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Chapter 6

A Change of Mentality Among the Hindus

The Development of Nationalism

The reasons we have just given, to show how necessary immediate social reforms are, among the Hindus, were all drawn from the consideration of the mentality of the Hindus who leave their fold. To understand them, so as to keep them within Hindudom, or to bring them back to it, was the main question.

But there is another side of the Hindu problem, no less important than that one; and this concerns the mentality of the Hindus who remain Hindus. Unless they change their entire outlook, social reforms are impossible; nay, any effort to defend and strengthen Hindudom, amounting to a little more than the construction of temples, “maths” and “goshalas,” is impossible, for that effort depends entirely upon them.

We do not deny the usefulness of temples, “maths” and “goshalas,” but we are persuaded that they are not sufficient to unite all the Hindus in one strong body, and to make them invincible. Moreover, the pious purpose for which they are built cannot be


better served than by the constant effort to bring back all Indians to Hindudom, and to make Hindudom a power in the world. More cows than any “goshala” can give shelter to, are saved, now and for generations to come, simply by the reconversion of one Mohammadan family to Hinduism. And cow-slaughter will not be suppressed, all over Hindusthan, unless and until the Hindus become strong enough to rule.

* * *

Political power (that is to say the power of law, with organised military force at the back of it) is everything in this world. It is speaking against the evidence of history to speak of religions competing on the ground of philosophy or of moral or spiritual merit. A religion gains followers when its followers get political power in hand. Philosophy, morality, and spirituality have no voice in the matter. Christianity began to be an invincible power when it became the religion of people who, for the time being, at least, were invincible: the Roman masses, the Roman State, and more and more, the romanised Barbarians. Why was it driven out of North Africa, nearly wholesale? Not because of the philosophical, moral or spiritual superiority of the Koran over the Gospel, but because of the fighting superiority of the warrior-like Arabs over the Christians. The three quarters of Spain were Mohammadan, at one time. Why are they not now?

Not because of the superiority, if any, of the Gospel over the Koran, but because of the greater military strength of the Catholic kings, makers of modern


Spain, compared to that of the last Mohammadan rulers; because political power remained, finally, in the hands of the Catholics. When you possess political power, then you can make nations do what you like, think what you like, profess whatever sense or nonsense you like, nowadays and in the future, as well as you could in the past. It only requires a more powerful administration, backed by more powerful war-engines, as all techniques improve with time.

We would like the Hindus to remember this, and to strive to acquire political power at any cost. Social reforms are necessary, not because they will bring more “humanity” among the Hindus, as many think, but because they will bring unity, that is to say power. The Hindus have been living, up till now, with less “humanity.” Many unseen dramas, many crushed aspirations, many weary, wretched lives have been the consequence of Hindu orthodoxy, enforced in daily matters with all its rigidity. But we do not speak of them. We do not advocate in favour of the sufferers, in the name of “humanity.” If, with less “humanity” the Hindu nation was growing stronger as a nation, instead of growing weaker everyday; if, with less “humanity,” the Hindus could organise themselves, reconquer India for themselves, and make free India a ruling power in the world, then, we would never ask them to change the slightest of their habits, nor to get rid of the grossest of their superstitions, if any. If, without the collaboration of all Hindus, Hindudom was flourishing and able to flourish in the future, we would not even advocate the suppression of Untouchability. There is nothing so strong as deep-rooted customs. Humanitarian views have never uprooted


them. But the pressure of a hard, undeniable necessity has, sometimes. The necessity that is pressing the Hindus, specially in the regions where they are a minority, is to live, first. To live, they must grow strong; they must get political power in their hands. We advocate social reforms, the abolition of Untouchability, liberalism in daily social matters, alliance with the sturdy Hillmen considered as Hindus (since necessary), and the recall of all Indians back to Hindudom, because we believe that these are the effective means, by which the Hindus will get political power, and, with it, the possibility of every kind of national glory, within India, and outside India, one day.

* * *

But the Hindus — those who remain in their fold, those who think that everything is well and good, and marvellously regulated by the seers of old, in Hindu society; those who perhaps will be, soon, (in places like North and East Bengal, at least) the last Indian Pagans — are not politically minded enough, or, better say, are not politically minded at all, as Hindus.

They may, sometimes, be religious-minded, and they are always philosophically minded. But that is not sufficient to make a conscious nation of them. That is not sufficient to shake off the greatest obstacle of all to Hindu enterprises: indifference, nay, inertia; the product of the combined influence of thousand years’ slavery, and of India’s burning climate.


It requires a tremendous dynamic uplift to remove such stagnancy as that of the Hindu society, for, as we have said, it must be removed at once and wholesale, at least in certain dangerously threatened regions, fear the Hindus may be swept away forever. Not slowly slowly but at once, and wholesale; for the hostile forces all around, strengthened by the very spirit of our time, by the different “democratic” propagandas which the Hindus themselves are responsible for, are rising day by day to crush the few who actually represent Hindu culture and civilisation. And history has never waited for anybody.

