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Title: Nationalism
Author: Tagore, Rabindranath, 1861-1941
Language: English
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[Illustration: Logo]












_First Edition 1917_
_Reprinted 1918 (twice)_







Man's history is being shaped according to the difficulties it
encounters. These have offered us problems and claimed their solutions
from us, the penalty of non-fulfilment being death or degradation.

These difficulties have been different in different peoples of the
earth, and in the manner of our overcoming them lies our distinction.

The Scythians of the earlier period of Asiatic history had to struggle
with the scarcity of their natural resources. The easiest solution that
they could think of was to organize their whole population, men, women,
and children, into bands of robbers. And they were irresistible to those
who were chiefly engaged in the constructive work of social

But fortunately for man the easiest path is not his truest path. If his
nature were not as complex as it is, if it were as simple as that of a
pack of hungry wolves, then, by this time, those hordes of marauders
would have overrun the whole earth. But man, when confronted with
difficulties, has to acknowledge that he is man, that he has his
responsibilities to the higher faculties of his nature, by ignoring
which he may achieve success that is immediate, perhaps, but that will
become a death-trap to him. For what are obstacles to the lower
creatures are opportunities to the higher life of man.

To India has been given her problem from the beginning of history--it is
the race problem. Races ethnologically different have in this country
come into close contact. This fact has been and still continues to be
the most important one in our history. It is our mission to face it and
prove our humanity by dealing with it in the fullest truth. Until we
fulfil our mission all other benefits will be denied us.

There are other peoples in the world who have to overcome obstacles in
their physical surroundings, or the menace of their powerful neighbours.
They have organized their power till they are not only reasonably free
from the tyranny of Nature and human neighbours, but have a surplus of
it left in their hands to employ against others. But in India, our
difficulties being internal, our history has been the history of
continual social adjustment and not that of organized power for defence
and aggression.

Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism, nor the fierce
self-idolatry of nation-worship, is the goal of human history. And India
has been trying to accomplish her task through social regulation of
differences, on the one hand, and the spiritual recognition of unity on
the other. She has made grave errors in setting up the boundary walls
too rigidly between races, in perpetuating in her classifications the
results of inferiority; often she has crippled her children's minds and
narrowed their lives in order to fit them into her social forms; but for
centuries new experiments have been made and adjustments carried out.

Her mission has been like that of a hostess who has to provide proper
accommodation for numerous guests, whose habits and requirements are
different from one another. This gives rise to infinite complexities
whose solution depends not merely upon tactfulness but upon sympathy and
true realization of the unity of man. Towards this realization have
worked, from the early time of the Upanishads up to the present moment,
a series of great spiritual teachers, whose one object has been to set
at naught all differences of man by the overflow of our consciousness of
God. In fact, our history has not been of the rise and fall of kingdoms,
of fights for political supremacy. In our country records of these days
have been despised and forgotten, for they in no way represent the true
history of our people. Our history is that of our social life and
attainment of spiritual ideals.

But we feel that our task is not yet done. The world-flood has swept
over our country, new elements have been introduced, and wider
adjustments are waiting to be made.

We feel this all the more, because the teaching and example of the West
have entirely run counter to what we think was given to India to
accomplish. In the West the national machinery of commerce and politics
turns out neatly compressed bales of humanity which have their use and
high market value; but they are bound in iron hoops, labelled and
separated off with scientific care and precision. Obviously God made man
to be human; but this modern product has such marvellous square-cut
finish, savouring of gigantic manufacture, that the Creator will find it
difficult to recognize it as a thing of spirit and a creature made in
His own divine image.

But I am anticipating. What I was about to say is this. Take it in
whatever spirit you like, 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. It was upon this remote portion of
humanity, childlike in its manner, with the wisdom of the old, that the
Nation of the West burst in.

Through all the fights and intrigues and deceptions of her earlier
history India had remained aloof. Because her homes, her fields, her
temples of worship, her schools, where her teachers and students lived
together in the atmosphere of simplicity and devotion and learning, her
village self-government with its simple laws and peaceful
administration--all these truly belonged to her. But her thrones were
not her concern. They passed over her head like clouds, now tinged with
purple gorgeousness, now black with the threat of thunder. Often they
brought devastations in their wake, but they were like catastrophes of
nature whose traces are soon forgotten.

But this time it was different. It was not a mere drift over her
surface of life,--drift of cavalry and foot soldiers, richly caparisoned
elephants, white tents and canopies, strings of patient camels bearing
the loads of royalty, bands of kettle-drums and flutes, marble domes of
mosques, palaces and tombs, like the bubbles of the foaming wine of
extravagance; stories of treachery and loyal devotion, of changes of
fortune, of dramatic surprises of fate. This time it was the Nation of
the West driving its tentacles of machinery deep down into the soil.

Therefore I say to you, it is we who are called as witnesses to give
evidence as to what our Nation has been to humanity. We had known the
hordes of Moghals and Pathans who invaded India, but we had known them
as human races, with their own religions and customs, likes and
dislikes,--we had never known them as a nation. We loved and hated them
as occasions arose; we fought for them and against them, talked with
them in a language which was theirs as well as our own, and guided the
destiny of the Empire in which we had our active share. But this time we
had to deal, not with kings, not with human races, but with a
nation--we, who are no nation ourselves.

Now let us from our own experience answer the question, What is this

A nation, in the sense of the political and economic union of a people,
is that aspect which a whole population assumes when organized for a
mechanical purpose. 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 of life in co-operation with one another. It 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 early days it had its separate place in society, restricted
to the professionals. 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 its 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 powerfulness. 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.

It is just possible that you have lost through habit consciousness that
the living bonds of society are breaking up, and giving place to merely
mechanical organization. But you see signs of it everywhere. It is owing
to this that war has been declared between man and woman, because the
natural thread is snapping which holds them together in harmony; because
man is driven to professionalism, producing wealth for himself and
others, continually turning the wheel of power for his own sake or for
the sake of the universal officialdom, leaving woman alone to wither and
to die or to fight her own battle unaided. And thus there where
co-operation is natural has intruded competition. The very psychology of
men and women about their mutual relation is changing and becoming the
psychology of the primitive fighting elements, rather than of humanity
seeking its completeness through the union based upon mutual
self-surrender. For the elements which have lost their living bond of
reality have lost the meaning of their existence. Like gaseous particles
forced into a too narrow space, they come in continual conflict with
each other till they burst the very arrangement which holds them in

Then look at those who call themselves anarchists, who resent the
imposition of power, in any form whatever, upon the individual. The only
reason for this is that power has become too abstract--it is a
scientific product made in the political laboratory of the Nation,
through the dissolution of personal humanity.

And what is the meaning of these strikes in the economic world, which
like the prickly shrubs in a barren soil shoot up with renewed vigour
each time they are cut down? What, but that the wealth-producing
mechanism is incessantly growing into vast stature, out of proportion to
all other needs of society,--and the full reality of man is more and
more crushed under its weight? This state of things inevitably gives
rise to eternal feuds among the elements freed from the wholeness and
wholesomeness of human ideals, and interminable economic war is waged
between capital and labour. For greed of wealth and power can never have
a limit, and compromise of self-interest can never attain the final
spirit of reconciliation. They must go on breeding jealousy and
suspicion to the end--the end which only comes through some sudden
catastrophe or a spiritual re-birth.

When this organization of politics and commerce, whose other name is the
Nation, becomes all-powerful at the cost of the harmony of the higher
social life, then it is an evil day for humanity. When a father becomes
a gambler and his obligations to his family take the secondary place in
his mind, then he is no longer a man, but an automaton led by the power
of greed. Then he can do things which, in his normal state of mind, he
would be ashamed to do. It is the same thing with society. When it
allows itself to be turned into a perfect organization of power, then
there are few crimes which it is unable to perpetrate. Because success
is the object and justification of a machine, while goodness only is the
end and purpose of man. When this engine of organization begins to
attain a vast size, and those who are mechanics are made into parts of
the machine, then the personal man is eliminated to a phantom,
everything becomes a revolution of policy carried out by the human parts
of the machine, with no twinge of pity or moral responsibility. It may
happen that even through this apparatus the moral nature of man tries
to assert itself, but the whole series of ropes and pullies creak and
cry, the forces of the human heart become entangled among the forces of
the human automaton, and only with difficulty can the moral purpose
transmit itself into some tortured shape of result.

This abstract being, the Nation, is ruling India. We have seen in our
country some brand of tinned food advertised as entirely made and packed
without being touched by hand. This description applies to the governing
of India, which is as little touched by the human hand as possible. The
governors need not know our language, need not come into personal touch
with us except as officials; they can aid or hinder our aspirations from
a disdainful distance, they can lead us on a certain path of policy and
then pull us back again with the manipulation of office red tape; the
newspapers of England, in whose columns London street accidents are
recorded with some decency of pathos, need but take the scantiest notice
of calamities which happen in India over areas of land sometimes larger
than the British Isles.

But we, who are governed, are not a mere abstraction. We, on our side,
are individuals with living sensibilities. What comes to us in the
shape of a mere bloodless policy may pierce into the very core of our
life, may threaten the whole future of our people with a perpetual
helplessness of emasculation, and yet may never touch the chord of
humanity on the other side, or touch it in the most inadequately feeble
manner. Such wholesale and universal acts of fearful responsibility man
can never perform, with such a degree of systematic unawareness, where
he is an individual human being. These only become possible, where the
man is represented by an octopus of abstractions, sending out its
wriggling arms in all directions of space, and fixing its innumerable
suckers even into the far-away future. In this reign of the nation, the
governed are pursued by suspicions; and these are the suspicions of a
tremendous mass of organized brain and muscle. Punishments are meted
out, which leave a trail of miseries across a large bleeding tract of
the human heart; but these punishments are dealt by a mere abstract
force, in which a whole population of a distant country has lost its
human personality.

I have not come here, however, to discuss the question as it affects my
own country, but as it affects the future of all humanity. It is not a
question of the British Government, but of government by the Nation--the
Nation which is the organized self-interest of a whole people, where it
is least human and least spiritual. Our only intimate experience of the
Nation is with the British Nation, and as far as the government by the
Nation goes there are reasons to believe that it is one of the best.
Then, again, we have to consider that the West is necessary to the East.
We are complementary to each other because of our different outlooks
upon life which have given us different aspects of truth. Therefore if
it be true that the spirit of the West has come upon our fields in the
guise of a storm it is nevertheless scattering living seeds that are
immortal. And when in India we become able to assimilate in our life
what is permanent in Western civilization we shall be in the position to
bring about a reconciliation of these two great worlds. Then will come
to an end the one-sided dominance which is galling. What is more, we
have to recognize that the history of India does not belong to one
particular race but to a process of creation to which various races of
the world contributed--the Dravidians and the Aryans, the ancient Greeks
and the Persians, the Mohammedans of the West and those of central
Asia. Now at last has come the turn of the English to become true to
this history and bring to it the tribute of their life, and we neither
have the right nor the power to exclude this people from the building of
the destiny of India. Therefore what I say about the Nation has more to
do with the history of Man than specially with that of India.

This history has come to a stage when the moral man, the complete man,
is more and more giving way, almost without knowing it, to make room for
the political and the commercial man, the man of the limited purpose.
This process, aided by the wonderful progress in science, is assuming
gigantic proportion and power, causing the upset of man's moral balance,
obscuring his human side under the shadow of soul-less organization. We
have felt its iron grip at the root of our life, and for the sake of
humanity we must stand up and give warning to all, that this nationalism
is a cruel epidemic of evil that is sweeping over the human world of the
present age, and eating into its moral vitality.

I have a deep love and a great respect for the British race as human
beings. It has produced great-hearted men, thinkers of great thoughts,
doers of great deeds. It has given rise to a great literature. I know
that these people love justice and freedom, and hate lies. They are
clean in their minds, frank in their manners, true in their friendships;
in their behaviour they are honest and reliable. The personal experience
which I have had of their literary men has roused my admiration not
merely for their power of thought or expression but for their chivalrous
humanity. We have felt the greatness of this people as we feel the sun;
but as for the Nation, it is for us a thick mist of a stifling nature
covering the sun itself.

This government by the Nation is neither British nor anything else; it
is an applied science and therefore more or less similar in its
principles wherever it is used. It is like a hydraulic press, whose
pressure is impersonal, and on that account completely effective. The
amount of its power may vary in different engines. Some may even be
driven by hand, thus leaving a margin of comfortable looseness in their
tension, but in spirit and in method their differences are small. Our
government might have been Dutch, or French, or Portuguese, and its
essential features would have remained much the same as they are now.
Only perhaps, in some cases, the organization might not have been so
densely perfect, and, therefore, some shreds of the human might still
have been clinging to the wreck, allowing us to deal with something
which resembles our own throbbing heart.

Before the Nation came to rule over us we had other governments which
were foreign, and these, like all governments, had some element of the
machine in them. But the difference between them and the government by
the Nation is like the difference between the hand-loom and the
power-loom. In the products of the hand-loom the magic of man's living
fingers finds its expression, and its hum harmonizes with the music of
life. But the power-loom is relentlessly lifeless and accurate and
monotonous in its production.

We must admit that during the personal government of the former days
there have been instances of tyranny, injustice and extortion. They
caused sufferings and unrest from which we are glad to be rescued. The
protection of law is not only a boon, but it is a valuable lesson to us.
It is teaching us the discipline which is necessary for the stability of
civilization and for continuity of progress. We are realizing through it
that there is a universal standard of justice to which all men,
irrespective of their caste and colour, have their equal claim.

This reign of law in our present Government in India has established
order in this vast land inhabited by peoples different in their races
and customs. It has made it possible for these peoples to come in closer
touch with one another and cultivate a communion of aspiration.

But this desire for a common bond of comradeship among the different
races of India has been the work of the spirit of the West, not that of
the Nation of the West. Wherever in Asia the people have received the
true lesson of the West it is in spite of the Western Nation. Only
because Japan had been able to resist the dominance of this Western
Nation could she acquire the benefit of the Western Civilization in
fullest measure. Though China has been poisoned at the very spring of
her moral and physical life by this Nation, her struggle to receive the
best lessons of the West may yet be successful if not hindered by the
Nation. It was only the other day that Persia woke up from her age-long
sleep at the call of the West to be instantly trampled into stillness by
the Nation. The same phenomenon prevails in this country also, where the
people are hospitable, but the Nation has proved itself to be
otherwise, making an Eastern guest feel humiliated to stand before you
as a member of the humanity of his own motherland.

