Trust the politicians to rake up an old issue when new ones are scarce. One particular group insisted that every Indian should chant the above-mentioned slogan in order to exhibit love for their motherland.Instantly, others opposing them saw a golden opportunity for publicity, and they promptly refused. This outraged the proponents, and calls for a nationwide agitation were immediately issued.
What is wrong with glorifying your motherland? Well, at least at the outset, nothing. Your land of birth is responsible for providing you with your basic necessities of life and more importantly, culture and heritage. One of the debts every human being owes is to one’s countrymen or the populace in general. So it is fair that everyone should feel proud of our country for all the good things that we have received from our motherland. The problem begins when love for your motherland also carries with it the baggage of some disdains, or even hatred, for others’ motherlands.
Let us examine quotes on this issue by two of the most brilliant minds of the previous century: “Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind.”
“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.”
—George Bernard Shaw
Nationalism has developed in different parts of the world due to the cultivation of nescience by the general people. No one considers that this earth is just a lump of matter floating in immeasurable space along with many other lumps. In comparison to the vastness of space, these material lumps are like the dust particles in air. Because God has in His kindness, made these lumps of matter complete in themselves, they are fully and perfectly equipped for floating in space, carrying all necessities for living beings.
The fliers of our spaceships may be very proud of their achievements, but they do not even consider the supreme flier of these greater, more gigantic spaceships called planets.
There are innumerable suns and innumerable planetary systems also. As infinitesimal parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, we small creatures are trying to dominate these unlimited planets. Thus we take repeated birth and death and are generally frustrated by old age and disease. The span of human life is scheduled for about a hundred years, although it is gradually decreasing in modern times. Thanks to the culture of nescience, befooled men have created their own nations within these planets, in order to grasp sense enjoyment more effectively for these few years of lifetime. Such foolish people draw up various plans to render national demarcations perfectly, a task that is next to impossible in many cases. Yet, for this very purpose, each and every nation has become a source of anxiety for others. More than fifty percent of a nation’s resources are devoted to defence measures, leading to a lower quality of life for all citizens. No one cares for the cultivation of real knowledge, yet people are falsely proud of being advanced in both material and spiritual knowledge.
The Vedas state that we are all born ignorant within this material world. In our ignorance we may advance nationalism, philanthropy, internationalism, science, philosophy and many other subjects. The basic principle behind all these is ignorance. What then is the value of all this advancement of knowledge if the basic principle is ignorance? Unless a person comes to Kåñëa consciousness, all of his activities are defeated. This human form of life is especially meant to dispel ignorance, but without understanding how to do this, ignorant people are planning and building many things. After death, however, all ones plans are nullified.
No wonder, one Bollywood actress-turned-politician quipped, “If you cannot chant Bharat Mata ki jaya, why not chant Bharat Ammi ki jaya instead?
Syamananda Dasa is the chief editor of Back to Godhead’s Indian edition.