It is only by becoming politically minded, and that, in the right sense, that the Hindus can face the storm, win, and rule.

The Mohammadans, in Bengal, are strong, as Mohammadans at least, if not as Indians. They share with the Hindus the blessings of foreign domination, which are temporary, and those of a depressing climate which are permanent. Yet, they do not share their apathy. They rise like one man, whether to attack or to protest, whenever they think it necessary. They will never let anything tread upon what they call “their rights,” unless it be a material force more powerful than theirs.

The difference comes from their religion, which is strongly creedal while Hinduism is not. One must admit that a man who thinks himself in possession of such absolute truth which alone can save his soul, is strengthened by this belief. Moreover, that man and any men who share his firm acceptance of the same faith, his allegiance to the same living God and to the


same true Prophet, are nearer to each other than any philosophers can be, who share the more or less rational acceptance of the same hypothesis, among many others; nearer to each other even than any religious minded people can be, who follow the same spiritual path knowing that it is one among many others. Certainly, the undiscussed belief in whatever is written in a particular book, looked upon as sacred, is most unscientific. But it makes one strong, practically. It also makes a nation strong. It promotes action, and can lead to great things. It shakes people’s natural laziness, and does not allow them to remain indifferent.

The Hindus, with their manifold and apparently contradictory beliefs, with their experimental religion and their scientific out-look, can never hope to enjoy the advantages of religious fanaticism. Not that they are always faithful to their scientific attitude in every matter. It would be easy to prove that they are not. But they are not in such matters which, properly speaking, are not religious, but social; with the result that, while Mohammadan fanaticism makes the Mohammadans strong, Hindu fanaticism, if any, only makes the Hindus weak. Mohammadan fanaticism deepens the gap between the Mohammadan fold and the rest of the world, and, at the same time, it sets aside the differences, and strengthens the ties between any two Mohammadans within the fold. It separates the fold from all what is not it, and unites it, making it conscious of its existence and might, as a whole. The Hindus’ position is quite different. While their total absence of religious fanaticism makes them feel themselves one with all the world, their


orthodoxy, that is to say, their fanaticism in social matters, keeps them aloof from one another within the Hindu fold, not allowing them as a whole, nay as a nation, to be conscious of their own existence.

It is not possible (nor desirable) that the Hindus should any day become fanatical in the same way as the Mohammadans. But there is no denying that they need a wholesale change of mentality which will give them, as a nation, all the advantages that the Mohammadans draw from religious fanaticism; a change of mentality which will, on one hand, separate them from the rest of the world, give them self-consciousness and self-pride as a distinct body, and on the other, set aside all what makes one Hindu feel different from another Hindu, all what keeps them aloof from each other and indifferent to each other’s interests, to each other’s grievances, to each other’s sufferings, within the Hindu fold; which will, in one word, unite them.

It is that change of mentality which is the important thing, because all resistance to hostile forces from outside, as well as all constructive work within Hindudom, depends upon it.

* * *

The way leading Hindudom to freedom, strength and greatness, can be pointed out in one word;

(1) Cultivation of predominant Hindu nationalism in each individual Hindu;

(2) Cultivation of strength, and of a spirit of organised resistance to aggression, throughout Hindudom.


Lack of nationalism is the great curse of India.

The Musulmans, who represent more than one fifth of the total population of India, feel themselves Musulmans and do not feel themselves Indians. At the most, some of them (a few) may feel themselves Indians to a certain extent. But they are Musulmans first. None are Indians first, and then Musulmans proved that Islam does not prevent their free selfassertion as Indians. None are Indians and Musulmans in the same way as a Frenchman, or an Italian, is French and Christian, or Italian and Christian, that is to say: French first, Italian first, and Christian as long as Christianity is no actual bar to the expression of his patriotism.

Among the Hindus, the immense majority have a deep-rooted caste-consciousness with a vague consciousness of Hindudom, and no Indian consciousness at all. An illiterate Hindu (a porter in the station, a peasant or a fisherman in the village) does not know what a map of India looks like. Nor has he any idea of an Indian nation whose glory he shares, whose tradition he continues, whose past, present and future are his for the sole reason that he is a Hindu. To be a Hindu, for him, means to observe certain social customs (to not interdine with certain people, etc,) and to take part in certain festivities on certain occasions (to gather, for instance, on such and such a fall-moon night, and beat drums together, in singing God’s name). He knows that there are people living in remote provinces who worship the same Gods, hold sacred the same holy places and rivers,


and observe the same festival days as himself. All those people are Hindus; they and he share the same civilisation. He feels that, but dimly. There are so many restrictions, so many barriers between him and them, that his idea of Hindudom is not even as clear as the idea of Christendom probably was to an ignorant European, during the Middle Ages; and it cannot be compared with any such thing as a national consciousness.

