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Significance of 

Indian Nationalism 

Hilda H. Howsin 


II ill III 1 

*B 2T1 » 






The Significance of 
Indian Nationalism 

The Significance of 
Indian Nationalism 


H. M. ,Howsin 

Tagorc &. Co., Madras 

. 5 


Author's Introductory Note 


Chapter I 
The Great Issue 


Chapter II 
Historical Sketch 


Chapter III 
Indian Science, Art, and Philosophy 

... 31 

Chapter IV 
A False Charge 

... 46 

Chapter V 
Religious Consciousness 

... 54 

Chapter VI 
The Future 

... 73 

Chapter VII 
Legislative Councils ... 

... 98 


"WHEN in the course of human events it becomes 
necessary for one people to dissolve the political 
bands which have connected them with another, 
and to assume among the powers of the earth the 
separate and equal station to which the laws of 
nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent 
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that 
they should declare the causes which impel them to 
the separation."— Jefferson. 

A declaration by the representatives of the Unit- 
ed States of America. 

Author's Introductory Note to the 
Second Edition 

WHEN, in August 1919, I was released from a 
four years' internment, one of the first persons 
I talked with was the late Lokamanya Bal 
Gangadhar Tilak, who was then in London. 
He urged me to republish this little book. Seri- 
ous ill-health prevented me from doing so then, 
but later on I set about revising it that it might 
be brought up to date. All that was then done 
has been discarded in the conviction that such 
revision would necessarily destroy whatever of 
value it may hold for those who are studying 
and living in the present situation. For as it 
stands, it is a reflection, albeit an incomplete 
one, of the problem of Indian Nationalism as it 
•existed in 1909. It is also a landmark, showing 
how far ahead the tide of progress has swept 
even in a short six years, since the innocuous 
opinions and arguments which it presents, ap- 
parently formed one of the reasons why the 
wisdom of the Advisory Committee of the 
Home Office who were supposed to examine 

viii Author's Introductory Note 

into these matters, ordained that I should be 
imprisoned for the period of the war, lest I 
might attempt to raise " rebellion " in India I 
To-day, as has been observed, " everyone is 
discussing the shadow of an Indian republic 
looming on the horizon." 

In 1909 when the book was first written and 
published, there was a widespread hope that 
if only the average English man and woman 
could be made to understand the Indian de- 
mand for freedom, they would recognise its- 
justice and its logic, that their national acumen 
would forsee irremediable disaster for England, 
should she persist in her attempt to frustrate the 
independent development of Indian nationality, 
and that consequently the pressure of an 
awakened public opinion would compel the 
Government to a liberating policy in con- 
formity with English idealism and the security 
of the Empire. 

Since then the unfolding of events has steadi- 
ly driven out the belief, not merely in the utili- 
ty, but also in the pertinence of any such appeal. 
The people of Great Britain are suspected of 
being under the domination of a short-sighted 
expediency, which does not shrink from using 
the higher principles of humanity as a lure in 
the pursuance of its Imperialistic greed, and 

Author's Introductory Note ix 

are moreover, judged to be too strongly ensla- 
ved by their parliamentary system to be capable 
of exercising a directive influence on the policy 
of the Government which is erroneously des- 
cribed as representing them. A deeper percep- 
tion reveals that the large majority of British 
people would contentedly accept any settlement 
with India their Ministers might propose. It 
is a problem remote from their concern, it is 
a subject upon which they candidly admit their 
profound ignorance, and are quick to assert, as 
is indeed the case, that they are too minutely 
engrossed with their own ever-increasing diffi- 
culties to do otherwise than leave the elucida- 
tion of Indian affairs in the hands of the 
Government and the interested Services. Fur- 
ther out of the maelstrom of war has emerged 
a new poise, a new status, a new principle, 
submerging all old attitudes, old conventions, 
and setting up a new international equilibrium. 
It is the poise of independence : it is the 
equilibrium of free fellowship: it is the princi- 
ple of self-determination and equality of right 
among Nations. 

India no longer begs for Freedom as a boon : 
she fights for it as a duty : she claims it as a 
right. In the terror of a world war, in the 
extremity of dire necessity amid the chaos of 

x Author's Introductory Note 

war it was proclaimed over and over again by 
the British Government that the foundations 
of peace could only be laid by the application 
of the principle of self-determination to all 
civilised peoples, and that none should be com- 
pelled to submit to a government they did not 
choose. That principle has been applied to the 
subjects of the late German i Empire; it has 
become the battle-cry of the subjects of the 
British Empire, and those who would now 
ignore that principle will not escape the fire of 
its functioning. One of its first results is to put 
an end to " sedition ". Mahatma Gandhi de- 
clares that " sedition " has become the creed of 
the Congress, but in truth, sedition, or treason, 
as applied to a people under a foreign Govern- 
ment which imposes itself upon them, no longer 
has any meaning. There is no such thing. To 
seek to overthrow a foreign Government which 
does not act by consent of the people and 
which they have judged unworthy to govern 
them, is a legitimate aim. A people have only 
one object of loyalty, and that is the revelation 
of their National spirit. This does not of ne- 
cessity preclude co-operation with foreigners 
who are themselves subservient to the National 
will, but it must always preclude loyalty to a 
foreign authority : it must always preclude 

Author's Introductory Note xi 

loyalty to an alien revelation. The great Non- 
co-operation movement is not only an inspired 
act of volition, a supreme act of faith, by which 
the people identify themselves with that body 
of capacities and powers which is the spiritual 
reality of the Nation, but it is the direct chall- 
enge of India to the Government and people of 
Great Britain themselves to abide in the faith 
they have accepted before the world. 

The old argument that India must be denied 
immediate Swaraj, because her masses are illi- 
terate and because within her component parts 
lurk potentialities of strife, is shattered by the 
logic of the war. The Great powers of Europe 
plunged for five years into such an appalling 
hell of blood and devastation as the world had 
never before witnessed, and dragged unwill- 
ing Asia down with them into the shambles. 
At its conclusion the terms of the so-called 
" Peace " treaties of Versailles and Sevres 
proved because of their treachery to be largely 
impracticable. The minor wars, the blockades, 
the famines and social dislocation of the after- 
math threaten with ruin the civilisation of 
Europe. If, then, the ability to maintain peace 
be the test for freedom, England, in common 
with her Allies, must seek a conqueror. With- 
in her own empire, the bitter alienation of 

xii Author's Introductory Note 

India, the Irish war, the Egyptian struggle all 
attest that the responsibility for the direction 
of its own life belongs to each nation, and that 
the usurpation of that responsibility by another, 
is, in a most real sense, the sin of standing bet- 
ween a people and their God. The " literates " 
of Europe made and maintained the war : their 
representatives drew up the peace. It was the 
best they could all of them do. The significant 
question remains, could the " illiterate " East 
have done worse ? The average of literacy 
can never be made the test of self-determina- 
tion. It is to the discredit of England that 
under her long rule the education of the Indian 
masses has been unprovided for : but to suggest 
that a people's literacy be made their qualifica- 
tion for freedom, the test of their sagacity in 
choosing leaders, of discernment in fundamental 
issues in National policy and morality, even 
of loyalty to the citizen ideal, is disproved, if 
need be, by the result of the last General Elec- 
tion in Great Britain itself. 

India is awake to her paramount duty. She 
will steadily reject the attempt to foist ready- 
made foreign institutions upon her, which work 
mechanically, because the supreme authority 
is foreign and leave the basic problems of 
the country unsolved and undealt with. The 

Author's Introductory Note xiii 

Parliamentary usuages of Great Britain grew 
up piecemeal as the political ideas of the 
people developed. Once regarded as sacro- 
sanct, the old faith in British Parliamentary 
institutions is nowhere more rudely shaken 
than in Great Britain itself, where the forms 
of representative government, neither represen- 
tative nor democratic, have ceased to express 
the political form, and are inadequate to deal 
with the National needs, while the tendency of 
British democracy in which such high hopes 
were placed, as one of its most ardent defenders 
is constrained to admit, is " to corrupt . . . and 
be corrupted." * 

India will select from Europe, from Britain, 
from Ireland, from America, whatever is of 
value in the reorganisation of her National 
life. But she will modify all forms and modes 
she may transplant to conform with her own 
line of growth. Thus her educational policy, 
her social reforms, her political institutions, 
will be the channels of vigorous and original 
life, because they will be truly Indian, express- 
ing and recreating the National genius of her 
peoples. The return to the Charka as the 
means of industrial emancipation, is a timely 

* (Mr. Percy Alden in the " Contemporary" Review for 
October 1921) 

xii Author's Introductory Note 

India, the Irish war, the Egyptian struggle all 
attest that the responsibility for the direction 
of its own life belongs to each nation, and that 
the usurpation of that responsibility by another, 
is, in a most real sense, the sin of standing bet- 
ween a people and their God. The " literates " 
of Europe made and maintained the war : their 
representatives drew up the peace. It was the 
best they could all of them do. The significant 
question remains, could the " illiterate " East 
have done worse? The average of literacy 
can never be made the test of self-determina- 
tion. It is to the discredit of England that 
under her long rule the education of the Indian 
masses has been unprovided for : but to suggest 
that a people's literacy be made their qualifica- 
tion for freedom, the test of their sagacity in 
choosing leaders, of discernment in fundamental 
issues in National policy and morality, even 
of loyalty to the citizen ideal, is disproved, if 
need be, by the result of the last General Elec- 
tion in Great Britain itself. 

India is awake to her paramount duty. She 
will steadily reject the attempt to foist ready- 
made foreign institutions upon her, which work 
mechanically, because the supreme authority 
is foreign and leave the basic problems of 
the country unsolved and undealt with. The 

Author's Introductory Note xiii 

Parliamentary usuages of Great Britain grew 
up piecemeal as the political ideas of the 
people developed. Once regarded as sacro- 
sanct, the old faith in British Parliamentary 
institutions is nowhere more rudely shaken 
than in Great Britain itself, where the forms 
of representative government, neither represen- 
tative nor democratic, have ceased to express 
the political form, and are inadequate to deal 
with the National needs, while the tendency of 
British democracy in which such high hopes 
were placed, as one of its most ardent defenders 
is constrained to admit, is " to corrupt . . . and 
be corrupted." * 

India will select from Europe, from Britain, 
from Ireland, from America, whatever is of 
value in the reorganisation of her National 
life. But she will modify all forms and modes 
she may transplant to conform with her own 
line of growth. Thus her educational policy, 
her social reforms, her political institutions, 
will be the channels of vigorous and original 
life, because they will be truly Indian, express- 
ing and recreating the National genius of her 
peoples. The return to the Charka as the 
means of industrial emancipation, is a timely 

* (Mr. Percy Alden in the " Contemporary" Review for 
October 1921) 

xiv Author's Introductory Note 

re-education of the National cultural perception 
to the recognition of true values and sound 
principles, and brings into common operation 
the ideal of handicraft with which the most 
progressive and inspirational of the western 
educationalists and artists are striving to rege- 
nerate the lives and conceptions of their own 
people. India's first and holiest duty, as the 
first fruits of a new dispensation, is to be free. 
She has proved her moral position by the 
choice of the highest plane for battle. The 
National acceptance of Non-violence places her 
in the vanguard of the pioneers of a new world- 
order. She appears not only as the liberator 
of her own people, but as the saviour of her 
enemies. Racially, geographically, culturally, 
England and India are set apart. They pro- 
gress on different lines, and are in many aspects 
complementary, the one to the other. The 
absolute inviolability of the individuality of 
each is the essential condition of approach. In 
the economy of an inter-dependent world, iso- 
lation is impossible : enmity disastrous for both. 
Only on the basis of mutual independence is a 
friendly and beneficial inter-dependence possi- 
ble, and nothing short of this can bring peace. 
The vision is with India. The power of its 
spirit is upon her. Her contempt for suffering 

Author's Introductory Note xv 

places her beyond the dominion of earthly wea- 
pons. The hypnotism of foreign control is at 
last broken: she has snapped the spell and 
trodden her weakness underfoot. Each day 
world forces lift her nearer the goal, and con- 
fident in her strength she presses on to meet 
her destiny, perceiving, with an illumined devo- 
tion which shrivells all personal enmities and 
unworthy suspicions in the flame of its purity, 
the realisation of Swarajya to be the incarna- 
tion of her Divine Lord. 

H. M. H. 

The Significance of 
Indian Nationalism 

Chapter I 

The Great Issue 

THE possibility that India should in time aspire 
to and accomplish her freedom and indepen- 
dence was recognised in the days of the East 
India Company, and the justice of the claim 
was fully acknowledged. In those earlier 
days, though for all too brief a period, there 
was a deep conviction that the fair fame of 
empire rests upon a solid basis of national inte- 
grity ; that in no wise could England so forget 
her higti principles, so soil her honour, as to 
deliberately withhold from India, for the pur- 
poses of subjection, those rights, those liberties 
which she herself deems essential to all healthy 
development. When in 1833 Lord Ellen- 
borough had declared that " our very existence 
depended upon the exclusion of the natives 
from military and political power in that 

2 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

country," Macaulay replied in his famous 
speech before the House of Commons. It is 
well-known, and too long for full quotation 
here, but we cannot forbear a few extracts : 

" We shall never consent ... to stupefy and paralyse a great 
people whom God has committed to our charge, for the wretch- 
ed purpose of rendering them more amenable to our control. 
.... We are free, we are civilised to little purpose, if we 
grudge to any portion of the human race an equal measure of 
civilisation. Are we to keep the people of India ignorant in 
order that we may keep them submissive ? Or do we think that 
we can give them knowledge without awakening ambition ? 
Or do we mean to awaken ambition and to provide it with no 
legitimate vent ? Who will answer any of these questions in 
the affirmative ? Yet one of them must be answered in the 
affirmative by every person who maintains that we ought 
permanently to exclude the natives from high office. I have no 
fears. The path of duty is plain before us, and it is the path of 
wisdom, of national prosperity, of national honour. ... It may 
be that the public mind of India may expand under our system 
till it has outgrown the system ; that by good government we 
may educate our subjects into a capacity for better govern- 
ment ; that having become instructed in European knowledge 
they may demand European institutions. Whether such a day 
will ever come I know not. But never will I attempt to avert 
or to retard it. Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day 
in English history. . . . The sceptre may pass away from us. 
. . . . There is an empire exempt from all natural causes of 
decay . . . that empire is the imperishable empire of our arts 
and our morals, our literature and our laws." 

At the present time we are in grave danger 
of forgetting those high ideals ; the path of 
expediency, of material aggrandisement, seems 

The Great Issue 3 

to be preferred to that of duty, of wisdom, of 
honour ; while the building of our " imperish- 
able empire " has become so far removed from 
the realm of practical ideals that when Lord 
Morley tells us that 

" Military strength and material strength we have in abund- 
ance. What iVe slill Want to acquire is moral slrength. 

we receive that startling indictment of British 
character with unruffled equanimity. 

It was an ideal of an earlier generation that 
England should so guide, so train India, that 
ultimately she would not only demand, but be 
qualified to receive, European institutions. 
The general ignorance of the time was such 
that India was regarded as being essentially a 
barbarous nation, unaccustomed at all periods 
of her history to any methods but those of a 
tyrannical despotism. Such ignorance, how- 
ever excusable then, is culpable at the present 
time, and yet even to-day it is hardly recog- 
nised how strong, how persistent, through all 
external change and tumult, is the tradition 
and actuality of constitutional usages through- 
out the whole vast period of Indian history. 
It is not that Hindu contact with Western ideals 
and the study of our literature, science, and 
polity, have induced the growth of a foreign 
excrescence which expresses itself as Indian 

4 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Nationalism, but rather that after a period of 
weakness, degeneration, and national sickness, 
the continued pressure of Western supremacy, 
the stimulus of Western civilisation, have 
hastened the time of regeneration, have pro- 
moted a healthy reaction, and renewed in India 
the consciousness of her ancient ideals, of her 
latent powers, of her own traditions of liberty, 
of justice, of self-ordained constitutionalism. 
It is on these inherent grounds that the de- 
mand of Indians for self-Government, for an 
unhindered expression of their national life is 
to be justified ; and if it be objected that in 
the following pages we have dwelt upon qualifi- 
cations, but have ignored disabilities, we would 
reply that as a candidate's testimonials do not 
consist of an enumeration of his physical, 
mental, and moral failings, but are concerned 
solely with the setting forth of his merits, as a 
barrister does not call attention to the weak 
spots in his client's suit, but emphasises the 
bases upon which he believes his case can be 
legally won, so we desire to indicate the reasons 
which make the purposes and ideals of Indian 
Nationalism valid and honourable, in spite of 
any evidence of incapacity, of failure, of dis- 
ability in any particular which may be pre- 
ferred against them. 

Chapter II 

Historical Sketch 

IT is impossible to understand the aims and 
aspirations of India to-day without some know- 
ledge of her mighty past, in which they have 
their root, of which they are the opening flower. 

Far back in vast ages, whose beginnings are 
still wrapped in the mists of time, there were 
four great civilisations : the Egyptian, the 
Chinese, the Babylonian-Assyrian, and the 
Aryan. All these developed to a very high 
degree their own systems of culture, of social 
and political economy. It is India with which 
we are now concerned, and the story is that of 
" An Aryan people, at first isolated by situa- 
tion and circumstance from the outside world, 
and working out its own religious and social 
institutions, its literature, laws, and science ; 
and it forms one of the most instructive and 
interesting chapters in the annals of human 
progress and culture." * 

Some time before 2000 B. C. this Aryan 
people settled in the Punjab and began their 

* " Ancient India," by R. C. Dutt (" Epochs of Indian His- 
tory." Longmans, Green & Co." 

