursuits. These 
are simple and can be acquired and used with 
advantage. But there are others which affect 
our deeper nature and change our direction of 



108 NATIONALISM 

life. Before we accept them and pay their vahie 
by selling our own inheritance, we must pause 
and think deeply. In man's history there come 
ages of fireworks which dazzle us by their force 
and movement. They laugh not only at our 
modest household lamps but als6 at the eternal 
stars. But let us not for that provocation be 
precipitate in our desire to dismiss our lamps. 
Let us patiently bear our present insult and 
realize that these fireworks have splendour but 
not permanence, because of the extreme ex- 
plosiveness which is the cause of their power, 
and also of their exhaustion. They are spend- 
ing a fatal quantity of energy and substance 
compared to their gain and production. 

Anyhow, our ideals have been evolved through 
our own history, and even if we wished we could 
only make poor fireworks of them, because their 
materials are different from yours, as is also 
their moral purpose. If we cherish the desire of 
paying our all to buy a political nationality it 
will be as absurd as if Switzerland had staked 
her existence on her ambition to build up a 
navy powerful enough to compete with that of 
England. The mistake that we make is in 
thinking that mans channel of greatness is 
only one — the one which has made itself pain- 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 109 

fully evident for the time being by its depth of 
insolence. 

We must know for certain that there is a 
future before us and that future is waiting for 
those who are rich in moral ideals and not in 
mere things. And it is the privilege of man to 
work for fruits that are beyond his immediate 
reach, and to adjust his life not in slavish con- 
formity to the examples of some present success 
or even to his own prudent past, limited in its 
aspiration, but to an infinite future bearing in 
its heart the ideals of our highest expectations. 

We must recognize that it is providential that 
the West has come to India. And yet some 
one must show the East to the West, and con- 
vince the West that the East has her contribu- 
tion to make to the history of civilization. India 
is no beggar of the West. And yet even though 
the West may think she is, I am not for thrust- 
ing oif Western civilization and becoming segre- 
gated in our independence. Let us have a deep 
association. If Providence wants England to 
be the channel of that communication, of that 
deeper association, I am willing to accept it 
with all humility. I have great faith in human 
nature, and I think the West will find its true 
mission. I speak bitterly of Western civilization 



110 NATIONALISM 

when I am conscious that it is betraying its trust 
and thwarting its own purpose. The West must 
not make herself a curse to the world by using 
her power for her own selfish needs, but, by 
teaching the ignorant and helping the weak, she 
should save herself from the worst danger that 
the strong is liable to incur by making the feeble 
acquire power enough to resist her intrusion. 
And also she must not make her materialism to 
be the final thing, but must realize that she is 
doing a service in freeing the spiritual being 
from the tyranny of matter. 

I am not against one nation in particular, but 
against the general idea of all nations. What is 
the Nation ? 

It is the aspect of a whole people as an 
organized power. This organization incessantly 
keeps up the insistence of the population on 
becoming strong and efficient. But this strenu- 
ous effort after strength and efficiency drains 
man s energy from his higher nature where he 
is self-sacrificing and creative. For thereby 
man's power of sacrifice is diverted from his 
ultimate object, which is moral, to the main- 
tenance of this organization, which is mechanical. 
Yet in this he feels all the satisfaction of moral 
exaltation and therefore becomes supremely 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 111 

dangerous to humanity. He feels relieved of 
the urging of his conscience when he can 
transfer his responsibility to this machine which 
is the creation of his intellect and not of his 
complete moral personality. By this device 
the people which loves freedom perpetuates 
slavery in a large portion of the world with the 
comfortable feeling of pride of having done its 
duty ; men who are naturally just can be cruelly 
unjust both in their act and their thought, 
accompanied by a feeling that they are helping 
the world to receive its deserts; men who are 
honest can blindly go on robbing others of their 
human rights for self-aggrandizement, all the 
while abusing the deprived for not deserving 
better treatment. We have seen in our every- 
day life even small organizations of business 
and profession produce callousness of feeling 
in men who are not naturally bad, and we can 
well imagine what a moral havoc it is causing 
in a world where whole peoples are furiously 
organizing themselves for gaining wealth and 
power. 

Nationalism is a great menace. It is the 
particular thing which for years has been at 
the bottom of India's troubles. And inasmuch 
as we have been ruled and dominated by a 



V 



112 NATIONALISM 

nation that is strictly political in its attitude, 
we have tried to develop within ourselves, 
despite our inheritance from the past, a belief 
in our eventual political destiny. 

