Nationalism in Gitanjali

Essay by jayitagaraiUniversity, Master'sA+, September 2014

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Garai 5

Name-Jayita Garai

Roll No-ME 13 00 52

Session- M.A. 1st semester of 2013-2015

Name of Supervisor-Prof. Pramila Majumder


In 1919 when thousand of Indians were killed at Jalianwalabag Massacre, Rabindranath Tagore expressed his dismay, resentment and agony. He gave up in protest Kinghthood. Tagore's protest was not for Jalianwalabag in particular, but for slavery of British rules at large. Because he knew that without political freedom India can not play her role as a spiritual guide of humanity. Like Sri Aurobindo, he believed in spiritual nationalism and democracy.

In an essay "Nationalism in India" Tagore had clarified the idea or definition of nation, "It (nation) is the aspect of a whole people as an organized power" where "the individuals all over the world get privileges "to think clearly, feel nobly, and act right rightly, thus becoming the channels of moral truth".

To Tagore, nationalism was a belief in political independence of a particular country for spiritual and individual benevolence.

To him nationalism was high principle of social co-operation or spiritual idealism. The purpose of nationalism was to establish universal peace and moral culture of brotherhood that was beyond the geographical limits. Nationalism emerged from the man's "higher instincts of sympathy and mutual help".

Sumit Sarkar had divided the Swadeshi(Indian Nationalist Movement) leadership into four categories according to the mode of operation-moderate, extremist, terrorist and constructive.

Tagore was an ardent supporter of Indian nationalism and we can attribute constructive mode to Tagore's perspective of nationalism.

In Gitanjali Tagore elevated nationalism near to the spiritualism. In poem XXIX the line, "I am ever busy building this wall all around" shows how people divide the universe narrowly to barricade their earthly wealth. "This wall" is the metaphor of materialistic obstacles that makes us blind to build one world.