6 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

conquest of Northern India. In course of time 
differences arose on religious matters, and one 
portion migrated westward to Persia, and be- 
came the founders of that great empire and of 
the Zoroastrian religion. The history of the 
Hindu section which remained is more or less 
preserved for us in one of the most ancient 
scriptures of the world — the Rig- Veda. Though 
not historical in the strict sense of the word, it 
presents us with a very intimate picture of the 
lives of the people ; while its noble language 
and lofty conceptions presuppose a high degree 
of mental and moral culture. The beautiful 
farewell to the dead may be given as an ex- 
ample of the deep poetic sense which character- 
ised these ancient Hindus : 

" Depart thou, depart thou, by the ancient paths to the place 
whither our fathers have departed. Meet with the Ancient 
ones : meet with the Lord of Death. Throwing off thine im- 
perfections, go to thy home Let him depart to those 

who, through meditation, have obtained the victory, who, by 
fixing their thoughts on the unseen, have gone to heaven. Let 
him depart to the mighty in battle, to the heroes who have laid 
down their lives for others, to those who have bestowed their 
odds on the poor." 

We quote also a few stanzas taken from 
"The Invocation to the Dawn," a beautiful 
lyric which not even translation into a foreign 
tongue can rob of its delicacy and charm : 

Historical Sketch 7 

" What mortal knoweth thee, O Immortal Ushas (the Dawn), 
fond of our praise ! Whom, O mighty one, dost thou favour ? 

" Far extending, many tinted, brilliant Ushas ! We know not 
thy abode, whether it be high or remote. 

"Daughter of the sky ! Accept these offerings, and perpetuate 
our welfare. 

" Auspicious Ushas has harnessed her chariots from afar, 
before the rising of the sun ! She comes in radiance and glory 
on us in her hundred chariots. 

" Following the path of mornings that have passed, to be 
followed by endless mornings to come, bright Ushas dispels 
darkness, and awakens to life all beings, unconscious like the 
dead in sleep. 

" How long have the Dawns risen ? How long will the Dawns 
arise ? The present morning pursues those that are gone, future 
mornings will pursue this resplendent Ushas. 

" Mortals who behold the pristine Ushas have passed away ; 
we behold her now ; and men will come after us who will behold 
Ushas in the future. 

"Ahana gently proceeds to every house; she comes ever 
diffusing light, and blesses us and accepts our offerings." * 

These hymns show us a very united family 
life ; the father was the high priest of the 
household ; the chief was the father and priest 
of his tribe, and although his office was 
hereditary, it was also elective ; he must 
be fit for his high position. Women were 
honoured, and consulted in all matters of 
importance, and we find them holding their 
own with the men in philosophic discussions 
and in literary composition. Marriage was 

* "Rig-Veda," I. 

8 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

regarded as a very sacred sacrament ; the 
woman was the joint ruler of the house with 
her husband, and they performed religious 
ceremonies together. 

There is mention made of various mechani- 
cal and industrial arts ; there are goldsmiths, 
blacksmiths, carpenters, and various trades ; 
horses and chariots are used in battle ; but, 
generally speaking, the people appear to have 
settled down to a peaceful agricultural life, and 
gradually, as civilisation became more in- 
tricate in its growth, the four great castes 
emerged — priests, warriors, merchants, and 

Thus we find a civilisation rich in ethical, 
philosophic, and literary culture, with a highly 
developed social polity, gradually increasing 
through the military caste its martial prowess, 
but not expressing itself strongly in indus- 

So we pass on to a later period, extending 
roughly from 1400-IOOO B.C. By this time the 
whole of the Gangetic basin became consoli- 
dated into an Hindu Empire, consisting of 
several independent states, which, in spite of 
mutual jealousies and sometimes internecine 
wars, were firmly united by a common sacred 
lauguage, literature, and religion, and social 

Historical Sketch 9 

and political institutions, also common to all. 
This period presents a picture of 

" The cultured Gangetic races, with their brilliant courts and 
schools of learning, with their great tournaments and feats of 
arms, and with their elaborate social rules and religious 
rites." * 

In course of time these states extended their 
boundaries and colonised the further territory, 
until by the fourth century B.C. the whole 
of India, with Ceylon, was brought under 
Hindu civilisation. 

In their relations with other peoples, the 
primitive races of India, the Hindus evinced 
an extraordinary synthetic capacity ; they did 
not merely annex territory, they absorbed the 
conquered races into their own culture and 
customs, making them one with Hindu civili- 

We glean much information about Indian 
life at this time from the records of various 
travellers. The Greeks had peaceful trading 
intercourse with India from very ancient 
times. As early as 401 B.C. Ktesias, the Greek 
physician and traveller, had been greatly im- 
pressed by the extreme justness of the. 'Hindus 
in all their dealings, their devotion to their 
sovereign, and their contempt for death. Later, 

* "Ancient India," by R. C. Dutt. 

10 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador in Bengal, 
gives us a detailed picture of the life arouud 
him. He, too, is full of admiration for the 
Hindu character. He emphasises particularly 
their scrupulous truthfulness, honesty, and 
their great valour. He lays .stress upon the 
chastity of their women, and the sobriety, in- 
dustry, and skill of the farmers and artisans. 
Like Alexander, he observes with great appre- 
ciation the powerful Brahman caste, with their 
life dedicated to the spiritual service of huma- 
nity, and he places on record, as many a later 
writer has done, the great uplifting influence 
they exercised over the rest of the community. 

" The whole body of the Sanskrit literature bears witness to 
the fact that this ideal life was constantly before their eyes, and 
that it served to the whole caste as a high standard in its really 

essential features of self-culture and self-restraint The 

Brahman stands apart the man of self-centred refine- 
ment. He is an example of a class becoming the ruling power 
in a country, not by force of arms, but by the vigour of heredi- 
tary culture and temperance. One race has swept across India 
after another, dynasties have risen and fallen, religions have 
spread themselves and disappeared. But since the dawn of 
history the Brahman has calmly ruled ; swaying the minds and 
receiving the homage of the people, and accepted by foreign 
nations as the highest type of Indian mankind." * 

Megasthenes has also left us a graphic ac- 
count of the internal condition of the country. 

* " Indian Empire" (third edition), pp. 137-8. Sir W. Hunter* 

Historical Sketch 11 

He notes the great natural fertility of the soil, 
which is still further increased by systematic 
irrigation ; so that " it is accordingly affirmed 
that famine has never visited India, and that 
there has never been a general scarcity in 
the supply of nourishing food." He speaks 
at length of the extremely flourishing condi- 
tion of manufactures, commerce, arts and 
sciences, the wealth of the people, their love 
of ornament and fine clothing, and their great 
artistic skill in these matters. 

" The kingly government is portrayed almost 
as descrided in Maun, with its hereditary cas- 
tes of councillors and soldiers. Megasthenes 
mentions that India was divided into Il8 king- 
doms, some of which, such as that of the 
Piasi under Chandragupta exercised suzerain 
powers." * 

The invasion of India by Alexander the 
Great, in 327 B.C. marks the culminating point 
in Greek influence, for though he was forced to 
abandon all idea of conquest, he made alliances, 
planted Greek colonies, and founded cities, in- 
troducing for the time being, at any rate, a 
stable Grecian element into the Hindu civilisa- 
tion. The latter, however, proved the great 
solvent — India assimilated the foreign culture, 

* " The Indian Empire," p. 217. 

12 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Hinduised the foreign colonies, and herself re- 
mained inviolate. 

We pass on to the time of the world-famed 
Hindu Emperor Asoka, 272 B.C. In the early- 
part of his reign he won military renown by 
the conquest and annexation of the kingdom 
of Kalinga,* but so distressed was he at the 
sufferings consequent upon war that he re- 
solved never to countenance warfare, on what- 
ever pretext, again. He embraced Buddhism, 
and as a result published his famous Edicts, 
the chief of which were : 

(1) The sanctity of all non-human life was to be observed, 
and the killing of animals, though not strictly prohibited, was 
hedged round with severe restrictions. 

(2) The obligation of reverence and obedience to all supe- 

(3) The obligation of kindness and consideration to all 

(4) Courtesy, consideration, and liberality to all who differ 
from ourselves in religion, mode of life, and thought. 

(5) Strict truthfulness. 

(6) A further special emphasis on the duty of ungrudging, 
active toleration to all. 

(7) Almsgiving commeded, always remembering that there 
is "no such charity as the gift of piety, no such distribution as 
the distribution of piety." Ritual of comparatively little value. 

Censors were appointed in each district to 
see that these edicts were really observed by 
the people. Every class of society was super- 

* Now known as Bengal and Orissa. 

Historical Sketch 13 

vised, not excepting royalty, and the edicts 
were graven upon rocks and tablets, in public 
places, by the wayside, and in the desert 
throughout the land, so that all, in whatever 
remote district, might profit by them. 

The generous and heartfelt allegiance which 
the people gave to these edicts is but an ex- 
ample of the instant and spontaneous response 
given by the Hindu mind to a spiritual appeal. 

Asoka also made special provision for tra- 
vellers. Free hospitals were built for men and 
animals throughout the land. Nor was he 
concerned solely with ethical and charitable 
projects. A great lover of art, he had a genius 
for design, combining elaboration of ornament 
with breadth of conception. He built numer- 
ous magnificent monasteries and temples, as 
well as public buildings of all kinds. 

When Fa-hein, a Chinese pilgrim, visited 
India in the fifth century A.D. he found Asoka's 
palace at Patna still standing, and he could not 
bring himself to believe that such inspiring 
beauty, such delicate workmanship, such per- 
fection of design, were the work of merely 
human hands and brains. 

The whole history of India at this period 
and for many centuries reveals a wonderfully 
developed civilisation, so ultra-modern in many 

14 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

of its socio-political aspects that we seem to 
be looking forward into the future instead of 
backwards into the ages when Europe was 
overrun by barbaric hordes. The central 
government retained the ultimate control of 
affairs in its own hands, while maintaining the 
constitutional liberties of its subjects. One 
dominant feature of Indian political life stands 
out from the dawn of history until it was un- 
fortunately effaced under British dominion — 
the rule of the village communities. Each vil- 
lage was self-governing through a headman 
and a council : there was complete freedom in 
all internal affairs ; the council controlled 
taxation, settled disputes, protected personal 
property, maintained individual rights, check- 
ed crime, and preserved order. Megasthenes 
likened the village community to " a little in- 
dependent republic." Even in times of dis- 
turbance and anarchy these little self-govern- 
ing communities maintained order and peace, 
settling their own disputes, and ordering, with- 
out hindrance, their own affairs, and thus, in 
spite of any vicissitude, preserving the internal 
economy of the country intanct. We may re- 
mark in this connection that as the Hindu law 
exempted cultivators from military service, so 
also were their lands regarded as sacred and 

Historical Sketch 15 

secure from pillage in time of war. It is much 
to be regretted that these ancient constitution- 
al institutions have disappeared under British 

If we have dewelt unduly on this subject, it 
is because we would again emphasise in the 

* (I) Sir Charles Metcalfe, temporary Gevernor-General of 
India, 1855-6, in a minute of the Governor-General's Council 
1830, wrote 

" The village communities are little republics, having nearly 
everything that they want within themselves, and almost inde- 
pendent of any foreign relations. They seem to last where 
nothing else lasts. Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down : revo- 
lution succeeds to revolution; Hindu, Pathan, Moghul, Mahratta, 
Sikh, English are masters in turn ; but the village communities 

remain the same The union of the village communities, 

each one forming a separate little state in itself, has, I conceive, 
contributed more than any other cause to the preservation of 
the people of India through all revolutions and change which 
they have suffered, and it is in a high degree conducive to their 
happiness and to the enjoyment of a great portion of freedom 
and independence. 

(2) In Elphinstone's Bombay Report it was stated that " these 
communities contain in miniature all the materials of a state 
within themselves, and are almost sufficient to protect their 
members if all other governments are withdrawn." 

(3) Mr. Romesh Dutt, in discussing the effects of the cen- 
tralising policy of the English Government, says : 

"One of the saddest results of British rule in India is the 
effacement of that system of village government which was 
developed earliest and preserved longest in India among all 
the countries of the world."— " India under Early British 
Rule," p. 388. 

16 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

strongest manner that self-government is no 
new thing in India. We are too apt to regard 
it as a cutting which she has indiscriminating- 
ly filched from Western culture, and would 
ignorantly plant in an altogether unsuitable 
soil, whereas it is an imperishable thread 
woven throughout the whole Hindu polity from 
the earliest dawn of history. 

In 316 B.C. the great Chandra Gupta founded 
the Magadha dynasty, subjugated the ancient 
Gangetic kingdoms, ruling the whole of North- 
ern India from Punjab to Behar. 

The decline of the Gupta dynasty marks 
the rise of the Andhras of the Deccan. 
They established great schools of learning, 
and extending their sway, ultimately held 
supreme control in both Northern and Southern 

In the fifth century Fa-hein describes an 
orderly and efficient government, the people 
of all classes prosperous and contented. The 
free hospitals and free rest houses for travel- 
lers were still maintained, the sacredness of 
animal life was recognised, and the people 
were gentle, learned, and benevolent, with a 
great love and aptitude for art, and distin- 
guished for their universal courtesy and tolera- 
tion. Strangers were received as welcome 

Historical Sketch 17 

guests and could travel without passports. The 
taxation was light, and jurisdiction free from 
harassing regulations and prohibitions. 

The sixth century is resplendent with the 
fame of Vikrama'ditya of Ujain, the great epic 
hero of India. 

" Vikrama'ditya of Ujain is to the Hindus what Charlemagne 
is to the French, what Alfred is to the English, what Asoka is 
to the Buddhists, what Harun-al-Rashid is to the Muham- 

medans Neither Roland nor Arthur is the subject of 

so much romance in literature as Vikrama'ditya of Ujain. 

he repelled the foreign invaders, and the country 

enjoyed rest from foreign invasions the whole of 

Northern India came under his enlightened and vigorous rule. 
The arts of peace nourished, science and literature obtained a 
fresh start, poetry and the drama lighted their magic lamp and 
shed a lustre over this Augustan period of Hindu history. 
Religion itself gathered strength and life, and modern Hinduism 
flourished under his fostering care." * 

The seventh century saw the reign of SiPa- 
ditya II (A.D. 610-50), who was ruler over the 
whole of the Gangetic basin, including Nepal, 
from the Himalayas to the Narbada river. 
His foreign conquests included Assam and 
Valabhi. But though supreme throughout 
Northern India, he met his match in the w#ar- 
like Mara'thas of the South, and signally 
failed in his attempt to annex their kingdom. 
This, however, was no disgrace. 

* " Ancient India," by R. C. Dutt, pp. 144—5. 

18 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

The Mara'thas were a noble people, com- 
bining military prowess and administrative 
capacity with literary culture. " The Mara'- 
thas have in them the grit of the best of the old 
Dravidian races, combined with the quick per- 
ception and constructive energy of the Aryan 
or Brahman stratum which in prehistoric 
times superimposed its higher religious con- 
ceptions on the earlier peoples of the South. 
The result has been to develop in a high degree 
alike the active and the reflective sides of the 
Mara'tha character. For the Mara'thas are 
scarcely more distinguished as a military than 

as a literary race The Mara'thas are 

a people proud, not only of their history as a 
conquering and governing race, but also of 
their national literature." * 

But to return to the kingdom of Siladitya 
again. We are impressed by the high character 
of the civil administration, the details of which 
were left in the hands of the local rajahs. 
Taxation was light, the payment of officials 
good and the personal service which the sub- 
ject might be called upon to render unexact- 
ing ; education was widely diffused, with com- 
petent teachers of both sexes. 

* " Bombay. A Study in Indian Administration," by Sir W. 
Hunter, pp, 42 — 3. 

Historical Sketch 19 

Siladitya himself was a liberal patron of 
literature and kindred arts, and in later life 
withdrew himself from material ambitions and 
imitated the religious asceticism of Asoka. 

There are certain details of the civic adminis- 
tration of this period which are worthy of con- 
sideration. Irrigation being essential to secure 
a plenteous supply of foodstuffs to the commu- 
nity, it was recognised that one of the first 
duties of a monarch must be the provision and 
maintenance of an adequate irrigation system 
throughout the empire. 

A special Irrigation Deparment measured 
lands and regulated sluices so that all should 
receive a proper share of water. Roads were 
also under State control. A Board of Trade 
regulated sales, and enforced the use of stand- 
ard weights and measures. Merchants paid a 
license tax, and those who traded in more 
than one class of commodities paid double. 
There was also a Board of Manufactures, and 
a Municipal Board which superintended in- 
dustrial arts. The military deparment was 
controlled by a War Office consisting of (I) 
Admiralty Board, (2) transport commissariat 
and army service (3) infantry, (4) cavalry, (5) 
war chariots, (6) elephants. 

The registration of births and deaths was 

20 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

compulsory. Foreigners and travellers were 
arranged for by a special board which provi- 
ded them with suitable lodgings, escorts, and 
medical attendance. 

We find another striking characteristic of 
Indian civilisation in the many trade guilds. 
These safeguarded the occupations of their 
workers, upheld their interests in cases of dis- 
putes with other guilds, regulated working 
hours and wages, imposed fines and penalties 
on offending members, and, in fact, exercised 
strict supervision of the craftsmen in the in- 
terests of the whole community. The proper 
education of the young in their hereditary 
craft was secured, while adequate provision 
was made for needy or aged members. 

