Birth and Growth of Indian�Nationalism

The birth and growth of the Indian nationalism, as in every�other country like India, have been the result of numerous�factors. Some factors sowed it seeds, while others nurtured�its growth: some moulded its form while others influenced its�objects and techniques. Thus, the causes responsible for the�birth and growth of the India nationalism were manifold and�can be studied as under.

(i) The socio-religious reform movements during the�19th��century India played a significant role in preparing�grounds for the growth of nationalism in the country.�These movements were basically the attempts to eradiate�social evils emanating from the religions as introduced�through religious practised in India. The Atmiya Sabha�(1815), the Brahmo Samaj (1828) by Rammohan Roy, the�Dharma Sabha (1829) by Radhakant Dev, the Tattvabodhini�Sabha (1839) by Debendranath Tagore (all these were�founded in Calcutta), though Keshab Chandra Sen and�Anand Mohan Bose established, the Brahmo Samaj of�India and the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in 1866 and 1878�respectively in Calcutta. The Nirankaris and the Namdharies�came up by Dayal Das and Ram Singh in 1840 and�1857 in Punjab. The Manav Dharma Sabha was founded�by Durgaram Mancharam in Surat in the year 1844. In�Bomaby, the Paramhansa Mandali, the Prarthna Samaj, the Arya�Samaj were founded by Dadoba Pandurang, Atmaram�Pandurang, Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1849, 1867�and 1875 respectively. The Veda Samaj was established in�Madras in 1864 by Sridharalu Naidu. Darul-ul-Ulam was�established in 1866 at Deoband. Though the Theosophical�Society was founded in New York by Madam H.P.�Blavatsky and Col. H.S. Olcott in 1875 , it became popular�in India as well. The Poona Deccan Education Society came up�in 1884 by G.G. Agarkar. In Aligarh, the Aligarh movement�became popular by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1886 while�in Lucknow, the Lucknow Nadwah-ul-Ulama was founded�by Maulana Shibli Numani in 1894 . In 1887 Shivnarayan�Agnihotri founded the Lahore Deva Samaj in Lahore�while Ramakrishna Mission was established by Swami�Vivekanand in 1897. These movements helped in one�way or the other to regenerate India’s past, eradicate�the social evils, spread education, relieve the practised�religions of their dogmatic rituals, and went a long�way to create an awakening among the Indians which�did a lot in the growth of nationalism in the country.

Impact of Socio-religious Movements

  • Creating national awakening among the masses;
  • Building a tolerant and a national religious system;
  • Attack on the indignities committed on women and�on oppressed sections of society;
  • Arousing the feelings of sacrifice, service and�rationalism;
  • Universalisation of education, equality of male�female education;
  • Condemning the hereditary nature of rigidities,�especially attack on the caste system of India; and
  • Sense of equality and co-existence of cultures and�religions.

(ii) The historical researches into the history of our�country’s past also gave an impetus to the dawning�sense of our nationalism. The works of scholars like�Princep Bothilingk, of excavators and archaeologists like�Alexander Cunningham and Marshall, of the students�of literature like Sir William Jones, Max Muller, Jacobi,�Coolbrook, Roth and A.B. Keith, opened up the annals�of political, social and cultural past of India’s grandeur�and this made the Indians feel proud of belonging to�such a great civilization that India was in the past. The�revelation made out by the European scholars stirred�deeply the hearts of the Indians and imbued in them a�spirit of nationalism.

(iii) The spread of Western Education through the English�language also fostered the spirit of nationalism among�the Indians. It eradicated the ravages of ignorant�customs and pernicious superstitions; it dealt a blow�to the prevailing prejudices; it stimulated thought and�emancipated the spirit, it gave to India a common�language for political thinking and action. According�to K.M. Panikkar, “the uniform system of education�throughout India through a single language produced�among Indians the like-mindedness, the community�of thought, feeling and ideas”. All this, in combination,�contributed greatly to the Indian unity and to the�emergence of a new sense of nationalism.

The study of English literature implanted into Indian�minds the love of liberty. The passionate lyrics of�Byron singing praises of love, liberty and freedom,�the thought-provoking sonnets of Wordsworth�upholding the dignity of mankind and the impressive�odes of Shelley preaching revolt against tyranny of�priesthood and despotism, awakened the Indians�from their age-long torpor and inspired them with�new ideas and aspirations. The slogans of liberty and�fraternity-so common in the history of English and�French literature�_provided them with a spirit which�went direct into their heads.

The English language enabled the Indians to�learn western political thought and philosophy.�They acquired knowledge of modern political concepts�such as nationalism, nationality, patriotism and�political rights. The political theory of the West,�especially of Locke and Spencer, and writings of Mill,�Macaulay and Burke had a profound effect on their�political thinking.

The English also provided opportunity for the Indians�to know about Europe and the new world. They read�through this medium the history of France, Germany,�Italy, America, Greece and many other countries. They�studies the accounts of thrilling events like the French�Revolution, the Greek War of Independence and the�American Revolution. They also learnt about the various�ways of fighting the struggles of independence, all this�infused a new confidence and courage among the Indians�and made them bold, brave and patriotic.

The English proved useful to the cause of nationalism�in another way also. It provided the Indians with�a lingua franca (common language) necessitated for�the exchange of ideas, concerted action and national�unity.

The English educations, thus, gave the Indians a sense�of freedom, leavened their minds with regard to sense�of justice and imparted in them an English tone of�revulsion against oppression. It also welded the natives�into one political mass with a community of feelings on�Indian subjects. All this gave a new life and vigour to the�growing Indian nationalism.�(iv) The British administrators, in India, were determined�to exploit the economic resources of India to their�full advantage. They had, therefore, made our country�a market for the sale of the British goods and a�supplier of the raw material. They traded in favourable�circumstances, manipulated the tariff to their own�advantage and hindered the growth of Indian industries�by unreasonable restrictions. They also charged excessive�land revenue from the peasants. Their policies led to�enormous drain of wealth from India to Britain and�made our country the poorest in the course of a century.�In consequence, more than three-fourths of the people�could not secure two square meals a day and almost�perpetually lived in a semi-starving conditions. To�aggravate the situation, some six appalling famines and�a few minor draughts caused uncommon devastation.�These unbearable conditions created a great discontent�and disaffection which were further intensified by the�British policy of keeping India in perpetual subjection.�The British statesmen openly declared: “India has been�conquered by the sword and shall be maintained by the�sword”.

(v) The Englishmen were very arrogant and oppressive�in their dealings with the Indian subjects. They did�not scruple to denounce them as despised barbarians�with hardly any culture and civilization. The average�Englishman kept the natives at arm’s length and thought�it below his dignity to have any relation with the latter.�The doors of the English clubs in India were barred�against the anglicized Indians. This social exclusiveness,�not unnaturally, wounded the susceptibilities of the�Indians. Worse still, the Englishmen often openly�insulted and even assaulted the Indians of high rank.�The ordinary Indians (particularly the servants of the�Englishmen) were administered kicks and beating which�sometimes led to their death. This arrogance and cruelty�on the part of the English created a strong revulsion�against the British oppression and fostered the growth�of national unity.

Written by princy

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