Of the Hindus who actually represent Hindu culture, a very few can be called Indian nationalists. Socially, they also are the members of different castes. Apart from that, they are either free thinking philosophers with a smiling universal outlook and no particular love for anything, or else, wholesale spiritual beings in love with God, or, at least, busy with the progress of their own soul towards self-knowledge, through some particular path.

And as for those Hindus who have reinvented Indian nationalism during these last decades, who have built up the Indian National Congress, who have suffered for India and put India above everything, they too often seem to forget that India, apart from Hindudom, is no India at all. They, too often, are nationalists inspite of being Hindus, not because they are Hindus; nationalists just as so many European Christians are inspite of being Christians.

But Christianity, we have said, as well as Islam, is essentially international. A Christian cannot be a true nationalist except inspite of his Christianity. While a Hindu can; while a Hindu should be an Indian nationalist because he is a Hindu; because Hindu art, culture, life, and every kind of Hindu glory


are India’s, and India’s alone; and because the purest expression of Indian nationalism, the devotional cult of Bharat Mata (Mother India) can find place nowhere, can grow nowhere, can nowhere become prominent, except within Hindudom.

* * *

Musulmans are Musulmans first, and may sometimes be Indians afterwards, proves that India’s interest does not come to a clash with that of Islam.

And the few conscious Hindus are either modern European-style Indian nationalists (who separate Church and State) or else, philosophers first, and Indians afterwards; spiritual beings first, and Indians afterwards; devotees of such and such a God, disciples of such and such a “guru,” — sympathisers of such and such a religious movement . . . first, — and Indians afterwards.

Go and speak to many average educated Hindus about the social reforms needed for the defence of Hindudom. They will tell you that the important thing is to purify one’s soul; all progress in social life comes afterwards, by itself. Take, for instance, the case of all those who follow the same course of spiritual training as the man who is speaking to you, of all those who are connected with the same “math” or the same “asram” as him, and who regularly pay their respects to the same “guru.” There are no caste distinctions among them, will he tell you. Take the case of all those who frequent such and such a “sarvajanin” temple, built by so and so, for the good of all Hindus. They eat together the offerings set before


the God. They form a happy brotherhood. If all Hindus follow their example, then, no doubt, Hindudom will flourish forever and ever, united and strong, and full of faith. Another will say: follow the example of the Vaishnavas, and let all the Hindus actually become one huge brotherhood praising the name of Hari, Love incarnate. Another will say something else. None seem to be perfectly consistent with the true scientific Hindu attitude in religious matters, and to consider religion as an affair of purely personal experience, left to personal choice. And if there be any who do, then they seldom believe in social reforms; they have higher things to think of.

* * *

The truth is that the unity of Hindudom, if ever it has to come, is not coming through reverence payed to the same “guru,” not through praise of the same divine name, nor through partaking of food from the offerings set before the same God, by all the Hindus. First, these doings would be the exterior signs of a sort of creedal unity, and creedal unity of such a religious system as Hinduism, whose very essence is free experimental research in religious matters, is the greatest impossibility one can think of. Never the Hindus will be, like the Christians or like the Musulmans, the believers in one and the same creed. Their spirit is much too free, and their culture too old. But, besides that, it is too late to dream of any sort of unity realised through religious gatherings; the experiment has been attempted long ago, and without sufficient success.


For centuries, the Hindus of all castes and all provinces partake the same sacred meals, in Jagannath’s temple, at Puri. But as soon as they have crossed the temple gates, they are as caste-prejudiced, as provincial-minded, and as divided in every possible way as before. And what about the unifying effect of the holy name of Hari? Nowhere in India have these blessed syllables been more often and more devoutly pronounced than in Navadwipa; nowhere have the Hindus more fervently beaten drums together, repeating the name of God in mystical frenzy; nowhere Vaishnava faith and Vaishnava love have been more flourishing than in that birthplace of Vaishnavism. And yet, what is now the population of Nadia district, where Navadwipa stands? Five and a half lakhs of Hindus, and . . . nine and a half lakhs of Musulmans. As if, indeed, the name of Allah and of his Prophet had more power than the name of Hari!

We may assert that they have not, and that nothing else but the social bigotry of the Hindus has driven away from their fold these nine and a half lakhs of Bengalis who have accepted Islam. We may also assert that, had there been no “sangkirtans,” no “mahotsavas,” no repetition of the name of Hari, no Vaishnava mysticism, then, possibly, not nine lakhs and a half only, but fourteen lakhs and a half, among the Hindus of Nadia district, would have become Mohammadans. This is conceivable, though nobody can tell what would have actually happened. We do not say that the name of Hari and “sangkirtans” and “mahotsavas” are of no use for the unification and strengthening of Hindudom; we do not say that the


experience of Hindu brotherhood, realised once in one’s life, during a pilgrimage to Puri, or many times, during visits to “maths” and “asrams,” is of no use. Nor do we deny the important part played, in the history of Hindu awakening in modern times, by such reformed Hindu bodies as the Brahmo Samaj, the Arya Samaj, the Ramakrishna Mission, etc.