" The trade guild in the cities and the village community in 
the country, act, together with caste, as mutual assurance 
societies, and under normal conditions allow none of their 
members to starve. Caste, and the trading and agricultural 
guilds concurrent with it, take the place of a poor law in 
India." * 

While none are permitted to be in want, all 
are compelled, as long as they are able, to 
contribute their proper share of labour, of what- 
ever kind it may be, so that India had no need 
for either poor law or workhouse. Nor was 
this desirable condition attained through a too 

* " Indian Empire," by Sir'William Hunter. 

Historical Sketch 21 

strenuous and prolonged labour. The village 
and civic life of India presents an enviable 
picture of the social gatherings at the close of 
the day's work : sometimes for music and gaie- 
ty, more often for neighbourly chat and 
philosophic and religious discussion. It was a 
life of careful loving work, of healthy simple 
recreation, of few wants, of many blameless 
joys, with leisure to enjoy not only the society 
of friends, but that loving intercourse with 
nature that awakens so deep a response in the 
Hindu heart. 

The ninth and tenth. centuries saw the rise 
of the Rajputs, with their chivalrous ideal of 
honour, of valour, of truth. Ruling the north 
of India, they were the first to repel the earliest 
Moslem invaders, who had settled in Sind 
in the eighth century. After many fierce 
battles the Moslems were finally expelled 
from Sind in A.D. 828. By their chivalry and 
bravery during this campaign the Rajputs 
have gained for themselves world-wide and 
immortal renown. 

" One Rajput garrison preferred extermina- 
tion to submission. They raised a huge fune- 
ral pile, upon which the women and children 
first threw themselves. The men then bathed, 
took a solemn farewell of each other, and 

22 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

throwing open the gates, rushed upon the 
besiegers and perished to a man." * 

"By the close of the tenth century the 
Rajputs were the rulers in Ujain and in 
Kanouj, in Delhi, in Gujiat, and in the 
Punjab." f 

The rise of ithe .Rajputs, who were strong 
supporters of Hinduism, marks the decline of 
Buddhism, which from their time ceased to be 
a power in India. 

We shall pass rapidly over the Muham- 
madan invasion of India, deeply interesting, 
pulsating with vivid life, romantic, gorgeous, 
barbaric alike in splendour and in cruelty, 
elemental in its extremes of good and evil, as it 
is, because though it furrowed and scarred the 
surface of India, it left the bed-rock of her 
essential life and heart untouched. 

The progress of the Moslems was very slow, 
and suffered continual checks. "The armies 
of Islam had carried the crescent from the 
Hindu Kush westward, through Asia, Africa, 
and Southern Europe to distant Spain and 
France, before they obtained a foothold in the 
Punjab. This long delay was due, not only to 
the daring of individual tribes, such as the 

* " Indian Empire," p. 321. 

t " Ancient India," pp. 1 50-7. Dutt. 

Historical Sketch 23 

Sind Rajputs, but to the military organisation 
of the Hindu kingdoms. To the north of the 
Vindhyas three separate groups of princes 
governed the great river valleys. The Rajputs 
ruled in the north-west, throughout the Indus 
plains, and along the upper waters of the 
Jumna. The ancient Middle Land of Sanskrit 
times (Madhyadesha) was divided among 
powerful kingdoms, with their suzerain at 
Kanouj. The Lower Gangetic Valley, from 
Behar downwards, was still in part governed 
by Pal or Buddhist dynasties. . . . The Vin- 
dhya ranges stretched their wall of forest and 
mountain between the northern and southern 
halves of India. Their eastern and central 
regions were peopled by fierce hill-tribes. At 
their western extremity, towards the Bombay 
coast, lay the Hindu kingdom of Malava, with 
its brilliant literary traditions of Vikrama'- 
ditya and a vast feudal array of fighting men. 
India to the south of the Vindhyas was occu- 
pied by a number of warlike princes, chiefly of 
non-Aryan descent, but loosely grouped under 
three great over-lords, represented by the 
Chera, Chola, and Pandya dynasties." * 

Such was the military organisation of India 
in A.D. 1000. 

* " Indian Empire," p. 322. 

24 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

The only way in which the Moslems could 
establish and maintain a foothold in India 
was by taking advantage of the mutual jea- 
lousies of the various kingdoms, to make an 
ally of one powerful state, and with its aid 
conquer its rival. But the Hindu states were 
very powerful, and were never at any time 
completely subjugated. It is interesting to 
note that the Hindu kingdoms of Carnata and 
Tellingana were re-established about the mid- 
dle of the fourteenth century. " The first, 
with its capital, Bijanuggur, ' attained to a 
pitch of power and splendour not perhaps 
surpassed by any previous Hindu dynasty ' ; 
and such was the mutual estimation between 
the Hindu and Musulman sovereigns of the 
Deccan, that intermarriages took place bet- 
ween them, Hindus were in high command 
in the Musulman army, and Musulmans in 
the Hindu, and one Rajah of Bijanuggur built 
a mosque for his Muhammadan subjects." * 

The supremacy of Muhammadan rule reach- 
ed its culmination in the reign of Akbar (1556- 
1605), who consolidated his empire by a wise 
conciliation of the Hindu princes, and thus, 
through diplomacy, brought them into political 

* " Poverty and un-British Rule in India," p. 587, by Naoroji. 

Historical Sketch 25 

By bestowing the highest political and mar- 
tial appointments upon Hindus, by alliance 
with them in marriage, by securing to them 
a sufficiency of careers which should satisfy 
their ambitions and absorb their energies, he 
won them to his side, and with their aid ex- 
tended conquests throughout Northern India. 
All his efforts to subdue Southern India were 
unavailing, and he was forced to retire. 

The secret of Akbar's success lay, as we 
have indicated, in his thorough incorporation 
of Hinduism into his policy, and his constitu- 
tional security of equal political rights to all 
his subjects. 

Salim, his favourite son and successor, weak 
and self-indulgent, added nothing to the sta- 
bility of the empire ; but Akbar's generous 
traditions were continued during the earlier 
and best years of Shah Jehan's reign, but its 
foundations were loosened and jthe way to its 
final fall prepared by Aurungzib, who by his 
despotic policy, his acts of bigotry and oppres- 
sion, alienated the Hindu princes and peoples, 
who now began to reunite in order to compass 
the overthrow of the Moslem empire. 

At the time of Aurungzib's death, in 1707, 
the Rajputs and Sikhs were threatening 
the Muhammadan power in the south and 

26 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

north-west, while all over India the Mara'thas 
were exacting tribute from Moslem kingdoms. 
"As far as can now be estimated, the advance 
of the English power at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century alone saved the Mogul 
empire from passing to Hindus." * 

But, although their supremacy was modified 
and their triumph comparatively short-lived, 
the Moguls left a brilliant record behind them. 
This was due to their wisdom in not attempt- 
ing to undermine existing conditions, but 
rather to glory in adding stone to stone to the 
native edifice. They adopted the conquered 
territory as their own land, they received its 
sons into their own family. " The principal 
administrators of the Musulman dynasties, 
with rare exceptions, were Hindus — they were 
entrusted with the command of armie c , and 
with the regulation of the finances." t 

As the Hindus themselves had, through their 
aid, made possible the Moslem conquests, so 
through their own administration in the offices 
of state they maintained the Moslem suzer- 
ainty. The emperors were careful to foster 
the external and internal well-being of the 
country. They lavished vast sums on public 

* " Indian Empire," p. 323. Sir William Hunter. 
t " Poverty and un-British Rule in India," p. 591. 

Historical Sketch 27 

works of utility, buildings, reservoirs, bridges, 
colleges, public baths, canals, great roads, etc., 
while at the same time they were enthusiastic 
patrons of the arts and sciences. 

The mutual toleration of both parties per- 
mitted the new faith to establish itself and 
develop side by side with Hinduism. "The 
Muhammadan conquest introduced a new 
feature, and the mosques became in India, 
as other countries of Islam, centres of instruc- 
tion in and of literary activity," When the 
power of the East India Company was finally 
established, it had therefore to rule over a 
people who were accustomed to instruction 
and respected learning. It found four ancient 
methods of education at work : 

(1) The teaching given by Brahmans to their 


(2) The tols, or seats of Sanskrit learning. 

(3) The Maktabs and Madrasus, or schools 

and colleges of the Muhammadans ; 

(4) The village schools.* 

The details of the British occupation are too 
well known to call for repetition here. Circum- 
stances favoured our advent. The Muham- 
madan power was decaying, and though the 

* " Bombay Administration," p. 128. Sir William Hunter. 

28 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Hindus were rapidly gaining the ascendancy, 
they had not become powerful enough or suffi- 
ciently united to present a national opposition 
to our invasion. Consequently, by means of 
alliances and diplomatic treaties, like the Mos- 
lems, we were enabled, with the aid of the 
Indian people themselves, to gradually annex 
the whole of their country. Let it never be 
forgotten that as we possessed ourselves of 
India through our alliance with Indian mon- 
archs and the services of Indian troops, so we 
now maintain our supremacy and administer 
our government through the co-operation of the 
Indian people. But there is no reason to sup- 
pose that this acquiescent co-operation will be 
permanent. British rule tends to compass its 
own destruction by providing conditions which 
fan the latent spark of national consciousness 
into an active flame — a fire which, once lighted 
in the hearts of the many peoples of India, will 
bind them together into one nation as tongues 
of the same furnace. India, though composite, 
will then be whole, and India whole means 
India free. 

I* We could subdue the mutiny of 1857, formidable as it was, 
because it spread through only a part of the army, because the 
people did not actively sympathise with it, and because it was 
possible to find Indian races who would fight on our side. But 
the moment a mutiny is threatened, which shall be no mere 

Historical Sketch 29 

mutiny, but the expression of a universal feeling of nationality , 
at that moment all hope is at an end, as all desire ought to be 
at an end, of preserving our Empire. For we are not really 
conquerors of India, and we cannot rule her as conquerors ; if 
we undertook to do so, it is not necessary to inquire whether 
we could succeed, for we should assuredly be ruined financially 
by the mere attempt."* 

It will be well to remember that the " feeling 
of nationality" is a seed which has already 
been sown and has germinated in Indian soil, 
although the plant was cut down before it 
could flower. For the student of Indian 
Nationalism, the Mara'thas must always have 
a peculiar interest, since to them belongs the 
honour of having been the first to recognise 
that in the formation of a Federal Empire lay 
the solution of India's national problem. 

" This feeling of patriotism illustrates more forcibly the 
characteristic result of the formation of a Nation in the 
best sense of the word, and constitutes another reason why the 
History of the Mara'thas deserves special study. It is the 
formation of a true Indian nationality, raising its head high 
above the troubled waters of Mahomedan confusion. It was 
the force behind which supported the efforts of the leaders, and 
enabled them to dream as a possibility the establishment of a 
central Hindu Padshahi, or Empire at Delhi, uniting and 
controlling all other native Powers." f 

We believe that this national consciousness 

* " The Expansion of England," by Professor Seeley, p. 234. 
(Macmillan & Co.) 
t " Rise of the Mara'tha Power," by M. G. Ranade, p. 8. 

30 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

only waits a favourable opportunity to again 
spring upwards and outwards, and that in all 
probability it is through the Federal ideal that 
India will accomplish her freedom and take 
her place in honour among the nations of the 

Chapter III 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 

Hindu thought conceives Sound to be the 
means whereby the manifested universe is 
created. There is the Formless Breath ; there 
is the Breath which forms : Vach, the creative 
word, the Logos of the Gnostics : " By Him 
all things were made." The creative sounds 
of the whole universe combine to make the 
" Music of the Spheres". All things from the 
planets downwards have their right and 
appropriate rhythm, and the music which man 
makes must be in harmony with the universal 
musical order around him, since though taken 
by themselves his songs may be melodious, yet 
if sung at a time and season which does not 
synchronise with that of the universal orchestra 
the result is discordant and disintegrating. 
Sound and form being co-operative, the dance 
harmonises the individual with cosmic motion 
as music with cosmic melody. Hindu music 
is based on the ancient Sanscrit notation, and 
has a scale of twenty-two [notes. Its themes 
are cast into the outlines of different rags. A 
rag is a combination of from five to seven notes, 

32 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

and according to the science of correspon- 
dences, each rag is correlated with a particular 
time of day or season, and an appropriate 
emotion. " Our music " says Dr. Rabindranath 
Tagore " is the music of cosmic emotion. It 
deals not primarily with the Viscissitudes of 
human life. It does not give emphasis to the 
social enjoyments of men. It is never its func- 
tion to provide fuel for the flame of our gaiety 
but to temper it and add to it a quality of 
depth and detatchment.' , The skill of the 
musician consists in original improvisation of 
melodies within the prescribed limits of the rag 
and in his sympathetic interpretation of the 
beauty and significance of the songs he renders. 
There is no orchestral music and associated 
effort is confined to the spontaneous co-opera- 
tion of the audience in the chorus. But the 
Hindu conception of the art of music produces a 
rhythmic absorption of the singer in the song, 
an inspirational and individual quality, which 
is not evoked by Wertern methods. 

M As it still exists, Indian music is the most 
significant of surviving Indian arts. It has 
been perhaps the greatest aesthetic achieve- 
ment of Indian civilisation, the art in which 
that civilisation has most perfectly expressed 
itself. Even now there are Indian musicians 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 33 

living of whom it is no exaggeration to say 
that they are quite supreme artists. Their 
music is the highest development of melody 
the world has seen, a science and an art com- 
parable only with the wholesale achievement 
of western music on different lines. ,, (Dr. 
Ananda Coomaraswami). The principal Indian 
instruments are the Sarangi, Sitar, Vina and 
Tabla. The more subtle intervals of the scale, 
which occidental ears are not trained to dis- 
tinguish, present an obstacle to the enjoyment 
and understanding of Hindu music by Euro- 
peans ; yet to the few European and American 
Musicians who have had the privilege of hear- 
ing it, it has come as a revelation of beauty. 

We give here an example of a Love Song, a 
Cradle song and a Song appropriate for wedd- 
ings, or for the ceremony of the investiture of 
the Sacred Thread and other anniversaries. 
Dogri Love Song Ragini Jog 

Some day come to my county, O Raja of the 
hills ! I would be like the dripping rain upon 
the land of my Beloved ; were I a little cloud I 
would have sheltered Thee, Beloved ! 
Cradle Song 
I'll rock thee, rock, in a cradle of bells ! 
When thou cam'st at midnight out of my 


34 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

God wrote thy horoscope, 

With the horoscope came seven planets 

[here — 
I'll rock thee, rock, in a cradle of bells. 
Thy father is Indra Raja, thy mother a 


I'll spread in thy cradle jasmine and 

Golden bells in thy cradle too — 
I'll rock thee, rock, in a cradle of bells. 

Darling child of the gopis — 
Show me Thy face O Cowherd ! 
For love of thee, pearls fell from the 

[vines : 
Radha in baskets picked them up, 
Went to the bazar to sell — 
Show me thy face, O Cowherd ! 
To Dwarka He went for bathing, 
Again will come here to dwell. 
O Balabhadra, O Krishna, Avatar, 
Show me thy face, O Cowherd ! 

From " Classic Indian Ragas," 

(Dr. Coomaraswamy). 

In science the Hindus were pioneers. " Other 

nations have carried scientific researches to a 

higher state of perfection in modern, and even 

in ancient, times, but it is very doubtful if any 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 35 

nation has in any age displayed a higher 
inventive intellect, or made more original 
discoveries for the benefit of successive ages." * 

In so literary a nation, it may well be under- 
stood, that the science of language was deemed 
to be of the utmost importance. Sanskrit is 
universally acknowledged to be the richest and 
most perfect of all languages ancient or modern. 
In the chanting and recital of the scriptures the 
right pronunciation modulation, and rhythm, 
were absolutely essential. This necessitated 
a complete understanding of the origin of 
words and their combinations and thus a very 
accurate and exhaustive science of grammar 
was built up. The Hindu Panini, who lived 
about the sixth or seventh century B.C., was 
probably the greatest grammarian the world 
has ever known. He anticipated all modern 
discoveries of the roots and common origin of 
Aryan languages, and his rules of derivation 
and construction are so perfect that they have 
never been superseded or even modified. 

The Hindus were, and are still, great geome- 
tricians, and it is now generally conceded that 
in all probability Pythagoras and the Greeks 
derived their geometrical science from them. 
In arithmetic also India was the pioneer ; from 

* R. C. Dult in " Ancient India," p. 93. 

36 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

her the Arabs learnt their decimal notation, 
and in their turn introduced it to the Western 
world. But it is for her proficiency in medical 
science that India stands out pre-eminently 
among other civilisations. The Hindus stu- 
died anatomy, probably at first from the dis- 
section of sacrificial animal victims ; later the 
many hospitals throughout India provided 
schools for observation and treatment. In 
discussing Vedic and Brahman medicine, Sir 
William Hunter says : 

" Indian medicine dealt with the whole area of the science. 
It described the structure of the body, its organs, ligaments, 
muscles, vessels, and tissues. The materia medica of the 
Hindus embraces a vast collection of drugs belonging to the 
mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, many of which have 
been adopted by European physicians. Their pharmacy 
contained ingenious processes of preparation, with elaborate 
directions for the administration and classification of medicines. 