In India we are suffering from this conflict between the spirit of the
West and the Nation of the West. The benefit of the Western civilization
is doled out to us in a miserly measure by the Nation, which tries to
regulate the degree of nutrition as near the zero-point of vitality as
possible. The portion of education allotted to us is so raggedly
insufficient that it ought to outrage the sense of decency of a Western
humanity. We have seen in these countries how the people are encouraged
and trained and given every facility to fit themselves for the great
movements of commerce and industry spreading over the world, while in
India the only assistance we get is merely to be jeered at by the Nation
for lagging behind. While depriving us of our opportunities and reducing
our education to the minimum required for conducting a foreign
government, this Nation pacifies its conscience by calling us names, by
sedulously giving currency to the arrogant cynicism that the East is
east and the West is west and never the twain shall meet. If we must
believe our schoolmaster in his taunt that, after nearly two centuries
of his tutelage, India not only remains unfit for self-government but
unable to display originality in her intellectual attainments, must we
ascribe it to something in the nature of Western culture and our
inherent incapacity to receive it or to the judicious niggardliness of
the Nation that has taken upon itself the white man's burden of
civilizing the East? That Japanese people have some qualities which we
lack we may admit, but that our intellect is naturally unproductive
compared to theirs we cannot accept even from them whom it is dangerous
for us to contradict.

The truth is that the spirit of conflict and conquest is at the origin
and in the centre of Western nationalism; its basis is not social
co-operation. It has evolved a perfect organization of power, but not
spiritual idealism. It is like the pack of predatory creatures that must
have its victims. With all its heart it cannot bear to see its
hunting-grounds converted into cultivated fields. In fact, these nations
are fighting among themselves for the extension of their victims and
their reserve forests. Therefore the Western Nation acts like a dam to
check the free flow of Western civilization into the country of the
No-Nation. Because this civilization is the civilization of power,
therefore it is exclusive, it is naturally unwilling to open its
sources of power to those whom it has selected for its purposes of

But all the same moral law is the law of humanity, and the exclusive
civilization which thrives upon others who are barred from its benefit
carries its own death-sentence in its moral limitations. The slavery
that it gives rise to unconsciously drains its own love of freedom dry.
The helplessness with which it weighs down its world of victims exerts
its force of gravitation every moment upon the power that creates it.
And the greater part of the world which is being denuded of its
self-sustaining life by the Nation will one day become the most terrible
of all its burdens, ready to drag it down into the bottom of
destruction. Whenever Power removes all checks from its path to make its
career easy, it triumphantly rides into its ultimate crash of death. Its
moral brake becomes slacker every day without its knowing it, and its
slippery path of ease becomes its path of doom.

Of all things in Western civilization, those which this Western Nation
has given us in a most generous measure are law and order. While the
small feeding-bottle of our education is nearly dry, and sanitation
sucks its own thumb in despair, the military organization, the
magisterial offices, the police, the Criminal Investigation Department,
the secret spy system, attain to an abnormal girth in their waists,
occupying every inch of our country. This is to maintain order. But is
not this order merely a negative good? Is it not for giving people's
life greater opportunities for the freedom of development? Its
perfection is the perfection of an egg-shell, whose true value lies in
the security it affords to the chick and its nourishment and not in the
convenience it offers to the person at the breakfast table. Mere
administration is unproductive, it is not creative, not being a living
thing. It is a steam-roller, formidable in its weight and power, having
its uses, but it does not help the soil to become fertile. When after
its enormous toil it comes to offer us its boon of peace we can but
murmur under our breath that "peace is good, but not more so than life,
which is God's own great boon."

On the other hand, our former governments were woefully lacking in many
of the advantages of the modern government. But because those were not
the governments by the Nation, their texture was loosely woven, leaving
big gaps through which our own life sent its threads and imposed its
designs. I am quite sure in those days we had things that were extremely
distasteful to us. But we know that when we walk barefooted upon ground
strewn with gravel, our feet come gradually to adjust themselves to the
caprices of the inhospitable earth; while if the tiniest particle of
gravel finds its lodgment inside our shoes we can never forget and
forgive its intrusion. And these shoes are the government by the
Nation,--it is tight, it regulates our steps with a closed-up system,
within which our feet have only the slightest liberty to make their own
adjustments. Therefore, when you produce your statistics to compare the
number of gravels which our feet had to encounter in former days with
the paucity in the present régime, they hardly touch the real points. It
is not a question of the number of outside obstacles but the comparative
powerlessness of the individual to cope with them. This narrowness of
freedom is an evil which is more radical, not because of its quantity
but because of its nature. And we cannot but acknowledge this paradox,
that while the spirit of the West marches under its banner of freedom,
the Nation of the West forges its iron chains of organization which are
the most relentless and unbreakable that have ever been manufactured in
the whole history of man.

When the humanity of India was not under the government of the
Organization, the elasticity of change was great enough to encourage men
of power and spirit to feel that they had their destinies in their own
hands. The hope of the unexpected was never absent, and a freer play of
imagination, on the part both of the governor and the governed, had its
effect in the making of history. We were not confronted with a future,
which was a dead white wall of granite blocks eternally guarding against
the expression and extension of our own powers, the hopelessness of
which lies in the reason that these powers are becoming atrophied at
their very roots by the scientific process of paralysis. For every
single individual in the country of the No-Nation is completely in the
grip of a whole nation,--whose tireless vigilance, being the vigilance
of a machine, has not the human power to overlook or to discriminate. At
the least pressing of its button the monster organization becomes all
eyes, whose ugly stare of inquisitiveness cannot be avoided by a single
person amongst the immense multitude of the ruled. At the least turn of
its screw, by the fraction of an inch, the grip is tightened to the
point of suffocation around every man, woman and child of a vast
population, for whom no escape is imaginable in their own country, or
even in any country outside their own.

It is the continual and stupendous dead pressure of this inhuman upon
the living human under which the modern world is groaning. Not merely
the subject races, but you who live under the delusion that you are
free, are every day sacrificing your freedom and humanity to this fetich
of nationalism, living in the dense poisonous atmosphere of world-wide
suspicion and greed and panic.

I have seen in Japan the voluntary submission of the whole people to the
trimming of their minds and clipping of their freedom by their
government, which through various educational agencies regulates their
thoughts, manufactures their feelings, becomes suspiciously watchful
when they show signs of inclining toward the spiritual, leading them
through a narrow path not toward what is true but what is necessary for
the complete welding of them into one uniform mass according to its own
recipe. The people accept this all-pervading mental slavery with
cheerfulness and pride because of their nervous desire to turn
themselves into a machine of power, called the Nation, and emulate other
machines in their collective worldliness.

When questioned as to the wisdom of its course the newly converted
fanatic of nationalism answers that "so long as nations are rampant in
this world we have not the option freely to develop our higher humanity.
We must utilize every faculty that we possess to resist the evil by
assuming it ourselves in the fullest degree. For the only brotherhood
possible in the modern world is the brotherhood of hooliganism." The
recognition of the fraternal bond of love between Japan and Russia,
which has lately been celebrated with an immense display of rejoicing in
Japan, was not owing to any sudden recrudescence of the spirit of
Christianity or of Buddhism, but it was a bond established according to
the modern faith in a surer relationship of mutual menace of
bloodshedding. Yes, one cannot but acknowledge that these facts are the
facts of the world of the Nation, and the only moral of it is that all
the peoples of the earth should strain their physical, moral and
intellectual resources to the utmost to defeat one another in the
wrestling match of powerfulness. In the ancient days Sparta paid all
her attention to becoming powerful; she did become so by crippling her
humanity, and died of the amputation.

But it is no consolation to us to know that the weakening of humanity
from which the present age is suffering is not limited to the subject
races, and that its ravages are even more radical because insidious and
voluntary in peoples who are hypnotized into believing that they are
free. This bartering of your higher aspirations of life for profit and
power has been your own free choice, and I leave you there, at the
wreckage of your soul, contemplating your protuberant prosperity. But
will you never be called to answer for organizing the instincts of
self-aggrandizement of whole peoples into perfection and calling it
good? I ask you what disaster has there ever been in the history of man,
in its darkest period, like this terrible disaster of the Nation fixing
its fangs deep into the naked flesh of the world, taking permanent
precautions against its natural relaxation?

You, the people of the West, who have manufactured this abnormality, can
you imagine the desolating despair of this haunted world of suffering
man possessed by the ghastly abstraction of the organizing man? Can you
put yourself into the position of the peoples, who seem to have been
doomed to an eternal damnation of their own humanity, who not only must
suffer continual curtailment of their manhood, but even raise their
voices in pæans of praise for the benignity of a mechanical apparatus in
its interminable parody of providence?

Have you not seen, since the commencement of the existence of the
Nation, that the dread of it has been the one goblin-dread with which
the whole world has been trembling? Wherever there is a dark corner,
there is the suspicion of its secret malevolence; and people live in a
perpetual distrust of its back where it has no eyes. Every sound of a
footstep, every rustle of movement in the neighbourhood, sends a thrill
of terror all around. And this terror is the parent of all that is base
in man's nature. It makes one almost openly unashamed of inhumanity.
Clever lies become matters of self-congratulation. Solemn pledges become
a farce,--laughable for their very solemnity. The Nation, with all its
paraphernalia of power and prosperity, its flags and pious hymns, its
blasphemous prayers in the churches, and the literary mock thunders of
its patriotic bragging, cannot hide the fact that the Nation is the
greatest evil for the Nation, that all its precautions are against it,
and any new birth of its fellow in the world is always followed in its
mind by the dread of a new peril. Its one wish is to trade on the
feebleness of the rest of the world, like some insects that are bred in
the paralysed flesh of victims kept just enough alive to make them
toothsome and nutritious. Therefore it is ready to send its poisonous
fluid into the vitals of the other living peoples, who, not being
nations, are harmless. For this the Nation has had and still has its
richest pasture in Asia. Great China, rich with her ancient wisdom and
social ethics, her discipline of industry and self-control, is like a
whale awakening the lust of spoil in the heart of the Nation. She is
already carrying in her quivering flesh harpoons sent by the unerring
aim of the Nation, the creature of science and selfishness. Her pitiful
attempt to shake off her traditions of humanity, her social ideals, and
spend her last exhausted resources in drilling herself into modern
efficiency, is thwarted at every step by the Nation. It is tightening
its financial ropes round her, trying to drag her up on the shore and
cut her into pieces, and then go and offer public thanksgiving to God
for supporting the one existing evil and shattering the possibility of a
new one. And for all this the Nation has been claiming the gratitude of
history, and all eternity for its exploitation; ordering its band of
praise to be struck up from end to end of the world, declaring itself to
be the salt of the earth, the flower of humanity, the blessing of God
hurled with all His force upon the naked skulls of the world of

I know what your advice will be. You will say, form yourselves into a
nation, and resist this encroachment of the Nation. But is this the true
advice? that of a man to a man? Why should this be a necessity? I could
well believe you if you had said, Be more good, more just, more true in
your relation to man, control your greed, make your life wholesome in
its simplicity and let your consciousness of the divine in humanity be
more perfect in its expression. But must you say that it is not the
soul, but the machine, which is of the utmost value to ourselves, and
that man's salvation depends upon his disciplining himself into a
perfection of the dead rhythm of wheels and counterwheels? that machine
must be pitted against machine, and nation against nation, in an endless
bull-fight of politics?

You say, these machines will come into an agreement, for their mutual
protection, based upon a conspiracy of fear. But will this federation
of steam-boilers supply you with a soul, a soul which has her conscience
and her God? What is to happen to that larger part of the world where
fear will have no hand in restraining you? Whatever safety they now
enjoy, those countries of No-Nation, from the unbridled license of forge
and hammer and turn-screw, results from the mutual jealousy of the
powers. But when, instead of being numerous separate machines, they
become riveted into one organized gregariousness of gluttony, commercial
and political, what remotest chance of hope will remain for those
others, who have lived and suffered, have loved and worshipped, have
thought deeply and worked with meekness, but whose only crime has been
that they have not organized?

But, you say, "That does not matter, the unfit must go to the wall--they
shall _die_, and this is science."

No, for the sake of your own salvation, I say, they shall _live_, and
this is truth. It is extremely bold of me to say so, but I assert that
man's world is a moral world, not because we blindly agree to believe
it, but because it is so in truth which would be dangerous for us to
ignore. And this moral nature of man cannot be divided into convenient
compartments for its preservation. You cannot secure it for your home
consumption with protective tariff walls, while in foreign parts making
it enormously accommodating in its free trade of license.

Has not this truth already come home to you now, when this cruel war has
driven its claws into the vitals of Europe? when her hoard of wealth is
bursting into smoke and her humanity is shattered into bits on her
battlefields? You ask in amazement what has she done to deserve this?
The answer is, that the West has been systematically petrifying her
moral nature in order to lay a solid foundation for her gigantic
abstractions of efficiency. She has all along been starving the life of
the personal man into that of the professional.

In your mediæval age in Europe, the simple and the natural man, with all
his violent passions and desires, was engaged in trying to find out a
reconciliation in the conflict between the flesh and the spirit. All
through the turbulent career of her vigorous youth the temporal and the
spiritual forces both acted strongly upon her nature, and were moulding
it into completeness of moral personality. Europe owes all her greatness
in humanity to that period of discipline,--the discipline of the man in
his human integrity.

Then came the age of intellect, of science. We all know that intellect
is impersonal. Our life, and our heart, are one with us, but our mind
can be detached from the personal man and then only can it freely move
in its world of thoughts. Our intellect is an ascetic who wears no
clothes, takes no food, knows no sleep, has no wishes, feels no love or
hatred or pity for human limitations, who only reasons, unmoved, through
the vicissitudes of life. It burrows to the roots of things, because it
has no personal concern with the thing itself. The grammarian walks
straight through all poetry and goes to the root of words without
obstruction, because he is not seeking reality, but law. When he finds
the law, he is able to teach people how to master words. This is a
power,--the power which fulfils some special usefulness, some particular
need of man.