There are different parties in India, with 
different ideals. Some are struggling for 
political independence. Others think that the 
time has not arrived for that, and yet believe 
that India should have the rights that the 
English colonies have. They wish to gain 
autonomy as far as possible. 

In the beginning of the history of political 

agitation in India there was not the conflict 

between parties which there is to-day. At 

that time there was a party known as the 

Indian Congress ; it had no real programme. 

They had a few grievances for redress by the 

authorities. They wanted larger representation 

in the Council House, and more freedom in 

Municipal government. They wanted scraps 

of things, but they had no constructive ideal. 

Therefore I was lacking in enthusiasm for their 

methods. It was my conviction that what 

India most needed was constructive work 

coming from within herself In this work we 

must take all risks and go on doing the duties 

which by right are ours, though in the teeth of 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 113 

persecution ; winning moral victory at every 
step, by our failure and suffering. We must 
show those who are over us that we have in 
ourselves the strength of moral power, the power 
to suffer for truth. Where we have nothing 
to show, we have only to beg. It would be 
mischievous if the gifts we wish for were granted 
to us at once, and I have told my countrymen, 
time and again, to combine for the work of 
creating opportunities to give vent to our spirit 
of self-sacrifice, and not for the purpose of 
begging. 

The party, however, lost power because the 
people soon came to realize how futile was the 
half policy adopted by them. The party split, 
and there arrived the Extremists, who advocated 
independence of action, and discarded the begging 
method, — the easiest method of relieving one's 
mind from his responsibility towards his country. 
Their ideals were based on Western history. 
They had no sympathy with the special problems 
of India. They did not recognize the patent 
fact that there were causes in our social organiza- 
tion which made the Indian incapable of coping 
with the alien. What should we do if, for any 
reason, England was driven away ? We should 

simply be victims for other nations. The same 

I 



114 NATIONALISM 

social weaknesses would prevail. The thing we 
in India have to think of is this — to remove 
those social customs and ideals which have 
generated a want of self-respect and a complete 
dependence on those above us, — a state of affairs 
which has been brought about entirely by the 
domination in India of the caste system, and 
the blind and lazy habit of relying upon the 
authority of traditions that are incongruous 
anachronisms in the present age. 

Once again I draw your attention to the diffi- 
culties India has had to encounter and her 
struggle to overcome them. Her problem was 
the problem of the world in miniature. India is 
too vast in its area and too diverse in its races. 
It is many countries packed in one geographical 
receptacle. It is just the opposite of what 
Europe truly is, namely, one country made into 
many. Thus Europe in its culture and growth 
has had the advantage of the strength of the 
many as well as the strength of the one. India, 
on the contrary, being naturally many, yet ad- 
ventitiously one, has all along suffered from the 
looseness of its diversity and the feebleness of its 
unity. A true unity is like a round globe, it 
rolls on, carrying its burden easily ; but diversity 
is a many-cornered thing which has to be dragged 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 115 

and pushed with all force. Be it said to the 
credit of India that this diversity was not her 
own creation ; she has had to accept it as a fact 
from the beginning of her history. In America 
and Australia, Europe has simplified her problem 
by almost exterminating the original population. 
Even in the present age this spirit of extermina- 
tion is making itself manifest, in the inhospitable 
shutting out of aliens, by those who themselves 
were aliens in the lands they now occupy. But 
India tolerated difference of races from the first, 
and that spirit of toleration has acted all through 
her history. 

Her caste system is the outcome of this spirit 
of toleration. For India has all along been 
trying experiments in evolving a social unity 
within which all the different peoples could be 
held together, while fully enjoying the freedom 
of maintaining their own differences. The tie 
has been as loose as possible, yet as close as the 
circumstances permitted. This has produced 
something like a United States of a social 
federation, whose common name is Hinduism. 

India had felt that diversity of races there 
must be and should be, whatever may be its 
drawback, and you can never coerce nature into 
your narrow limits of convenience without paying 



116 NATIONALISM 

one day very dearly for it. In this India was 
right ; but what she failed to realize was that in 
human beings differences are not like the physical 
barriers of mountains, fixed for ever — they are 
fluid with life's flow, they are changing their 
courses and their shapes and volume. 

