Learnings from Tagore's Concepts of Nation and Society

Continuing our studies on Tagore, we'd like to point out that Tagore was very clear about the West having imposed on the landmass called India the very concept of "Nation". In his English Writings, he points out (with the disclaimer "take it in whatever spirit you like,") how India has tried to achieve a spiritual unity without any political interference:
...here is India, of about fifty centuries at least, who tried to live peacefully and think deeply, the India devoid of all politics, the India of no nations, whose one ambition has been to know this world as of soul, to live here every moment of her life in the meek spirit of adoration, in the glad consciousness of an eternal and personal relationship with it. This is the remote portion of humanity, childlike in its manner, with the wisdom of the old, upon which burst the Nation of the West.
Clearly, the political unit called India is, according to Tagore, a concept, a Nation, of the West. By West, of course, one has to understand "British".

We'd like to point out that Tagore perhaps makes the clearest distinction among well-known Indian thinkers between "spiritual unity" and "political unity" (a distinction which is woefully lacking in others such as Gandhi and Golwalkar). To Tagore, "Society" and "Nation" were two completely different entities. Tagore defines a "Nation" in the following sentence drawn from his English Writings:
What is this Nation? A Nation, in the sense of political and economic union of a people, is that aspect which a whole population assumes when organized for a mechanical purpose.
However, he holds "Society" to be different from "Nation", and considerably more venerable:
Society as such has no ulterior purpose. It is an end in itself. It is a spontaneous self-expression of man as a social being. It is a natural regulation of human relationships, so that men can develop ideals in cooperation with one another.
Note that Tagore's definition of Society did encompass a political angle to it. Continuing his description of "Society", Tagore adds that it [society]...
has also a political side, but this is only for a special purpose. It is for self-preservation. It is merely the side of power, not of human ideals. And in the earlier days it had its separate place in society, restricted to the professionals.
Of course, by "professionals", Tagore refers to kshatriya-s in our society in the past - whose profession was to protect those under their protection from external aggression. To this profession belonged kings and warriors of all sorts. Tagore further explains what a corruption in these "professionals" leads to:
But when with the help of science and the perfecting of organization this power begins to grow and brings in harvests of wealth, then it crosses all boundaries with amazing rapidity. For then it goads all its neighbouring societies with greed of material prosperity, and consequent mutual jealousy, and by the fear of each other's growth into powerful-ness. The time comes when it can stop no longer, for the competition grows keener, organization grows vaster, and selfishness attains supremacy. Trading upon the greed and fear of man, it occupies more and more space in society, and at last becomes its ruling force.
In the above paragraph, Tagore is alluding to the birth of the concept of a Nation - as seen in the west -- "The Nation of the West". Since it is this very definition of Nation which "burst on" the different societies in this part of the world, it is correct to assume that Tagore is accusing India - political India - itself of becoming the Nation that he so despised.

We will end this essay with the application of the above concepts of Tagore to Kannada, Kannadiga and Karnataka and current realities in political India:
  1. The "self-protected societies" Tagore refers to were nothing but the different kingdoms ruling different peoples in this landmass - for example the Kannadiga kingdoms such as Vijayanagara and the Wodeyars -- which ultimately morphed into the linguistic states of India such as Karnataka.
  2. The Indian Nation formed after the "Nation of the West", which "burst on" such societies is the political India of today, and is an entity organized for political and commercial purposes -- nothing spiritual or cultural about it.
  3. The most glaring example of a society whose "self-protection professionals" turned corrupt and started "goading neighbouring socieites with greed of material prosperity" is the "Hindi society" which has been imposing itself and its language over the whole of India and also sending its members to literally rule over the whole of India.
  4. Of late, the Kannadiga society has remained too impotent to even possess the "self-protection professionals" -- let alone those who become corrupt and "goad neighbouring societies". This is implicit in the non-existence of even a single political party devoted to the interests of Kannada, Kannadiga and Karnataka.
  5. The correct path of reform of the Kannadiga society today is to achieve a re-birth of those "self protection professionals" who do not fall prey to the corruption which Tagore refers to. The correct path of reform of the other Indian societies of today is to do similarly.
  6. The correct path of reform of political India is to ensure that India on the world-stage is not an blanket under which hide and prosper societies such as the Hindi society which "goad other societies for material prosperity". In other words, the correct path of reform of political India is to transform into a truly federal country.


Radha said...

This is the best of the articles I have read in this website. I cannot stop admiring your articles. I have been more of a silent reader for a long time. I came across your website when I was trying to figure out how to stop hindification. Kudos to your effort! I hope the much awaited change to true Federal India comes soon.

Anonymous said...

Check these links you might review your opinion on Tagore.






Tagore sung jan gan man in 1911 December, and he got nobel prize in 1913. Why so?
Tagore might have contributed enough to Literature, and there might be lot of controversies against him for jan-gan-man, but the fact that he has sung such a Godly song to bastard-bull-shit-british king, hurts me a lot.


Jockey said...


i've seen these cheap allegations against tagore before. cheap, really cheap.

Sudhanva said...

I also felt the same Mr.Jockey....

but unfortunately that is the fact.....

Can anybody answer this question?

This we dont accept but, We INDIANS are mentally slaves of Americans.. We cant live without American products, so maximum of us will be running behind Foreign products.. Saying its American, or hey see this is Made in China.. etc etc.. No one trusts Indins goods.. I think, soon next generations will forget about our INDIAN culture..

Check this link http://www.interbrand.com/best_global_brands.aspx
We cannot see a single INDIAN brand here.. why? The reason is WE, INDIANS.


We are giving lot of importance to Foreign brands, directly sending money to Foreign countries.. by buying Foreign brands/goods. (Then i wonder how we can recover from this recession.) Every weekend we will run behind shopping malls, pizzas, burgers, cool drinks, many many things. Nobody cares about swadeshi products. Many feel that buying INDIAN GOODS IS CHEAP.

If you buy something, the next morning your collegue asks where you bought that it is good etc, if you say that you bought it from Life Style or Forum (or from some mall which sells Foreign goods), and if you say that it belongs to some Foreign Brand (listed in the link above) than immediately they will raise there eyebrows. As if you have a great job, or as if you yourself have won Kargil war.
The other way, if you say that you have bought it from your town, or from some swadeshi shop than they will look as if you have done some NATIONAL CRIME. And they will not even care you.

So, i said We INDIANS, especially IT people have become American slaves.

Many might not agree, but this is the fact......


Atleast do this much, for your country.

Jockey said...

@ anonymous, @sudhanva

dudes - let's say your mathematics professor - a mathematics nobel - has the habit of winking at women. would you refuse to learn mathematics from him because of his habit?

i'm not saying tagore is guilty of what you are accusing him. i'm questioning - what's the big deal even if he is? learn to understand what he is saying here.

Sudhanva said...


I believe in one rule..

A person is a murderer, if he does one murder or even a hundred murders.

Now you might take the example of Valmiki. But i dont want to argue here. All it depends on an individual (thinking).
But i strongly feel that Tagore definately had had an option.


Unknown said...

I want to more about Jan gan man .... I had listened rajiv dixit

Unknown said...

I want to know about national song and I had listened rajiv dixit also

Unknown said...

Or know

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