" Much attention was devoted to hygiene, to the regimen 
of the body, and to diet. The surgery of the ancient 
Indian physicians appears to have been bold and skilful. 
They conducted amputations . . . they practised litho- 
tomy, performed operations in the abdomen and uterus, 
set broken bones and dislocations ; and were dexterous in the 
extraction of foreign substances from the body. A special 
branch of surgery was devoted to rhinoplasty, or operations 
for improving deformed ears and noses and forming new ones ; 
a useful operation in a country where mutilation formed part 
of the judicial system, and one which European surgeons have 
borrowed. . . . The ancient Indian surgeons also mention a 
cure for neuralgia, analogous to the modern cutting of the 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 37 

fifth nerve above the eyebrow. They devoted great care to 
making of surgical instruments, and to the training of students 
by means of operations performed on wax spread out on a 
board, or on the tissues and cells of the vegetable kingdom, or 
on dead animals. They were expert in midwifery, not shrink- 
ing from the most critical operations, and in the diseases of 
women and children. Their practice of physic embraced the 
classification, causes, symptoms, and treatment of diseases — 
diagnosis and prognosis . . . considerable advances were also 
made in veterinary science, and monographs exist on the 
diseases of horses and elephants." * 

Hindu medical science reached its zenith 
during the Buddhist era— 250 B. C. — A. D. 750. 
In the succeeding revival of Hinduism, the 
Brahmans, who up to this time had been its 
chief exponents, began, for ceremonial reasons, 
to dissociate themselves from the profession, 
relegating it to the lower castes, and a period 
of degeneration set in in consequence. 

At the present day, since the establishment 
of the Government Medical Colleges during 
the last century, Indians are again coming to 
the front in a science which is particularly 
their own. 

It would be impossible to omit, in an ac- 
count, however cursory, of Indian life and 
characteristics, some mention of so integral a 
part of the national life as Indian art. It is 
much to be regretted that this vast treasure- 

* " The Indian Empire," p. 149. 

38 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

field is so little valued, so almost universally 
misunderstood, so practically unexplored by 
Europeans. We owe a deep debt of gratitude 
to Professor Havell, of the Calcutta and Madras 
Schools of Art, and to Dr. Coomaraswamy for 
their labour of love in this direction, which 
should, at least, lay the foundation for a real 
appreciation, a deeper apprehension, of Hindu 
art by English students. 

The history of Indian art covers a period of 
more than two thousand years, but its princi- 
ples were first formulated by the art academies 
attached to the ancient universities of Northern 
India. These inaugurated a period of remark- 
able art revival and development, lasting from 
the first to the seventh centuries A.D., and 
spreading throughout the greater part of Asia. 

Professor Havell writes : 

" We have far more to learn from India in art than India has 

to learn from Europe The great traditions of Indian 

architecture, sculpture, and painting are still alive, and if our 
educational system infused the right kind of mental stimulus 
into them, instead of crushing them out with the purblind 
pedantry of the Macaulay school of pedagogics, India might 
before long recover its former place as the artistic leader of 

We have in the West an entirely different 
idea of Art, but that surely need not exclude 
from our understanding and appreciation the 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 39 

more philosophic basis of Hindu art and its 
expression. Rather should we be grateful to 
India for preserving the higher ideal, the more 
scientific conception, that all real art must 
be subordinate to the needs of man, and only 
as it serves to evoke a fuller expression of 
his inner potentialities is it legitimate. There- 
fore the Indian artist does not try to imitate 
the exact contour and colouring of any one 
object, but rather to express through his pain- 
ting and carving in one whole, the sum total of 
the characteristics of the species that nature 
expresses by means of many individuals. The 
object thus elaborated is moulded to symbolise 
some aspect of the spiritual nature of man and 
the universe. It is the deliberate aim of the 
Hindu artist that his creations should awaken 
spiritual insight ; through them he makes a 
conscious appeal, primarily to the intuition, 
only secondarily to the senses. 

But, however backward our appreciation of 
Indian painting and sculpture, we have always 
been enthusiastic admirers of the wonderfully 
designed and executed brass-work, and it is 
a. melancholy reflection on the superficiality of 
our own culture that our patronage of this- 
industry is bringing about its degradation 
The London market demands cheap work, and 

40 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

the necessarily inferior quality is no deterrent. 
Under these conditions the deterioration of the 
former high standard is being rapidly effected. 
The architectural achievements of the Hindus 
have evoked universal wonder and admira- 
tion. Successive periods, differing races, de- 
veloped various forms, but all preserve in their 
temples a grandeur of conception, a perfection 
of proportion, a profusion of design, an exqui- 
site delicacy of workmanship, which combine 
to form a whole of such noble harmony, such 
solemn majesty, as has not been equalled by 
the finest product of Western civilisation; 
while the structural grace of many of the com- 
mon dwelling-houses, with their wealth of 
beautiful carving, prove an artistic revelation 
to European eyes. M It may be truly said that 
the artistic spirit displayed in the architecture 
of their temples penetrates the life of the 
people. From the earliest times they have 
been famous throughout the world for their 
skill in the production of delicate woven 
fabrics, in the blending of colours, in the deli- 
cate working of metals and precious stones. 
Everything that comes from the hands of their 
artisans, down to the cheapest toy or earthern 
vessel, is a work of art." * 

* " India and its Problems," by W. S. Lilley, p. 258. 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 41 

Unfortunately, the same degradation of stan- 
dard which is so seriously affecting the brass- 
work is gradually undermining all the other 
industrial arts. The British Government, by 
its policy of centralisation, has necessarily dis- 
organised the trade guilds, under whose pro- 
tection purity of work and excellence of stan- 
dard was maintained, while it has neglected to 
substitute any other method of protection. 
The consequent loosening of communistic ties, 
together with the spread of poverty, has forced 
the spirit of modern individualism upon the 
reluctant craftsman, who, now that all security 
for his proper maintenance has been removed, 
is compelled to produce cheap, bad work in 
order to live. The morale of the worker suffers 
no less than the quality of his work, and both 
react injuriously on the life of the whole com- 

All the arts and sciences of India are syn- 
thesised in her philosophy, which in its reli- 
gious aspect regards all activities as means 
and aids in the perception of the true nature of 
man, which it is the object of all true philo- 
sophy to elucidate. 

We may just remark, before passing on to the 

* For an exhaustive survey of the subject, see " The Industrial 
Arts of India," by Sir George Birdwood. 

42 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

consideration of those two corner-stones of phi- 
losophy — the Vedanta and Sankhya systems 
— that in the light of modern science it is 
interesting to recall that the cardinal principle 
of the Hindu Vaisheshika system is that the 
whole universe and all material substances are 
aggregates of atoms : the atoms being imperi- 
shable, but the aggregates perishing by disinte- 

Ages before the era of the Greek philoso- 
phers India had been leader of the world in 
logic, philosophy, and metaphysics. To-day, 
with the lapse of centuries, with the growth of 
new nations, new civilisations, and new sys- 
tems of thought, she still maintains her unri- 
valled supremacy. The conclusions of the 
most profound modern thinkers — Berkeley^ 
Hume, Hartmann, Schopenhauer — are all anti- 
cipated, and subjected to minute analysis in 
the Sankhya philosophy (the seventh century 
B.C. is the date usually assigned to its formu- 
lation), while the depths of the Vedanta have 
never been sounded outside that system. 

" The Vedanta and the Sankhya stand pre-eminent among 
the six systems of Hindu philosophy — the former for its noble 
conceptions of one universal source of all objects and all beings, 
the latter for its fearless analysis of the mind and its faculties. 
As an effort of generalisation— an attempt to grasp the secret 
and origin of the limitless world with its varied and varying 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 43 

and multitudinous creatures — the Vedanta system has never 
been surpassed. As an effort of introspection — an endeavour 
to analyse the senses and the mind, the phenomena which leave 
their impress on the unchangeable soul — the Sankhya Philoso- 
phy has seldom been equalled." * 

We 'conquered and still hold India in sub- 
jection through our material ascendancy. In 
our Western civilisation the battle is to the 
strong, the wealthy, the famous ; these express 
our ideals, and it is doubtless because our 
attention is almost entirely turned in these 
directions that we fail to realise to any appre- 
ciable degree 'the extent to which India, by 
a far greater conquest, is pervading our whole 
realm of thought and gradually including in 
her " imperishable empire " the entire Western 

Nor are we sufficiently aware of our own 
particular indebtedness. Yet at one of the 
most vital crises of our age, India, without 
noise, almost without recognition, opened to us 
a way of escape. At a time when the intellect, 
freeing itself from the bondage of an anthropo- 
morphic religion, refused to believe any longer 
in the crude dogmas of orthodox Christianity, 
and was about to cast itself into the arms of 
an equally crude and ignorant materialism, 
the deep spiritual wisdom of India came to our 

* R. C. Dutt in " Indian Review/' 1900. 

44 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

aid. Liberated by the efforts of men like 
Professors Max Muller and Deussen, the subtle, 
invigorating breath of Hindu Idealism swept 
across our national thought and, all-perva- 
ding, found echoes in many hearts and minds 
unconscious of its origin. So far-reaching, so 
compelling has been its transmuting power, 
that, looking backwards, it is difficult to believe 
that but a few years ago rational minds on the 
one' hand, and spiritually intuitive hearts on 
the other, were alike honestly " taken in " and 
seriously dismayed by so clumsy a " boggart " 
as the irreconcilability of science and religion. 

Of the many whose inner lives expand and 
are renewed in the genial influence of a serener 
wisdom, an appreciative tolerance, few pause 
to consider the source of their emancipation. 
Thus are the conquered, in a very vital manner, 
invading and possessing the country, the very 
minds and souls, of their conquerors ; and in 
this instance the latter will do well to set a 
good example by acknowledging the debt of 
gratitude due to the beneficent influence of 
*' foreign rule " ! 

We should like, in closing this chapter, to 
leave with our readers some faint realisation of 
the sweetness, the grandeur, the majestic 
aloofness, the intimate at-one-ness of the im- 

Music, Science, Art and Philosophy 45 

mortal Vedanta, and to this end we cannot 
do better than conclude with Professor Max 
Mtiller's unqualified appreciation in his intro- 
duction to the " Six Systems of Philosophy." 

"It is surely astounding that such a system as the Vedanta 
should have been slowly elaborated by the indefatigable and 
intrepid thinkers of India thousands of years ago — a system 
which even now makes us feel giddy, as in mounting the last 
steps of an ancient Gothic Cathedral. None of our philosophers, 
not excepting Heraclitus, Plato, Kant, or Hegel, has ventured 
to erect such a spire, never frightened by storms or lightnings. 
Stone follows upon stone in regular succession — after once it 
has been clearly seen that in the beginning there can have been 
but One, as there will be but One in the end, whether we call 
it Atman or Brahman. We need not praise or try to imitate a 
Colosseum, but if we have any heart for the builders of former 
days, we cannot help feeling it was a colossal and stupendous 
effort. And this is the feeling which I cannot resist in examining 
the Vedanta. Other philosophers have denied the reality of the 
world perceived by us, but no one has ventured to deny at the 
same time the ieality of what we call Ego, the senses and the 
mind, and their inherent forms. And yet, after lifting the 
self above body and soul, after uniting heaven and earth, 
God and Man, Brahman and Atman, these Vedanta phil- 
osophers have destroyed nothing in the life of the pheno- 
menal beings who have to act and to "fulfil their duties in 
this phenomenal world. On the contrary, they have shown that 
there can be nothing phenomenal without something that is 
real, and that goodness and virtue, faith and works are necessary 
as a preparation, nay, as a sine qua non, for the attainment of 
that higher knowledge which brings the soul back to its source 
and to its home, and restores it to its true nature, to its true 
self-hood in Brahman." 

Chapter VI 

A False Charge 

A CHARGE frequently preferred against Indian 
Nationalists is that they are merely seeking 
to benefit their own section of the community, 
and are altogether indifferent to the welfare of 
others, particularly that of cultivators, and 
that their professed sympathy in this direction 
is merely a political blind. The only ground 
on which such a charge can be maintained is 
on the assumption that the cultivator under 
British rule can and does attain to such a 
degree of prosperity that he must necessarily 
suffer in the event of any change. Unhappily, 
this ideal condition does not obtain ; British 
rule has given India internal peace ; the culti- 
vator has no marauding robber bands, no plun- 
dering armies from neighbouring states to fear ; 
but with peace has come increasing poverty. 

The genesis of the poverty may be traced to 
the early days of the Company's rule, when, 
in addition to pillage and extortion, the rich 
manufactures of India were deliberately killed 
by excessive pro-English duties and unfair 
monopolies, and the surplus population thrown 

A False Charge 47 

on the land in an utterly destitute condition, 
there to be subjected to severe and ceaseless 
taxation. The much augmented agricultural 
population have never had the opportunity to 
recuperate their exhausted energies and re- 
sources. As a result, famines, from being 
comparatively infrequent and local, have be- 
come terrible in severity, almost universal in 
extent. According to the official reckoning of 
the last twenty-five years of the nineteenth 
century, there were eighteen famines, and the 
estimated loss of life due to them totalled 
twenty-six million lives.* The great majority 
of people year by year eke out an existence on 
the verge of starvation. The immediate cause 
of this awful poverty is the unrelenting pres- 
sure of the land tax, which prevents the accu- 
mulation of any capital wherewith to meet an 
unproductive season. In England the land tax 
raised during the wars of the Spanish Succes- 
sion was made perpetual and redeemable in 
1798. For the previous hundred years it had 
averaged between five and twenty per cent, of 
the rental. In India the land tax was made 
permanent in Bengal (1793), and was fixed at 
ninety per cent of the rental ! It now works 
out at thirty-five per cent, includiug the im- 

* See "Prosperous British India," by William Digby, c.l.E. 

48 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

position of new taxes. In other provinces, 
where, in spite of our repeated most solemn 
pledges to the contrary, it still remains unfixed. 
It is recognised in theory that the land tax 
should not exceed one-half of the rental. In 
practice the Government often takes one-third 
of the field produce,* and adds various road, 
railway, and other local cesses. The frequent 
reassessments, which are made on the prospec- 
tive, not the real rental, take away all sense of 
security. In Northern India the tax is close 
upon sixty per cent of the rental. In 1898 it 
was increased at the new assessment of the 
North- West Provinces and Oude, from nine- 
teen to fifty-three per cent (Administrative 
Reports) ; while in some districts in Madras it 
actually approximates to the whole of the 
economic rent ! f In the re-assessment of the 
Central Provinces in 1888 the land tax was 
raised from fifty to sixty per cent. ; this, with 
the addition of local cesses, brought it up to 
nearly seventy per cent. I These unfortunate 

* Speech on the Economic Condition of India, by R. C. Dutt, 
delivered at the Philosophical Institution, Glasgow, on Sept. 4th, 

t Fourth Reply to Lord Curzon's Land Resolution, by R. C. 
Mitra (Calcutta, 1904). 

t See R. C. Dutt's Presidential Speech at Lucknow Congress, 

A False Charge 49 

provinces are constantly famine-stricken. In 
different districts of Madras the assessments 
have been raised fifty-five, eighty-four, eighty- 
five, and a hundred and five per cent, since the 
beginning of this century. * 

" In 1893 the Hon. Mr. G. Rogers, of the Indian Civil Service 
and Member of the Bombay Council, writing to the Under 
Secretary of State for India, declared : 

" In the eleven years from 1879-80 to 1889-90 there were sold 
by auction for the collection of land revenue the "occupancy 
rights of 1,963,364 acres of land held by 840,713 defaulters, in 
addition to Personal property of the value of Rs. 2,965,081. 
Of the 1,963,364 acres, 1,174,143 had to be bought in on the part 
of Government for want of bidders, that is to say, very nearly 
60 per cent, of the land supposed to be fairly and equitably 
assessed could not find purchasers, and only the balance of 
779,142 acres was sold. The evils of the Mahratta farming 
system (in Bombay) have been pointed out in my "History 
of the Bombay Land Revenue," but I doubt if that system 
at its worst could have shown such a spectacle as that of nearly 
850,000 ryots (heads of families), in the course of eleven years, 
sold out of about 1,900,000 acres of land.' 

" Roundly, one-eighth part of the entire agricultural popula- 
tion was sold out of house and home in little more than a 
decade. Not only were their farms brought to auction, but 
their poor personal belongings, their plough cattle and their 
cooking utensils, their beds, and everything but their scanty 
clothes, were sold to provide money for mostly ' Imperialist ' 
adventure. The picture is incomplete till it is remembered that 
these eleven years of ' denudation ' immediately followed the 
terrible famine of 1877-8, during which Madras lost three millions 
of its inhabitants by starvation. . . . Only last year (1902) the 

* Second Reply to Lord Curzon's Land Resolution, by R.C. 
Dutt, 1902. 


50 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Hon. B. K. Bose, a Member of the Viceroy's Council, stood up in 
the presence of Lord Curzon and stated that : ' Proceedings into 
a new second settlement are also in progress in Bilaspur 
and Raipur. These districts, especially the former, were very 
hard hit during the last famine. They are no less so this time. 
They were both newly assessed only about ten years ago. The 
enhancement in Bilaspur was 102 per cent in some groups, and 
I05 per cent in others.' And there was no denial." * 

"11,749 cultivators were ejected from their holdings in 
Madras last year for inability to pay the Government demand ; 
60,896 acres were sold for arrears of revenue ; one-half of this 
found no purchasers in the market, and was bought up by the 
Government itself at a nominal value ! Six millions of acres of 
cultivable land remain uncultivated under the present system of 
heavy assessment." — " The Indian land Question," by R, C. Dutt, 
in " The Imperial and Colonial Magazine," February, 1901. 