We only say that, however useful they may have been and may be still, all these things are not sufficient to save Hindudom now. Apart from the fact that it is contrary to the spirit of Hinduism to expect all Hindus to become Vaishnavas, or Brahmos, or Arya Samajists, or anything else of the kind, the beneficient influence of such movements, aiming at the unification of the Hindus on some purely religious basis, is too slow. Owing to their impulse, Hindu society is undergoing a serious evolution, no doubt. But the dangers of the present day are surrounding the Hindus with an excessive rapidity. They are at hand. And it is not a “serious” but slow evolution that can enable the Hindus to face them and overcome them. Remember history does not wait.

* * *

The evolution of Hindu society is too slow, and the strength acquired by the Hindus as a nation, insignificant, because the basis of all these movements which we have mentioned is purely religious.

What is purely religious (in the sense religion means: a spiritual path) is personal, and also of no concern with the trifles of this material world. Hinduism may be a wonderful selection of spiritual


teachings, a complete and perfect science of spiritual life, and therefore a personal treasure for each Hindu who sincerely aspires to realise his higher self. But Hindudom belongs to this material world. Its existence does not depend upon religious or metaphysical “truth,” but upon strength in this world — political strength, military strength, national strength.

That is why it is difficult to help Hindudom by trying to unite the Hindus on a purely religious basis. As soon as such an effort takes place, the tragic social and political problems of modern Hindudom lose their proper significance. The social changes which could bring unity and strength if they took place on a broad scale, remain, at most, confined to a particular place (like the temple of Jagannath) or to a particular religious sect, to a brotherhood of disciples. Or else, they are totally forgotten in favour of quarrels about the Unknown and perhaps Unknowable, which seem of much greater interest to the metaphysical-minded Hindus.

More than a hundred years ago the Brahmo Samaj, when started, suggested to the Hindus a programme of social reforms, considered as a necessity. It was, no doubt, a necessity, to prevent the fashionable Bengalis of the last century from rushing to both Christianity and European life. But it seemed a greater necessity still, to many, to make it clear that God is formless, and that it is wrong to worship Him under a multitude of forms. They, therefore, put all the stress upon this point; with the result that the social programme, the practical contribution of the Brahnio Samaj to the evolution of Hindudom, was


automatically pushed to the background. Once the controversy was risen to the metaphysical plane, it stayed there. And the main question was no longer “How to unite the Hindus? how to bring Indian Christians and Mohammadans back to Hindudom? how to keep the remaining Hindus from becoming Christians or, Mohammadans?” but: “How to persuade all Hindus that God is formless?” that is to say: “How to make all Hindus Brahmo Samajists?”

We have spoken of the Brahmo Samaj just as of an instance among many. In fact, any effort for the uplift of Hindudom, if based upon a particular religious or metaphysical conception of the Unknown instead of upon a practical conception of the realities of this world, leads, and is bound to lead, to the formation of sects, with, generally, the rising of one or two more saintly Hindu leaders to the exalted status of “avatars.” But India has more than enough sects; and India is swarming with “avatars,” old and new. That does not help her to become a nation. Nor does that prevent numbers of Hindus from becoming Mohammadans or Christians.

* * *

The great thing is to make the Hindus feel themselves not a juxtaposition of castes, nor a juxtaposition of sects, but a nation; to bring the idea that they are India and that India is them out of their subconscious mind into active consciousness; to create in them such a mentality that all what concerns the material, political, and cultural welfare of Hindudom, that is to say of India, will be the main concern, in


each Hindu’s daily thoughts and life. And when we say: the Hindus, we mean: all Hindus.

This new mentality cannot grow as long as purely metaphysical considerations on one hand, and purely spiritual considerations on the other, monopolise the best of so many Hindus’ energy; as long as the qualities of the Unknown appear as important as they do, even to those Hindus who are not in a position to speak of them through their own experience (and real “sadhaks” do not discuss metaphysics); as long as the preoccupation of personal salvation is greater, among the Hindus, than that of the freedom of Hindudom, of the strength of Hindudom, of the prosperity and glory of Hindudom as a nation.

It is an actual transposition of values that is needed to awaken the Hindus to the desire of life and to the acceptance of struggle in this world; to prepare them to face the crisis that is before them and to rule and be great, in the future, if only they are able to stand firm in the present. This transposition of values has two aspects:

(1) to bring the average Hindu idealism down from heaven, back to India which is part of this earth;

(2) to draw the average so-called Indian ; nationalism away from the imported idea of separation of “Church and State,” back to the real Hindu Indian conception according to which “Church and State,” cult and politics, cannot be separated.

