In the previous post, I showed how Margaret Sanger, the American birth control pioneer and worldwide propagandist, was driven by the principles of the racist pseudo-science called eugenics. I have also shown how Malthus's flawed science was at the root of all the concern about human population.
However, strange are the ways in which un-science spreads, especially when its spread is driven and funded by racist people and institutions! So strange, that perhaps one of the most level headed leaders of India in recent times, a person from whom I draw great inspiration, that great bard of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore, got convinced that Sanger was doing something good for humanity.
In 1923, when Tagore wrote the following (Tagore 1923), I am certain that he had no clue about Sanger's close involvement with the eugenicists (which involvement Sanger disclosed only in 1921):
[M]en in the West are apt to borrow the sanction of science under false pretenses to give expression to their passions and prejudices. To many thinkers there has appeared a clear connection between Darwin's theories and the 'imperialism', Teutonic and other, which was so marked a feature during the 'sixties. We have also read western authors who, admirably mimicking scientific mannerism, assert that only the so-called Nordic race has the proper quality and therefore the right to rule the world, extolling its characteristic ruthlessness as giving it the claim to universal dominance.Had Tagore known about the true force behind Sanger's birth control agenda, which was nothing but the racist force professing Nordic superiority and vying for Nordic world dominance, I am sure he would have despised her entire programme, just like he started hating the very idea of a Nation after Japan's bid to invade China (he was a votary of Nationalism before that).
But yes, Tagore did not know of the dark designs behind Sanger's birth control propaganda, and got recruited by her. And yes, Tagore was also uninformed about the nonsense of Malthusian population arithmetic. The above two reasons, plus the effect of the zeitgeist of the times seem to have made Tagore write the following to Sanger in 1926 (Tagore, 1926):
I am of opinion that the birth control movement is a great movement not only because it will save women from enforced and undesirable maternity, but because it will help the cause of peace by lessening the number of surplus population of a country, scrambling for food and space outside its own rightful limits.Note that Tagore's approval of population control stemmed more from flawed Malthusian concerns, than women's health.
Tagore also believed, unlike Mahatma Gandhi, that India must not wait for "the moral sense of man to become a great deal powerful than it is now" to achieve population control. Gandhi, on the other hand, was completely against Sanger's proposal for birth control by any means other than abstention (about which more later).
In this article, I have taken the risk to point out that Tagore, a source of great inspiration for me personally, was for population control in a series of articles against the very concept, assuming that the reader is mature enough to not believe in this or that because it was said by a well-known personality. Such a blind belief in the words of individuals is dangerous but widespread.
In short, Tagore probably exemplifies some of the greatest and well-meaning thinkers of India who were recruited by the birth control propagandists, and thereby set in motion that decimating machine which hurts Indians, especially South Indians, today.
The greatest of minds can be swayed by unreason towards actions and words which actually contradict their deepest feelings. It happened to Tagore. And it is perhaps for this very reason that the Taittiriyopanishad places the following disclaimer on what in a Guru is not worth following:
That is, "Take from us only those works which are beyond blemish. Follow our actions only as long as they are good deeds". I have every reason to believe that the very concept of population control, whoever professed it, however close he or she might be to my heart, is neither beyond blemish nor a good deed.
It is with this conviction that I dare to oppose your view here, O Poet of poets, for, again, as you wrote, one must not let one's "clear stream of reason" lose its way into the "dreary desert sand of dead habit" (Tagore, 1912).
And yes, so also is not beyond blemish that fatal feeling in Kannadigas that Kannada is derived from Sanskrit, and that Kannada by itself is incapable of anything without help from Sanskrit. But I digress.
Tagore, 1912: Gitanjali, p. 22, in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol 1., p. 618., Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.
Tagore, 1923: "The way to unity", in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol 6., p. 618., Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.
Tagore, 1926: Letter to Margaret Sanger, in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol 8., p. 1044., Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.
To be continued.