Discuss the concept of nation worship in The Home and the World.

The concept of nation worship in The Home and the World is one that Tagore finds incredibly dangerous. Tagore was an implacable foe of nationalism, and his anti-nationalism is much in evidence in The Home and the World, where nationalism’s appropriation of Hinduism as a religion comes in for especially strong criticism.

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The very notion of nation worship is profoundly dangerous for Tagore, not least because of its quasi-religious connotations. In keeping with his unwavering hostility to nationalism, Tagore presents the nation as a false god, an idol of clay whose worship invariably leads to violence, division, and bloodshed.

At the heart of nation-worship is the amoral belief that the end justifies the means. The nation must override everything; it is bigger and more important than any one individual. In the novel, the fanatical nationalist Sandip is especially dangerous because he knows full well what dark forces nationalism can unleash, yet chooses to devote himself to the cause anyway, as he fervently believes that India must be free at any cost.

As a deeply religious man, Tagore is especially scathing of the selective use of Hindu texts by nationalists to justify what is essentially a secular creed. Sandip quotes liberally from the epic Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, in support of the nationalist crusade. The combination of religion and politics can be a highly toxic mix, not least because if one believes, as Sandip does, that the gods are on one’s side, then one can feel justified in doing absolutely anything, no matter how ostensibly immoral.

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