In other words, to make both those Hindus who are not nationalists and those Indian nationalists who do a not wish to call themselves Hindus, into Hindu nationalists.


* * *

For that, as we have said, one must, first, push at the background the idea of Hinduism considered in one of its sects, or even considered as a science of universal religious investigation. It is that, certainly. But it is not by bearing in mind, all the time, that “it is that,” that the Hindus, as a distinct nation of broad Asia, will get strengthened.

We have recalled, among the causes of the disintegration of Pagandom in the West, the social position of the slaves and of the Barbarians in the Graeco-Roman world. There was also another cause, not social, but intellectual, and this was the cosmopolitism of the last generations of Pagan intelligentsia. While new-born anti-national Christianity was growing stronger and stronger, many were the learned and cultured Pagans who felt themselves “neither Greeks, nor Romans, but men; citizens of the Universe,” that is to say: philosophers without any sort of patriotism. The efforts to stop the spreading of Christianity were undertaken by the State, and in the name of the State. But what can the State do, when national consciousness has grown weak among the most enlightened citizens? The use of that political power which the State possesses depends upon the ideas of those who compose the State. When those who had influence in the Roman world did no longer identify their Nation with its national Gods and national culture, and no longer loved the Nation as the greatest of Gods, then the Roman State itself accepted Christianity. Then, the cultured “citizens of the World” who stuck to the old


Gods because of their symbolical value, and to the old schools of thought because they were schools of human wisdom, were exiled or made to be silent.

Deep, sincere, passionate nationalism could have saved the “Ancient World” and its culture wholesale, had nationalism been able to thrive in Greece, in Egypt, in Asia Minor and other places, under Roman domination, and in Rome itself, when Rome had become the cosmopolitan center of a vast empire.

Nationalism does exist, in India, however few may be those who actually live up to its ideal. If only it spread on a broad scale it would save Hindudom, and make it powerful once more. But if the Hindus do not learn to identify India and Hindudom, and to look upon India as the embodiment of sacredness, the actually most beloved deity, the very image and expression of the greater Unknown (if any such Unknown be worshipped, and if any image of it be conceived) then, even a free “Indian” government would be incapable of saving Hindudom, wherever it is weak. For, wherever Hindudom is weak, if such a government came to existence it would not represent the Hindus.

* * *

When we speak of Hindu nationalism, we do not speak of an allegiance to India of the same nature as the allegiance of a Frenchman to France, for instance. India is not France. We neither forget that Hinduism means a cult, nor that there are treasures of love confining to mysticism, in the heart of nearly every Hindu.


We have said that no religion other than Hinduism can provide the basis of Pan-Indian nationalism. But what would be Pan-Indian nationalism risen upon that basis? It would be more than a mere civism, like that we find in Europe. It would be a ritualistic nationalism, comparable, to a certain extent, to that of Japan; an exterior cult of the traditional Gods and Goddesses of India, of the great natural Forces of which India is the play-ground (Lila kshetra) and of Mother India herself. It would also be a devotional nationalism; absolute, unconditioned love of each and every individual Hindu for that great Being, that Goddess India whose life and spirit are his, but whose existence extends far beyond his, through time and space; whose value transcends his and that of all what he can touch and see; whose glory draws him out of his personal insignificance, and magnifies him to his own eyes.

And just as the few really wise men worship God even in the humblest manifestations of life, in the same way, the millions of Hindus would see first of all a son of Mother India in one another, and treat each other likewise.

* * *

With the cultivation of sincere Hindu nationalism, many religious, social, and political superstitions, which are the greatest hindrance to Hindu unity, would disappear automatically.

Through the very fact that the Hindus, instead of subordinating nationalism to “religion” (or to moral principles, or philosophical ideologies, which comes to


the same) would subordinate “religion,” morals, principles of any sort to nationalism, the condition of India would be modified. A change in action does not always, at once, bring a change of outlook. But a change of outlook is bound to bring, at once, a change in action.

So, to begin with, many of the old institutions of the Hindus that are supposed to be settled upon the authority of the “shastras” would lose their rigidity everywhere, and even disappear, wherever the interest of the Hindus, as a nation, is that, such institutions should disappear. Take the instance of caste. Nowadays, many Hindu realise that this institution should be, if not suppressed (a very few go so far) at least reformed. But it is a religious institution, for everything social, among the Hindus, is considered to have. a religious basis. To alter it means to go against the authority of the Scriptures. Fortunately, the Hindu Scriptures are innumerable. So those who wish to reform the present caste system can always find some authority to justify their attempt. Some will tell you that, “in the Bhagavat Gita,” caste, established upon quality distinctions, means something quite different from what we see today. Another will say that, “in the Vedas,” there is no mention of caste. Another, that, “in the mind of the seers of old,” caste had a purely spiritual sense. But, no less earnestly than those who support caste system as we see it, they all implicitly admit that it is some authority “of old,” and not the interest of today’s Hindu society, which has to guide the Hindus of the present day. And that, because they are “religious-minded,” instead of being, first of all, nationalists. A


Hindu who would be first of all a lover of Hindu India would say: “It does not matter so much what is written in the Scriptures as it matters what means we have to use, today, to face the special conditions in which we are placed. If the written “shastras” are not able to meet our needs, then, we can write new shastras. But nobody will be able to build up a new Hindudom if we perish.”

