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Aurobindo Ghosh was a prophet of Indian Nationalism. Comment

Ques. Aurobindo Ghosh was a prophet of Indian Nationalism. Comment

Answer

  • Sri Aurobindo was one of the most creative and significant figures in the history of the Indian renaissance and Indian nationalism, regarded as the ‘Prince among the Indian thinkers’ by Romain Rolland.
  • R. Das called Aurobindo as the ‘poet of patriotism, the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity’. Sri Aurobindo’s rise into the political scene of India coincided with the outbreak of the swadeshi movement, following which he expressed his opinions in his periodicals like Jugantar, Bande Mataram and Karmayogi, criticizing British imperialism by preaching the gospel of militant nationalism.
  • Aurobindo made a great contribution to the theory of passive resistance and boycott to curtail functioning and growth of British administration and commerce. Aurobindo made it clear that the passive resistance may turn to be violent in case of ruthless suppression by the ruler. In this way it differed from Gandhiji’s technique of Satyagraha.
  • Following his imprisonment, there was a spiritual development in Aurobindo’s thought impacting his conception of nationalism as well:
    • His conception of spiritual nationalism was linked to his philosophy that rests on evolution of human life into the divine life. He elevated the demand for national freedom to a religious faithso that the masses could be awakened, an idea that was further developed by Gandhi in his mass movements.
    • Sri Aurobindo’s concept of nation was deeply influenced by Bankimchandra. He believed that the nation is not just a piece of land nor a mass of human beings. He glorified India as a Mother Goddess, and liberation of the motherland is the most urgent duty of her children for which they must be ready to sacrifice even their lives.
    • According to Aurobindo’s understanding, the ‘nation’ is a living entity-‘shakti‘ composed of all the shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation. Thus, nationalism was not merely a political programme but a spiritual one.
  • Therefore, Sri Aurobindo sought to move away from Swaraj (political freedom) towards independence (complete freedom).
  • In Sri Aurobindo’s vision, the modern and free Indian nation was not meant to be a colonial copy with an outer machinery of elaborate bureaucratic structures left over by the British and now-merely-to-be-filled by the Indians – though he recognised the necessity for an effective external organisation.
  • He envisioned the rebirth of a nation which will be grounded in India’s unique temperament shaped by her spiritual genius and conscious of her true mission. This new India would play a crucial role in creation of future society which would be a society of complex oneness, a world society in which present nations will be intrinsic parts of the whole.
  • Despite these novel ideas, Sri Aurobindo’s idea of nationalism was criticised as distracting attention of masses from real issues like poverty, economic exploitation, inequality. Further, his concept was overtly based on Hindu civilisational valuesmaking it hard to accommodate the diverse beliefs of pluralist India.

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