Reality is the harmony which gives to the component parts of a thing the
equilibrium of the whole. You break it, and have in your hands the
nomadic atoms fighting against one another, therefore unmeaning. Those
who covet power try to get mastery of these aboriginal fighting
elements, and through some narrow channels force them into some violent
service for some particular needs of man.

This satisfaction of man's needs is a great thing. It gives him freedom
in the material world. It confers on him the benefit of a greater range
of time and space. He can do things in a shorter time and occupies a
larger space with more thoroughness of advantage. Therefore he can
easily outstrip those who live in a world of a slower time and of space
less fully occupied.

This progress of power attains more and more rapidity of pace. And, for
the reason that it is a detached part of man, it soon outruns the
complete humanity. The moral man remains behind, because it has to deal
with the whole reality, not merely with the law of things, which is
impersonal and therefore abstract.

Thus, man with his mental and material power far outgrowing his moral
strength, is like an exaggerated giraffe whose head has suddenly shot up
miles away from the rest of him, making normal communication difficult
to establish. This greedy head, with its huge dental organization, has
been munching all the topmost foliage of the world, but the nourishment
is too late in reaching his digestive organs, and his heart is
suffering from want of blood. Of this present disharmony in man's nature
the West seems to have been blissfully unconscious. The enormity of its
material success has diverted all its attention toward
self-congratulation on its bulk. The optimism of its logic goes on
basing the calculations of its good fortune upon the indefinite
prolongation of its railway lines toward eternity. It is superficial
enough to think that all to-morrows are merely to-days, with the
repeated additions of twenty-four hours. It has no fear of the chasm,
which is opening wider every day, between man's ever-growing storehouses
and the emptiness of his hungry humanity. Logic does not know that,
under the lowest bed of endless strata of wealth and comforts,
earthquakes are being hatched to restore the balance of the moral world,
and one day the gaping gulf of spiritual vacuity will draw into its
bottom the store of things that have their eternal love for the dust.

Man in his fulness is not powerful, but perfect. Therefore, to turn him
into mere power, you have to curtail his soul as much as possible. When
we are fully human, we cannot fly at one another's throats; our
instincts of social life, our traditions of moral ideals stand in the
way. If you want me to take to butchering human beings, you must break
up that wholeness of my humanity through some discipline which makes my
will dead, my thoughts numb, my movements automatic, and then from the
dissolution of the complex personal man will come out that abstraction,
that destructive force, which has no relation to human truth, and
therefore can be easily brutal or mechanical. Take away man from his
natural surroundings, from the fulness of his communal life, with all
its living associations of beauty and love and social obligations, and
you will be able to turn him into so many fragments of a machine for the
production of wealth on a gigantic scale. Turn a tree into a log and it
will burn for you, but it will never bear living flowers and fruit.

This process of dehumanizing has been going on in commerce and politics.
And out of the long birth-throes of mechanical energy has been born this
fully developed apparatus of magnificent power and surprising appetite
which has been christened in the West as the Nation. As I have hinted
before, because of its quality of abstraction it has, with the greatest
ease, gone far ahead of the complete moral man. And having the
conscience of a ghost and the callous perfection of an automaton, it is
causing disasters of which the volcanic dissipations of the youthful
moon would be ashamed to be brought into comparison. As a result, the
suspicion of man for man stings all the limbs of this civilization like
the hairs of the nettle. Each country is casting its net of espionage
into the slimy bottom of the others, fishing for their secrets, the
treacherous secrets which brew in the oozy depths of diplomacy. And what
is their secret service but the nation's underground trade in
kidnapping, murder and treachery and all the ugly crimes bred in the
depth of rottenness? Because each nation has its own history of thieving
and lies and broken faith, therefore there can only flourish
international suspicion and jealousy, and international moral shame
becomes anæmic to a degree of ludicrousness. The nation's bagpipe of
righteous indignation has so often changed its tune according to the
variation of time and to the altered groupings of the alliances of
diplomacy, that it can be enjoyed with amusement as the variety
performance of the political music hall.

I am just coming from my visit to Japan, where I exhorted this young
nation to take its stand upon the higher ideals of humanity and never
to follow the West in its acceptance of the organized selfishness of
Nationalism as its religion, never to gloat upon the feebleness of its
neighbours, never to be unscrupulous in its behaviour to the weak, where
it can be gloriously mean with impunity, while turning its right cheek
of brighter humanity for the kiss of admiration to those who have the
power to deal it a blow. Some of the newspapers praised my utterances
for their poetical qualities, while adding with a leer that it was the
poetry of a defeated people. I felt they were right. Japan had been
taught in a modern school the lesson how to become powerful. The
schooling is done and she must enjoy the fruits of her lessons. The West
in the voice of her thundering cannon had said at the door of Japan, Let
there be a nation--and there was a Nation. And now that it _has_ come
into existence, why do you not feel in your heart of hearts a pure
feeling of gladness and say that it is good? Why is it that I saw in an
English paper an expression of bitterness at Japan's boasting of her
superiority of civilization--the thing that the British, along with
other nations, has been carrying on for ages without blushing? Because
the idealism of selfishness must keep itself drunk with a continual dose
of self-laudation. But the same vices which seem so natural and
innocuous in its own life make it surprised and angry at their
unpleasantness when seen in other nations. Therefore, when you see the
Japanese nation, created in your own image, launched in its career of
national boastfulness you shake your head and say, it is not good. Has
it not been one of the causes that raise the cry on these shores for
preparedness to meet one more power of evil with a greater power of
injury? Japan protests that she has her _bushido_, that she can never be
treacherous to America, to whom she owes her gratitude. But you find it
difficult to believe her,--for the wisdom of the Nation is not in its
faith in humanity but in its complete distrust. You say to yourself that
it is not with Japan of the _bushido_, the Japan of the moral ideals,
that you have to deal--it is with the abstraction of the popular
selfishness, it is with the Nation; and Nation can only trust Nation
where their interests coalesce, or at least do not conflict. In fact
your instinct tells you that the advent of another people into the arena
of nationality makes another addition to the evil which contradicts all
that is highest in Man and proves by its success that unscrupulousness
is the way to prosperity,--and goodness is good for the weak and God is
the only remaining consolation of the defeated.

Yes, this is the logic of the Nation. And it will never heed the voice
of truth and goodness. It will go on in its ring-dance of moral
corruption, linking steel unto steel, and machine unto machine;
trampling under its tread all the sweet flowers of simple faith and the
living ideals of man.

But we delude ourselves into thinking that humanity in the modern days
is more to the front than ever before. The reason of this self-delusion
is because man is served with the necessaries of life in greater
profusion, and his physical ills are being alleviated with more
efficacy. But the chief part of this is done, not by moral sacrifice,
but by intellectual power. In quantity it is great, but it springs from
the surface and spreads over the surface. Knowledge and efficiency are
powerful in their outward effect, but they are the servants of man, not
the man himself. Their service is like the service in a hotel, where it
is elaborate, but the host is absent; it is more convenient than

Therefore we must not forget that the scientific organizations vastly
spreading in all directions are strengthening our power, but not our
humanity. With the growth of power the cult of the self-worship of the
Nation grows in ascendancy; and the individual willingly allows the
Nation to take donkey-rides upon his back; and there happens the anomaly
which must have such disastrous effects, that the individual worships
with all sacrifices a god which is morally much inferior to himself.
This could never have been possible if the god had been as real as the

Let me give an illustration of this in point. In some parts of India it
has been enjoined as an act of great piety for a widow to go without
food and water on a particular day every fortnight. This often leads to
cruelty, unmeaning and inhuman. And yet men are not by nature cruel to
such a degree. But this piety being a mere unreal abstraction completely
deadens the moral sense of the individual, just as the man, who would
not hurt an animal unnecessarily, would cause horrible suffering to a
large number of innocent creatures when he drugs his feelings with the
abstract idea of "sport." Because these ideas are the creations of our
intellect, because they are logical classifications, therefore they can
so easily hide in their mist the personal man.

And the idea of the Nation is one of the most powerful anæsthetics that
man has invented. Under the influence of its fumes the whole people can
carry out its systematic programme of the most virulent self-seeking
without being in the least aware of its moral perversion,--in fact
feeling dangerously resentful if it is pointed out.

But can this go on indefinitely? continually producing barrenness of
moral insensibility upon a large tract of our living nature? Can it
escape its nemesis for ever? Has this giant power of mechanical
organization no limit in this world against which it may shatter itself
all the more completely because of its terrible strength and velocity?
Do you believe that evil can be permanently kept in check by competition
with evil, and that conference of prudence can keep the devil chained in
its makeshift cage of mutual agreement?

This European war of Nations is the war of retribution. Man, the person,
must protest for his very life against the heaping up of things where
there should be the heart, and systems and policies where there should
flow living human relationship. The time has come when, for the sake of
the whole outraged world, Europe should fully know in her own person the
terrible absurdity of the thing called the Nation.

The Nation has thriven long upon mutilated humanity. Men, the fairest
creations of God, came out of the National manufactory in huge numbers
as war-making and money-making puppets, ludicrously vain of their
pitiful perfection of mechanism. Human society grew more and more into a
marionette show of politicians, soldiers, manufacturers and bureaucrats,
pulled by wire arrangements of wonderful efficiency.

But the apotheosis of selfishness can never make its interminable breed
of hatred and greed, fear and hypocrisy, suspicion and tyranny, an end
in themselves. These monsters grow into huge shapes but never into
harmony. And this Nation may grow on to an unimaginable corpulence, not
of a living body, but of steel and steam and office buildings, till its
deformity can contain no longer its ugly voluminousness,--till it begins
to crack and gape, breathe gas and fire in gasps, and its death-rattles
sound in cannon roars. In this war the death-throes of the Nation have
commenced. Suddenly, all its mechanism going mad, it has begun the dance
of the Furies, shattering its own limbs, scattering them into the dust.
It is the fifth act of the tragedy of the unreal.

Those who have any faith in Man cannot but fervently hope that the
tyranny of the Nation will not be restored to all its former teeth and
claws, to its far-reaching iron arms and its immense inner cavity, all
stomach and no heart; that man will have his new birth, in the freedom
of his individuality, from the enveloping vagueness of abstraction.

The veil has been raised, and in this frightful war the West has stood
face to face with her own creation, to which she had offered her soul.
She must know what it truly is.

She had never let herself suspect what slow decay and decomposition were
secretly going on in her moral nature, which often broke out in
doctrines of scepticism, but still oftener and in still more dangerously
subtle manner showed itself in her unconsciousness of the mutilation and
insult that she had been inflicting upon a vast part of the world. Now
she must know the truth nearer home.

And then there will come from her own children those who will break
themselves free from the slavery of this illusion, this perversion of
brotherhood founded upon self-seeking, those who will own themselves as
God's children and as no bond-slaves of machinery, which turns souls
into commodities and life into compartments, which, with its iron
claws, scratches out the heart of the world and knows not what it has

And we of no nations of the world, whose heads have been bowed to the
dust, will know that this dust is more sacred than the bricks which
build the pride of power. For this dust is fertile of life, and of
beauty and worship. We shall thank God that we were made to wait in
silence through the night of despair, had to bear the insult of the
proud and the strong man's burden, yet all through it, though our hearts
quaked with doubt and fear, never could we blindly believe in the
salvation which machinery offered to man, but we held fast to our trust
in God and the truth of the human soul. And we can still cherish the
hope that, when power becomes ashamed to occupy its throne and is ready
to make way for love, when the morning comes for cleansing the
blood-stained steps of the Nation along the highroad of humanity, we
shall be called upon to bring our own vessel of sacred water--the water
of worship--to sweeten the history of man into purity, and with its
sprinkling make the trampled dust of the centuries blessed with



The worst form of bondage is the bondage of dejection, which keeps men
hopelessly chained in loss of faith in themselves. We have been
repeatedly told, with some justification, that Asia lives in the
past,--it is like a rich mausoleum which displays all its magnificence
in trying to immortalize the dead. It was said of Asia that it could
never move in the path of progress, its face was so inevitably turned
backwards. We accepted this accusation, and came to believe it. In
India, I know, a large section of our educated community, grown tired of
feeling the humiliation of this charge against us, is trying all its
resources of self-deception to turn it into a matter of boasting. But
boasting is only a masked shame, it does not truly believe in itself.

When things stood still like this, and we in Asia hypnotized ourselves
into the belief that it could never by any possibility be otherwise,
Japan rose from her dreams, and in giant strides left centuries of
inaction behind, overtaking the present time in its foremost
achievement. This has broken the spell under which we lay in torpor for
ages, taking it to be the normal condition of certain races living in
certain geographical limits. We forgot that in Asia great kingdoms were
founded, philosophy, science, arts and literatures flourished, and all
the great religions of the world had their cradles. Therefore it cannot
be said that there is anything inherent in the soil and climate of Asia
to produce mental inactivity and to atrophy the faculties which impel
men to go forward. For centuries we did hold torches of civilization in
the East when the West slumbered in darkness, and that could never be
the sign of sluggish mind or narrowness of vision.

Then fell the darkness of night upon all the lands of the East. The
current of time seemed to stop at once, and Asia ceased to take any new
food, feeding upon its own past, which is really feeding upon itself.
The stillness seemed like death, and the great voice was silenced which
sent forth messages of eternal truth that have saved man's life from
pollution for generations, like the ocean of air that keeps the earth
sweet, ever cleansing its impurities.

But life has its sleep, its periods of inactivity, when it loses its
movements, takes no new food, living upon its past storage. Then it
grows helpless, its muscles relaxed, and it easily lends itself to be
jeered at for its stupor. In the rhythm of life, pauses there must be
for the renewal of life. Life in its activity is ever spending itself,
burning all its fuel. This extravagance cannot go on indefinitely, but
is always followed by a passive stage, when all expenditure is stopped
and all adventures abandoned in favour of rest and slow recuperation.

The tendency of mind is economical, it loves to form habits and move in
grooves which save it the trouble of thinking anew at each of its steps.
Ideals once formed make the mind lazy. It becomes afraid to risk its
acquisitions in fresh endeavours. It tries to enjoy complete security by
shutting up its belongings behind fortifications of habits. But this is
really shutting oneself up from the fullest enjoyment of one's own
possessions. It is miserliness. The living ideals must not lose their
touch with the growing and changing life. Their real freedom is not
within the boundaries of security, but in the highroad of adventures,
full of the risk of new experiences.