To consider the interest of one’s nation first, means to adapt one’s institutions to the necessities of time wherever national defence is concerned. Social institutions are instruments in the hands of a nation, for its own welfare. They were invented for the nation, not the nation for them. Old things are, no doubt, venerable, while linked with a glorious past. That does not mean that they must never be renewed, when times change. Any true Indian will look upon the sword of Rana Pratap as sacred: some of the noblest episodes of India’s past are linked with it. But no sensible, man would ask India to use similar swords nowadays to fight against war-tanks and aeroplanes. A real Hindu nationalist will look upon social institutions in the same light, wherever the interest of Hindudom is at stake.

* * *

What we have just said about casteism can be said about excessive provincialism, this other drawback of Hindu society, resting also, to a great extent, upon the authority of custom, and enforced by caste restrictions themselves. If the future military unity of free India is to be prepared from today through a


growing united Hindu consciousness, then, whatever prevents the formation of that consciousness is to be opposed.

We know that, though they are intermingled most of the time, provincial feelings and caste feelings are not exactly of the same nature. At the back of provincialism there is the idea of language, which corresponds to a reality. Many Indian “provinces” could be taken as nations by themselves. But nowadays, we are witnessing every day the fact that minor nations cannot live while keeping aloof from the strong ones whose culture and civilisation they share. What is true in present-day Europe and in the Far East, is also true in the Hindu East, that is to say, in present-day India (in waiting for the time when one shall speak of Greater India, based upon a still broader consciousness of Hindudom). Hindu nationalism has first to create an all-India Hindu consciousness. And the legitimately proud provinces (as well as the legitimately proud castes) will ultimately be benefited. Now, the Hindus of North and East Bengal, who are under the threat of destruction, are not even whole-heartedly backed by the Hindus of West Bengal, who cannot feel the danger as a personal concern of theirs. Imagine what an enormous strength they would gain, if only they felt themselves actually backed by the Hindus of Madras, by the Hindus of Maharashtra, by the Hindus of Malabar, of Punjab, of all India.

* * *

With a true nationalist mentality, the Hindus would


no longer look down upon “number,” as opposed to, “value.” Everybody understands that nowadays perhaps more than at any stage of the past, number means: political power. We know that there are instances of strong modern countries, outside India, where the few are supposed to rule over the many. But the many, there, are conscious beings; how could the few, who rule over them, rule without their wholehearted consent? The truth is that always and everywhere, the many, if organised, are a strength. The Hindu “religious” mind, to which strength in this world does not seem to be an important thing, can ignore the many, and let them become enemies of Hindudom. But the Hindu nationalist mind, to which strength in this world, political power, is the first indispensable condition to build up a great Hindu India, cannot afford to act in the same way.

A nationalist Hindu will naturally call back to Hindudom all Indians, whoever they may be, who can help to make Hindu India (real India) strong; who can fight to defend that priceless culture of which the purely “religious” or philosophically minded Hindus merely talk, most of times.

And moreover, the best thing to do to bring back to Hindudom all Indians, is not to preach Hinduism as a fine selection of philosophies appealing to all men, but to teach all Indians to put India above everything else, and, at the same time, to show them (for it is a fact) that India does not exist apart from Hindudom.

We do not say that, in broad Indian culture, no foreign elements should be tolerated. There are foreign elements in all cultures, always. Nor do we say that every Indian must fanatically refuse his


respect to all Gods and prophets of non-Indian origin. Such a narrow view would itself be anti-Indian. But we say that, as an Indian, he should first pay his respect and express his allegiance to all what, through millenniums of living legend and history, through sculpture, song and thought, has become the symbol of India herself.

Hindus have never asked anybody to renounce his personal faith, but only to renounce his exclusivism, his fanaticism in matters of personal faith or personal experience. If the Christians of India, today, following the example of the Christians of Europe, would only put India above Christianity; and if the Mohammadans of India, following the example of the modern Mohammadan leaders of Persia and of Turkey, would only put India — our common India — above Islam, then we would have no objection to their existence in India. They would be, then, Christians or Mohammadans as religious beings in search of their personal salvation; but, as Indians, they would be loyal Hindus. And they would be Indians first, religious beings afterwards. They would put the cultural as well as political interest of India above their personal salvation. They would be then an actual part of Hindudom, and it would be of no use “reconverting” them.

