Sri Aurobindo was one of the few original thinkers
Sir, ~ Thanks for publishing a stimulating article on Sri Aurobindo’s thinking on nationalism (3 February). Sri Aurobindo was one of the very few original thinkers in the history of modern India. It is known that through his followers he organised secret revolutionary societies. On the other hand, he enunciated the doctrine of passive resistance as a tool of war for a weak people against a strong opposition. This was long before Gandhiji started to write about the same principles. It was he who propounded the idea of Swadeshi, boycott of British goods and a demand for full freedom. His ideas stoked nationalism throughout the country, stimulated India’s industrial progress and ushered in the ideas of national education in different parts of the country. Professor Mukherjee has highlighted the secular nature of Sri Aurobindo’s brand of Indian nationalism. He recognised Hindu-Muslim rivalry as a legacy of the past enhanced by British ascendancy and was prophetic when he said that this rivalry “has to be faced and worked out either by mutual concessions or by a struggle between nationalism and separatism. But we do not understand Hindu nationalism as a possibility under modern conditions”. Attempts by political parties to stoke Hindu nationalism are bound to fail as India emerges as a modern nation. In this context I should mention that the title you have given to the article is very jarring. It does not convey the spirit of the author. You cannot describe Sri Aurobindo’s writings on politics as “jingoism”. ~ Yours, etc., Sankarananda Guha, Kolkata, 4 February.