One morning the whole world looked up in surprise when Japan broke
through her walls of old habits in a night and came out triumphant. It
was done in such an incredibly short time that it seemed like a change
of dress and not like the building up of a new structure. She showed the
confident strength of maturity, and the freshness and infinite
potentiality of new life at the same moment. The fear was entertained
that it was a mere freak of history, a child's game of Time, the blowing
up of a soap-bubble, perfect in its rondure and colouring, hollow in its
heart and without substance. But Japan has proved conclusively that this
sudden revealment of her power is not a short-lived wonder, a chance
product of time and tide, thrown up from the depth of obscurity to be
swept away the next moment into the sea of oblivion.

The truth is that Japan is old and new at the same time. She has her
legacy of ancient culture from the East,--the culture that enjoins man
to look for his true wealth and power in his inner soul, the culture
that gives self-possession in the face of loss and danger,
self-sacrifice without counting the cost or hoping for gain, defiance
of death, acceptance of countless social obligations that we owe to men
as social beings. In a word, modern Japan has come out of the immemorial
East like a lotus blossoming in easy grace, all the while keeping its
firm hold upon the profound depth from which it has sprung.

And Japan, the child of the Ancient East, has also fearlessly claimed
all the gifts of the modern age for herself. She has shown her bold
spirit in breaking through the confinements of habits, useless
accumulations of the lazy mind, which seeks safety in its thrift and its
locks and keys. Thus she has come in contact with the living time and
has accepted with eagerness and aptitude the responsibilities of modern

This it is which has given heart to the rest of Asia. We have seen that
the life and the strength are there in us, only the dead crust has to be
removed. We have seen that taking shelter in the dead is death itself,
and only taking all the risk of life to the fullest extent is living.

I, for myself, cannot believe that Japan has become what she is by
imitating the West. We cannot imitate life, we cannot simulate strength
for long, nay, what is more, a mere imitation is a source of weakness.
For it hampers our true nature, it is always in our way. It is like
dressing our skeleton with another man's skin, giving rise to eternal
feuds between the skin and the bones at every movement.

The real truth is that science is not man's nature, it is mere knowledge
and training. By knowing the laws of the material universe you do not
change your deeper humanity. You can borrow knowledge from others, but
you cannot borrow temperament.

But at the imitative stage of our schooling we cannot distinguish
between the essential and the non-essential, between what is
transferable and what is not. It is something like the faith of the
primitive mind in the magical properties of the accidents of outward
forms which accompany some real truth. We are afraid of leaving out
something valuable and efficacious by not swallowing the husk with the
kernel. But while our greed delights in wholesale appropriation, it is
the function of our vital nature to assimilate, which is the only true
appropriation for a living organism. Where there is life it is sure to
assert itself by its choice of acceptance and refusal according to its
constitutional necessity. The living organism does not allow itself to
grow into its food, it changes its food into its own body. And only thus
can it grow strong and not by mere accumulation, or by giving up its
personal identity.

Japan has imported her food from the West, but not her vital nature.
Japan cannot altogether lose and merge herself in the scientific
paraphernalia she has acquired from the West and be turned into a mere
borrowed machine. She has her own soul, which must assert itself over
all her requirements. That she is capable of doing so, and that the
process of assimilation is going on, have been amply proved by the signs
of vigorous health that she exhibits. And I earnestly hope that Japan
may never lose her faith in her own soul, in the mere pride of her
foreign acquisition. For that pride itself is a humiliation, ultimately
leading to poverty and weakness. It is the pride of the fop who sets
more store on his new headdress than on his head itself.

The whole world waits to see what this great Eastern nation is going to
do with the opportunities and responsibilities she has accepted from the
hands of the modern time. If it be a mere reproduction of the West, then
the great expectation she has raised will remain unfulfilled. For there
are grave questions that the Western civilization has presented before
the world but not completely answered. The conflict between the
individual and the state, labour and capital, the man and the woman; the
conflict between the greed of material gain and the spiritual life of
man, the organized selfishness of nations and the higher ideals of
humanity; the conflict between all the ugly complexities inseparable
from giant organizations of commerce and state and the natural instincts
of man crying for simplicity and beauty and fulness of leisure,--all
these have to be brought to a harmony in a manner not yet dreamt of.

We have seen this great stream of civilization choking itself from
débris carried by its innumerable channels. We have seen that with all
its vaunted love of humanity it has proved itself the greatest menace to
Man, far worse than the sudden outbursts of nomadic barbarism from which
men suffered in the early ages of history. We have seen that, in spite
of its boasted love of freedom, it has produced worse forms of slavery
than ever were current in earlier societies,--slavery whose chains are
unbreakable, either because they are unseen, or because they assume the
names and appearance of freedom. We have seen, under the spell of its
gigantic sordidness, man losing faith in all the heroic ideals of life
which have made him great.

Therefore you cannot with a light heart accept the modern civilization
with all its tendencies, methods and structures, and dream that they are
inevitable. You must apply your Eastern mind, your spiritual strength,
your love of simplicity, your recognition of social obligation, in order
to cut out a new path for this great unwieldy car of progress, shrieking
out its loud discords as it runs. You must minimize the immense
sacrifice of man's life and freedom that it claims in its every
movement. For generations you have felt and thought and worked, have
enjoyed and worshipped in your own special manner; and this cannot be
cast off like old clothes. It is in your blood, in the marrow of your
bones, in the texture of your flesh, in the tissue of your brains; and
it must modify everything you lay your hands upon, without your knowing,
even against your wishes. Once you did solve the problems of man to your
own satisfaction, you had your philosophy of life and evolved your own
art of living. All this you must apply to the present situation, and out
of it will arise a new creation and not a mere repetition, a creation
which the soul of your people will own for itself and proudly offer to
the world as its tribute to the welfare of man. Of all countries in
Asia, here in Japan you have the freedom to use the materials you have
gathered from the West according to your genius and your need. Therefore
your responsibility is all the greater, for in your voice Asia shall
answer the questions that Europe has submitted to the conference of Man.
In your land the experiments will be carried on by which the East will
change the aspects of modern civilization, infusing life in it where it
is a machine, substituting the human heart for cold expediency, not
caring so much for power and success as for harmonious and living
growth, for truth and beauty.

I cannot but bring to your mind those days when the whole of Eastern
Asia from Burma to Japan was united with India in the closest tie of
friendship, the only natural tie which can exist between nations. There
was a living communication of hearts, a nervous system evolved through
which messages ran between us about the deepest needs of humanity. We
did not stand in fear of each other, we had not to arm ourselves to keep
each other in check; our relation was not that of self-interest, of
exploration and spoliation of each other's pockets; ideas and ideals
were exchanged, gifts of the highest love were offered and taken; no
difference of languages and customs hindered us in approaching each
other heart to heart; no pride of race or insolent consciousness of
superiority, physical or mental, marred our relation; our arts and
literatures put forth new leaves and flowers under the influence of this
sunlight of united hearts; and races belonging to different lands and
languages and histories acknowledged the highest unity of man and the
deepest bond of love. May we not also remember that in those days of
peace and goodwill, of men uniting for those supreme ends of life, your
nature laid by for itself the balm of immortality which has helped your
people to be born again in a new age, to be able to survive its old
outworn structures and take on a new young body, to come out unscathed
from the shock of the most wonderful revolution that the world has ever

The political civilization which has sprung up from the soil of Europe
and is overrunning the whole world, like some prolific weed, is based
upon exclusiveness. It is always watchful to keep the aliens at bay or
to exterminate them. It is carnivorous and cannibalistic in its
tendencies, it feeds upon the resources of other peoples and tries to
swallow their whole future. It is always afraid of other races achieving
eminence, naming it as a peril, and tries to thwart all symptoms of
greatness outside its own boundaries, forcing down races of men who are
weaker, to be eternally fixed in their weakness. Before this political
civilization came to its power and opened its hungry jaws wide enough to
gulp down great continents of the earth, we had wars, pillages, changes
of monarchy and consequent miseries, but never such a sight of fearful
and hopeless voracity, such wholesale feeding of nation upon nation,
such huge machines for turning great portions of the earth into
mince-meat, never such terrible jealousies with all their ugly teeth and
claws ready for tearing open each other's vitals. This political
civilization is scientific, not human. It is powerful because it
concentrates all its forces upon one purpose, like a millionaire
acquiring money at the cost of his soul. It betrays its trust, it weaves
its meshes of lies without shame, it enshrines gigantic idols of greed
in its temples, taking great pride in the costly ceremonials of its
worship, calling this patriotism. And it can be safely prophesied that
this cannot go on, for there is a moral law in this world which has its
application both to individuals and to organized bodies of men. You
cannot go on violating these laws in the name of your nation, yet enjoy
their advantage as individuals. This public sapping of ethical ideals
slowly reacts upon each member of society, gradually breeding weakness,
where it is not seen, and causing that cynical distrust of all things
sacred in human nature, which is the true symptom of senility. You must
keep in mind that this political civilization, this creed of national
patriotism, has not been given a long trial. The lamp of ancient Greece
is extinct in the land where it was first lighted, the power of Rome
lies dead and buried under the ruins of its vast empire. But the
civilization, whose basis is society and the spiritual ideal of man, is
still a living thing in China and in India. Though it may look feeble
and small, judged by the standard of the mechanical power of modern
days, yet like small seeds it still contains life and will sprout and
grow, and spread its beneficent branches, producing flowers and fruits
when its time comes and showers of grace descend upon it from heaven.
But ruins of sky-scrapers of power and broken machinery of greed, even
God's rain is powerless to raise up again; for they were not of life,
but went against life as a whole,--they are relics of the rebellion that
shattered itself to pieces against the eternal.

But the charge is brought against us that the ideals we cherish in the
East are static, that they have not the impetus in them to move, to open
out new vistas of knowledge and power, that the systems of philosophy
which are the mainstays of the time-worn civilizations of the East
despise all outward proofs, remaining stolidly satisfied in their
subjective certainty. This proves that when our knowledge is vague we
are apt to accuse of vagueness our object of knowledge itself. To a
Western observer our civilization appears as all metaphysics, as to a
deaf man piano-playing appears to be mere movements of fingers and no
music. He cannot think that we have found some deep basis of reality
upon which we have built our institutions.

Unfortunately all proofs of reality are in realization. The reality of
the scene before you depends only upon the fact that you can see, and it
is difficult for us to prove to an unbeliever that our civilization is
not a nebulous system of abstract speculations, that it has achieved
something which is a positive truth,--a truth that can give man's heart
its shelter and sustenance. It has evolved an inner sense,--a sense of
vision, the vision of the infinite reality in all finite things.

But he says, "You do not make any progress, there is no movement in
you." I ask him, "How do you know it? You have to judge progress
according to its aim. A railway train makes its progress towards the
terminus station,--it is movement. But a full-grown tree has no definite
movement of that kind, its progress is the inward progress of life. It
lives, with its aspiration towards light tingling in its leaves and
creeping in its silent sap."

We also have lived for centuries, we still live, and we have our
aspiration for a reality that has no end to its realization,--a reality
that goes beyond death, giving it a meaning, that rises above all evils
of life, bringing its peace and purity, its cheerful renunciation of
self. The product of this inner life is a living product. It will be
needed when the youth returns home weary and dust-laden, when the
soldier is wounded, when the wealth is squandered away and pride is
humbled, when man's heart cries for truth in the immensity of facts and
harmony in the contradiction of tendencies. Its value is not in its
multiplication of materials, but in its spiritual fulfilment.

There are things that cannot wait. You have to rush and run and march if
you must fight or take the best place in the market. You strain your
nerves and are on the alert when you chase opportunities that are always
on the wing. But there are ideals which do not play hide-and-seek with
our life; they slowly grow from seed to flower, from flower to fruit;
they require infinite space and heaven's light to mature, and the fruits
that they produce can survive years of insult and neglect. The East with
her ideals, in whose bosom are stored the ages of sunlight and silence
of stars, can patiently wait till the West, hurrying after the
expedient, loses breath and stops. Europe, while busily speeding to her
engagements, disdainfully casts her glance from her carriage window at
the reaper reaping his harvest in the field, and in her intoxication of
speed cannot but think him as slow and ever receding backwards. But the
speed comes to its end, the engagement loses its meaning and the hungry
heart clamours for food, till at last she comes to the lowly reaper
reaping his harvest in the sun. For if the office cannot wait, or the
buying and selling, or the craving for excitement, love waits and
beauty and the wisdom of suffering and the fruits of patient devotion
and reverent meekness of simple faith. And thus shall wait the East till
her time comes.

I must not hesitate to acknowledge where Europe is great, for great she
is without doubt. We cannot help loving her with all our heart, and
paying her the best homage of our admiration,--the Europe who, in her
literature and art, pours out an inexhaustible cascade of beauty and
truth fertilizing all countries and all time; the Europe who, with a
mind which is titanic in its untiring power, is sweeping the height and
the depth of the universe, winning her homage of knowledge from the
infinitely great and the infinitely small, applying all the resources of
her great intellect and heart in healing the sick and alleviating those
miseries of man which up till now we were contented to accept in a
spirit of hopeless resignation; the Europe who is making the earth yield
more fruit than seemed possible, coaxing and compelling the great forces
of nature into man's service. Such true greatness must have its motive
power in spiritual strength. For only the spirit of man can defy all
limitations, have faith in its ultimate success, throw its search-light
beyond the immediate and the apparent, gladly suffer martyrdom for ends
which cannot be achieved in its lifetime and accept failure without
acknowledging defeat. In the heart of Europe runs the purest stream of
human love, of love of justice, of spirit of self-sacrifice for higher
ideals. The Christian culture of centuries has sunk deep in her life's
core. In Europe we have seen noble minds who have ever stood up for the
rights of man irrespective of colour and creed; who have braved calumny
and insult from their own people in fighting for humanity's cause and
raising their voices against the mad orgies of militarism, against the
rage for brutal retaliation or rapacity that sometimes takes possession
of a whole people; who are always ready to make reparation for wrongs
done in the past by their own nations and vainly attempt to stem the
tide of cowardly injustice that flows unchecked because the resistance
is weak and innocuous on the part of the injured. There are these
knight-errants of modern Europe who have not lost their faith in the
disinterested love of freedom, in the ideals which own no geographical
boundaries or national self-seeking. These are there to prove that the
fountainhead of the water of everlasting life has not run dry in Europe,
and from thence she will have her rebirth time after time. Only there,
where Europe is too consciously busy in building up her power, defying
her deeper nature and mocking it, she is heaping up her iniquities to
the sky, crying for God's vengeance and spreading the infection of
ugliness, physical and moral, over the face of the earth with her
heartless commerce heedlessly outraging man's sense of the beautiful and
the good. Europe is supremely good in her beneficence where her face is
turned to all humanity; and Europe is supremely evil in her maleficent
aspect where her face is turned only upon her own interest, using all
her power of greatness for ends which are against the infinite and the
eternal in Man.