But this widespread national mentality is still a dream. And the aim of the movement in favour of reconversion to Hinduism is not the sporadic reconversion of half a dozen Indian Mohammadans and Christians, nor the grant of Hindu initiation to a few half-conscious hill-tribes, but the creation of a genuine Rational Indian consciousness, the same as


that of Hindudom, in all the Indian Mohammadans, Christians and aborigines hillmen; not the personal acceptance of any particular religious teachings by a few people, but the reconversion of the whole nation to its own national culture, consciousness, and pride.

* * *

But how to make people feel and think in terms of nation and national values? It is not an easy thing. “Spiritual” values which should be the concern of individuals alone, “moral” values, which are the product of the influence of ageless rules of convenience for individuals living together, play a daily part in the formation of the Indian public opinion, while national values do not. “Principles,” a certain political philosophy, which is as “moral” as it is political, a certain innocent conception of international “right” and “wrong,” and a still more innocent hope that “right” will win, are the things that guide the judgement of an average Hindu, about national and international daily politics. The sole idea of India’s interest does not. The average Hindu, because of his inheritance of high “principles,” along with centuries of political annihilation, is in the habit of sympathising with all the down-trodden countries of the world without trying to know if they really are, or not, as “down-trodden” as they look, and specially without troubling to understand what Hindudom can gain (what India can gain) by their not being downtrodden. Since a year or two, to talk politics with Hindus means to exchange expressions of grief in favour of the “poor” Abyssinians, the “poor” Chinese,


and above all, the “poor” Jews. (May be, also, recently, the “poor” Czechoslovakians, the “poor” Albanians, etc.) And God alone knows how many other “poor” countries will soon be added to the list.* But what about “poor” India?

Perhaps the rapid international changes taking place each day may turn to be a blessing for her, and perhaps they may not. But this is not the point. The point is that the Hindus do not care to examine this problem. Their first thought is: “right” and “wrong,” not: “Hindudom’s gain,” and “Hindudom’s loss.” When they get to feel that the first thing, for them, is to live, ruling over a free, strong Hindu India (including Greater India) and then only to invent as many definitions as they like of right and wrong, there will be some hope for the Hindus.

Political training is necessary for people to think in terms of national interest.

* * *

But political training is not enough. Or, better say, political training should begin (and actually does begin, wherever it exists) long before future citizens are able to discuss what is written in the newspapers. Like all genuine education, it begins at home, from very childhood, and depends immensely upon the mothers of a nation.

Every great nation is a nation where the women have a strong consciousness of their country’s

* The “poor” Poles still formed an independent nation when this book was written.


greatness. Take the instance of Japan or of Germany, today. Take the instance of the Rajputs, in Indian history or of the Romans, in the days of Cornelia. Great personalities too, rise to greatness with their mother’s inspiration. Example: Sivaji. Lack of political training and absence of nationalism in India is partly, and perhaps mostly due to the fact that Hindu women were, for so long, kept aloof from the preoccupation of national problems.

Hindu women embody some of the finest virtues of womanhood. They are devoted wives and tender mothers, and, inspite of many unseen sufferings, there is peace in their lives, peace from within. Still more than the essential of Hindu religious traditions, which they have been transmitting to their children, for endless generations, the silent, soothing, unconscious influence of their own personality has made the Hindus seekers of peace from within. Moreover, one can say that, if Hindudom is lasting still, this fact is greatly due to the conservative tenacity of the Hindu women.

But Hindudom is lasting, not living. For it to live as a nation, nowadays, conservative tenacity without consciousness is not what is needed. An interior peace, however precious, is not enough, for it is personal. For a new strong nationalist mentality to grow, among the Hindus, a new nationalist atmosphere is needed, in each Hindu home.

School and college education are now being considered as more and more necessary, by the upper caste Hindu ladies living in towns, at least in Bengal. And a spirit of so-called “imitation of the West” is consequently creeping into a section of Hindu society.


Yet, school and college education do not necessarily mean culture; and they surely do not mean nationalism, in a country where there is no national education at all. The so-called “imitation of the West” is but a bad copy of some petit aspects of a race of free men, by a batch of slaves whose mind has been made incapable of considering what essential virtues have made nations strong, in the West as well as in the East: national discipline, sense of national dignity in each individual man or woman, and, above all, sense of personal responsibility of each individual, man or woman, in every matter in which the nation’s welfare is concerned.

Women’s bookish education is useful, whenever it helps women to develop their national consciousness along with their character. When it does not, then it is but an ornament of the mind, and, half the time, an ornament out of place — an ornament of bad taste. What we want, in Hindu women, is strength of character (their submissive attitude is too often a result of weakness) and national consciousness, national pride.

