A Task Unaccomplished

A Task Unaccomplished
THERE is no question so vital to the future of this nation
as the spirit in which we are to set about the regeneration
of our national life. Either India is rising again to fulfil the
function for which her past national life and development seem
to have prepared her, a leader of thought and faith, a defender of
spiritual truth and experience destined to correct the conclusions
of materialistic Science by the higher Science of which she has
the secret and in that power to influence the world’s civilisation,
or she is rising as a faithful pupil of Europe, a follower
of methods and ideas borrowed from the West, a copyist of
English politics and society. In the one case her aspiration must
be great, her faith unshakable, her efforts and sacrifices such
as to command the admiration of the world; in the other no
such greatness of soul is needed or possible;—a cautious, slow
and gradual progress involving no extraordinary effort and no
unusual sacrifices is sufficient for an end so small. In the one
case her destiny is to be a great nation remoulding and leading
the civilisation of the world, in the other it is to be a subordinate
part of the British Empire sharing in the social life, the political
privileges, the intellectual ideals and attainments of the Anglo-
Celtic race. These are the two ideals before us, and an ideal
is not mere breath, it is a thing compelling which determines
the spirit of our action and often fixes the method. No policy
can be successful which does not take into view the end to be
attained and the amount and nature of the effort needed to
effect it. The leader of industry who enters on a commercial
enterprise, first looks at the magnitude of his field and intended
output and equips himself with capital and plant accordingly,
and even if he cannot commence at once on the scale of his
ideal he holds it in view himself, puts it before the public in
issuing his prospectus and estimating the capital necessary, and

all the practical steps he takes are conceived in the light of his
original aspiration and ordered towards its achievement. So it is
with the political ventures of a nation. To place before himself
a great object and then to shrink in the name of expediency
from the expenditure and sacrifice called for in its pursuit is not
prudence but ineptitude. If you will be prudent, be prudent from
the beginning. Fix your object low and creep towards it. But if
you fix your object in the skies, it will not do to crawl on the
ground and because your eyes are sometimes lifted towards the
ideal imagine you are progressing while you murmur to those
behind, “Yes, yes, our ideal is in the skies because that is the place
for ideals, but we are on the ground and the ground is our proper
place of motion. Let us creep, let us creep.” Such inconsistency
will only dishearten the nation, unnerve its strength and confuse
its intelligence. You must either bring down your ideal to the
ground or find wings or aeroplane to lift you to the skies. There
is no middle course.
We believe that this nation is one which has developed itself
in the past on spiritual lines under the inspiration of a destiny
which is now coming to fulfilment. The peculiar seclusion
in which it was able to develop its individual temperament,
knowledge and ideas;—the manner in which the streams of the
world poured in upon and were absorbed by the calm ocean
of Indian spiritual life, recalling the great image in the Gita,—
even as the waters flow into the great tranquil and immeasurable
ocean, and the ocean is not perturbed;—the persistence
with which peculiar and original forms of society, religion and
philosophical thought were protected from disintegration up
till the destined moment;—the deferring of that disintegration
until the whole world outside had arrived at the point when the
great Indian ideal which these forms enshrined could embrace
all that it yet needed for its perfect self-expression, and be itself
embraced by an age starved by materialism and yearning for
a higher knowledge;—the sudden return of India upon itself
at a time when all that was peculiarly Indian seemed to wear
upon it the irrevocable death-sentence passed on all things that
in the human evolution are no longer needed;—the miraculous
94 Karmayogin, 3 July 1909
uprising and transformation of weakness into strength brought
about by that return;—all this seems to us to be not fortuitous
and accidental but inevitable and preordained in the decrees of
an over-ruling Providence. The rationalist looks on such beliefs
and aspirations as mysticism and jargon. When confronted with
the truths of Hinduism, the experience of deep thinkers and the
choice spirits of the race through thousands of years, he shouts
“Mysticism, mysticism!” and thinks he has conquered. To him
there is order, development, progress, evolution, enlightenment
in the history of Europe, but the past of India is an unsightly
mass of superstition and ignorance best torn out of the book
of human life. These thousands of years of our thought and
aspiration are a period of the least importance to us and the true
history of our progress only begins with the advent of European
education! The rest is a confused nightmare or a mere barren
lapse of time preparing nothing and leading to nothing. This
tone is still vocal in the organs of the now declining school of
the nineteenth century some of which preserve their influence in
the provinces where the balance in the struggle between the past
and the future has not inclined decidedly in favour of the latter.
In Bengal it is still represented by an undercurrent of the old
weakness and the old want of faith which struggles occasionally
to establish itself by a false appearance of philosophical weight
and wisdom. It cannot really believe that this is a movement
with a divine force within and a mighty future before it. The
only force it sees is the resentment against the Partition which in
its view is enough to explain everything that has happened, the
only future it envisages is reform and the reversal of the Partition.
Recently, however, the gospel of Nationalism has made so much
way that the organs of this school in Bengal have accepted many
of its conclusions and their writings are coloured by its leading
ideas. But the fundamental idea of the movement as a divine
manifestation purposing to raise up the nation not only for its
own fulfilment in India but for the work and service of the
world and therefore sure of its fulfilment, therefore independent
of individuals and superior to vicissitudes and difficulties, is one
which they cannot yet grasp. It is a sentiment which has been
growing upon us as the movement progressed, but it has not
yet been sufficiently put forward by the organs of Nationalism
itself, partly because the old idea of separating religion from
politics lingered, partly because the human aspects of the Nationalist
faith had to be established before we could rise to the
divine. But that divine aspect has to be established if we are to
have the faith and greatness of soul which can alone help us
in the tremendous developments the signs of the time portend.
There is plenty of weakness still lingering in the land and we
cannot allow it to take shelter under the cry of expediency and
rationality and seek to kill the faith and force that has been born
in the hearts of the young. The Karmayogin has taken its stand
on the rock of religion and its first object will be to combat
these reactionary tendencies and lead the nation forward into
the fuller light for which the Bande Mataram and other organs
of the new faith only prepared. The gospel of Nationalism has
not yet been fully preached; its most inspiring tenets have yet
to be established not only by the eloquence of the orator and
inspiration of the prophet but by the arguments of the logician,
the appeal to experience of the statesman and the harmonising
generalisations of the scientist.



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