Eastern Asia has been pursuing its own path, evolving its own
civilization, which was not political but social, not predatory and
mechanically efficient but spiritual and based upon all the varied and
deeper relations of humanity. The solutions of the life problems of
peoples were thought out in seclusion and carried out behind the
security of aloofness, where all the dynastic changes and foreign
invasions hardly touched them. But now we are overtaken by the outside
world, our seclusion is lost for ever. Yet this we must not regret, as a
plant should never regret when the obscurity of its seed-time is
broken. Now the time has come when we must make the world problem our
own problem; we must bring the spirit of our civilization into harmony
with the history of all nations of the earth; we must not, in foolish
pride, still keep ourselves fast within the shell of the seed and the
crust of the earth which protected and nourished our ideals; for these,
the shell and the crust, were meant to be broken, so that life may
spring up in all its vigour and beauty, bringing its offerings to the
world in open light.

In this task of breaking the barrier and facing the world Japan has come
out the first in the East. She has infused hope in the heart of all
Asia. This hope provides the hidden fire which is needed for all works
of creation. Asia now feels that she must prove her life by producing
living work, she must not lie passively dormant, or feebly imitate the
West, in the infatuation of fear or flattery. For this we offer our
thanks to this Land of the Rising Sun and solemnly ask her to remember
that she has the mission of the East to fulfil. She must infuse the sap
of a fuller humanity into the heart of modern civilization. She must
never allow it to get choked with the noxious undergrowth, but lead it
up towards light and freedom, towards the pure air and broad space,
where it can receive, in the dawn of its day and the darkness of its
night, heaven's inspiration. Let the greatness of her ideals become
visible to all men like her snow-crowned Fuji rising from the heart of
the country into the region of the infinite, supremely distinct from its
surroundings, beautiful like a maiden in its magnificent sweep of curve,
yet firm and strong and serenely majestic.


I have travelled in many countries and have met with men of all classes,
but never in my travels did I feel the presence of the human so
distinctly as in this land. In other great countries signs of man's
power loomed large, and I saw vast organizations which showed efficiency
in all their features. There, display and extravagance, in dress, in
furniture, in costly entertainments, are startling. They seem to push
you back into a corner, like a poor intruder at a feast; they are apt to
make you envious, or take your breath away with amazement. There, you do
not feel man as supreme; you are hurled against a stupendousness of
things that alienates. But in Japan it is not the display of power, or
wealth, that is the predominating element. You see everywhere emblems of
love and admiration, and not mostly of ambition and greed. You see a
people whose heart has come out and scattered itself in profusion in its
commonest utensils of everyday life, in its social institutions, in its
manners, which are carefully perfect, and in its dealings with things
which are not only deft but graceful in every movement.

What has impressed me most in this country is the conviction that you
have realized nature's secrets, not by methods of analytical knowledge,
but by sympathy. You have known her language of lines, and music of
colours, the symmetry in her irregularities, and the cadence in her
freedom of movements; you have seen how she leads her immense crowds of
things yet avoids all frictions; how the very conflicts in her creations
break out in dance and music; how her exuberance has the aspect of the
fulness of self-abandonment, and not a mere dissipation of display. You
have discovered that nature reserves her power in forms of beauty; and
it is this beauty which, like a mother, nourishes all the giant forces
at her breast, keeping them in active vigour, yet in repose. You have
known that energies of nature save themselves from wearing out by the
rhythm of a perfect grace, and that she with the tenderness of her
curved lines takes away fatigue from the world's muscles. I have felt
that you have been able to assimilate these secrets into your life, and
the truth which lies in the beauty of all things has passed into your
souls. A mere knowledge of things can be had in a short enough time, but
their spirit can only be acquired by centuries of training and
self-control. Dominating nature from outside is a much simpler thing
than making her your own in love's delight, which is a work of true
genius. Your race has shown that genius, not by acquirement, but by
creation; not by display of things, but by manifestation of its own
inner being. This creative power there is in all nations, and it is ever
active in getting hold of men's natures and giving them a form according
to its ideals. But here, in Japan, it seems to have achieved its
success, and deeply sunk into the minds of all men, and permeated their
muscles and nerves. Your instincts have become true, your senses keen,
and your hands have acquired natural skill. The genius of Europe has
given her people the power of organization, which has specially made
itself manifest in politics and commerce and in co-ordinating scientific
knowledge. The genius of Japan has given you the vision of beauty in
nature and the power of realizing it in your life.

All particular civilization is the interpretation of particular human
experience. Europe seems to have felt emphatically the conflict of
things in the universe, which can only be brought under control by
conquest. Therefore she is ever ready for fight, and the best portion of
her attention is occupied in organizing forces. But Japan has felt, in
her world, the touch of some presence, which has evoked in her soul a
feeling of reverent adoration. She does not boast of her mastery of
nature, but to her she brings, with infinite care and joy, her offerings
of love. Her relationship with the world is the deeper relationship of
heart. This spiritual bond of love she has established with the hills of
her country, with the sea and the streams, with the forests in all their
flowery moods and varied physiognomy of branches; she has taken into her
heart all the rustling whispers and sighing of the woodlands and sobbing
of the waves; the sun and the moon she has studied in all the
modulations of their lights and shades, and she is glad to close her
shops to greet the seasons in her orchards and gardens and cornfields.
This opening of the heart to the soul of the world is not confined to a
section of your privileged classes, it is not the forced product of
exotic culture, but it belongs to all your men and women of all
conditions. This experience of your soul, in meeting a personality in
the heart of the world, has been embodied in your civilization. It is a
civilization of human relationship. Your duty towards your state has
naturally assumed the character of filial duty, your nation becoming one
family with your Emperor as its head. Your national unity has not been
evolved from the comradeship of arms for defensive and offensive
purpose, or from partnership in raiding adventures, dividing among each
member the danger and spoils of robbery. It is not an outcome of the
necessity of organization for some ulterior purpose, but it is an
extension of the family and the obligations of the heart in a wide field
of space and time. The ideal of "maitri" is at the bottom of your
culture,--"maitri" with men and "maitri" with Nature. And the true
expression of this love is in the language of beauty, which is so
abundantly universal in this land. This is the reason why a stranger,
like myself, instead of feeling envy or humiliation before these
manifestations of beauty, these creations of love, feels a readiness to
participate in the joy and glory of such revealment of the human heart.

And this has made me all the more apprehensive of the change which
threatens Japanese civilization, as something like a menace to one's own
person. For the huge heterogeneity of the modern age, whose only common
bond is usefulness, is nowhere so pitifully exposed against the dignity
and hidden power of reticent beauty as in Japan.

But the danger lies in this, that organized ugliness storms the mind and
carries the day by its mass, by its aggressive persistence, by its power
of mockery directed against the deeper sentiments of heart. Its harsh
obtrusiveness makes it forcibly visible to us, overcoming our
senses,--and we bring sacrifices to its altar, as does a savage to the
fetich which appears powerful because of its hideousness. Therefore its
rivalry with things that are modest and profound and have the subtle
delicacy of life is to be dreaded.

I am quite sure that there are men in your country who are not in
sympathy with your inherited ideals; whose object is to gain, and not
to grow. They are loud in their boast that they have modernized Japan.
While I agree with them so far as to say that the spirit of the race
should harmonize with the spirit of the time, I must warn them that
modernizing is a mere affectation of modernism, just as affectation of
poesy is poetizing. It is nothing but mimicry, only affectation is
louder than the original, and it is too literal. One must bear in mind
that those who have the true modern spirit need not modernize, just as
those who are truly brave are not braggarts. Modernism is not in the
dress of the Europeans; or in the hideous structures, where their
children are interned when they take their lessons; or in the square
houses with flat, straight wall-surfaces, pierced with parallel lines of
windows, where these people are caged in their lifetime; certainly
modernism is not in their ladies' bonnets, carrying on them loads of
incongruities. These are not modern, but merely European. True modernism
is freedom of mind, not slavery of taste. It is independence of thought
and action, not tutelage under European schoolmasters. It is science,
but not its wrong application in life,--a mere imitation of our science
teachers who reduce it into a superstition, absurdly invoking its aid
for all impossible purposes.

Life based upon mere science is attractive to some men, because it has
all the characteristics of sport; it feigns seriousness, but is not
profound. When you go a-hunting, the less pity you have the better; for
your one object is to chase the game and kill it, to feel that you are
the greater animal, that your method of destruction is thorough and
scientific. And the life of science is that superficial life. It pursues
success with skill and thoroughness, and takes no account of the higher
nature of man. But those whose minds are crude enough to plan their
lives upon the supposition that man is merely a hunter and his paradise
the paradise of sportsmen will be rudely awakened in the midst of their
trophies of skeletons and skulls.

I do not for a moment suggest that Japan should be unmindful of
acquiring modern weapons of self-protection. But this should never be
allowed to go beyond her instinct of self-preservation. She must know
that the real power is not in the weapons themselves, but in the man who
wields those weapons; and when he, in his eagerness for power,
multiplies his weapons at the cost of his own soul, then it is he who
is in even greater danger than his enemies.

Things that are living are so easily hurt; therefore they require
protection. In nature, life protects itself within its coverings, which
are built with life's own material. Therefore they are in harmony with
life's growth, or else when the time comes they easily give way and are
forgotten. The living man has his true protection in his spiritual
ideals, which have their vital connection with his life and grow with
his growth. But, unfortunately, all his armour is not living,--some of
it is made of steel, inert and mechanical. Therefore, while making use
of it, man has to be careful to protect himself from its tyranny. If he
is weak enough to grow smaller to fit himself to his covering, then it
becomes a process of gradual suicide by shrinkage of the soul. And Japan
must have a firm faith in the moral law of existence to be able to
assert to herself that the Western nations are following that path of
suicide, where they are smothering their humanity under the immense
weight of organizations in order to keep themselves in power and hold
others in subjection.

What is dangerous for Japan is, not the imitation of the outer features
of the West, but the acceptance of the motive force of the Western
nationalism as her own. Her social ideals are already showing signs of
defeat at the hands of politics. I can see her motto, taken from
science, "Survival of the Fittest," writ large at the entrance of her
present-day history--the motto whose meaning is, "Help yourself, and
never heed what it costs to others"; the motto of the blind man who only
believes in what he can touch, because he cannot see. But those who can
see know that men are so closely knit that when you strike others the
blow comes back to yourself. The moral law, which is the greatest
discovery of man, is the discovery of this wonderful truth, that man
becomes all the truer the more he realizes himself in others. This truth
has not only a subjective value, but is manifested in every department
of our life. And nations who sedulously cultivate moral blindness as the
cult of patriotism will end their existence in a sudden and violent
death. In past ages we had foreign invasions, but they never touched the
soul of the people deeply. They were merely the outcome of individual
ambitions. The people themselves, being free from the responsibilities
of the baser and more heinous side of those adventures, had all the
advantage of the heroic and the human disciplines derived from them.
This developed their unflinching loyalty, their single-minded devotion
to the obligations of honour, their power of complete self-surrender and
fearless acceptance of death and danger. Therefore the ideals, whose
seats were in the hearts of the people, would not undergo any serious
change owing to the policies adopted by the kings or generals. But now,
where the spirit of the Western nationalism prevails, the whole people
is being taught from boyhood to foster hatreds and ambitions by all
kinds of means--by the manufacture of half-truths and untruths in
history, by persistent misrepresentation of other races and the culture
of unfavourable sentiments towards them, by setting up memorials of
events, very often false, which for the sake of humanity should be
speedily forgotten, thus continually brewing evil menace towards
neighbours and nations other than their own. This is poisoning the very
fountainhead of humanity. It is discrediting the ideals, which were born
of the lives of men who were our greatest and best. It is holding up
gigantic selfishness as the one universal religion for all nations of
the world. We can take anything else from the hands of science, but not
this elixir of moral death. Never think for a moment that the hurts you
inflict upon other races will not infect you, or that the enmities you
sow around your homes will be a wall of protection to you for all time
to come. To imbue the minds of a whole people with an abnormal vanity of
its own superiority, to teach it to take pride in its moral callousness
and ill-begotten wealth, to perpetuate humiliation of defeated nations
by exhibiting trophies won from war, and using these in schools in order
to breed in children's minds contempt for others, is imitating the West
where she has a festering sore, whose swelling is a swelling of disease
eating into its vitality.

Our food crops, which are necessary for our sustenance, are products of
centuries of selection and care. But the vegetation, which we have not
to transform into our lives, does not require the patient thoughts of
generations. It is not easy to get rid of weeds; but it is easy, by
process of neglect, to ruin your food crops and let them revert to their
primitive state of wildness. Likewise the culture, which has so kindly
adapted itself to your soil--so intimate with life, so human--not only
needed tilling and weeding in past ages, but still needs anxious work
and watching. What is merely modern--as science and methods of
organization--can be transplanted; but what is vitally human has fibres
so delicate, and roots so numerous and far-reaching, that it dies when
moved from its soil. Therefore I am afraid of the rude pressure of the
political ideals of the West upon your own. In political civilization,
the state is an abstraction and relationship of men utilitarian. Because
it has no root in sentiments, it is so dangerously easy to handle. Half
a century has been enough for you to master this machine; and there are
men among you whose fondness for it exceeds their love for the living
ideals, which were born with the birth of your nation and nursed in your
centuries. It is like a child who, in the excitement of his play,
imagines he likes his playthings better than his mother.

Where man is at his greatest, he is unconscious. Your civilization,
whose mainspring is the bond of human relationship, has been nourished
in the depth of a healthy life beyond reach of prying self-analysis. But
a mere political relationship is all-conscious; it is an eruptive
inflammation of aggressiveness. It has forcibly burst upon your notice.
And the time has come when you have to be roused into full
consciousness of the truth by which you live, so that you may not be
taken unawares. The past has been God's gift to you; about the present,
you must make your own choice.