* * *

In the West (we mean, in Europe) little children are taught to take interest in their nation’s greatness. Little French boys, little Germans, little Greeks, put their toy-soldiers in a row, and make them fight. One square-yard of a rotten carpet becomes a battlefield, where two nations are competing for supremacy. If the four-year-old child, the owner of the toy-soldiers, be a French boy, then the French batch always wins.


If he be a German, then the German batch is always the strongest. If he be a Greek, then he plays “Greeks and Turks,” and always gives the Greeks the advantage.

There were nations under foreign domination, in Europe: the Balkans, for instance, which were under the Turks for long centuries. During the days of Turkish rule, the children of the Balkans used to learn patriotism in their mother’s lap. The mothers were mostly illiterate (as millions of Indian women are nowadays) but they knew enough to tell their children that their country was in bondage and that it had to be made free. They used to teach them to feel slavery intolerable and to firmly and constantly keep in their hearts the will of freedom. They had the sense of “nation” and of national pride.

It is that which we would like to see also in Hindu women. We would like to see four-year-old little Indians playing “Indians and Mlechhas” with two batches of toy-soldiers (never mind if the game corresponds to a present possibility or not) and those who go to school showing each other, on- the map, what they would like Greater India to be, one day (never mind when). India’s freedom will not be far away when every Hindu actually feels slavery intolerable, that is to say, first, when every Hindu mother does. And India will grow to be a great world Power when, in every Hindu home, mothers and children discuss not merely how to be “good” according to current social standards, but how to be strong, how to rebecome a great nation. To rule, one day, it is not sufficient to be “good.”

We would like to see the Hindu women get into the


habit of discussing among themselves, and within their family circle, with earnestness, any matter concerning the nation, when it comes to their knowledge; not necessarily politics, but social matters, social problems, in the light of individual cases, which are the tragic realities of every day.

For instance, in Hindu public meetings, the fact is often recalled of the number of Hindu girls and women driven away from their society by Mohammadans. There are rowdy protestations against these daily outrages. There are rowdy protestations against many sorts of “Mohammadan injustice,” Mohammadan tyranny,” etc. in Hindu public meetings, letting aside those, against every new legislative reform which favours the Mohammadans, in a province where the Mohammadans are in power. All these protestations are of no use. The new legislative bills are passed, inspite of what the Hindus may say, because what the Hindus may say is mere talk as long as they cannot do anything to back it; as long as they are weak. “Mohammadan tyranny” continues, unchecked; and so does the abduction of Hindu girls and women. For “Mohammadan tyranny” means: Hindus’ weakness. And insult to Hindu women means: Hindus’ weakness. There is no liberty, no justice, no honour, no religion for the weak.

We would like the Hindus to realise it, and to react.

We would like, first of all, the Hindu women at home to feel personally insulted, whenever they come to know of any action that is an insult, not merely to such, or such a person, or to such or such a family, but


to the Hindus as a whole. They should feel ashamed; they should feel indignant; they should promote to action their husbands, their brothers, their sons; at least ask them: “What can be done?”; repeat to them that “something must be done.”

When they come to know that, in their own province, Hindudom is put to some new humiliation, then, we would like to see them express their grief in some tangible way (by fasting, for instance, a whole day, from sunrise to sunset). This would help them and all their family to feel that, to be a Hindu, does not mean merely to observe certain customs concerning diet and marriage, and to perform certain rites, but also to be one with a whole nation, to whom they belong. And that feeling of the women and children, if earnest and deep in every Hindu home (not in public meetings) would transform the Hindus out and out. Out of harmless sheep boasting of the inheritance of an old race of lions, it would remake them lions.

Last, but not least, we would like to see both ritualistic and devotional nationalism, of which we have spoken, flourishing from today among the women and children, in the Hindu home. We were told that in Maharashtra, the image of Sivaji, the national hero, is honoured and worshipped, along with those of the Gods, in the daily family “puja.” Sivaji is a God, since he represents Maharashtra, Hindudom — eternal India. We would like this cult of the heroes of Indian history to spread in every province, as well as in Maharashtra. We would like the Hindu women (specially those who enjoy the advantages of literacy) to become more and more


interested in Indian history, as they are in remote Indian legend; to consider it as their own history; to gather their children, now and then, and tell them true stories out of it, as beautiful as any tales of Gods and Demons: the story of the great king Chandra Gupta or the story of Prithviraj, the gallant Hindu knight; of Pratapaditya, or Rana Pratap, of Sivaji; of queen Padmini, of queen Durgavati, or of Lakshmi Bai. We would like to see the map of India, and beyond it, the outlines of Greater India (the picture of Hindu might in the past, and the constant recall of Hindu hopes) set as an object of cult, along with the images of the national Gods and Heroes, in every Hindu home. We would like every Hindu little boy to revere some great Indian warrior as his personal model, and every Hindu little girl to say to her mother: “I want to be like Lakshmi Bai, when I grow up.”

Then, Hindu India would be a strength, that is to say, a reality.