Mr. S. S. Thorburn gave evidence, as Reve- 
nue Commissioner, that " in the four selected 
circles [upon which he made his report] quite 
half the old agriculturists are already ruined 
beyond redemption in 126 villages." 

Lord Salisbury, in 1875, condemned a policy 
which drew " the mass of revenue from the 
rural districts, where capital is scarce," and 
recommended that the cultivator should pay 
a smaller proportion of the whole national 
charge, but no such amelioration has been 

Mr. Smith, M.P., in a speech before the House 

* C. J. O'Donnell in " The Failure of Lord Curzon " (Fisher 

A False Charge 51 

of Commons in 1894, computed that one penny 
in the income tax in England brings in 
£2,000,000 with a population of 38 millions ; 
while one penny in India realises considerably 
less than £200,000 with a population of 220 
millions, i.e. one-sixtieth of what an equal 
number in England would yield ! In propor- 
tion to her income, poverty-stricken India is 
taxed three times as heavily as England ! The 
ryots of India are patient and uncomplaining 
to a degree ; they pay the tax, and themselves 
subsist on sufferance from the money-lender, 
of whom Sir William Hunter says : 

"If he sometimes makes a merciless use of his legal position, 
the fault rests rather with the inflexible rules of our Courts, 
which enable him to push the cultivator to extremes not 
allowed under native rules. Abolish the money-lender and the 
general body of cultivators would have nothing to depend upon 
but the harvest of a single year." * 

Again, it is often stated that the ryots are 
an ignorant, idle, thriftless people, and that 
under any system they would be always in a 
condition of poverty by reason of their own 
shortcomings. Such arguments, which can 
only be born of ignorance and the desire to 
believe that which is most acceptable, regard- 
less of its validity, can best be answered by an 
extract from the Government Report of Dr. 

* "The Indian Empire." Sir William Hunter. 

52 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Voelcker (consulting chemist to the Royal 
Agricultural Society of England) in 1889 : 

" The ideas generally maintained in England that Indian 
agriculture is, as a whole, primitive and backward, and that 
little has been done to try and remedy it, are altogether errone- 
ous. . . . Taking everything together, and more especially 
considering the conditions under which Indian crops are grown, 
they are wonderfully good. At his best, the Indian ryot or 
cultivator is quite as good as, and in some respects the superior 
of, the average British farmer ; while at his worst, it can only be 
said that this state is brought about largely by an absence 
of facilities for improvement, which is probably unequalled by 
any other country, and that the ryot will struggle on patiently 
and uncomplainingly in the face of difficulties, in a way that 
no one else would. Nor need our British farmers be surprised 
at what I say, for it may be remembered that the natives of 
India were cultivators of wheat centuries before we in England 
were. It is not likely, therefore, that their practice should be 
capable of much improvement. What does, however, prevent 
them from growing larger crops is the limited facilities to which 
they have access, such as the supply of water and manure. But 
to take the ordinary acts of husbandry, nowhere would one find 
better instances of keeping land scrupulously clean from weeds, 
of ingenuity in device of water-raising appliances, as well as 
the exact time to sow and to reap, as one would in Indian 
agriculture, and this is not at its best alone, but at its 
ordinary level. It is wonderful, too, how much is known 
of rotation, the system of mixed crops, and of fallowing. 
Certain it is that I, at least, have never seen a more perfect 
picture of careful cultivation, combined with hard labour." 

In the face of these facts, then, it is idle to 
deny to the Indian Nationalist a genuine sym- 
pathy with, and an earnest desire to ameliorate 
the condition of the ryots, nor is there any un- 

A False Charge 53 

reason in his contention that a government in 
touch with the people of their own flesh and 
blood, and responsible to them, would realise 
their needs and provide for them more effectu- 
ally than the despotism, however benevolent 
in intention, of an alien race. 

Chapter V 

Religious Consciousness 

THE religious consciousness of India may be 
likened to the Great World Tree, which has its 
roots in heaven and its branches growing down- 
wards throughout the world. India's spiritu- 
ality is rooted in the unclouded heaven of pure 
monism, while its trunk bifurcates into a vast 
network of systems which define the limitations 
of the human mind. Hinduism has always 
recognised that, while Truth is one and in- 
finite, yet human apprehension of it, being 
finite, must necessarily take many forms, and 
that each man will naturally, according to his 
character and the stage of development he has 
attained, assimilate one aspect of it rather 
than another, which will colour his conception 
of the whole, so that within the sphere of pure 
monism arise various cults. There are wor- 
shippers of Vishnu, Siva, Hari, Krishna, etc., 
all acknowledging that the Divine is One, but 
devoting themselves to that aspect which most 
nourishes and illumines their particular nature. 
In this connection it is interesting to recall 
Keshub Chundra Sen's " Defence of Idol Wor- 

Religious Consciousness 5C) 

ship" in the Brahma Year-Book, 1880. He 

" Hindu idolatry is not to be altogether overlooked or rejec- 
ted. As we explained some time ago, it represents millions of 
broken fragments of God. Collect them together and you get 
the indivisible Divinity. When the Hindus lost sight of their 
great God, they contented themselves with retaining particular 
aspects of Him and representing them in human shapes or 
images. Their idolatry is nothing but the worship of a Divine 
attribute materialised. If the material shape is given up, what 
remains is a beautiful allegory or picture of Heaven's dis- 

" The Theist rejects the image, but he cannot dispense with 
the spirit of which that image is the form. The revival of the 
spirit, the destruction of the form, is the work of the New 
Dispensation. Cheer up, then, O Hindus, for the long lost 
Father from whom ye have for centuries strayed is coming 
back to you. The road is clear enough: it lies through your 
numerous Puranas and Epics. Never were we so struck with 
the eclectic method as when we explored the gloomy regions of 
mythological India. The sermons now delivered in the Brahma 
Mandir (church) are solely occupied with the precious truths 
discovered therein, and our own occupation is merely to gather 
the jewels as we go on. We have found out that every idol 
worshipped by the Hindu represents an attribute of God, and 
that each attribute is called by a particular name. The believer 
in the New Dispensation is required to worship God as the 
possessor of all those attributes, represented by the Hindu as 
innumerable, or 330 millions. To believe in an undivided Deity 
without reference to those aspects of His nature, is to believe 
in an abstract God, and it would tend to practical rationalism 
and infidelity. Nor can we worship the same God with the 
same attributes investing Him. That would make our worship 
dull, lifeless, and insipid. Hence we should contemplate Him 
with His numerous attributes. We shall name one attribute 

56 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Saraswati, another Lakshmi, another Mahadeva, another 
Jagatdhatri, etc., and worship God each day under a new name, 
that is to say, in a new aspect. We do not worship Him as a 
Yogi for ever, or as Father, or as Mother, or as Lakshmi, or as 
Saraswati. But now in one and then in the other, and so on, 
beholding our Hari in new garb, and in new loveliness for ever. 
How bewitching the prospect, how grand the picture ! " 

From the standpoint of Hindu monism, man, 
in his essential nature, is not a " child of God," 
nor a creature, nor an emanation from Him ; 
but he is God, and it is ignorance alone which 
hinders him from the knowledge of this truth. 
It is, therefore, the object of Hindu religion to 
so regulate the life of the individual, of Society, 
of the State, that all activities, whether per- 
taining to the physical, social, or mental life, 
inasmuch as they are the healthy and legiti- 
mate expression of the evolving man, become 
means to a divine end, for by the exercise of 
all his powers in orderly sequence and due 
proportion man prepares the way for his awa- 
kening to the realisation of his true nature. 
There is thus no differentiation into " sacred 
and secular," such as we have in the West. 

Here we come to the great doctrine of 
Dharma ; it has been variously translated as 
Duty, Law, Righteousness, Destiny, etc. ; it 
includes all these and much more. It is the 
law of self-unfolding, and may be taken as 

Religious Consciousness 57 

-embodying the stage of development reached 
by any particular ego, together with his essen- 
tial character plus the next step onward in his 
evolution. Thus different individuals, diffe- 
rent castes, different states, different nations 
have different dharmas, and it is only by 
following the virtues and qualities which right- 
ly are theirs that progress in evolution is made. 

"Of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Sudras, O Par- 
antapa, the duties have been distributed, according to the 
qualities born of their own natures. Serenity, self-restraint, 
austerity, purity, forgiveness, and also uprightness, wisdom, 
knowledge, belief in God, are the Brahmana duty, born of his 
own nature. 

" Prowess, splendour, firmness, dexterity, and also not flying 
from battle, generosity, the nature of a ruler, are the Kshatriya 
duty, born of his own nature. 

" Ploughing, protection of kine, and trade are the Vaisya 
duty, born of his own nature. 

" Action, of the nature of service, is the Sudra duty, born of 
his own nature. 

" Man reacheth perfection by each being intent on his own 

duty Better is one's own duty, though defective, than the 

duty of another well-performed."* 

Interwoven with Dharma is the doctrine of 
Karma and Re-birth. The former may be 
briefly described as an enunciation of the law 
of causation, the teaching that " whatever a 
man soweth, that shall he surely reap," applied 

* " Bhagavad-Gita," XVIII. 

58 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

to every manifestation of life. In humanity it 
applies to both the man and the nation, making 
individual and collective Karma. 

In the doctrine of Re-birth, Hinduism com- 
pletes the Western theory of evolution by pre- 
supposing a corresponding evolution of the 
souls, which inform the physical vehicles, both 
being but the inner and outer aspect of the 
same phenomenon. It was recognised that 
different classes of individuals are at different 
stages of growth, and that the rules of conduct, 
duties, and modes of life most practicable and 
helpful to each necessarily differ in each class. 

Broadly, as we have seen, four great castes 
were distinguished, differentiated outwardly 
by physical traits, inwardly by character and 
capacity. In course of time these subdivided 
into innumerable sections. It must never be 
forgotten that, in the last resort, caste was 
determined by character, not by birth. 

" A man does not become a Brahmana by his plaited hair, by 
his family, or by birth ; in whom there is truth and righteous- 
ness, he is blessed, he is a Brahmana." * 

In the Sonadanda Sutta the venerable Brah- 
man declares that only two of the five char- 
acteristics of Brahmans are really essential, 
i.e., wisdom and uprightness, and that a " man 

* " Dhammapada," XXVI, p. 393- 

Religious Consciousness 59 

can accurately say ' I am Brahman ' without 
being guilty of falsehood " if he has only these. 
The remaining three characteristics are pure 
descent on both sides ; knowledge of the sacred 
books ; physical health and beauty (a sound 
mind in a sound body). 

Turning to the Upanishads, in the touching 
story of Satyakama Jabala we find the son 
desirous of becoming a Brahmacharin inquiring 
of his mother of what family he was, in order 
that he might present his credentials before 
the teacher. She told him : 

" I do not know, my child, of what family thou art. In my 
youth, when I had to move about much as a servant, I conceived 
thee. I do not know of what family thou art. I am Jabala by 
name, thou art Satyakama. Say that thou art Satyakama 

So the youth went to the teacher, and was, 
of course, questioned of his birth. Satyakama 
frankly told him all, and was rewarded with : 

" No one but a true Brahman would thus speak out. Go and 
fetch fuel, friend, I shall initiate you. You have not swerved 
from the truth." * 

Again, in the Vasettha Sutta (57) : 

" One is not a Brahman nor a non-Brahman by birth. By his 
conduct alone is he a Brahman, and by his conduct alone he is a 
non-Brahman." f 

* " Chhandogya Upanishad," IV, 4. 

t See also "Story of Janaka Satapatha Brahmana," XI, 6, 2, I 

60 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Caste, then, was a means to an end, not 
an end in itself. This conception is clearly 
brought out in the Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad : 

" Verily, the Brahman class is not dear, that you may love the 
Brahman-class; but that you may love the Self; therefore the 
Brahman-class is dear. 

" Verily, the Kshatriya-class is not dear, that you may love 
the Kshatriya-class ; but that you may love the Self ; therefore 
the Kshatriya-class is dear. 

"Whosoever looks for the Brahman-class elsewhere than in 
the Self, was abandoned by the Brahman-ciass. Whosoever 
looks for the Kshatriya-class elsewhere than in the Self, was 
abandoned by the Kshatriya-class." * 

The true meaning and purpose of caste, then, 
is not social inequality — prestige and inherited 
privilege on the one hand, inferiority and a 
heritage of degradation on the other — but 
spiritual culture. By at once placing the indi- 
vidual in his right relation to the rest of the 
community, in accordance with his qualifica- 
tions, it removed from his path many tempta- 
tions and dangers which might otherwise over- 
whelm him ; while at the same time it provided, 
through the duties and virtues of his order, 
means whereby the individuality might be 
strengthened on a right basis, and the whole 
nature developed in steady and harmonious 

* " Sacred Books of the East," Vol. XI, pp. 109-10. 

Religious Consciousness 61 

growth. Socially, it gave an assured and re- 
spected position, since each caste was recog- 
nised as an essential factor in the whole fabric 
of society. By keeping the type pure by strin- 
gent caste rules, it was thought to secure suit- 
able bodies for the incoming souls. As in 
idol worship, the Absolute is approached 
through the many attributes by which the 
human mind apprehends in some measure that 
which is attributeless, so in caste the virtues of 
each section are but reflections of the divine 
characteristics ; therefore each caste, by de- 
veloping its own qualities, strengthened its 
divine nature. Any attribute developed in per- 
fection includes all others ; it is merged in the 
centre wherein all radii meet, and so we under- 
stand how in Hinduism, though the Brahmans 
were set apart as the guardians of spiritual 
wisdom, yet it was recognised that any member 
of any caste might attain wisdom and so tran- 
scend caste, having become emancipated from 
all bonds and restrictions. This liberty must 
not be confused with license to sin. It implies 
that the man who has attained supreme wisdom 
is one with supreme good, and therefore his 
actions are necessarily the unhindered manifes- 
tation of the divine law of the universe. From 
another point of view it is the liberty of the 

62 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

self-controlled Logos, who is a law unto him- 
self, none other compelling. 

Sir R. H. Elliot, in the course of a striking 
defence of Caste as a great uplifting and 
purifying agent in the social life of the State, 

"Caste, then, as we have seen, protects the poor from the 
passions of the rich, and it equally protects the upper classes 
themselves, and enforcedly makes them more moral than, 
judging from our experience in other quarters of the globe, they 
would otherwise be. 

" Take any of our counties in Great Britain, and compare it 
with Manjarabad as regards the points I have particularly 
referred to, and it will be found that Manjarabad (a taluk or 
county on the S. W. frontier of Mysore) has an immense supe- 
riority. The crimes and misery arising from drinking are 
hardly to be found at all in Manjarabad, while the morality of 
the sexes I should think could hardly be surpassed. . . . 

" But, supposing that the worldly situation as to the means of 
support and the opportunities of marrying were equal, it seems 
to me perfectly plain that the people, who have a large propor- 
tion of the better classes total abstainers, and who have their 
Society so controlled that the rich cannot gratify their passions 
at the expense of the poor, must be in possession of a superior 

As the system of caste was designed to 
facilitate the harmonious evolution, side by 
side, of the various national types, so the 
Asramas, or four social orders, of the student, 

* " Gold, Sport, and Coffee-Planting in Mysore : being the 
Thirty-eight Years' Experience of a Mysore Planter," by R. H. 
Elliot, pp. 219-20. 

Religious Consciousness 63 

the householder, the retired, and the mendi- 
cant, were instituted to form a basis upon 
which the individual might build a life of 
organised progress. 

First, after childhood, came the student stage, 
when, undisturbed by passion, earthly ambi- 
tions, and cares, the teacher planted noble 
ideals and aspirations in the plastic mind, 
trained and developed the mental and moral 
nature ; then followed the life of the house- 
holder, when the youth married and took upon 
himself family, social, and patriotic duties, ex- 
pressing himself outwardly in the world of 
affairs, performing various religious ceremo- 
nies, which served as a perpetual reminder of 
the correlation of forces, of the interdepen- 
dence of every atom in the universe ; in short, 
gradually, through the ministry of the multi- 
ple creation, bringing the mind of the sacrificer 
to the contemplation of the all-embracing 

Lastly, the two concluding stages of the 
ascetic life, when with passions subdued, am- 
bitions burnt out, judgment matured, elation 
and depression alike transcended, the man, his 
active service to the world performed, with- 
draws from outer activities and, turning his 
gaze inwards, meditates on spiritual verities. 

64 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Having cognised and handled the world of 
effects, he strives to assimilate that of causa- 
tion, so that his wisdom may be complete, his 
vision whole. In this stage his is still a life of 
true service, for he becomes a centre of spiri- 
tual force, radiating comfort, counsel, and 
encouragement to all. He has outgrown caste,, 
and is released from all restrictions. 

" Seeing, indeed, everywhere the same Lord, equally dwelling, 
he doth not destroy the Self by the self, and thus treads the 
highest path." * 

Professor Max Miiller pays a fine tribute to 
the religious harmony which obtains in Hindu 
homes under the Asramas. It is due to the 
innate recognition of the One Reality, beneath 
and within all temporal differentiation. 

" There are still Brahmanic families in which the sons learn 
by heart the ancient hymns, and the father performs day by day 
his sacred duties and sacrifices ; while the grandfather, even 
though remaining in the village, looks upon all ceremonies and 
sacrifices as vanity, sees in the Vedic gods nothing but names of 
what he knows to be beyond all names, and seeks rest in the 
highest knowledge only, which has become to him the highest 
religion, viz. the so-called Vedanta, the end and fulfilment of 
the whole Veda. The three generations have learnt to live 
together in peace. The grandfather, though more enlightened, 
does not look down with contempt on his son or grandson, least 
of all does he suspect them of hypocrisy. He knows that the 
time of their deliverance will come, and he does not wish that 
they should anticipate it. Nor does the son, though bound fast 
* "BhagavadGita," XIII, 28. 