So the questions you have to put to yourselves are these--"Have we read
the world wrong, and based our relation to it upon an ignorance of human
nature? Is the instinct of the West right, where she builds her national
welfare behind the barricade of a universal distrust of humanity?"

You must have detected a strong accent of fear whenever the West has
discussed the possibility of the rise of an Eastern race. The reason of
it is this, that the power by whose help she thrives is an evil power;
so long as it is held on her own side she can be safe, while the rest of
the world trembles. The vital ambition of the present civilization of
Europe is to have the exclusive possession of the devil. All her
armaments and diplomacy are directed upon this one object. But these
costly rituals for invocation of the evil spirit lead through a path of
prosperity to the brink of cataclysm. The furies of terror, which the
West has let loose upon God's world, come back to threaten herself and
goad her into preparations of more and more frightfulness; this gives
her no rest, and makes her forget all else but the perils that she
causes to others and incurs herself. To the worship of this devil of
politics she sacrifices other countries as victims. She feeds upon their
dead flesh and grows fat upon it, so long as the carcasses remain
fresh,--but they are sure to rot at last, and the dead will take their
revenge, by spreading pollution far and wide and poisoning the vitality
of the feeder. Japan had all her wealth of humanity, her harmony of
heroism and beauty, her depth of self-control and richness of
self-expression; yet the Western nations felt no respect for her till
she proved that the bloodhounds of Satan are not only bred in the
kennels of Europe but can also be domesticated in Japan and fed with
man's miseries. They admit Japan's equality with themselves, only when
they know that Japan also possesses the key to open the floodgate of
hell-fire upon the fair earth whenever she chooses, and can dance, in
their own measure, the devil dance of pillage, murder and ravishment of
innocent women, while the world goes to ruin. We know that, in the early
stage of man's moral immaturity, he only feels reverence for the god
whose malevolence he dreads. But is this the ideal of man which we can
look up to with pride? After centuries of civilization nations fearing
each other like the prowling wild beasts of the night-time; shutting
their doors of hospitality; combining only for purpose of aggression or
defence; hiding in their holes their trade secrets, state secrets,
secrets of their armaments; making peace-offerings to each other's
barking dogs with the meat which does not belong to them; holding down
fallen races which struggle to stand upon their feet; with their right
hands dispensing religion to weaker peoples, while robbing them with
their left,--is there anything in this to make us envious? Are we to
bend our knees to the spirit of this nationalism, which is sowing
broadcast over all the world seeds of fear, greed, suspicion, unashamed
lies of its diplomacy, and unctuous lies of its profession of peace and
good-will and universal brotherhood of Man? Can our minds be free from
doubt when we rush to the Western market to buy this foreign product in
exchange for our own inheritance? I am aware how difficult it is to know
one's self; and the man who is intoxicated furiously denies his
drunkenness; yet the West herself is anxiously thinking of her problems
and trying experiments. But she is like a glutton, who has not the
heart to give up his intemperance in eating, and fondly clings to the
hope that he can cure his nightmares of indigestion by medicine. Europe
is not ready to give up her political inhumanity, with all the baser
passions of man attendant upon it; she believes only in modification of
systems, and not in change of heart.

We are willing to buy their machine-made systems, not with our hearts,
but with our brains. We shall try them and build sheds for them, but not
enshrine them in our homes or temples. There are races who worship the
animals they kill; we can buy meat from them when we are hungry, but not
the worship which goes with the killing. We must not vitiate our
children's minds with the superstition that business is business, war is
war, politics is politics. We must know that man's business has to be
more than mere business, and so should be his war and politics. You had
your own industry in Japan; how scrupulously honest and true it was, you
can see by its products,--by their grace and strength, their
conscientiousness in details, where they can hardly be observed. But the
tidal wave of falsehood has swept over your land from that part of the
world where business is business, and honesty is followed merely as the
best policy. Have you never felt shame when you see the trade
advertisements, not only plastering the whole town with lies and
exaggerations, but invading the green fields, where the peasants do
their honest labour, and the hill-tops, which greet the first pure light
of the morning? It is so easy to dull our sense of honour and delicacy
of mind with constant abrasion, while falsehoods stalk abroad with proud
steps in the name of trade, politics and patriotism, that any protest
against their perpetual intrusion into our lives is considered to be
sentimentalism, unworthy of true manliness.

And it has come to pass that the children of those heroes who would keep
their word at the point of death, who would disdain to cheat men for
vulgar profit, who even in their fight would much rather court defeat
than be dishonourable, have become energetic in dealing with falsehoods
and do not feel humiliated by gaining advantage from them. And this has
been effected by the charm of the word "modern." But if undiluted
utility be modern, beauty is of all ages; if mean selfishness be modern,
the human ideals are no new inventions. And we must know for certain
that however modern may be the proficiency which cripples man for the
sake of methods and machines, it will never live to be old.

But while trying to free our minds from the arrogant claims of Europe
and to help ourselves out of the quicksands of our infatuation, we may
go to the other extreme and blind ourselves with a wholesale suspicion
of the West. The reaction of disillusionment is just as unreal as the
first shock of illusion. We must try to come to that normal state of
mind by which we can clearly discern our own danger and avoid it without
being unjust towards the source of that danger. There is always the
natural temptation in us of wishing to pay back Europe in her own coin,
and return contempt for contempt and evil for evil. But that again would
be to imitate Europe in one of her worst features, which comes out in
her behaviour to people whom she describes as yellow or red, brown or
black. And this is a point on which we in the East have to acknowledge
our guilt and own that our sin has been as great, if not greater, when
we insulted humanity by treating with utter disdain and cruelty men who
belonged to a particular creed, colour or caste. It is really because we
are afraid of our own weakness, which allows itself to be overcome by
the sight of power, that we try to substitute for it another weakness
which makes itself blind to the glories of the West. When we truly know
the Europe which is great and good, we can effectively save ourselves
from the Europe which is mean and grasping. It is easy to be unfair in
one's judgment when one is faced with human miseries,--and pessimism is
the result of building theories while the mind is suffering. To despair
of humanity is only possible if we lose faith in truth which brings to
it strength, when its defeat is greatest, and calls out new life from
the depth of its destruction. We must admit that there is a living soul
in the West which is struggling unobserved against the hugeness of the
organizations under which men, women and children are being crushed, and
whose mechanical necessities are ignoring laws that are spiritual and
human,--the soul whose sensibilities refuse to be dulled completely by
dangerous habits of heedlessness in dealings with races for whom it
lacks natural sympathy. The West could never have risen to the eminence
she has reached if her strength were merely the strength of the brute or
of the machine. The divine in her heart is suffering from the injuries
inflicted by her hands upon the world,--and from this pain of her higher
nature flows the secret balm which will bring healing to those injuries.
Time after time she has fought against herself and has undone the chains
which with her own hands she had fastened round helpless limbs; and
though she forced poison down the throat of a great nation at the point
of the sword for gain of money, she herself woke up to withdraw from it,
to wash her hands clean again. This shows hidden springs of humanity in
spots which look dead and barren. It proves that the deeper truth in her
nature, which can survive such a career of cruel cowardliness, is not
greed, but reverence for unselfish ideals. It would be altogether
unjust, both to us and to Europe, to say that she has fascinated the
modern Eastern mind by the mere exhibition of her power. Through the
smoke of cannons and dust of markets the light of her moral nature has
shone bright, and she has brought to us the ideal of ethical freedom,
whose foundation lies deeper than social conventions and whose province
of activity is world-wide.

The East has instinctively felt, even through her aversion, that she has
a great deal to learn from Europe, not merely about the materials of
power, but about its inner source, which is of mind and of the moral
nature of man. Europe has been teaching us the higher obligations of
public good above those of the family and the clan, and the sacredness
of law, which makes society independent of individual caprice, secures
for it continuity of progress, and guarantees justice to all men of all
positions in life. Above all things Europe has held high before our
minds the banner of liberty, through centuries of martyrdom and
achievement,--liberty of conscience, liberty of thought and action,
liberty in the ideals of art and literature. And because Europe has won
our deep respect, she has become so dangerous for us where she is
turbulently weak and false,--dangerous like poison when it is served
along with our best food. There is one safety for us upon which we hope
we may count, and that is, that we can claim Europe herself as our ally
in our resistance to her temptations and to her violent encroachments;
for she has ever carried her own standard of perfection, by which we can
measure her falls and gauge her degrees of failure, by which we can call
her before her own tribunal and put her to shame,--the shame which is
the sign of the true pride of nobleness.

But our fear is, that the poison may be more powerful than the food,
and what is strength in her to-day may not be the sign of health, but
the contrary; for it may be temporarily caused by the upsetting of the
balance of life. Our fear is that evil has a fateful fascination when it
assumes dimensions which are colossal,--and though at last it is sure to
lose its centre of gravity by its abnormal disproportion, the mischief
which it creates before its fall may be beyond reparation.

Therefore I ask you to have the strength of faith and clarity of mind to
know for certain that the lumbering structure of modern progress,
riveted by the iron bolts of efficiency, which runs upon the wheels of
ambition, cannot hold together for long. Collisions are certain to
occur; for it has to travel upon organized lines, it is too heavy to
choose its own course freely; and once it is off the rails, its endless
train of vehicles is dislocated. A day will come when it will fall in a
heap of ruin and cause serious obstruction to the traffic of the world.
Do we not see signs of this even now? Does not the voice come to us,
through the din of war, the shrieks of hatred, the wailings of despair,
through the churning up of the unspeakable filth which has been
accumulating for ages in the bottom of this nationalism,--the voice
which cries to our soul that the tower of national selfishness, which
goes by the name of patriotism, which has raised its banner of treason
against heaven, must totter and fall with a crash, weighed down by its
own bulk, its flag kissing the dust, its light extinguished? My
brothers, when the red light of conflagration sends up its crackle of
laughter to the stars, keep your faith upon those stars and not upon the
fire of destruction. For when this conflagration consumes itself and
dies down, leaving its memorial in ashes, the eternal light will again
shine in the East,--the East which has been the birthplace of the
morning sun of man's history. And who knows if that day has not already
dawned, and the sun not risen, in the Easternmost horizon of Asia? And I
offer, as did my ancestor rishis, my salutation to that sunrise of the
East, which is destined once again to illumine the whole world.

I know my voice is too feeble to raise itself above the uproar of this
bustling time, and it is easy for any street urchin to fling against me
the epithet of "unpractical." It will stick to my coat-tail, never to be
washed away, effectively excluding me from the consideration of all
respectable persons. I know what a risk one runs from the vigorously
athletic crowds in being styled an idealist in these days, when thrones
have lost their dignity and prophets have become an anachronism, when
the sound that drowns all voices is the noise of the market-place. Yet
when, one day, standing on the outskirts of Yokohama town, bristling
with its display of modern miscellanies, I watched the sunset in your
southern sea, and saw its peace and majesty among your pine-clad
hills,--with the great Fujiyama growing faint against the golden
horizon, like a god overcome with his own radiance,--the music of
eternity welled up through the evening silence, and I felt that the sky
and the earth and the lyrics of the dawn and the dayfall are with the
poets and idealists, and not with the marketmen robustly contemptuous of
all sentiment,--that, after the forgetfulness of his own divinity, man
will remember again that heaven is always in touch with his world, which
can never be abandoned for good to the hounding wolves of the modern
era, scenting human blood and howling to the skies.


Our real problem in India is not political. It is social. This is a
condition not only prevailing in India, but among all nations. I do not
believe in an exclusive political interest. Politics in the West have
dominated Western ideals, and we in India are trying to imitate you. We
have to remember that in Europe, where peoples had their racial unity
from the beginning, and where natural resources were insufficient for
the inhabitants, the civilization has naturally taken the character of
political and commercial aggressiveness. For on the one hand they had no
internal complications, and on the other they had to deal with
neighbours who were strong and rapacious. To have perfect combination
among themselves and a watchful attitude of animosity against others was
taken as the solution of their problems. In former days they organized
and plundered, in the present age the same spirit continues--and they
organize and exploit the whole world.

But from the earliest beginnings of history India has had her own
problem constantly before her--it is the race problem. Each nation must
be conscious of its mission, and we, in India, must realize that we cut
a poor figure when we are trying to be political, simply because we have
not yet been finally able to accomplish what was set before us by our

This problem of race unity which we have been trying to solve for so
many years has likewise to be faced by you here in America. Many people
in this country ask me what is happening as to the caste distinctions in
India. But when this question is asked me, it is usually done with a
superior air. And I feel tempted to put the same question to our
American critics with a slight modification, "What have you done with
the Red Indian and the Negro?" For you have not got over your attitude
of caste toward them. You have used violent methods to keep aloof from
other races, but until you have solved the question here in America, you
have no right to question India.

In spite of our great difficulty, however, India has done something. She
has tried to make an adjustment of races, to acknowledge the real
differences between them where these exist, and yet seek for some basis
of unity. This basis has come through our saints, like Nanak, Kabir,
Chaitnaya and others, preaching one God to all races of India.

In finding the solution of our problem we shall have helped to solve the
world problem as well. What India has been, the whole world is now. The
whole world is becoming one country through scientific facility. And the
moment is arriving when you also must find a basis of unity which is not
political. If India can offer to the world her solution, it will be a
contribution to humanity. There is only one history--the history of man.
All national histories are merely chapters in the larger one. And we are
content in India to suffer for such a great cause.

Each individual has his self-love. Therefore his brute instinct leads
him to fight with others in the sole pursuit of his self-interest. But
man has also his higher instincts of sympathy and mutual help. The
people who are lacking in this higher moral power and who therefore
cannot combine in fellowship with one another must perish or live in a
state of degradation. Only those peoples have survived and achieved
civilization who have this spirit of co-operation strong in them. So we
find that from the beginning of history men had to choose between
fighting with one another and combining, between serving their own
interest or the common interest of all.

In our early history, when the geographical limits of each country and
also the facilities of communication were small, this problem was
comparatively small in dimension. It was sufficient for men to develop
their sense of unity within their area of segregation. In those days
they combined among themselves and fought against others. But it was
this moral spirit of combination which was the true basis of their
greatness, and this fostered their art, science and religion. At that
early time the most important fact that man had to take count of was the
fact of the members of one particular race of men coming in close
contact with one another. Those who truly grasped this fact through
their higher nature made their mark in history.