Therefore in her caste regulations India recog- 
nized differences, but not the mutability which is 
the law of life. In trying to avoid collisions she 
set up boundaries of immovable walls, thus giving 
to her numerous races the negative benefit of 
peace and order but not the positive opportunity 
of expansion and movement. She accepted 
nature where it produces diversity, but ignored 
it where it uses that diversity for its world-game 
of infinite permutations and combinations. She 
treated life in all truth where it is manifold, but 
insulted it where it is ever moving. Therefore 
Life departed from her social system and in its 
place she is worshipping with ail ceremony the 
magnificent cage of countless compartments that 
she has manufactured. 

The same thing happened where she tried to 
ward off the collisions of trade interests. She 
associated different trades and professions with 
different castes. This had the effect of allaying 
for good the interminable jealousy and hatred 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 117 

of competition — the competition which breeds 
cruelty and makes the atmosphere thick with 
lies and deception. In this also India laid all 
her emphasis upon the law of heredity, ignoring 
the law of mutation, and thus gradually reduced 
arts into crafts and genius into skill. 

However, what Western observers fail to 
discern is that in her caste system India in all 
seriousness accepted her responsibility to solve 
the race problem in such a manner as to avoid 
all friction, and yet to afford each race freedom 
within its boundaries. Let us admit India has 
not in this achieved a full measure of success. 
But this you must also concede, that the West, 
being more favourably situated as to homogeneity 
of races, has never given her attention to this 
problem, and whenever confronted with it she has 
tried to make it easy by ignoring it altogether. 
And this is the source of her anti- Asiatic agita- 
tions for depriving aliens of their right to earn 
their honest living on these shores. In most 
of your colonies you only admit them on con- 
dition of their accepting the menial position of 
hewers of wood and drawers of water. Either 
you shut your doors against the aliens or reduce 
them into slavery. And this is your solution of 
the problem of race-conflict. Whatever may be 



118 NATIONALISM 

its merits you will have to admit that it does 
not spring from the higher impulses of civiliza- 
tion, but from the lower passions of greed and 
hatred. You say this is human nature — and 
India also thought she knew human nature when 
she strongly barricaded her race distinctions by 
the fixed barriers of social gradations. But we 
have found out to our cost that human nature is 
not what it seems, but what it is in truth ; which 
is in its infinite possibilities. And when we in 
our blindness hisult humanity for its ragged 
appearance it sheds its disguise to disclose to us 
that we have insulted our God. The degrada- 
tion which we cast upon others in our pride or 
self-interest degrades our own humanity — and 
this is the punishment which is most terrible, 
because we do not detect it till it is too late. 

Not only in your relation with aliens but with 
the different sections of your own society you 
have not achieved harmony of reconciliation. 
The spirit of conflict and competition is allowed 
the full freedom of its reckless career. And 
because its genesis is the greed of wealth and 
power it can never come to any other end but 
to a violent death. In India the production of 
commodities was brought under the law of social 
adjustments. Its basis was co-operation, having 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 119 

for its object the perfect satisfaction of social 
needs. Bat in the West it is guided by the 
impulse of competition, whose end is the gain 
of wealth for individuals. But the individual 
is like the geometrical line ; it is length without 
breadth. It has not got the depth to be able 
to hold anything permanently. Therefore its 
greed or gain can never come to finality. In 
its lengthening process of growth it can cross 
other lines and cause entanglements, but will 
ever go on missing the ideal of completeness in 
its thinness of isolation. 

In all our physical appetites we recognize a 
limit. We know that to exceed that limit is to 
exceed the limit of health. But has this lust 
for wealth and power no bounds beyond which 
is death's dominion ? In these national carnivals 
of materialism are not the Western peoples 
spending most of their vital energy in merely 
producing things and neglecting the creation of 
ideals ? And can a civilization ignore the law 
of moral health and go on in its endless process 
of inflation by gorging upon material things ? 
Man in his social ideals naturally tries to regulate 
his appetites, subordinating them to the higher 
purpose of his nature. But in the economic 
world our appetites follow no other restrictions 



120 NATIONALISM 

but those of supply and demand which can be 
artificially fostered, affording individuals oppor- 
tunities for indulgence in an endless feast of 
grossness. In India our social instincts imposed 
restrictions upon our appetites, — maybe it went 
to the extreme of repression, — but in the West 
the spirit of economic organization with no 
moral purpose goads the people into the per- 
petual pursuit of wealth ; but has this no 
wholesome limit ? 

