Saturday, December 17, 2022

Aurobindo: Nationalism is the Work of God

Copy of Bande Mataram

Edited by Sri Aurobindo

September 1907

Shri Aurobindo viewed nationalism as the work of God. In his lecture delivered under the auspices of the Bombay National Union, on 19th January, 1908, he said:

“You call yourselves Nationalists. What is Nationalism? Nationalism is not a mere political programme; Nationalism is a religion that has come from God; Nationalism is a creed which you shall have to live. Let no man dare to call himself a Nationalist if he does so merely with a sort of intellectual pride, thinking that he is more patriotic, thinking that he is something higher than those who do not call themselves by that name. If you are going to be a Nationalist, if you are going to assent to this religion of Nationalism, you must do it in the religious spirit. You must remember that you are the instruments of God…. Nationalism survives in the strength of God and it is not possible to crush it, whatever weapons are brought against it. Nationalism is immortal; Nationalism cannot die; because it is no human thing, it is God.”

In context of the history of the world since the fifteenth century, Aurobindo was right in comparing nationalism with God. The European states were the first to develop a sense of nationalism—that is why they managed to colonize large parts of several continents after the fifteenth century. People in other parts of the world were divided into many religious and tribal groups—they did not possess a sense of nationhood. The Europeans were united under the banner of “One God, One Monarch, One Nation.” They were motivated by the aim of furthering the racial, economic, and political interests of their nation. Aurobindo understood this aspect of history—he understood that European nationalism was the fountainhead of European global success. He understood that India could not become a great nation until the Indians developed a sense of nationalism.

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