The country and nothing but the country is the foundation of Nationalism, neither the nation, nor religion, nothing else matters. Ail other elements are secondary and contributory, it is the country alone that is primary and essential. Many mutually exclusive races live in the land, perhaps there never was enough goodwill, unity or friendliness. What is there in that to worry about? When it is one country, one Mother — there is bound to be unity one day, and out of the union of many races shall emerge a strong and invincible nation. Our religious views may differ, there might be endless conflict among the communities, neither concordance nor any hope of concordance, still one need not have any misgivings. By the powerful magnetic attraction of the Mother embodied in the country, by fair means or foul — whether by mutual understanding, or by force or by appeasement — harmony will be achieved; communalism, separation will be drowned in fraternal feelings, in a common love and worship of the Mother. In a land of many languages brother is unable to understand brother, we do not sympathise with each other’s feelings, between heart and heart there are immense barriers. These have to be overcome with much effort. Yet one need not fear. There is the same current of thought in every mind, of one country, one life, and under pressure of need a common language is bound to evolve, either one of the existing languages will come to be accepted, else a new language will be created. In the Mother’s temple all will use that language. There is nothing permanent about these obstacles. The Mother’s need, her attraction and deeper desire are not to be frustrated, these will surmount all obstacles and conflicts. Born of the same Mother, on her lap we live, in her five elements we merge and melt, in spite of a thousand real dissensions we shall unite at Her call. This is a law of Nature, the lesson of history everywhere: the country is the base of nationalism, an inevitable bond. Where there is a country of one’s own, nationalism is bound to be there. On the other hand, if the country is not one, even if the race, the religion and the language are the same, nothing will come of that. One day a separate race is sure to appear. By yoking together separate countries a great empire may be built. But that is not how a great nationality comes about. When the empire declines, separate nations spring up. Very often it is this inherent separativeness that causes the empire to crash.
But even if the result is inevitable, the speed or delay with which it materialises will depend on human effort, human intelligence or the absence of it. In our country there never was unity before, but there had always been a pull, a current tending towards unity, towards welding the different parts into some kind of unity. There were some major obstacles regarding this natural attempt: first, the provincial differences; secondly, the Hindu-Muslim conflict; thirdly, the lack of a vision of the country as Mother. Its vast area, the delays and difficulties of communication, and the differences in language are some of the primary factors responsible for provincial disunity. Thanks to modern science, except for the last factor, the rest have lost their separative vigour. In spite of Hindu-Muslim differences, Akbar did manage to unify India. And had Aurangzeb not been a victim of lowly impulses, the Hindus and Muslims of India, like the Catholics and Protestants of England, would have long been united thanks to the time factor, habit and the threat of foreign invasion. Due to Aurangzeb’s folly and the instigation of some of our English diplomats, the fire of conflict, fanned once more, refuses to go out. Our chief obstacle, however, is an absence of vision of the country as our Mother. For the most part our politicians have been incapable of a close and full vision of the Mother. Ranjit Singh or Guru Gobind Singh had seen only the Mother of the Land of the Five Rivers instead of Mother India; Shivaji or Baji Rao had seen a Mother of the Hindus instead of Mother India. The other Maharashtrian statesmen had seen only a Mother for the Maharashtrians. At the time of the Partition we ourselves had been blessed with a vision of Mother Bengal, that was a vision of unity, hence the future unity and progress of Bengal is assured. But the unified image of Mother India is yet to be realised. In the Congress, the Mother India that we hymned, adored and worshipped was a figure of fancy, a companion and obliging maid of the British Raj, an undivine illusion in occidental outfit. She was indeed not our Mother. All the same, hid in a deep or vague murkiness our true Mother drew our heart and soul. The day we see Her true indivisible image, struck by Her beauty and grace, we shall eagerly lay down our lives in Her service. Then this obstacle will be gone, and India’s unity, freedom and progress be easier to achieve. The barrier of language will no longer divide. Accepting Hindi as a link language but with due regard for one’s own regional language, we shall get rid of the disability. We shall succeed in finding a true solution of the Hindu-Muslim conflict. For want of a vision of the country as the Mother, the urge to do away with these obstacles has not been strongly felt. That is why the means has not been found and the conflict been growing worse. What is required is an image of the country, true and indivisible. But if, under the illusion of that true vision, we still cherish only the Mother of the Hindus or Hindu nationalism we shall fall for the old error and deprive ourselves of the full flowering of Nationalism itself.
(Dharma, No. 14, December, 1909)