The ideals that strive to take form in social 
institutions have two objects. One is to regulate 
our passions and appetites for the harmonious 
development of man, and the other is to help 
him to cultivate disinterested love for his fellow- 
creatures. Therefore society is the expression 
of those moral and spiritual aspirations of man 
which belong to his higher nature. 

Our food is creative, it builds our body ; but 
not so wine, which stimulates. Our social ideals 
create the human world, but when our mind is 
diverted from them to greed of power then in 
that state of intoxication we live in a world of 
abnormality where our strength is not health 
and our liberty is not freedom. Therefore 
political freedom does not give us freedom when 
our mind is not free. An automobile does not 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 121 

create freedom of movement, because it is a mere 
machine. When I myself am free I can use the 
automobile for the purpose of my freedom. 

We must never forget in the present day 
that those people who have got their political 
freedom are not necessarily free, they are merely 
powerful. The passions which are unbridled in 
them are creating huge organizations of slavery 
in the disguise of freedom. Those who have 
made the gain of money their highest end are 
unconsciously selling their life and soul to rich 
persons or to the combinations that represent 
money. Those who are enamoured of their 
political power and gloat over their extension 
of dominion over foreign races gradually sur- 
render their own freedom and humanity to the 
organizations necessary for holding other peoples 
in slavery. In the so-called free countries the 
majority of the people' are not free, they are 
driven by the minority to a goal which is not 
even known to them. This becomes possible 
only because people do not acknowledge moral 
and spiritual freedom as their object. They 
create huge eddies with their passions, and they 
feel dizzily inebriated with the mere velocity 
of their whirling movement, taking that to be 
freedom. But the doom which is waiting to 



122 NATIONALISM 

overtake them is as certain as death — for man's 
truth is moral truth and his emancipation is in 
the spiritual life. 

The general opinion of the majority of the 
present-day nationalists in India is that we have 
come to a final completeness in our social and 
spiritual ideals, the task of the constructive work 
of society having been done several thousand 
years before we were born, and that now we 
are free to employ all our activities in the 
political direction. We never dream of blaming 
our social inadequacy as the origin of our present 
helplessness, for we have accepted as the creed 
of our nationalism that this social system has 
been perfected for all time to come by our 
ancestors, who had the superhuman vision of all 
eternity and supernatural power for making 
infinite provision for future ages. Therefore, 
for all our miseries and shortcomings, we hold 
responsible the historical surprises that burst 
upon us from outside. This is the reason why 
we think that our one task is to build a political 
miracle of freedom upon the quicksand of social 
slavery. In fact we want to dam up the true 
course of our own historical stream, and only 
borrow power from the sources of other peoples' 
history. 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 123 

Those of us in India who have come under 
the delusion that mere pohtical freedom will \ 
make us free have accepted their lessons from 
the West as the gospel truth and lost their 
faith m humanity. We must remember what- 
ever weakness we cherish in our society will 
become the source of danger in politics. The 
same inertia which leads us to our idolatry of 
dead forms in social institutions will create in 
our politics prison-houses with immovable walls. 
The narrowness of sympathy which makes it 
possible for us to impose upon a considerable 
portion of humanity the galling yoke of in- 
feriority will assert itself in our politics in 
creating the tyranny of injustice. 

When our nationalists talk about ideals they 
forget that the basis of nationalism is wanting. 
The very people who are upholding these ideals 
are themselves the most conservative in their 
social practice. Nationalists say, for example, 
look at Switzerland where, in spite of race 
differences, the peoples have solidified into a 
nation. Yet, remember that in Switzerland the 
races can mingle, they can intermarry, because 
they are of the same blood. In India there is 
no common birthright. And when we talk of 
Western Nationality we forget that the nations 



124 NATIONALISM 

there do not have that physical repulsion, one 
for the other, that we have between different 
castes. Have we an instance in the whole world 
where a people who are not allowed to mingle 
their blood shed their blood for one another 
except by coercion or for mercenary purposes ? 
And can we ever hope that these moral barriers 
against our race amalgamation will not stand in 
the way of our political unity ? 

