Nationalism has been interpreted differently by different writers across the globe. But the essence of each one of them lies in defining nationalism as a sentiment dedicated to a particular nation. It is an idea revealing people’s devotion and loyalty to their respective nation. It also categorically reflects disposition of people [a particular society in broader sense] in which they treat themselves cohesive on the basis of history, values, traditions, language, culture and so on. Further, to work for the nation having national interest as the nucleus is the foremost of the ideas of nationalism. Thus, the idea of nationalism generally applies to a particular nation, a country, or a nation-state, a word that emerged from contemporary Western ideas.1
The one who is dedicated to national interest and keeps the cause of the nation as the foremost in his ideas and works, both, she/he is called a nationalist in general. In other words, musing on nation’s interest and development, and striving to achieve it, is the basis of one’s being a nationalist. Further, along with indigenous values, culture, and language etc. prevailing circumstances of space and available resources remain in the centre while work for nation’s growth is undertaken. It is because these elements could ascertain national progress. Categorically, the large scaled progress of the nation as per the demand of time and space remain the supreme here. This, undoubtedly, paves the way for the development of the nation concerned.
Basic elements, particularly national values, culture, language and the way of living, are established through a long process of development in all walks of life. National standards set by a large-scaled consensus of people with the purpose of welfare of one and all accord speed to that process. And people’s cooperation plays a vital role in making this consensus and speed grow further. Those very standards are in fact the signs of identity of people and their respective nation.
Religious mechanism has contributed predominantly in setting, guiding and spreading values, living-style and culture along with the view and way of life. These have also remained the foremost in identifying national standards and people of a nation. They are still significant in this regard. In context of India it can be said with certainty as religious values have contributed unprecedentedly in the making of the national culture, setting standards and for the identity of Indians. In India, religious values have contributed distinctively in widening the thought processes weaving a thread of unity among the people and instilling in them a sense of dedication for common causes. This is why; having the Indian context as the nucleus, I have mentioned in one of my books entitled, The India Way [Bharatiya Marg], “If the Indian way and the Vedic-Hindu view of life are called supplementary to one-another, there is nothing unusual in it.”
As per the general notion the first aspect of Indian nationalism is fully dedicated to India’s unity and integrity –in the building of a strong and a prosperous Bharat; essentially, in the all-round progress of India. History of Indian nationalism is quite old, perhaps oldest in the whole of the world. The supreme human values developed from the Vedic-Hindu view of life2 predominantly while values of Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc. in general have chiefly contributed towards establishing and strengthening the Indian nationalism. The welfare of one and all and broad outlook towards life remain the basic spirit of Indian nationalism.
As the welfare of one and all and broad outlook towards life are integrally connected to Indian nationalism; strong and prosperous Bharat is in reality committed to the progress of humanity at large; therefore, Indian concept of nationalism is rather different from other viewpoints pertaining to it. The nationalism of the Indian view is not similar to that one emerged and developed during the contemporary time in the West. This dissimilarity from the Western viewpoint is the second, but the real aspect of Indian nationalism.
The firm commitment of Indian nationalism to the welfare and rise of one and all could be well perused from the popular Vedic-Hindu mentions like that of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam3 and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah.4 It could be known from the tasks accomplished by great Indians for the whole of humanity since ancient times. Indian nationalism in its basic spirit and intent does not expect the solidarity and integrity of Bharat at the cost of others. It does not wish grabbing and scrambling, or exploitation of others for the sake of India’s prosperity. Rather, the nationalism of the Indian view could be observed in its longing for others’ well-being and their defence on the basis of its own strength; in its wish for others’ progress and prosperity through its own development. Hence, the scope of Indian nationalism is very vast. Furthermore, nationalism of the Indian view is broad enough. In its real form it is undoubtedly committed to internationalism; further, Indian nationalism is dedicated to universalism.
Generally, the concept of nationalism is viewed and analyzed with a narrow outlook. Further, it seems losing significance in these days of rapidly increasing process of globalization. Even then, the nationalism of the Indian views, due to its call for global-universal unity and rise of one and all, remains imperative and worth considering. The notion of Indian nationalism is completely different from the viewpoint of contemporary scientist like Elbert Einstein who declared nationalism as a child disease. It is also contrary to the views of Albert Guerard in which he found hatred in the concept of nationalism. Likewise, it has to do nothing with that opinion of George Orwell, which reflects desire for power in ideas and practices in the name of nationalism. On the other hand, the nationalism of the Indian view could be well comprehended in the proclamation of one of the great contemporary Indians like Guru Gobind Singh in which he recognised all of mankind as a single caste of humanity. It could be observed in the basic spirit latent in the root of Swami Vivekananda’s belief of Dharma, fully imbued with the spirit of duty and purity of heart; in the statement, Satyamev Jayate of Madan Mohan Malviya and in the slogan, Swarajya is my birth right given by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Moreover, the reality of Indian nationalism could be well previewed in the statement of Mahatma Gandhi in which he said, “My National-Dharma is for the whole of humanity” and in Swadeshi and decentralization-centred ideas of integral humanism presented by Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. All of them were the great contemporary Indians. They were the best of Bharatiyas and finest nationalists as well.
1. A concept developed in the West identifying and accepting a particular territory as the nation-state on the basis of its own political legitimacy as a sovereign entity.
2. In which the Supremacy of God, human-unity, Ahimsa [non-violence] and perpetuity of the law of change are of particular mention. These values appear in the first Sukta of the first chapter of the Rig-Veda itself. Along with this, they appear categorically in Upanishads and other Vedic treatises also.
3. Ayam nijah paroveti gananaa laghuchetasaam udaaracharitaam tu vasudhaiv kutumbakam.
4. Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu nira-maya-ah; sarve bhadranipashyantu ma-kaschit dukha-bhag bhavet.