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Tagore's brand of politics and his idea of `Nationalism'
Some have called Rabindranath Tagore's brand of politics markedly ambivalent. On the one hand he has condemned the repressive imperialism, the iron clasp of Fascism, war and violence. While on the other he has often shunned the Swadeshi movement.

One of his acrid writings shows an allusion to elements of Gandhism and the Non–cooperation movement. The darker complexities of the Swadeshi movement and its tragedies have been articulated by him through the pages of his 1915 novel 'Ghare Baire' (At Home and Beyond, roughly).

Jawaharlal Nehru has called the poet 'India's Internationalist par excellence'. Indeed, this was a man deeply imbued with a spirit of internationalism. His efforts at the exchange of ideas with the rest of the world have been globally lauded and his encounters with world stalwarts had instilled in him an acute thirst for universalism, defining the dynamic spirit of the world as one.

Tagore deemed nationalism as humanity's greatest disease, a magnified form of personal selfishness. And yet he lionized the Indian freedom struggle, composed numerous patriotic songs and ignited the minds of people by means of the pen as opposed to the gunpowder. He had openly stigmatized the colonial education system introduced under the Raj based on traditional rote learning.

As a young zamindar (landlord), Tagore had been profoundly influenced by the humanistic thoughts of 19th century intellectuals and carried their rich legacy as an earnest disciple. The enthralling Russian adventures that the poet lapped up as an awed young learner have found expression in his later work, 'Russia'r Chithi' (Letters from Russia). He firmly believed that a socialist pattern of society was the only real force capable of destroying Fascism.

A series of excruciating personal losses couldn't deter him from living the dynamic life of a messenger of peace and harmony. It is obvious that Tagore's brand of patriotism was far removed from the latte drinking, cigarette smoking coffee house critics of his. He was not a mere mystic from a rich family who wrote romantic poetry but a true visionary who had foreseen the 'other' side of nationalism.

Today when perspectives on nationalism are being tossed into the Sub-continent's airspace with, it becomes interesting to go back a hundred years to Tagore, who wrote, "Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls…. Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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