Sandeep as a Criticque of Swadeshi in "The Home and the World"

Topics: Nationalism, Rabindranath Tagore, Nation Pages: 3 (1060 words) Published: March 2, 2013
The novel, “Home and the World”, by Rabindranath Tagore, originally published in Bengali in 1915, is set in the backdrop of “Swadeshi”, a nationalist movement in which British goods and commodities were boycotted and substituted for indigenous products. The narrative is structured in the form of diary entries written by the three characters: Nikhil, a benevolent and enlightened landlord; his wife, Bimala, torn between her notions of tradition and modernity; and Sandeep, a selfish and calculative individual but a charismatic leader. The novel is written with an implicit objective to put forward Tagore’s view on humanism which is embodied in Nikhil, and to counter the vengeful and vicious farce that extremists like Sandeep called “true nationalism”. Nationalism, as a philosophy, refers to a movement favouring independence for a country that is controlled by or forms part of another. Under this philosophy, the nation-state is believed to be paramount for the realisation of social, economic and cultural aspirations of a people. It is characterised by shared history, a collective “we-feeling” and a sense of belongingness to a common national identity. In the Indian context, the concept, in its conventional western sense, is mostly inapplicable due to the presence of different “races” of people within the same border. In his essay, “Nationalism in India”, Tagore said, “India has never had a real sense of nationalism. Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of 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 gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.” In his novel, Tagore’s resentment of fierce and violent nationalism is brought out in the debates between the characters of Nikhil and Sandip, where Sandip’s...
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