Religious Consciousness 65 

by the formulas of his faith and strictly performing the minutest 
rules of the red ritual, speak unkindly of his father. He knows 
he has passed through the narrower path, and does not grudge 
him his freedom and the wider horizon of his views." * 

It may be noted that the revival of National- 
ism in India was preceded and is accompanied 
by a spiritual awakening. On consideration it 
will be seen that the one is but the natural 
outcome of the other. We have been trying to 
emphasise the stress laid by Hinduism on the 
necessity for harmony between thought and 
action, between the inner conception and the 
outer life. The present national movement is 
essentially a spiritual movement ; herein is the 
secret of its unifying power and the security 
for its fulfilment. It is the legitimate, the im- 
perative demand of India to fulfil her own 
Dharma in all the departments and activities 
of life. 

Since man manifests as one organism, the 
stultification of any part reacts perniciously on 
the whole. India may possess, and in our 
opinion does possess, the highest spiritual wis- 
dom, yet if she is prevented from formulating 
the outward expression of her convictions in 
her own way through her national life, a 

* Quoted by N. Gupta in a lecture given in the Max Denso 
Hall, October 24th, 1885. 


66 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

stoppage of the normal flow, the natural reac- 
tion between cause and effect, ensues, and her 
crystal fount becomes a stagnant dam of im- 
pure and poisonous water. Nor can any fresh 
influx of spiritual force avail, except it first 
break through the obstruction and restore the 
pent-up current to its proper channel. 

Another feature of the national revival is the 
tendency to remove caste barriers. This has 
been construed as a drastic breaking away from 
all tradition, an emphatic denial of the very 
spirit of Hinduism. So far from this being the 
case, this apparently destructive phase is the 
very consummation of the ancient ideals. 

In the process of evolution the national per- 
ception is approaching a stage equivalent to 
the third Asrama, and having, as it were, per- 
formed all ceremonies and assimilated their 
teachings, observed all caste regulations, and 
established its stability thereby, the Hindu 
consciousness is expanding into the wider 
vision, wherein the means are perceived to be 
valueless when once the glorious liberty of the 
end is realised. Throughout India the deep 
conviction is spreading that any artificial cling- 
ing to caste laws, when once the national mind 
has outgrown them, no longer safeguards and 
strengthens, but cripples and confines, the ex- 

Religious Consciousness 67 

panding life, and prevents the accomplishment 
of its true Dharma. 

This, then, is the stage in her spiritual and 
national development — for the two are one — 
which India is now entering ; it follows in order- 
ly sequence upon those which have preceded it. 
As is natural in all stages of national develop- 
ment, many are swept aside and left behind 
by the advancing current. They are the 
stragglers in evolution, but they cannot delay 
the progress of the great evolutionary wave. 

Some of the most interesting features of 
modern Hinduism are associated with Vaish- 
navism and the worship of Narayana, which 
embody the Indian expression of that world- 
wide movement that may perhaps be described 
as the Cult of Humanity. Its distinguishing 
feature is the practical recognition of the 
Universal Brotherhood of Man, without dis- 
tinction of colour, race, sex, or creed ; this 
recognition of fundamental unity being based 
not on sentiment, but on the realisation of the 
presence of the Divine Lord in all his creatures. 
Narayana is the Christ dwelling individually 
in the hearts of all ; collectively, mankind is 
the great organism through which, as Logos, 
He is continually realising himself and mani- 
festing, through the process of evolution, His 

68 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

divine purpose throughout the ages. Incar- 
nate in us, in all our afflictions, He is afflicted, 
and in the life of humanity we have with us the 
one pure offering, the perpetual sacrifice, the 
passion of the Lord, who is daily crucified 
afresh in the sins and sufferings of His people. 
The service of mankind is thus the worship of 
God. Every human being is a manifestation 
of the Lord ; therefore, by feeding the hungry, 
liberating the bound, enlightening the ignor- 
ant, we are ministering to Narayana, we are 
hastening the day of the Lord, when, finding- 
perfect expression through the minds and hearts 
of His people, His will will be done on earth 
" as it is in heaven." " Inasmuch as ye have 
done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me." * These words contain 
the very essence of Vaishnavism. Through its 
intense 'humanitarianism on the material side, 
its realisation of the Divine Indweller on the 
spiritual side, it transcends all consciousness of 
caste. To the Vaishnava there is neither 
Brahman nor Sudra. As in the West, this 
religion of Humanity, at first expressing itself 
in the care and love of individuals, developed 
ultimately into a fervent desire for the ameli- 
oration of mankind in the mass, and became 

* St. Matt. XVIII. 40. 

Religious Consciousness 69 

political in tendency, so also 'in India the 
effort, by organised social and political means 
to remove distressing disabilities of all kinds, 
naturally 'leads to a desire for political free- 
dom as a necessary and legitimate means to a 

divine end. 

* * * * 

There has been much discussion of late about 
the alleged antagonism between Moslems and 
Hindus. Now, although it is very possible for 
political purposes to accentuate religious differ- 
ences and fan them into a flame of jealous 
rivalry, yet in India Hindus and Moslems have 
been amalgamated for so many centuries that, 
fundamentally, their permanent interests are 
identical, though, as we have indicated, super- 
ficial animosities may be provoked for transient 

Throughout India we find Hindus and Mos- 
lems living together in every relation of civic 
life in perfect harmony. Sir John Strachey * 
lays great stress on the fact that the majority 
of Moslems are to all intents and purposes 
Hindus, and are accepted as such ; the differ- 
ence in creed is often merely nominal, and does 
not alienate them from the older religion. 

" The Musulman Rajput, Gujar, or Jat is, for all social, tribal, 
* See Chapter VIII of " India, its Administration and Progress." 

70 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

and administrative purposes, exactly as much a Rajput, Gujar,, 
or Jat as his Hindu brother. His social customs are unaltered 
his tribal restrictions are unrelaxed, his rules of marriage and 
inheritance unchanged ; and almost all the difference is that he 
shaves his scalplock and the upper edge of his moustache, re- 
peats the Muhammadan creed in a mosque, and adds the 
Musulman to the Hindu wedding ceremony .... The Hindu 
family priests are still kept up and consulted as of old, and 
Brahmans are still fed on the usual occasions and in many 
cases still officiate at weddings, side by side with the Muham- 
madan priests."* 

Hyderabad has been a Moslem state for cen- 
turies, and the Nizam is a staunch Muham- 
madan, but he has appointed a Hindu as his 
Prime Minister, and only recently, desirous 
that his Hindu subjects should receive Hindu 
education, he was careful to procure the best 
Hindu text-book obtainable, and has caused it 
to be used in all the State schools throughout 
the realm, in order that his Hindu subjects 
might be properly instructed in their own faith. 

Sir Henry Cotton, in the recent debate on the 
Indian Councils Bill, thought "it deplorable 
that Members of his House should pose as 
champions of Hindu or of Muhammadan, in- 
stead of remembering that the interests of both 
are nearly identical. That this is so is recognis- 
ed by Hindus and Muhammadans themselves." 

* Sir Denzil Ibbetson, in Report on the Census of 1881 in the 
Punjab, p 143. 

Religious Consciousness 71 

" I will give you an illustration from the United Province. 
The United Province is the part of all others in India where 
there is a distinct, substantial, and essential difference between 
the Hindu and the Muhammadan community. The Muham- 
mad ans of the United Province are the descendants of the 
Moguls. They are the descendants of the proud invaders who 
came from across the North-West Frontier. Their position is 
essentially and fundamentally different from that of the Muham- 
madans in most other parts of India, but it is a fact that the 
relations between the Hindus and the Muhammadans are so 
cordial and so united that in those provinces, when the recent 
election occurred in the city of Lucknow, which Hon. Members 
know is the capital of Oudh, out of twenty Muhammadan voters 
no fewer than fourteen voted for a Hindu gentleman, and, 
naturally, the Hindu gentleman was returned. They did not vote 
for the Muhammadans ; they voted for the Hindu, and such 
things are common in Bengal. Over and over again Hindus have 
voted for Muhammadans, and repeatedly returned them to the 
Council. At the present moment, at the present day, it is done 
in Madras, where the Hindus form an extraordinary majority 
of the population. There are far more Hindus in comparison 
with the population in the province of Madras than in any 
other province, and yet year after year the Hindus have 
returned a Muhammadan to the Viceroy's Council, and he is 
sitting on that Council at the present moment." * 

Mr. Dadabhoy, a Parsi, urged at the Gover- 
nor-General's Council, May 29th, 1909, that " it 
was a mistake to suppose that the bulk of the 
Indian Muhammadans are separated from 
their Hindu congeners by an}^ sharp cleavage 
of race or tradition Where there are 

* Speech of Sir Henry Cotton, House of Commons, April 1st, 

72 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

deserving Muhammadans they have as good 
a chance as Hindus. In Municipalities, Local 
Boards, District Boards, and the Legislative 
Council, Hindus and Muhammadans have so 
far worked hand in hand and shoulder to 
shoulder in cordial co-operation." 

In conclusion, we recall the very significant 
tribute which the Muhammadan leader, the 
late Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, paid to the Bengal 
Hindus in a speech to his co-religionists at 
Lahore, 1884 : 

" I assure you that the Bengalees are the only people in 
our country whom we can be properly proud of, and it is only 
due to them that knowledge, liberty, and patriotism have pro- 
gressed in our conutry. I can truly say that they are the head 
and crown of all the communities of Hindustan. ... In the 
word ' nation ' I include both Hindus and Muhammadans, 
because that is the only meaning I can attach to it." * 

* Quoted by Sir Henry Cotton in " New India, " p. 232. 

The census of 1 90 1 gave the following ratios of the various 
religions (British India only) : — 

Hindus ... 158,601,000 or 68 % Christians ... 1,904,000 or -8 1 % 
Moslems ... 53,804,000 „ 23 „ Sikhs ... 1,574,000 „ '67 „ 

Buddhists.. 9,411,000 „ 4 „ Jains ... 479,000 „ "2 „ 

Chapter VI 

The Future 

WE do not propose to analyse the character of 
British policy towards India : its justice or in- 
justice, its failure or success, its wisdom or 
unwisdom. In the first place, it would require 
a volume of some magnitude to contain the 
result of an adequate survey of any one depart- 
ment in the administration, and these questions 
have been dealt with at length by R. C. Dutt, 
CLE., in his "Economic History of British 
India," " Famine and Land Assessments in 
India," " India under Early British Rule," 
" India in the Victorian Age " ; by William 
Digby, CLE., in " ' Prosperous ' British India " ; 
by Nairoji in " ' Poverty ' and Un-British Rule 
in India " ; by Sir Frederick Lely, K.C.I.E., in 
" Suggestions for the Better Governing of 
India " ; and, lastly, for the whole subject of 
Indian history we commend Sir William 
Hunter's splendid work, "The Indian Empire." 
In the second place, such a discussion, though 
of vital importance to British people, is entirely 
irrelevant to the consideration of Indian 
Nationalism, the claims of which are altogether 

74 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

independent of, and unaffected by the quality 
of, foreign rule in itself. 

Yet, though undesirous to enter into political 
questions as such, we would put forward a few 
suggestions as to certain inevitable effects pro- 
duced on the Indian estimation of British in- 
tentions towards their country by some phases 
of the Imperial policy. As rulers, we labour 
under a perpetual disadvantage owing to the 
wide divergence between our avowed principles 
and our practice. This unfortunate opposition 
between word and action, declaration and ful- 
filment, places us in an anomalous position 
and deprives us of any security against adverse 
criticism. In the days when we were gradually 
acquiring possession of India, we justified our 
occupation of that country solely on the as- 
sumption that we remained there primarily in 
the interests of India herself, and that hence- 
forth our policy should be entirely guided by 
that beneficent principle. Lord Mayo, as 
Viceroy, did not hesitate to say that 

" we must take into account the inhabitants of the country : 
the welfare of the people of India is our primary object. // we 
are not here for their good, We ought not to be here at all. 

And Macaulay, as we have seen, did not 
shrink from defining England's proudest day 
as that on which India, initiated by us into 

The Future 75 

European constitutionalism, should emerge 
from our protection a free and independent 
nation. In 1833, and again in 1858, the higher 
offices of the administration were thrown open 
to Indians equally with Englishmen. This 
was the " Magna Charta " of India. Later, 
Lord Lytton, when Viceroy, acknowledged 
that the claim of Indians to share in the 
administration of their country was founded 
in the highest justice, and was recognised by 
the Government of India as " binding on its 
honour, and consistent with all the claims of 
its policy." 

Although since the first passing of the Act 
it has remained practically a dead letter, it was 
reserved for Lord Curzon to declare it theo- 
retically defunct also. In his official capacity, 
he has given his solemn assurance that it is a 
fundamental and unalterable principle of the 
Imperial Government to exclude any but native 
British from the higher administrative offices.* 
Thus the Magna Charta of India is annulled 

* " Let me begin by stating what I conceive to be the general 
principles that regulate the situation. They are two in number. 
The first is that the highest ranks of civil employment, those in 
the Imperial Civil Service, though open to such Indians as can 
proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must, never- 
theless, as a general rule, be held by Englishmen, for the reason 
that they possess, partly by heredity, partly by up-bringing, and 

76 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

in one stroke, and the fetters prepared for her 
perpetual subjection are now openly displayed. 
The suggestion that we should refuse to admit 
Indians to the highest offices of the State, lest 
we should endanger our own power, filled 
Macaulay and many whom he represented with 
indignation ; it was a slur on England's honour 
and probity. We, in these days, suffer from 
no such hypersensitiveness. Lord Morley, too, 
would apparently deny to India at the present 
or at any future time a parliamentary system, 
however greatly she desired it, presumedly in 
the strong conviction that, although India was 
developing and maintaining constitutional me- 
thods ages before we, as a nation, came into 
existence, yet that to-day, in spite of hereditary 
potentialities, she is affected with an inexplica- 
ble and incurable paralysis which effectually 
prevents her from responding to, and incorpo- 
rating into her own national polity, modern 
constitutional usages. It may be so, but in 
the absence of cogent reasons we may be 

partly by education, the knowledge of the principles of govern- 
ment, the habits of mind, and the vigour of character which are 
essential for the task, and that the rule of India being a British 
rule, and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case 
impossible, the tone and standard sTiould be set by those ufho 
have created and are responsible for it. ' ' — Lord Curzon, Budget 
speech, 1 904 -5. 

The Future 77 

pardoned our suspicions of the parental wish 
in the presentation of the thought. 

Mr. James Caird, in the report of the Com- 
mission on the condition of India, 1879, gave a 
true explanation of the Imperial policy when 
he wrote : 

" We have introduced a system, the first object of which for 
a foreign Government is necessarily the subjection of the 

At last we are on solid ground, and have a 
perfectly straightforward and reasonable state- 
ment, and one which is consistent with our 
actions. Though not ethically justifiable, it 
has the dignity of honesty, whereas, officially, 
we weaken and bring into ridicule our whole 
position by our perpetual reiteration of the 
highest altruistic ideals, while at the same time 
we are careful to take every precaution to pre- 
vent their ever being realised. 

Until the reactionary and repressive legisla- 
tion of the last few years, together with various 
official declarations, precluded the possibility 
of further misunderstandings, the majority 
of Indians were convinced that it was the 
real desire and intention of England to govern 
India primarily in India's interests. England 
stands before the world the avowed champion 
of liberty. Freedom and equal rights for every 

78 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

citizen of empire, irrespective of race, colour, 
and creed ; the fundamental right of constitu- 
tional self-government; the right of the tax- 
payer to control expenditure ; the right of every 
man to take his share in the service of his 
country, subject only to the limitations of his 
own capacity, are principles which England, 
through long struggle, has established, not as 
a concession to a peculiar people," but as the 
natural, legitimate right of man ; and it follows, 
therefore, that it is contrary to her standard of 
justice to exclude any from lawful participation 
in them. 

" All persons being His Majesty's subjects, inhabiting within 
the said island, and their children, and their posterity, from 
within the limits thereof, shall be deemed free denizens and 
natural subjects, as if living and born in England, ' ' * 

We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian terri- 
tories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to all our 
other subjects." f 

Any attempt, then, to check, divert, or 
arbitrarily define the energies of Indians in any 
lawful direction of growth and development is 
contrary to our most cherished principles. We 
frequently justify our occupation of India on 
the grounds that the education of its peoples is 
one of the benevolent duties we feel ourselves 

* First grant of territorial rights to East India Company 
f Indian Councils Act, 1858. 

The Future 79 

called upon to perform. And what is the re- 
cognised object of true education ? It is that 
a nation, no less than an individual, may 
by such wise stimulus be helped, through the 
starvation of evil impulses by the encourage- 
ment of good, to grow harmoniously and 
undeviatingly from irresponsible childhood to 
responsible manhood, gradually as the control- 
ling authority is deliberately and steadily with- 
drawn, taking upon itself the ordering of 
its own life till, perfected in self-control, self- 
knowledge, and integrity, it emerges a free 
and self-sufficing unit among the nations 
of the world, bound to its fellow units not 
by fear, nor by unwilling compulsion, but 
by the more lasting ties of reciprocity and 
mutual respect. In such a conception as this 
there is no room, no excuse for the practice 
of prolonging the exercise of authority on the 
plea that the subject is not yet capable of 
self-government, for it will be recognised that 
nations, like individuals, can only become 
perfected in the science of self-government 
by the continual practice of the same, and 
therefore throughout the whole period of edu- 
cation every opportunity will be given to 
the pupil to experiment in self-initiated acti- 
vities, and the failures of these will be seen 

80 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

to be no less important a factor in evolution 
than the successes. 

