In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, quoted Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s idea of nationalism in his own words thus:
”I call myself a nationalist but my nationalism is as wide as the universe; it embraces all nations. My nationalism includes the prosperity of all nations. I want a strong India able to transfuse its strength to other nations …. Let us look for something new; let us try the power of love and God which are the truth.”
Elsewhere, Gandhi had proclaimed that ‘loyalty to the country is always subordinate to loyalty to God’ and reemphasized that his nationalism was ‘not exclusive’ but is of ‘intense internationalism’.
His averment that ‘nationalism is as wide as the universe’, indeed, is the upanishadic concept of vasudhaiva kutumbakam but as it does not sync with the absolutist precepts of the Semitic faiths, obviously it is of no avail to further the cause of Indian nationalism. Be that as it may, it enabled Gandhi to ascend the throne on international moral high ground that is while leaving the Indian nationalism bereft of, so to say, any space.
While his proposition, ‘my nationalism includes the prosperity of all nations’, ignored the wisdom of charity beginning at home, his reliance on ‘the power of love and God which are the truth’ failed to take into account the nature of the Abrahamaic Godhead in that while Jehovah in His Ten Commandments had ordained his believers thus:
1. You may worship no other god than me.
2. You shall not make yourselves any idols: no images of animals, birds, or fish. You must never bow or worship it in any way; for I, the Lord your God, am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other God!”
And it is another matter that the self-same God, in his Quranic avatar as Allah, had turned His new favourites against not only his chosen people but also the followers of his own son, not to speak of others, thus:
“The Jews and Christians say: We are sons of Allah and His loved ones. Say: Why then doth he chastise you for your sins? Nay, ye are but mortals of His creating. He forgiveth whom He will, and chastiseth whom He will. Allah’s is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them and unto Him is the journeying.”
“All they who disbelieve and deny our revelations, such are rightful owners of hell.”
That being the case, wonder on the ‘power of which love and which God’ was Gandhi banking upon to help his nationalism that includes the prosperity of all nations. While one can attribute this loftiness of thought, not grounded in the reality of the God, to Gandhi’s nobility of purpose, what one were to make out of his advocacy that ‘loyalty to the country is always subordinate to loyalty to God’!
It cannot be the case that Gandhi was unaware of the fact that the Muslim loyalty to Allah and the Christian affinity to Jesus, both alien to the ancient Indian ethos, is not the same thing as the Hindu loyalty to the native Rama, Krishna et al. Surely, Gandhi would have known too that the exclusivist Muslim umma and Christian fraternity alike subscribe to ‘intense internationalism’ of their creed through religious conversions in India and elsewhere, but yet, he didn’t care, at any rate seemingly so. And true to his conviction, he lent his nationalistic weight to the Khilafat movement, aka the Indian Muslim movement, post-World War I, to pressure Britain to preserve the authority of the Ottoman Sultan as Caliph of Islam, by which he had sowed the seeds, unwittingly though, of a separate homeland for the Muslims on the Indian soil.
Nevertheless, as he happened to be the philosopher-guide of Indian struggle for independence from the British colonial rule, his confusing presumptions shaped the nebulous nationalism that came to define independent India’s political axiom. While how all this turned out to be an enduring hurt to Indian national integration needs no retelling, we may examine how his wooly views came to prevail to India’s hurt.
True, India was first invaded by Muslims but yet resisted all through and then was colonized by the British but subdued only after the fall of Rani of Jhansi in 1858. So to say, this defeat in its first war of independence was more moral than mortal for India seemed to have lost its fighting spirit once and for all thereafter. Gandhi, having been born eleven years after the morale-ruining defeat, was but a product of that India’s hapless era, and understandably his call for satyagraha jelled with the nation’s psyche then. What is more, once he could galvanize the nation behind him, as his words became Vedas, so much so that his idiocies became the truths belying the nationalist concerns of Savarkar, Ambedkar and such. Amused by his idea of non-violent struggle that is alien to the spirit of their crusades, much of the West, going by the human nature, egged him to undertake that which they themselves would not do at any rate.
But as Gandhi’s non-violent movement against British went haywire in Noakhali on the Muslim aggressive front and as he remained clueless to the Islamic ways, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was on course to gain a homeland for Indian Muslims in Pakistan. It was another matter that way back in 1937; Savarkar had stated that Congress is betraying the nation by indulging in Muslim appeasement at the cost of Hindu rights and it is better to stand in the last row of patriots than in the first row of betrayers. However, Gandhi’s brainwash of India’s Hindu majority towards his Muslim-leaning ways (he was even crazy enough to advise Hindus to smilingly die if Muslims were to kill them) can be gauged from the fact that they accepted the loss of their ancestral land to the later-day converts without a demur and bore the brunt of the post-partition riots to a fault.
Post-independence, sensing the minority Muslim votes as ready pickings for his congress party at the polling booths, Nehru had contrived to keep the Gandhian non-nationalist legacy alive as a ploy to keep the nationalist forces at bay. That Godse, a Hindu nationalist, felled Gandhi only came in handy for Nehru to malign nationalism per se to thwart the unification of the caste-ridden Hindu polity that’s the avowed aim of Indian nationalism. While Nehru and his progeny thrived politically to lord over India for better part of its independent existence, the national emotional vacuum came to be slowly but steadily came to be filled by communalism, regionalism, casteism, nepotism, favouritism and above all corruption to India’s hurt. However, things came to a nadir during the ten year proxy rule of the Italian born Sonia, when graft became the byword of political power.
When India was thinking enough was enough, came an upright Narendra Modi onto the national political stage to the cheers of the desperate electorate. And as India’s premier he too lost no time to ascend the ramparts of the Red Fort, wearing a Maharaja turban, signaling the return of the native. What with his invocation of the nation’s ancient culture at every turn and showcasing its civilizational glitter on the world stage, India began to experience a sense of itself for the first time in its living memory. Also, his robust military response to Pakistan’s nefarious terror design in the form of a surgical strike on the ground and an air attack on Balakot had bestowed upon the nation a martial sense of achievement.
Thus, besides cleaning the corrupt public stables, as he gave it nationalism to boot, India, all again, rooted for him to march ahead on the nationalistic path. And promptly he did abrogate the vexatious Art 370 ‘n 35A of the Indian constitution to politically integrate the intransigent State of Jammu & Kashmir and that gave a fillip to the Indian nationalist sentiment as never before. Finally, as of now, he owned up Veer Savarkar and proclaimed that he was the fountainhead of Indian nationalism thereby fast tracking Indian nationalism. Surely, in India’s post-independence history, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s name would be etched in golden letters as the spearhead of Indian nationalism, and certainly he would have earned that for himself.