Then again we must give full recognition to 
this fact that our social restrictions are still 
tyrannical, so much so as to make men cowards. 
If a man tells me he has heterodox ideas, but 
that he cannot follow them because he would 
be socially ostracized, I excuse him for having 
to live a life of untruth, in order to live at all. 
The social habit of mind which impels us to 
make the life of our fellow-beings a burden to 
them where they differ from us even in such a 
thing as their choice of food, is sure to persist in 
our political organization and result in creating 
engines of coercion to crush every rational 
difference which is the sign of life. And tyranny 
will only add to the inevitable lies and hypocrisy 
in our political life. Is the mere name of freedom 
so valuable that we should be willing to sacrifice 
for its sake our moral freedom ? 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 125 

The intemperance of our habits does not im- 
mediately show its effects when we are in the 
vigour of our youth. But it gradually consumes 
that vigour, and when the period of decline sets 
in then we have to settle accounts and pay off 
our debts, which leads us to insolvency. In the 
West you are still able to carry your head high, 
though your humanity is suffering every moment 
from its dipsomania of organizing power. India 
also in the heyday of her youth could carry in 
her vital organs the dead weight of her social 
organizations stiffened to rigid perfection, but it 
has been fatal to her, and has produced a gradual 
paralysis of her living nature. And this is the 
reason why the educated community of India 
has become insensible of her social needs. They 
are taking the very immobility of our social 
structures as the sign of their perfection, — and 
because the healthy feeling of pain is dead in the 
limbs of our social organism they delude them- 
selves into thinking that it needs no ministra- 
tion. Therefore they think that all their 
energies need their only scope in the political 
field. It is like a man whose legs have become 
shrivelled and useless, trying to delude himself 
that these limbs have grown still because they 
have attained their ultimate salvation, and all 



126 NATIONALISM 

that is wrong about him is the shortness of his 
sticks. 

So much for the social and the political 
regeneration of India. Now we come to her 
industries, and I am very often asked whether 
there is in India any industrial regeneration since 
the advent of the British Government. It must 
be remembered that at the beginning of the 
British rule in India our industries were sup- 
pressed, and since then we have not met with 
any real help or encouragement to enable us to 
make a stand against the monster commercial 
organizations of the world. The nations have 
decreed that we must remain purely an agri- 
cultural people, even forgetting the use of arms . 
for all time to come. Thus India is being turned 
into so many predigested morsels of food ready 
to be swallowed at any moment by any nation 
which has even the most rudimentary set of 
teeth in its head. 

India therefore has very little outlet for her 
industrial originality. I personally do not believe 
in the unwieldy organizations of the present day. 
The very fact that they are ugly shows that they 
are in discordance with the whole creation. The 
vast powers of nature do not reveal their truth 
in hideousness, but in beauty. Beauty is the 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 127 

signature which the Creator stamps upon His 
works when He is satisfied with them. All our 
products that insolently ignore the laws of per- 
fection and are unashamed in their display of 
ungainliness bear the perpetual weight of God's 
displeasure. So far as your commerce lacks the 
dignity of grace it is untrue. Beauty and her 
twin brother Truth require leisure and self- 
control for their growth. But the greed of gain 
has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its 
one object is to produce and consume. It has 
pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living 
human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a 
moment's hesitation to crush beauty and life out 
of them, moulding them into money. It is this 
ugly vulgarity of commerce which brought upon 
it the censure of contempt in our earlier days, 
when men had leisure to have an unclouded 
vision of perfection in humanity. Men in those 
times were rightly ashamed of the instinct of 
mere money-making. But in this scientific age 
money, by its very abnormal bulk, has won its 
throne. And when from its eminence of piled- 
up things it insults the higher instincts of man, 
banishing beauty and noble sentiments from its 
surroundings, we submit. For we in our mean- 
ness have accepted bribes from its hands and our 



128 NATIONALISM 

imagination has grovelled in the dust before its 
immensity of flesh. 

But its very unwieldiness and its endless 
complexities are its true signs of failure. The 
swimmer who is an expert does not exhibit his 
muscular force by violent movements, but ex- 
hibits some power which is invisible and which 
shows itself in perfect grace and reposefulness. 
The true distinction of man from animals is in 
his power and worth which are inner and invisible. 
But the present-day commercial civilization of 
man is not only taking too much time and space 
but killing time and space. Its movements are 
violent, its noise is discordantly loud. It is 
carrying its own damnation because it is tramp- 
ling into distortion the humanity upon which it 
stands. It is strenuously turning out money at 
the cost of happiness. Man is reducing himself 
to his minimum in order to be able to make 
amplest room for his organizations. He is 
deriding his human sentiments into shame 
because they are apt to stand in the way of 
his machines. 

