Conformist Minds of India

In his fight against the British Empire, Gandhi realised early on that the entity called India was not a nation in reality but merely a geographical expression of historic significance. It was in recognition of a relatively weak political identity that Gandhi forged his message of freedom and emancipation around religious beliefs of pan-Indian appeal. He combined in a single symbol of cultural unity; the concept of non-violence from Buddhism, the faith in the solidarity of the faithful from Islam, the depiction of truth as God from Hinduism, and the dignity of social service from Christianity, and gave it an evocative name from an ancient epic popular in several languages of India—the Ramayan. Gandhi's Ram Rajya is an acceptance of the diversity of faiths prevalent in India.

Meanwhile, Jawaharlal Nehru found seeds of unity in his Discovery of India in the Ashokan empire. Nehru's idea of India got its inspiration from the nation-states of Europe that closely resembled the concentration of temporal and spiritual authority in the person of an emperor. Nehru may have been a child of the Enlightenment, educated in the art and culture of the west in some of its finest institutions, but he was a thoroughly oriental Brahmin in his outlook. He aspired to fashion a nation of destiny from the glory of antiquity. It is the Nehruvian idea of India that inspired an entire generation of Indian intelligentsia. With the great minds gone, it was left to the expert, the diplomat, the scholar to manage this legacy and, interestingly, these Indians saw none of the humility but only the grandeur that apparently made up India.

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