Now it is, unfortunately, impossible for 
England or any other Western Power to adopt 
such a true, educative policy towards a sub- 
ject people, and so long as it is impossible, so 
long must it remain true that 

" the Government of a people by itself has a meaning and a 
reality, but such a thing as government of one people by an- 
other does not, and cannot exist."— John Stuart Mill. 

We do not believe it to be potentially, but 
only actually impossible ; the reason being that 
Western nations have not as yet attained to 
the degree of philosophic insight, wherein it is 
clearly seen that no nation can profit at an- 
other's expense ; that an injury inflicted on the 
one reacts to an equal degree on the health of 
the other ; that the weakness of the one 
depletes the strength of the other ; that none 
can take without himself being robbed ; that 
none can beggar without himself being brought 
to destitution ; that none can degrade without 
himself suffering an equal demoralisation. 
Therefore, since public opinion in England is 
not sufficiently advanced to demand or even 
admit of so far-seeing and scientific a policy, 
we witness the inevitable hiatus between prin- 
ciple and practice, and instead of the benefit 

The Future 81 

of India being actually our primary care, we 
introduce " a system the first object of which 
is the subjection of the people ". 

As we have said, until the recent reactionary 
policy of the Government and the whittling 
away of the Act of 1858 by Lord Curzon, 
Indians had still believed that England, as a 
nation, desired to protect the interests and 
further the welfare of their country ; and 
nurtured on English ideals, as expressed in our 
own national history and in our classic litera- 
ture, they could not but feel that, whatever the 
backslidings of individuals or Imperial councils, 
Mill still voiced the convictions of the mass of 
English people when he laid it down that 

"it is an inherent condition of human affairs that no intention' 
however sincere, of protecting the interests of others can make 
it safe or salutary to tie up their own hands. By their own 
hands only can any possible and durable improvement of their 
circumstances in life be worked out." 

Their confidence remained unshaken by the 
admission of Lord Lytton in a private Minute 
that, while passing Acts for the freeing and 
strengthening of India's hands, the Government 
had always contrived to keep them securely 

"No sooner was the Act (1833) passed than the Government 
began to devise means for practically evading the fulfilment 
of it ... we have to choose between prohibiting them and 


82 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

cheating them, and we have chosen the least straightforward 
course. The application to natives of the competitive examina- 
tion system — as conducted in England — and the recent reduction 
in the age at which candidates can compete, are all so many 
deliberate, transparent subterfuges for stultifying the Act and 
reducing it to a dead letter. I do not hesitate to say that both 
the Governments of England and India appear to me, up to the 
present moment, unable to answer satisfactorily the charge 
of having taken every means in their power of breaking to the 
heart the words of promise they had uttered to the ear." 

They had also Lord Salisbury's estimation 
of these promises as " political hypocrisies " 
which were never intended to be fulfilled. 

Their faith in the assertion that it was our 
desire to govern India for the good of her 
people survived many severe shocks. Ever 
since British occupation they have seen the 
greater part of their revenues exported annu- 
ally to England, " without a direct equiva- 
lent." * 

In defiance of two Acts of Parliament, the 
honour and salaries of all authoritative posts 
have been reserved for Englishmen, to the ex- 
clusion of their own countrymen.f They have 
suffered the exploitation of their country by 
British railway and other companies, whose 

* Lord Salisbury, in a Minute (Ret. c. 3086-1 of 1881). 

f More than half of the appointments in India are, and always 
have been, posts on less than Rs. 200 a month. The European 
element in these was always small, and is now less than 10 
per cent. 

The Future 83 

interest has been guaranteed, against their will, 
without their consent, from the proceeds of 
their taxation. 

In 1893 the Currency Act was passed, in the 
interests of the Imperial Government, regard- 
less of protest, and condemned alike by the 
Treasury and Special Commission because "the 
relief to the Government would be gained at 

Of posts on Rs. 200 to Rs. 300, the native proportion from 
1867 to 1904-5 has risen from 51 per cent to 60 per cent. 

From Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 from 23 to 43 per cent. 

From Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 from 21 to 40 per cent. 

From Rs. 500 to Rs. 600 from 9 to 25 per cent. 

From Rs. 600 to Rs. 700 from 15 to 27 per cent. 

From Rs. 700 to Rs. 800 from 5 to 13 per cent. 
" The Rs. 800 line may be said to mark the limit of the 
Provincial Service. Between Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,000 there were, in 
1867, four natives in Government employ; there are now 93. 
In 1867, out of a total of 648 such appointments, 12 were filled 
by natives, all Hindus, or a percentage of 2. In 1903, out of 
1370 such appointments, 71 were filled by Hindus and 21 by 
Muhammadans, the native percentage being therefore 7." — 
Figures given by Lord Curzon in his Budget speech, 1904-5. 

These figures are given by Lord Curzon to show " how 
honestly and faithfully the British Government has fulfilled its 
pledges, and how hollow is the charge which we so often hear 
of a ban of exclusion against the children of the soil." Where- 
as a more striking and irrefutable proof of the validity of the 
accusation than that contained in these statistics could hardly 
be given. 

See also " Poverty and Un-British Rule in India," Chapters 

84 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

the expense of the Indian taxpayer." All 
classes in India were impoverished and dis- 
organised as a result of this Act, passed over 
their heads to save an alien Government from 
the results of its own folly. They have sub- 
mitted to heavy and unrelieved taxation over 
the expenditure of which they have had no 
control ; the expenses of wars and expeditions, 
outside their own country and undertaken in 
the interests of the whole British Empire, have 
again and again been charged to them in direct 
violation, not merely of treaties and Acts of 
Parliament, but of ordinary justice.* They 
have seen the whole internal and external 
government of the country, both civil and 
military, conducted by means of foreign offi- 
cials at an enormous expense, and in this, the 
management of their own affairs, they have 
been allowed no representation, no voice ; their 
sole privilege has been to pay and to obey. 
All this and much more, with a charity which 
till now has never failed, India has borne, 
hoping all things, believing all things, enduring 
all things, because she trusted that the errors 
were those of a particular party or of a well- 
intentioned but misinformed individual, and 

* Hansard, Vols. CCL, CCLI. House of Lords Debates, Vol. 
XII. See Chapter V, " Poverty and Un-British Rule in India. " 

The Future 85 

not those of the heart of the British nation. 
Unfortunately, recent events have combined 
to undermine this belief to a very serious ex- 
tent. The attempt to threaten not merely the 
independence, but the very existence, of the 
Indian colleges, by compelling them to con- 
form to utterly impracticable conditions, was 
happily frustrated, but it has served to excite 
grave suspicions in the minds of the educated 
classes. The abolition of popular municipal 
government in Calcutta, and the destruction 
by the. new Amending Act of the immemorial 
rights of Peasant Proprietary in Bombay, has 
not strengthened faith in British Constitution- 
alism ; the full significance of the latter mea- 
sure may be gauged by the fact that after the 
first reading and passing of the Bill the non- 
official Indian members of the Legislative 
Council left the hall before the second and final 
reading, as the most emphatic protest they 
could make. 

Moreover, the water-cess Act of Madras — 
which empowers the Government to levy any 
water rate it thinks fit, also gives the collector, 
firstly, authority to compel the cultivator to use 
the water so supplied, and secondly, exempts 
him from any judicial inquiry concerning his 
interpretation of the Act and concerning the 

86 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

assessments he is empowered to make in con- 
nection with it ! — has not raised the prestige 
of British jurisdiction. 

The last two years have witnessed an in- 
creasingly repressive legislation, yet except for 
the ineffectual protests of a few individuals 
the 'people of England have not raised their 
voice ; they have shown themselves as careless 
of the fate of their honour in the hands of their 
self-elected Government as they are callous to 
the condition of their fellow-subjects in a dis- 
tant land. 

There is now in operation in India the Penal 
Code, the new Press Act, the Public Meetings 
Act, the New Explosives Act, the Criminal 
Law Amendment Act, and the Bengal Regula- 
tion. It will be sufficient to call attention to 
the last two. By the Criminal Law Amend- 
ment Act persons are liable to criminal pro- 
secution merely because they are members of 
an association which may (no conviction is 
necessary) be engaged in seditious propaganda !: 

" The provisions of this Act were absolutely unparalleled in 
this or any other civilised country. It provided that : ' the 
accused shall not be present unless the magistrate directs, nor 
shall he be represented by any pleader during any such inquiry, 
nor shall any person have any right of access to the court of the 
magistrate while he is holding the inquiry.' Subsequently the 
accused was tried by judges, without a jury, and if the witness 

The Future 87 

who had given evidence against him in secret, in his absence 
before the judges, were absent, and the Court thought that the 
disappearance was in the interests of the accused, he might then 
be tried by the judges on the depositions of the witnesses who 
had given evidence in secret in his absence, and he might be 
convicted on that evidence which he had never seen, heard, or 
had any opportunity of knowing anything about."* 

The Bengal Regulation goes further ; it dis- 
penses with any Mai at all, and under it per- 
sons are deported for an indefinite period with- 
out any charge being made against them, and 
against " whom there may not be sufficient 
grounds to institute any judicial proceedings ! ' ' 
That is to say, any persons whom tjie Gover- 
nor-General in Council may suspect can be, at 
his orders, immediately deported and placed 
under restraint for an indefinite period with- 
out charge, without trial, without defence. 

In his preface to " India under Early British 
Rule ", t Mr. R. C. Dutt says of the work of 
Englishmen in India : 

" They have framed wise laws and established courts of 
justice, the purity of which is as absolute as any country on the 
face of the earth. These are results which no honest critic of 
British work in India regards without high admiration." 

We are afraid that no loyal Indian and no 
honest Englishman could say the same to-day^ 

* Mr. Mackarness, House of Commons, 1909. 

f Published by Kegan Paul and Co. 1st edition, 1902. 

88 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

We have destroyed — perhaps beyond repara- 
tion — the faith of Indians in the probity of 
English law. The conviction is slowly but 
surely gaining ground that England does not 
entertain, but will rather oppose by all avail- 
able means, the idea that India shall attain 
political freedom ; whereas every Indian, unless 
he be a renegade, must necessarily look for- 
ward to and work for the emancipation of his 
country. While Indians believed that England 
recognised this aim as an ultimate result of her 
policy, the inexhaustible patience of the East, 
with its extraordinary faith in the higher 
motives of humanity, could forbear beneath 
mistrust, misjudgment and mistreatment, and 
await in confidence the mutual understanding 
of the final consummation. But once it is 
evident that it is the intention of England to 
keep India permanently in a state of subjec- 
tion, the attitude of the latter must change. 
It has changed, but the change, and the only 
change in the situation, is a psychical one. 
The forbearance which can endure protracted 
confinement in order that the basis of future 
freedom may be more firmly established be- 
comes misplaced when inaction means the 
strengthening of a gaoler's hands ; the charity 
that forgives unintentional oppression becomes 

The Future 89 

cowardice when tyranny is deliberate and aims 
at the destruction of independence; the pa- 
tience which in the frozen winter of national life 
can await the reviving power of a natural re- 
adjustment is suicidal when the end is clearly 
seen to be not re-birth, but extinction. 

Unless England will definitely acknowledge 
political and national independence to be the 
ultimate destiny of India, there can be nothing 
but conflict between the two nations. No 
nation can continue in subjection to another 
without suffering demoralisation. It suffers 
because it has no real responsibility, and it is 
difficult to over-estimate the evil effects of this 
loss, for there is no more important factor in 
the development of moral and mental quali- 
ties ; it is debarred from profiting by its own 
errors, it is denied the encouragement and 
stimulus of success, and the gradual paralysis 
and atrophy of all its higher and most virile 
qualities is the inevitable result. 

In the early days of British administration 
the moral danger threatening India, as a con- 
sequence of our rule, was foreseen and clearly 
pointed out by Sir Thomas Munro : 

" The advocates of improvement do not seem to have per- 
ceived the great springs on which it depends ; they propose to 
place no confidence in the natives, to give them no authority 

90 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

and to exclude them from office as much as possible ; but they 
are ardent in their zeal for enlightening them by the general 
diffusion of knowledge. No conceit more wild and absurd than 
this was ever engendered in the darkest ages; for what is 
in every age and every country the great stimulus to the pursuit 
of knowledge but the prospect of fame or wealth or power ? 
Or what is even the use of their attainments if they are not to 
be devoted to their noblest purpose — the service of the commu- 
nity — and by employing those who possess them, according to 
their respective qualifications, in the various degrees of the 
public administration of the country ? How can we expect that 
the Hindus will be eager in the pursuit of science unless they 
have the same inducements as in other countries ? . . . Our 
books alone will do little or nothing ; dry, simple literature will 
never improve the character of a nation. To produce this 
effect it must open the road to wealth and honour and public 
employment. Without the prospect of such reward, no attain- 
ments in science will ever raise the character of a people. This 
is true of every nation as well as India : it is true of our own. 
Let Britain be subjected by a foreign power to-morrow ; let the 
people be excluded from all share in the Government, from 
public honours, from every office of high trust or emolument, 
and let them in every situation be considered as unworthy 
of trust, and all their literature, sacred and profane, would not 
save them from becoming in another generation or two a low- 
minded, deceitful and dishonest race. ... It would certainly 
be more desirable that we should be expelled from the country 
altogether than that the result of our system of Government 
should be such a debasement of the whole people. This is, to 
be sure, supposing an extreme case, because nobody has ever 
proposed to exclude the natives from the numerous petty 
offices. 'But the principle is the same : the difference is only 
one of degree, and in proportion as we exclude them from the 
higher offices and a share in the management of public affairs, 
we lessen their interest in the concerns of the community and 
degrade their character." 

The Future 91 

It is this moral degradation to which India 
is thus exposed under the Imperial Govern- 
ment that forms the Nationalists' chief com- 
plaint, and we would here lay particular stress 
on the fact, not always sufficiently realised* 
that though all Government posts were filled 
by Indians, yet under a foreign autocracy, not 
responsible to the people themselves, the posi- 
tion would be unchanged. A nation of obedi- 
ent automatons, directing the administrative 
machinery, but responsible to an alien Govern- 
ment, would still be subject to this demoralisa- 
tion, however technically perfect that adminis- 
tration might be. 

" Nations grown corrupt 

Love bondage more than liberty — 

Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty ". 


As each individual must by his own efforts 
work out his own salvation, so must every 
nation, through the discipline and experience 
of its own self-rule, build the foundations of its 
national life, every struggle, every rebuff but 
instruments for its final perfecting. 

India to-day, after a period of latency and 
disorganisation, is rapidly becoming convales- 
cent, and purged from the seeds of disease 
and decay, is developing a new and purer 

92 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

strength. We believe that a process of dis- 
ruption was necessary in order that, adapting 
herself to modern conditions, she might recon- 
struct her whole national life and polity on a 
new and firmer basis. Can we doubt the re- 
cuperative power of a nation whose historical 
records go back 2000 years B.C. ? 

Stimulated by the continual irritation of an 
alien Government, by contact with Western 
science and civilisation, she is awakening to a 
new realisation of self-consciousness, and the 
reactionary policy of the Imperial Government 
has hastened her recovery by forcing upon her 
the necessity for self-defence and the urgent 
need for the preservation of her national life. 

The recoil from the first indiscriminate im- 
bibing of Western materialism has unveiled her 
eyes to the intrinsic worth of her own spiritual 
conceptions and the need for untrammelled 
expression in art, science, literature, industry 
and all lower activities, as a means to the 
balanced development of the nation as a 
spiritual unit ; while the study of Western 
ideals of liberty and justice have, recalled to 
her the necessity for Self-Government if any 
true freedom is to be realised, if any healthy 
national life is to be maintained. 

When we consider the vastness of India's 

The Future 93 

past, the greatness of her civilisation, the 
grandeur and nobility of her traditions, the 
vigorous independence of her ancient peoples, 
preserving through all vicissitudes their own 
laws and customs, it would be strange indeed 
if the hopes of her sons to-day were centred 
on anything less than the restoration of their 
ancient heritage to a position of honour among 
the nations of the world. 

When we further consider the characteris- 
tics of Indians to-day, how although — partly 
through adverse circumstances, partly because, 
unlike ourselves, they still sudordinate the 
means of living to the enjoyment of life itself — 
they fall far behind us in mechanical and com- 
mercial enterprises, in the realm of pure in- 
tellect they possess marked superiority ; that 
there is no evidence to prove that their standard 
of morality is inferior to ours ; while as yet 
no Western nation has attained to so universal 
a perception — constant in its operation, prac- 
tical in its effects — of the reality and essen- 
tiality of spiritual conceptions, as that which 
is developed in India, it is unlikely that, con- 
scious of their peculiar qualification in all 
those attributes which characterise the higher 
types of humanity, Indians will rest content in 
the subordinate position assigned them, and 

94 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

will submit permanently to the mental and 
spiritual decline such a condition inevitably 
inaugurates. To acquiesce in the denationali- 
sation of their country under a foreign auto- 
cracy would surely be an attitude of emasculat- 
ed lethargy meriting the contemptuous pity of 
all self-respecting peoples. 