In our mythology we have the legend that 
the man who performs penances for attaining 
immortality has to meet with temptations sent 
by Indra, the Lord of the immortals. If he is 



NATIONALISM IN INDIA 129 

lured by them he is lost. The West has been 
striving for centuries after its goal of im- 
mortality. Indra has sent her the temptation 
to try her. It is the gorgeous temptation of 
wealth. She has accepted it, and her civilization 
of humanity has lost its path in the wilderness 
of machinery. 

This commercialism with its barbarity of ugly 
decorations is a terrible menace to all humanity, 
because it is setting up the ideal of power over 
that of perfection. It is making the cult of self- 
seeking exult in its naked shamelessness. Our 
nerves are more delicate than our muscles. 
Things that are the most precious in us are 
helpless as babes when we take away from them 
the careful protection which they claim from us 
for their very preciousness. Therefore, when the 
callous rudeness of power runs amuck in the 
broad-way of humanity it scares away by its 
grossness the ideals which we have cherished 
with the martyrdom of centuries. 

The temptation which is fatal for the strong 

is still more so for the weak. And I do not 

welcome it in our Indian life, even though it be 

sent by the lord of the Immortals. Let our life 

be simple in its outer aspect and rich in its inner 

gain. Let our civilization take its firm stand 

K 



130 NATIONALISM 

upon its basis of social co-operation and not 
upon that of economic exploitation and conflict. 
How to do it in the teeth of the drainage of our 
life-blood by the economic dragons is the task 
set before the thinkers of all oriental nations 
who have faith in the human soul. It is a sign 
of laziness and impotency to accept conditions 
imposed upon us by others who have other 
ideals than ours. We should actively try to 
adapt the world powers to guide our history to 
its own perfect end. 

From the above you will know that I am not 
an economist, I am willing to acknowledge that 
there is a law of demand and supply and an 
infatuation of man for more things than are good 
for him. And yet I will persist in believing that 
there is such a thing as the harmony of com- 
pleteness in humanity, where poverty does not 
take away his riches, where defeat may lead him 
to victory, death to immortality, and where in 
the compensation of Eternal Justice those who 
are the last may yet have their insult transmuted 
into a golden triumph. 



THE SUNSET OF THE CENTURY 



181 



/ 



THE SUNSET OF THE CENTURY 

{Written in the Bengali on the last day qf last 

^ century) 



The last sun of the century sets amidst the 
blood - red clouds of the West and the 
whirlwind of hatred. 

The naked passion of self-love of Nations, in its 
drunken delirium of greed, is dancing to the 
clash of steel and the howling verses of 
vengeance. 



The hungry self of the Nation shall burst in a 
violence of fury from its own shameless 
feeding. 

For it has made the world its food, 

133 



134 NATIONALISM 

And licking it, crunching it and swallowing it in 

big morsels, 

It swells and swells 
Till in the midst of its unholy feast descends the 

sudden shaft of heaven piercing its heart of 

grossness. 



The crimson glow of light on the horizon is not the 
light of thy dawn of peace, my Motherland. 

It is the glimmer of the funeral pyre burning to 
ashes the vast flesh, — the self-love of the 
Nation — dead under its own excess. 

Thy morning waits behind the patient dark of 
the East, 

Meek and silent. 



4 

Keep watch, India. 

Bring your offerings of worship for that sacred 

sunrise. 
Let the first hymn of its welcome sound in your 

voice and sing 
"Come, Peace, thou daughter of God's own 

great suffering. 



THE SUNSET OF THE CENTUKY 135 

Come with thy treasure of contentment, the 
sword of fortitude, 

And meekness crowning thy forehead." 



Be not ashamed, my brothers, to stand before 
the proud and the powerful 

With your white robe of simpleness. 

Let your crown be of humility, your freedom 
the freedom of the soul. 

Build God's throne daily upon the ample bare- 
ness of your poverty 

And know that what is huge is not great and pride 
is not everlasting. 



THE END 



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh. 







Date Due 




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3 5002 00082 2424 



Tagore, Rabmdranath 
Nationalism, 



JC 311 . T26 1918 

Tagore, Rabindranath, 1861 
1941. 

Nationaliem 



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