The most important fact of the present age is that all the different
races of men have come close together. And again we are confronted with
two alternatives. The problem is whether the different groups of peoples
shall go on fighting with one another or find out some true basis of
reconciliation and mutual help; whether it will be interminable
competition or co-operation.

I have no hesitation in saying that those who are gifted with the moral
power of love and vision of spiritual unity, who have the least feeling
of enmity against aliens, and the sympathetic insight to place
themselves in the position of others, will be the fittest to take their
permanent place in the age that is lying before us, and those who are
constantly developing their instinct of fight and intolerance of aliens
will be eliminated. For this is the problem before us, and we have to
prove our humanity by solving it through the help of our higher nature.
The gigantic organizations for hurting others and warding off their
blows, for making money by dragging others back, will not help us. On
the contrary, by their crushing weight, their enormous cost and their
deadening effect upon living humanity, they will seriously impede our
freedom in the larger life of a higher civilization.

During the evolution of the Nation the moral culture of brotherhood was
limited by geographical boundaries, because at that time those
boundaries were true. Now they have become imaginary lines of tradition
divested of the qualities of real obstacles. So the time has come when
man's moral nature must deal with this great fact with all seriousness
or perish. The first impulse of this change of circumstance has been the
churning up of man's baser passions of greed and cruel hatred. If this
persists indefinitely, and armaments go on exaggerating themselves to
unimaginable absurdities, and machines and storehouses envelop this fair
earth with their dirt and smoke and ugliness, then it will end in a
conflagration of suicide. Therefore man will have to exert all his power
of love and clarity of vision to make another great moral adjustment
which will comprehend the whole world of men and not merely the
fractional groups of nationality. The call has come to every individual
in the present age to prepare himself and his surroundings for this dawn
of a new era, when man shall discover his soul in the spiritual unity of
all human beings.

If it is given at all to the West to struggle out of these tangles of
the lower slopes to the spiritual summit of humanity then I cannot but
think that it is the special mission of America to fulfil this hope of
God and man. You are the country of expectation, desiring something else
than what is. Europe has her subtle habits of mind and her conventions.
But America, as yet, has come to no conclusions. I realize how much
America is untrammelled by the traditions of the past, and I can
appreciate that experimentalism is a sign of America's youth. The
foundation of her glory is in the future, rather than in the past; and
if one is gifted with the power of clairvoyance, one will be able to
love the America that is to be.

America is destined to justify Western civilization to the East. Europe
has lost faith in humanity, and has become distrustful and sickly.
America, on the other hand, is not pessimistic or blasé. You know, as a
people, that there is such a thing as a better and a best; and that
knowledge drives you on. There are habits that are not merely passive
but aggressively arrogant. They are not like mere walls, but are like
hedges of stinging nettles. Europe has been cultivating these hedges of
habits for long years, till they have grown round her dense and strong
and high. The pride of her traditions has sent its roots deep into her
heart. I do not wish to contend that it is unreasonable. But pride in
every form breeds blindness at the end. Like all artificial stimulants
its first effect is a heightening of consciousness, and then with the
increasing dose it muddles it and brings an exultation that is
misleading. Europe has gradually grown hardened in her pride in all her
outer and inner habits. She not only cannot forget that she is Western,
but she takes every opportunity to hurl this fact against others to
humiliate them. This is why she is growing incapable of imparting to the
East what is best in herself, and of accepting in a right spirit the
wisdom that the East has stored for centuries.

In America national habits and traditions have not had time to spread
their clutching roots round your hearts. You have constantly felt and
complained of your disadvantages when you compared your nomadic
restlessness with the settled traditions of Europe--the Europe which can
show her picture of greatness to the best advantage because she can fix
it against the background of the Past. But in this present age of
transition, when a new era of civilization is sending its trumpet-call
to all peoples of the world across an unlimited future, this very
freedom of detachment will enable you to accept its invitation and to
achieve the goal for which Europe began her journey but lost herself
midway. For she was tempted out of her path by her pride of power and
greed of possession.

Not merely your freedom from habits of mind in individuals, but also
the freedom of your history from all unclean entanglements, fits you in
your career of holding the banner of civilization of the future. All the
great nations of Europe have their victims in other parts of the world.
This not only deadens their moral sympathy but also their intellectual
sympathy, which is so necessary for the understanding of races which are
different from one's own. Englishmen can never truly understand India,
because their minds are not disinterested with regard to that country.
If you compare England with Germany or France you will find she has
produced the smallest number of scholars who have studied Indian
literature and philosophy with any amount of sympathetic insight or
thoroughness. This attitude of apathy and contempt is natural where the
relationship is abnormal and founded upon national selfishness and
pride. But your history has been disinterested, and that is why you have
been able to help Japan in her lessons in Western civilization, and that
is why China can look upon you with her best confidence in this her
darkest period of danger. In fact you are carrying all the
responsibility of a great future because you are untrammelled by the
grasping miserliness of a past. Therefore of all countries of the earth
America has to be fully conscious of this future, her vision must not be
obscured and her faith in humanity must be strong with the strength of

A parallelism exists between America and India--the parallelism of
welding together into one body various races.

In my country we have been seeking to find out something common to all
races, which will prove their real unity. No nation looking for a mere
political or commercial basis of unity will find such a solution
sufficient. Men of thought and power will discover the spiritual unity,
will realize it, and preach it.

India has never had a real sense of nationalism. Even though from
childhood I had been taught that idolatry of the Nation is almost better
than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that
teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain
their India by fighting against the education which teaches them that a
country is greater than the ideals of humanity.

The educated Indian at present is trying to absorb some lessons from
history contrary to the lessons of our ancestors. The East, in fact, is
attempting to take unto itself a history which is not the outcome of its
own living. Japan, for example, thinks she is getting powerful through
adopting Western methods, but, after she has exhausted her inheritance,
only the borrowed weapons of civilization will remain to her. She will
not have developed herself from within.

Europe has her past. Europe's strength therefore lies in her history.
We, in India, must make up our minds that we cannot borrow other
people's history, and that if we stifle our own we are committing
suicide. When you borrow things that do not belong to your life, they
only serve to crush your life.

And therefore I believe that it does India no good to compete with
Western civilization in its own field. But we shall be more than
compensated if, in spite of the insults heaped upon us, we follow our
own destiny.

There are lessons which impart information or train our minds for
intellectual pursuits. These are simple and can be acquired and used
with advantage. But there are others which affect our deeper nature and
change our direction of life. Before we accept them and pay their value
by selling our own inheritance, we must pause and think deeply. In man's
history there come ages of fireworks which dazzle us by their force and
movement. They laugh not only at our modest household lamps but also at
the eternal stars. But let us not for that provocation be precipitate in
our desire to dismiss our lamps. Let us patiently bear our present
insult and realize that these fireworks have splendour but not
permanence, because of the extreme explosiveness which is the cause of
their power, and also of their exhaustion. They are spending a fatal
quantity of energy and substance compared to their gain and production.

Anyhow, our ideals have been evolved through our own history, and even
if we wished we could only make poor fireworks of them, because their
materials are different from yours, as is also their moral purpose. If
we cherish the desire of paying our all to buy a political nationality
it will be as absurd as if Switzerland had staked her existence on her
ambition to build up a navy powerful enough to compete with that of
England. The mistake that we make is in thinking that man's channel of
greatness is only one--the one which has made itself painfully evident
for the time being by its depth of insolence.

We must know for certain that there is a future before us and that
future is waiting for those who are rich in moral ideals and not in mere
things. And it is the privilege of man to work for fruits that are
beyond his immediate reach, and to adjust his life not in slavish
conformity to the examples of some present success or even to his own
prudent past, limited in its aspiration, but to an infinite future
bearing in its heart the ideals of our highest expectations.

We must recognize that it is providential that the West has come to
India. And yet some one must show the East to the West, and convince the
West that the East has her contribution to make to the history of
civilization. India is no beggar of the West. And yet even though the
West may think she is, I am not for thrusting off Western civilization
and becoming segregated in our independence. Let us have a deep
association. If Providence wants England to be the channel of that
communication, of that deeper association, I am willing to accept it
with all humility. I have great faith in human nature, and I think the
West will find its true mission. I speak bitterly of Western
civilization when I am conscious that it is betraying its trust and
thwarting its own purpose. The West must not make herself a curse to the
world by using her power for her own selfish needs, but, by teaching the
ignorant and helping the weak, she should save herself from the worst
danger that the strong is liable to incur by making the feeble acquire
power enough to resist her intrusion. And also she must not make her
materialism to be the final thing, but must realize that she is doing a
service in freeing the spiritual being from the tyranny of matter.

I am not against one nation in particular, but against the general idea
of all nations. What is the Nation?

It is the aspect of a whole people as an organized power. This
organization incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on
becoming strong and efficient. But this strenuous effort after strength
and efficiency drains man's energy from his higher nature where he is
self-sacrificing and creative. For thereby man's power of sacrifice is
diverted from his ultimate object, which is moral, to the maintenance of
this organization, which is mechanical. Yet in this he feels all the
satisfaction of moral exaltation and therefore becomes supremely
dangerous to humanity. He feels relieved of the urging of his conscience
when he can transfer his responsibility to this machine which is the
creation of his intellect and not of his complete moral personality. By
this device the people which loves freedom perpetuates slavery in a
large portion of the world with the comfortable feeling of pride of
having done its duty; men who are naturally just can be cruelly unjust
both in their act and their thought, accompanied by a feeling that they
are helping the world to receive its deserts; men who are honest can
blindly go on robbing others of their human rights for
self-aggrandizement, all the while abusing the deprived for not
deserving better treatment. We have seen in our everyday life even small
organizations of business and profession produce callousness of feeling
in men who are not naturally bad, and we can well imagine what a moral
havoc it is causing in a world where whole peoples are furiously
organizing themselves for gaining wealth and power.

Nationalism is a great menace. It is the particular thing which for
years has been at the bottom of India's troubles. And inasmuch as we
have been ruled and dominated by a nation that is strictly political in
its attitude, we have tried to develop within ourselves, despite our
inheritance from the past, a belief in our eventual political destiny.

There are different parties in India, with different ideals. Some are
struggling for political independence. Others think that the time has
not arrived for that, and yet believe that India should have the rights
that the English colonies have. They wish to gain autonomy as far as

In the beginning of the history of political agitation in India there
was not the conflict between parties which there is to-day. At that time
there was a party known as the Indian Congress; it had no real
programme. They had a few grievances for redress by the authorities.
They wanted larger representation in the Council House, and more freedom
in Municipal government. They wanted scraps of things, but they had no
constructive ideal. Therefore I was lacking in enthusiasm for their
methods. It was my conviction that what India most needed was
constructive work coming from within herself. In this work we must take
all risks and go on doing the duties which by right are ours, though in
the teeth of persecution; winning moral victory at every step, by our
failure and suffering. We must show those who are over us that we have
in ourselves the strength of moral power, the power to suffer for truth.
Where we have nothing to show, we have only to beg. It would be
mischievous if the gifts we wish for were granted to us at once, and I
have told my countrymen, time and again, to combine for the work of
creating opportunities to give vent to our spirit of self-sacrifice, and
not for the purpose of begging.

The party, however, lost power because the people soon came to realize
how futile was the half policy adopted by them. The party split, and
there arrived the Extremists, who advocated independence of action, and
discarded the begging method,--the easiest method of relieving one's
mind from his responsibility towards his country. Their ideals were
based on Western history. They had no sympathy with the special problems
of India. They did not recognize the patent fact that there were causes
in our social organization which made the Indian incapable of coping
with the alien. What should we do if, for any reason, England was driven
away? We should simply be victims for other nations. The same social
weaknesses would prevail. The thing we in India have to think of is
this--to remove those social customs and ideals which have generated a
want of self-respect and a complete dependence on those above us,--a
state of affairs which has been brought about entirely by the domination
in India of the caste system, and the blind and lazy habit of relying
upon the authority of traditions that are incongruous anachronisms in
the present age.

Once again I draw your attention to the difficulties India has had to
encounter and her struggle to overcome them. Her problem was the problem
of the world in miniature. India is too vast in its area and too diverse
in its races. It is many countries packed in one geographical
receptacle. It is just the opposite of what Europe truly is, namely, one
country made into many. Thus Europe in its culture and growth has had
the advantage of the strength of the many as well as the strength of the
one. India, on the contrary, being naturally many, yet adventitiously
one, has all along suffered from the looseness of its diversity and the
feebleness of its unity. A true unity is like a round globe, it rolls
on, carrying its burden easily; but diversity is a many-cornered thing
which has to be dragged and pushed with all force. Be it said to the
credit of India that this diversity was not her own creation; she has
had to accept it as a fact from the beginning of her history. In America
and Australia, Europe has simplified her problem by almost exterminating
the original population. Even in the present age this spirit of
extermination is making itself manifest, in the inhospitable shutting
out of aliens, by those who themselves were aliens in the lands they now
occupy. But India tolerated difference of races from the first, and that
spirit of toleration has acted all through her history.

Her caste system is the outcome of this spirit of toleration. For India
has all along been trying experiments in evolving a social unity within
which all the different peoples could be held together, while fully
enjoying the freedom of maintaining their own differences. The tie has
been as loose as possible, yet as close as the circumstances permitted.
This has produced something like a United States of a social federation,
whose common name is Hinduism.

India had felt that diversity of races there must be and should be,
whatever may be its drawback, and you can never coerce nature into your
narrow limits of convenience without paying one day very dearly for it.
In this India was right; but what she failed to realize was that in
human beings differences are not like the physical barriers of
mountains, fixed for ever--they are fluid with life's flow, they are
changing their courses and their shapes and volume.

Therefore in her caste regulations India recognized differences, but not
the mutability which is the law of life. In trying to avoid collisions
she set up boundaries of immovable walls, thus giving to her numerous
races the negative benefit of peace and order but not the positive
opportunity of expansion and movement. She accepted nature where it
produces diversity, but ignored it where it uses that diversity for its
world-game of infinite permutations and combinations. She treated life
in all truth where it is manifold, but insulted it where it is ever
moving. Therefore Life departed from her social system and in its place
she is worshipping with all ceremony the magnificent cage of countless
compartments that she has manufactured.