Count de Wesselitsky, in describing the 
future of Russia, summaiised the points upon 
which he believed all Russians were agreed. 
These, he said, would constitute a national 
programme, and we quote them here, as they 
comprise those essentials of national life which 
Indians, in common with all civilised peoples, 
must necessarily demand if they intend to 
maintain any position in the future progress of 
the world : 

I. Free development of the individual ; the four necessary- 
liberties of conscience, speech, meeting and association. 

II. Social reforms. 

III. Unity of the Empire with local and provincial self- 
government, and equal rights for all religions and nationalities. 

IV. Peaceful foreign policy, which may be further denned as 
abstention from all expansion not justified by the needs of the 
country and not approved by the nation. 

It is because of these considerations that the 
character of a foreign rule does not affect the 
question of nationalism, which rests on the 
assumption that when a nation has reached a 

The Future 95 

certain stage, Self-Government from within, and 
not compulsion, however wise and benevolent, 
from without, is a natural and vital necessity 
of future growth ; and if from any cause that 
nation fails to achieve the requisite measure of 
attainment, premature decay inevitably sets in. 
Now, perhaps no 'better method could have 
been devised for forcing upon a nation the 
realisation of this law than the one adopted by 
us in our relations with Indians. By precept, 
by example, we have continually reiterated not 
merely that Self-Government is essential to the 
well-being of civilised peoples, but that com- 
plete independence in the internal polity of 
each is a necessary foundation for the main- 
tenance of any durable and harmonious relation 
even between such close allies as a mother 
country and her colonies. Having assiduously 
preached this lesson, we proceed to put the 
final seal on our instruction by peremptorily 
denying our Indian subjects any opportunity 
of putting it into practice, thereby holding 
them up before themselves as an adverse 
example of the validity of our theory, and 
affording them an irrefutable proof of the 
gravity of their own position if they continue 
in a state of dependence. By this means we 
provide an effectual stimulus to Nationalist 

96 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

aspirations, and steadily strengthen the deter- 
mination to accomplish political freedom at all 
costs. Do we suppose that Indians neglected 
to read Mr. Asquith's speech at the Colonial 
Conference ? And it they read it, are we to 
believe that they were oblh ious to its obvious 
application to their own case, or failed to store 
up against us one more proof of the untenable- 
ness of our position ? Out of our own mouth 
are we condemned ; out of our own mouth has 
the Indian Nationalist not merely justification, 
but unqualified approval : 

" Many people have endeavoured to explain in a phrase that 
which distinguishes our Empire from the other Empires of 

history, but we shall all agree in a general way that 

the special feature of the British Empire has been that it has 
combined, and has succeeded in combining to a degree unknown 
in any other combination in history, a loyal and affectionate 
attachment between the centre and parts of the Empire, and 
between the various parts themselves, with complete, practical, 
local independence. That is the secret, if we may call it a 
secret, which we have contributed to the history of the Empire. 
For the first time in the history of the world we have managed 
to reconcile what has hitherto been found irreconcilable in 
every political combination, namely, the completest develop- 
ment of local liberty and independence, without impairing, nay 
rather with an enhancement of a sense of corporate unity and 
attachment between the parts and the whole. If that is true, 
gentlemen, of our Empire as a whole, of its structure, and of its 
foundations, nowhere is it truer, I think, than in this department 
of Fiscal Policy. It is by giving, as the Mother Country has 
done, complete fiscal autonomy to her colonies (I will not say 

The Future 97 

only by that, but it is partly by that and largely 'by that) that 
we have succeeded in arriving at a working Imperial arrange- 
ment. We had our warnings ; we tried the opposite policy in 
the eighteenth century ; we tried to impose our fiscal system, or 
at any rate to impose taxation, which was dictated from here, 
and not from there, on our self-governing colonies on the other 
side of the Atlantic. We all know the result ; we lost them. 
British statesmen, to whatever political party they belong, have 
never forgotten that lesson, and during the whole of the empire 
building and empire developing which went on during the nine- 
teenth century, when every one of the great colonies, which 
I see represented round this table, one after the other received 
the grant of self-government, our statesmen of all parties were 
wise enough to recognise that, unless they gave to those com- 
munities complete fiscal independence, they were giving them a 
boon which in the long run was not worth having, and instead 
of laying the foundations of a solid and durable empire, they 
were simply sowing the seeds of future discord and possible 
dismemberment." * 

The principles of honour, of justice, of 
morality, of progress, with which we have 
associated ourselves imperatively demand that 
we should not only recognise the validity of 
India's claim, but give to it our ungrudging 
support. By so doing we should recover the 
respect, the confidence, the friendship of India 
herself, while our gain in moral strength and 
dignity, among the nations of the world would 
be incalculable. 

But if, on the other hand, we reject this 

* Extract from Mr. Asquith's speech at the Colonial Con- 


98 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

opportunity, let us remember that that which 
the few demand to-day the many will take by 
force to-morrow ; and in wresting from our 
grasp that which is rightfully her due, India 
will achieve at once her own emancipation 
and the disgrace and downfall of the British 

Chapter VII 

Legislative Councils 

THE East India Company was formed in 
1600 for the purpose of trading with India. 
Elizabeth's Charter gave it full legislative 
powers, which included the right to acquire 
ships, men and ammunitions, to make war in 
India, for the furtherance of trade and the 
security of the Company's properties. The 
annexation of territory was found to be speci- 
ally advantageous, since the revenue raised by 
severe taxation was greater and more certain 
than that accumulated by mere trading. The 
Charter of 1726 gave powers to the Governors 
-in-council to make laws for their own Presi- 
dencies without reference to each other ; these 
powers were supplemented by the judicial and 
fiscal rights independently acquired by the 
Company from the native rulers, the business 
of which was conducted in separate courts. 

As time went on the Company increased its 
territory, its debts, and especially the fortunes 
of its members and officials so extensively that 
in 1772 it had to approach the Home Govern- 
ment for a loan. £1,400,000 was granted but 

tOO The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

was accompanied by a Regulating Act. The 
official appointments still remained with the 
Company, but a supreme court was established 
at Fort William, Calcutta, which had power 
to veto the rulings of the Governor-General of 
Bengal, and his council, while he was given 
the power of veto over Madras and Bombay. 
The inevitable friction which resulted -ended in 
the triumph of the Governor-General, who 
in 1 78 1 was empowered to make regulations for 
the provincial courts independently. In 1784 
the Home Government established a Board of 
Control composed of the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, a Secretary of State, and four Privy 
Councillors to superintend and examine into 
all the business of the Company. It had also 
power to remove any of the officials appointed 
to the Company. The Company had in fact 
become too rich, and powerful to be allowed 
to conduct its affairs altogether independently 
of the Home Government. 

It must be remembered that for the mass of 
the people the village Panchayet remained the 
law court, unless the dispute directly or in- 
directly concerned the Company, but the powers 
and jurisdiction of the Company were so con- 
tinuously extended that the system of general 
law soon presented a mass of intricate compli- 

Legislative Councils 101 

cations in which Hindu law based on the 
Shastras, Muslim law based on the Koran 
English .common law and numberless regula- 
tions and letters patent which the Company 
derived from various rulers, all combined to 
form a kaleidoscope of procedure from which a 
judgment had somehow to be culled. In 1833 
a Regulationg Act was passed which deprived 
the Governments of Bombay and Madras of 
their legislative power and established a central 
legislative council, which was given an unoffi- 
cial Law Member ; at the same time law com- 
missioners were appointed to regulate and codi- 
fy legal procedure. In 1853 it was found neces- 
sary to enlarge the Council when it sat in its 
legislative capacity, by the addition of two 
English judges of the Calcutta supreme Court, 
and four officials appointed by the Governments 
of Bombay, Bengal, Madras and Agra. This 
was an important step, since for the first 
time a distinction was made between the legis- 
lative and administrative functions of the 
council. Appointments were no longer in the 
hands of the Company, but for the first time were 
thrown open to general competition by open 
examinations held in London. The next great 
departure was taken with the Indian Councils 
Act of 1881. The rising of 1858 had shaken 

102 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

British rule in India to its foundations, and a 
policy of propitiation on the one hand and of 
centralisation on the other was drawn up. The 
Act restored to the Governments of Bombay 
and Madras the legislative authority which 
they lost by the Act of 1833, with the proviso 
that all laws passed by them must have the 
assent of the Governor-General in Council be- 
fore coming into operation. Similar councils, 
were provided for in the North- West Provinces 
and the Punjab, though these did not come in- 
to being till 1886 and 1897 respectively. The 
Council of the Governor-General was enlarged 
by the nomination of not less than six and not 
more than twelve members, nominated for two 
years. Not less than half of these members 
must be non-officials and for the first time a 
small proportion of theseiwere Indians. These 
councils were strictly legislative; they could 
not enquire into grievances nor was it their busi- 
ness to criticise the conduct of the executive. 

" The legislative power of the Governor- 
Genral in council was extended over all persons, 
whether British or Indian, foreigners or others, 
within the Indian territories now under the 
dominion of Her Majesty, and over all courts of 
justice and over all places and things within the 
said dominions of Princes and States in alliance 

Legislative Councils 103 

with Her Majesty. This Act also gave legal 
force to all the Miscellaneous rules and orders 
which had been issued in the newly acquired 
territories of the Company (known as the non- 
regulation provinces, or frankly by the exe- 
cutive authority of the Governor-General in 
Council." * This act also authorised the Gover- 
nor-General to promulgate orders without refe- 
rences to his council when emergency required 
it. Such orders to remain in force for not more 
than six months. 

The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was impor- 
tant as foreshadowing the elective principle. 
By it the majority among the non-official seats 
were allotted to selected nominees from the 
delegates of chosen representative bodies, such 
as Chambers of Commerce, Landowners, Muni- 
cipalities, Universities etc. In the Governor- 
General's Council of twenty-five members, one 
seat was allotted to the nominee 'chosen from 
among those of the Calcutta Chambers of Com- 
merce, four to the nominees of the non-official 
members of the Provincial Legislative Coun- 
cils of Bombay, Madras, Bengal and the United 
Provinces, the remaining non-official members 
being nominated by the Governor-General. 
The Councils were also given the right to ask 

* Report on Indian Constitutional Reform. 

104 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

questions, discuss, — but not to vote on the bud- 
get after it had been formulated. 

The Morley — Minto reforms of 1907 intro- 
duced an indirect elective principle. The Gov- 
ernor-General's Legislative Council was in- 
creased to 60 : of whom five were nominated 
by the Governor-General : twenty eight were 
official members, while of the twenty-seven 
elected representatives of specially created elec- 
torates, twelve were elected by the non-official 
members of the Provincial Legislative Councils, 
four by Chambers of Commerce and Indian 
business interests, while the rest were divided 
between landowning and Muslim interests. 
The Provincial Councils were similarly enlarg- 
ed and had extended functions, and in the Coun- 
cil of Bengal, there was an elective majority. 
They could discuss and move resolutions on 
the budget before it was settled and on all mat- 
ters of general importance. As a check, any 
resolution might be disallowed by the President 
on the ground that it was against the public 
interest that the resolution should be moved. 
The whole aim of these reforms was " to create 
a constitution about which conservative opinion 
would crystallise and offer substantial opposi- 
tion to any further change. They anticipated 
that the aristocratic element in society and the 

Legislative Councils 105 

moderate men, for whom there was then no 
place in Indian politics, would range them- 
selves on the side of the Government and 
oppose any further shifting of the balance of 
power and any attempt to democratise Indian 
institutions." * 

The result was not happy. There was a 
perpetual gulf fixed between the official English 
members and the Indian elected members. The 
latter found that the increased opportunities for 
discussion in the moving of such resolutions as 
were permitted held no promise that these 
would ever get the power, even when in a 
majority to have those resolutions put into 
operation, with the result that their discussions, 
divorced from any prospect of responsibility, 
increased in bitterness with the persuasion that 
their position was futile when viewed from 
within the councils, and ridiculous when viewed 
from without by those whom they were sup- 
posed to represent. The Legislative council 
had not control of the Executive which con- 
sisted of five or six members directly nominated 
with the Governor-General as supreme Head, 
and the Commander-in-Chief as an extraordin- 
ary member. All that was given to the 
Legislative councils was a facility for discussion 

* Report on the Constitutional Reforms. 1918. 

106 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

and protest, and even this was at the discretion 
of the Governor-General-in-Council. 

The Montague- Chelmsford Reforms. Some 
time after Mr. Montagu was appointed Secre- 
tary of state for India, and after his return 
from India, he appointed two Committees — one,, 
a " Functions Commitee " presided over by Mr. 
Feetham to find out whether the time had 
arrived to transfer the control of certain sub- 
jects to Indian ministers, and if so, in what 
manner it could best be effected, how the money 
was to be found, and what was to be the 
basis of co-operation between the non-official 
ministers and the executive councillors. The 
other, a Franchise Committee, presided over 
by Lord Southborough, which sat in the various 
cities and towns of India, to find out whether a 
limited electorate on a property or literacy 
basis could be discovered to form constituen- 
cies which should send representatives to the 
Legislative Councils. As a result of their 
report about two and a half per cent of the 
population of British India were enfranchised 
on a property qualification. The result of the 
investigations of the Functions committee was 
to draw up a scheme of devolution, which pur- 
ported to bring Indians into closer responsible 
relations with the Government by means of 

Legislative Councils 107 

a division of services in the executives of 
provincial governments. 

The Montagu-Chelmsford Act may be sum- 
marised thus : 

(1) The Government of India preserves its 
autocratic authority in everything relating 
to peace, order and the maintenance of good 
government, and is the final arbiter. 

(2) The executive council has the addition of 
three Indian executive councillors, nominated 
by the Governor General. These are the Hon. 
Mian Mohammed Shafi (portfolio of education) 
the Hon. Dr. Tej Bahadur Sapru (portfolio of 
law) and the Hon. B. N. Sarma. 

(3) The Legislative Assembly to consist of 
100 members, two-thirds of whom are elected 
by the new constituencies, the remaining one 
-third nominated by the Government. 

(4) A Council of State consisting of 50 mem- 
bers, of whom two-thirds are official and one 
-third a nominated Indian element. It was 
originally proposed that this council should 
possess the power of assent and veto: then 
that it should be a revising body : as it stands, 
it is shorn of all power and is simply a delibera- 
tive assembly. 

(5) The Governor-General retains his auth- 
ority to promulgate extra-ordinary ordinances, 

108 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

and his right of veto over any bills passed by 
the legislative council, with the proviso that 
in such case he must within six months deliver 
his reasons to the Secretary of State in London 
that the veto may be finally upheld or revoked 
by the King in Council. 

The Provincial Governments. Each province 
has a Governor with executive and legislative 
councils. The executive council consists of 
two or more officials of the Indian civil service 
in charge of the reserved subjects and respon- 
sible to the Governor for the proper discharge 
of their respective functions. Indian Ministers 
selected from among the elected members of 
council, have been put in charge of the transfer- 
red subjects, for the administration of which 
they are directly responsible to the Legislative 
council, and ultimately to the electors of the 
newly formed constituencies. 

The much criticized principle of diarchy re- 
solves itself into the division of administrative 
functions into official responsibility and popu- 
lar control. 

The administration of the reserved subjects, 
which are in the control of the executive officials, 
are the first charge on the provincial revenues. 
The transferred subjects will have certain sums 
allocated to, or budgetted for them out of 

Legislative Councils 109 

the residue which remains after the reserved 
subjects have been provided for. In order to 
make up the deficiency the members in charge 
of the transferred subjects have the authority 
to impose limited taxation subject to the 
approval of their councils. 

In theory the British officials and the Indian 
councillors must co-operate harmoniously, with a 
view to eliminate friction and to ensure adminis- 
trative efficiency. In practice the whole scheme 
labours under abnormal disabilities because — 

(1) The taxable capacity of the people has 
already been exploited to the utmost to pay 
for the reserved subjects. 

(2) The position of the newly appointed 
Indian ministers is precarious because while 
they are critically regarded by the Government 
as untried and inexperienced subjects of experi- 
ment, to their own people they appear as 
officials who may impose a further burden of 
taxation to that already laid on them by 
the Government : and whereas the Executive 
Councillors are not supposed to do more than 
represent the old system of bureaucratic con- 
trol, the new Indian ministers are looked upon 
as reflecting a new democratic order. 

(3) The Non-co-operation movement reduced 
the elections to a mere stage performance. 

110 The Significance of Indian Nationalism 

Those who in normal circumstances would 
have stood for election refused their candi- 
dature : the majority of voters boycotted the 
polls, with the result that the returned 
ministers are in no sense representative of their 

(4) The councils are not functioning, on 
account of the dead-lock and the main 
activities of the legislature which should be 
busy with constructive reforms, are employed in 
opposing the Boycott and what they regard 
as its revolutionary tendencies. 

In conclusion, the Reforms which the Mon- 
tague-Chelmsford Act embodies are nothing 
but skilful devices for hypnotising the people 
into a belief that at long last the power is 
passing into their hands, whereas in reality 
the Act is a means to stabilise the power and 
authority of the Government, while diminishing 
the responsibility of the bureaucracy. It is an 
attempt to impose foreign ready-made institu- 
tions with a democratic sound on a people, while 
denying any control by the people over those 
institutions. The reforms are not indigenous : 
not parliamentary: not controlled by the na- 
tion: not formulated by the representatives 
of the people. The sole supreme power — the 
power of the purse, the power of police, the 

Legislative Councils 111 

power of justice, the power of the military — 
remains as before in the mailed fist of a foreign 




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