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Durable Link to this BlogFriday, April 22, 2005

Ideas from Hind Swaraj - III

Was India really one country before the British unified it?

Gandhi provides a convincing answer in "Hind Swaraj" (1908)

"India is one nation in religious and cultural sense." he says.

"The English have taught us that we are not one nation before (they came) and that it will require centuries before it becomes nation" said Gandhiji, and firmly denied it. We were a nation. One thought inspired us. Our mode of life was the same. It was because we were one nation that British were able to establish one kingdom. Subsequently they divided Indians.

"Our people knew very well that besides going to places of pilgrimage, worship of God could have been performed just as well at home. They were convinced that nature made India an undivided land. The establishment of holy places in various parts is fired with an idea of nationality. This manner is unknown in the other parts of the world. Indians are one as no two English men were."

Only educated Indians imagined that we are many nations. Gandhiji's argument was that the people started feeling the distinction only after the advent of the railways. It is like an opium-eater arguing that he began to understand the evil of opium habit only after having eaten it!

See Also:
• Ideas from Hind Swaraj - I
• Ideas from Hind Swaraj - II

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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