Some Tagore aftera long weekend.
Some Tagore to mull on, if you are, like me, one of the few people who have bothered to come in to work, and feel so not in the mood to work. This passage appears in an essay Tagore wrote critiquing Gandhi’s philosophy of non-cooperation, and in this, Tagore beautifully describes the essence of citizenship.
Alien government in India is a veritable chameleon. Today it comes in the guise of the Englishman; tomorrow perhaps as some other foreigner; the next day, without abating a jot of its virulence, it may take the shape of our own countrymen. However determinedly we may try to hunt this monster of foreign dependence with outside lethal weapons, it will always elude our pursuit by changing its skin, or its colour. But if we can gain within us the truth called our country, all outward maya will vanish of itself.
The declaration of faith that my country is there, to be realized, has to be attained by each one of us. The idea that our country is ours, merely because we have been born in it, can only be held by those who are fastened, in a parasitic existence, upon the outside world. But the true nature of man is his inner nature, with its inherent power. Therefore, that can only be a man’s true country, which he can help to create by his wisdom and will, his love and his actions. So in 1905, I called upon my countrymen to create their own country by putting forth their own powers from within. For the act of creation itself is the realization of truth.
The Creator gains Himself in His universe. To gain one’s own country means to realize one’s own soul more fully expanded within it. This can only be done when we are engaged in building it up with our service, our ideas and our activities. Man’s country being the creation of his own inner nature, when his soul thus expands within it, it is more truly expressed, more fully realized. In my paper called Swadeshi Samaj, written in 1905, I discussed at length the ways and means by which we could make the country of our birth more fully our own. Whatever may be the shortcomings of my words then uttered, I did not fail to lay emphasis on the truth, that we must win our country, not from some foreigner, but from our own inertia, our own indifference. Whatever may be the nature of the boons we may be seeking for our country at the door it only makes our inertia more densely inert. Any public benefit done by the alien government goes to their credit not to ours. So whatever outside advantage such public benefit might mean for us, our country will only get more and more completely lost to us thereby. That is to say, we shall to pay out in soul value for what we purchase as material advantage.
The Rishi has said” “The son is dear, not because we desire a son, but because we desire to realize our own soul in him”. It is the same with our country. It is dear to us, because it is the expression of our own soul. When we realize this, it will become impossible for us to allow our service of our country to wait on the pleasure of others.