The same thing happened where she tried to ward off the collisions of
trade interests. She associated different trades and professions with
different castes. This had the effect of allaying for good the
interminable jealousy and hatred of competition--the competition which
breeds cruelty and makes the atmosphere thick with lies and deception.
In this also India laid all her emphasis upon the law of heredity,
ignoring the law of mutation, and thus gradually reduced arts into
crafts and genius into skill.

However, what Western observers fail to discern is that in her caste
system India in all seriousness accepted her responsibility to solve the
race problem in such a manner as to avoid all friction, and yet to
afford each race freedom within its boundaries. Let us admit India has
not in this achieved a full measure of success. But this you must also
concede, that the West, being more favourably situated as to homogeneity
of races, has never given her attention to this problem, and whenever
confronted with it she has tried to make it easy by ignoring it
altogether. And this is the source of her anti-Asiatic agitations for
depriving aliens of their right to earn their honest living on these
shores. In most of your colonies you only admit them on condition of
their accepting the menial position of hewers of wood and drawers of
water. Either you shut your doors against the aliens or reduce them into
slavery. And this is your solution of the problem of race-conflict.
Whatever may be its merits you will have to admit that it does not
spring from the higher impulses of civilization, but from the lower
passions of greed and hatred. You say this is human nature--and India
also thought she knew human nature when she strongly barricaded her race
distinctions by the fixed barriers of social gradations. But we have
found out to our cost that human nature is not what it seems, but what
it is in truth; which is in its infinite possibilities. And when we in
our blindness insult humanity for its ragged appearance it sheds its
disguise to disclose to us that we have insulted our God. The
degradation which we cast upon others in our pride or self-interest
degrades our own humanity--and this is the punishment which is most
terrible, because we do not detect it till it is too late.

Not only in your relation with aliens but with the different sections of
your own society you have not achieved harmony of reconciliation. The
spirit of conflict and competition is allowed the full freedom of its
reckless career. And because its genesis is the greed of wealth and
power it can never come to any other end but to a violent death. In
India the production of commodities was brought under the law of social
adjustments. Its basis was co-operation, having for its object the
perfect satisfaction of social needs. But in the West it is guided by
the impulse of competition, whose end is the gain of wealth for
individuals. But the individual is like the geometrical line; it is
length without breadth. It has not got the depth to be able to hold
anything permanently. Therefore its greed or gain can never come to
finality. In its lengthening process of growth it can cross other lines
and cause entanglements, but will ever go on missing the ideal of
completeness in its thinness of isolation.

In all our physical appetites we recognize a limit. We know that to
exceed that limit is to exceed the limit of health. But has this lust
for wealth and power no bounds beyond which is death's dominion? In
these national carnivals of materialism are not the Western peoples
spending most of their vital energy in merely producing things and
neglecting the creation of ideals? And can a civilization ignore the law
of moral health and go on in its endless process of inflation by gorging
upon material things? Man in his social ideals naturally tries to
regulate his appetites, subordinating them to the higher purpose of his
nature. But in the economic world our appetites follow no other
restrictions but those of supply and demand which can be artificially
fostered, affording individuals opportunities for indulgence in an
endless feast of grossness. In India our social instincts imposed
restrictions upon our appetites,--maybe it went to the extreme of
repression,--but in the West the spirit of economic organization with no
moral purpose goads the people into the perpetual pursuit of wealth; but
has this no wholesome limit?

The ideals that strive to take form in social institutions have two
objects. One is to regulate our passions and appetites for the
harmonious development of man, and the other is to help him to cultivate
disinterested love for his fellow-creatures. Therefore society is the
expression of those moral and spiritual aspirations of man which belong
to his higher nature.

Our food is creative, it builds our body; but not so wine, which
stimulates. Our social ideals create the human world, but when our mind
is diverted from them to greed of power then in that state of
intoxication we live in a world of abnormality where our strength is not
health and our liberty is not freedom. Therefore political freedom does
not give us freedom when our mind is not free. An automobile does not
create freedom of movement, because it is a mere machine. When I myself
am free I can use the automobile for the purpose of my freedom.

We must never forget in the present day that those people who have got
their political freedom are not necessarily free, they are merely
powerful. The passions which are unbridled in them are creating huge
organizations of slavery in the disguise of freedom. Those who have made
the gain of money their highest end are unconsciously selling their life
and soul to rich persons or to the combinations that represent money.
Those who are enamoured of their political power and gloat over their
extension of dominion over foreign races gradually surrender their own
freedom and humanity to the organizations necessary for holding other
peoples in slavery. In the so-called free countries the majority of the
people are not free, they are driven by the minority to a goal which is
not even known to them. This becomes possible only because people do not
acknowledge moral and spiritual freedom as their object. They create
huge eddies with their passions, and they feel dizzily inebriated with
the mere velocity of their whirling movement, taking that to be freedom.
But the doom which is waiting to overtake them is as certain as
death--for man's truth is moral truth and his emancipation is in the
spiritual life.

The general opinion of the majority of the present-day nationalists in
India is that we have come to a final completeness in our social and
spiritual ideals, the task of the constructive work of society having
been done several thousand years before we were born, and that now we
are free to employ all our activities in the political direction. We
never dream of blaming our social inadequacy as the origin of our
present helplessness, for we have accepted as the creed of our
nationalism that this social system has been perfected for all time to
come by our ancestors, who had the superhuman vision of all eternity and
supernatural power for making infinite provision for future ages.
Therefore, for all our miseries and shortcomings, we hold responsible
the historical surprises that burst upon us from outside. This is the
reason why we think that our one task is to build a political miracle of
freedom upon the quicksand of social slavery. In fact we want to dam up
the true course of our own historical stream, and only borrow power from
the sources of other peoples' history.

Those of us in India who have come under the delusion that mere
political freedom will make us free have accepted their lessons from the
West as the gospel truth and lost their faith in humanity. We must
remember whatever weakness we cherish in our society will become the
source of danger in politics. The same inertia which leads us to our
idolatry of dead forms in social institutions will create in our
politics prison-houses with immovable walls. The narrowness of sympathy
which makes it possible for us to impose upon a considerable portion of
humanity the galling yoke of inferiority will assert itself in our
politics in creating the tyranny of injustice.

When our nationalists talk about ideals they forget that the basis of
nationalism is wanting. The very people who are upholding these ideals
are themselves the most conservative in their social practice.
Nationalists say, for example, look at Switzerland where, in spite of
race differences, the peoples have solidified into a nation. Yet,
remember that in Switzerland the races can mingle, they can intermarry,
because they are of the same blood. In India there is no common
birthright. And when we talk of Western Nationality we forget that the
nations there do not have that physical repulsion, one for the other,
that we have between different castes. Have we an instance in the whole
world where a people who are not allowed to mingle their blood shed
their blood for one another except by coercion or for mercenary
purposes? And can we ever hope that these moral barriers against our
race amalgamation will not stand in the way of our political unity?

Then again we must give full recognition to this fact that our social
restrictions are still tyrannical, so much so as to make men cowards. If
a man tells me he has heterodox ideas, but that he cannot follow them
because he would be socially ostracized, I excuse him for having to live
a life of untruth, in order to live at all. The social habit of mind
which impels us to make the life of our fellow-beings a burden to them
where they differ from us even in such a thing as their choice of food,
is sure to persist in our political organization and result in creating
engines of coercion to crush every rational difference which is the sign
of life. And tyranny will only add to the inevitable lies and hypocrisy
in our political life. Is the mere name of freedom so valuable that we
should be willing to sacrifice for its sake our moral freedom?

The intemperance of our habits does not immediately show its effects
when we are in the vigour of our youth. But it gradually consumes that
vigour, and when the period of decline sets in then we have to settle
accounts and pay off our debts, which leads us to insolvency. In the
West you are still able to carry your head high, though your humanity is
suffering every moment from its dipsomania of organizing power. India
also in the heyday of her youth could carry in her vital organs the dead
weight of her social organizations stiffened to rigid perfection, but it
has been fatal to her, and has produced a gradual paralysis of her
living nature. And this is the reason why the educated community of
India has become insensible of her social needs. They are taking the
very immobility of our social structures as the sign of their
perfection,--and because the healthy feeling of pain is dead in the
limbs of our social organism they delude themselves into thinking that
it needs no ministration. Therefore they think that all their energies
need their only scope in the political field. It is like a man whose
legs have become shrivelled and useless, trying to delude himself that
these limbs have grown still because they have attained their ultimate
salvation, and all that is wrong about him is the shortness of his

So much for the social and the political regeneration of India. Now we
come to her industries, and I am very often asked whether there is in
India any industrial regeneration since the advent of the British
Government. It must be remembered that at the beginning of the British
rule in India our industries were suppressed, and since then we have not
met with any real help or encouragement to enable us to make a stand
against the monster commercial organizations of the world. The nations
have decreed that we must remain purely an agricultural people, even
forgetting the use of arms for all time to come. Thus India is being
turned into so many predigested morsels of food ready to be swallowed at
any moment by any nation which has even the most rudimentary set of
teeth in its head.

India therefore has very little outlet for her industrial originality. I
personally do not believe in the unwieldy organizations of the present
day. The very fact that they are ugly shows that they are in discordance
with the whole creation. The vast powers of nature do not reveal their
truth in hideousness, but in beauty. Beauty is the signature which the
Creator stamps upon His works when He is satisfied with them. All our
products that insolently ignore the laws of perfection and are unashamed
in their display of ungainliness bear the perpetual weight of God's
displeasure. So far as your commerce lacks the dignity of grace it is
untrue. Beauty and her twin brother Truth require leisure and
self-control for their growth. But the greed of gain has no time or
limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume. It
has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is
ruthlessly ready without a moment's hesitation to crush beauty and life
out of them, moulding them into money. It is this ugly vulgarity of
commerce which brought upon it the censure of contempt in our earlier
days, when men had leisure to have an unclouded vision of perfection in
humanity. Men in those times were rightly ashamed of the instinct of
mere money-making. But in this scientific age money, by its very
abnormal bulk, has won its throne. And when from its eminence of
piled-up things it insults the higher instincts of man, banishing beauty
and noble sentiments from its surroundings, we submit. For we in our
meanness have accepted bribes from its hands and our imagination has
grovelled in the dust before its immensity of flesh.

But its very unwieldiness and its endless complexities are its true
signs of failure. The swimmer who is an expert does not exhibit his
muscular force by violent movements, but exhibits some power which is
invisible and which shows itself in perfect grace and reposefulness. The
true distinction of man from animals is in his power and worth which are
inner and invisible. But the present-day commercial civilization of man
is not only taking too much time and space but killing time and space.
Its movements are violent, its noise is discordantly loud. It is
carrying its own damnation because it is trampling into distortion the
humanity upon which it stands. It is strenuously turning out money at
the cost of happiness. Man is reducing himself to his minimum in order
to be able to make amplest room for his organizations. He is deriding
his human sentiments into shame because they are apt to stand in the way
of his machines.

In our mythology we have the legend that the man who performs penances
for attaining immortality has to meet with temptations sent by Indra,
the Lord of the immortals. If he is lured by them he is lost. The West
has been striving for centuries after its goal of immortality. Indra has
sent her the temptation to try her. It is the gorgeous temptation of
wealth. She has accepted it, and her civilization of humanity has lost
its path in the wilderness of machinery.

This commercialism with its barbarity of ugly decorations is a terrible
menace to all humanity, because it is setting up the ideal of power over
that of perfection. It is making the cult of self-seeking exult in its
naked shamelessness. Our nerves are more delicate than our muscles.
Things that are the most precious in us are helpless as babes when we
take away from them the careful protection which they claim from us for
their very preciousness. Therefore, when the callous rudeness of power
runs amuck in the broad-way of humanity it scares away by its grossness
the ideals which we have cherished with the martyrdom of centuries.

The temptation which is fatal for the strong is still more so for the
weak. And I do not welcome it in our Indian life, even though it be sent
by the lord of the Immortals. Let our life be simple in its outer aspect
and rich in its inner gain. Let our civilization take its firm stand
upon its basis of social co-operation and not upon that of economic
exploitation and conflict. How to do it in the teeth of the drainage of
our life-blood by the economic dragons is the task set before the
thinkers of all oriental nations who have faith in the human soul. It is
a sign of laziness and impotency to accept conditions imposed upon us by
others who have other ideals than ours. We should actively try to adapt
the world powers to guide our history to its own perfect end.

From the above you will know that I am not an economist. I am willing to
acknowledge that there is a law of demand and supply and an infatuation
of man for more things than are good for him. And yet I will persist in
believing that there is such a thing as the harmony of completeness in
humanity, where poverty does not take away his riches, where defeat may
lead him to victory, death to immortality, and where in the compensation
of Eternal Justice those who are the last may yet have their insult
transmuted into a golden triumph.


(_Written in the Bengali on the last day of last century_)


     The last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the
       West and the whirlwind of hatred.
     The naked passion of self-love of Nations, in its drunken delirium
       of greed, is dancing to the clash of steel and the howling verses
       of vengeance.


     The hungry self of the Nation shall burst in a violence of fury from
       its own shameless feeding.
     For it has made the world its food,
     And licking it, crunching it and swallowing it in big morsels,
             It swells and swells
     Till in the midst of its unholy feast descends the sudden shaft of
       heaven piercing its heart of grossness.


     The crimson glow of light on the horizon is not the light of thy
       dawn of peace, my Motherland.
     It is the glimmer of the funeral pyre burning to ashes the vast
       flesh,--the self-love of the Nation--dead under its own excess.
     Thy morning waits behind the patient dark of the East,
             Meek and silent.


     Keep watch, India.
     Bring your offerings of worship for that sacred sunrise.
     Let the first hymn of its welcome sound in your voice and sing
     "Come, Peace, thou daughter of God's own great suffering.
     Come with thy treasure of contentment, the sword of fortitude,
             And meekness crowning thy forehead."


     Be not ashamed, my brothers, to stand before the proud and the
             With your white robe of simpleness.
     Let your crown be of humility, your freedom the freedom of the
     Build God's throne daily upon the ample bareness of your poverty
     And know that what is huge is not great and pride is not


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

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