It is true that just saying Vande Mataram or Bharat Mata ki Jai, doesn’t necessarily make one patriotic. But then are slogans mere shout-outs? Most western or Marxist intellectuals say that it is exactly that. The term ‘patriotism’ as a western import, its various connotations of a Nation-State from a European lens is widely known. I do not intend to touch upon clarifying what is the right interpretation of it.
Ideally, as a nation, we shouldn’t even be worrying over a particular
interpretation of a foreign word. To bring a new perspective to the table, I would
like to quote Swami Ramatirtha’s wonderful conception of patriotism in Bharatiya terms. Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, writes
about Swami Ramatirtha in his book Lives of Saints –
From Rama India has inherited the dual gems of Vedantic boldness and spiritual patriotism. The spiritual patriotism of Rama is something unique and grand. Every son of India should absorb it and make it his own. Swami Rama emphatically declared that if you must have intense and real patriotism, then you must deify the Motherland, behold Bharatavarsha as the living Goddess. “If you must realise unity with God, realise first your unity with the Whole Nation. Let this intense feeling of identity with every creature within this land be throbbing in every fibre of your frame” said Rama, “Let every son of India stand for the Whole, seeing that the Whole of India is embodied in every son. When streams, stones and trees are personified and sacrificed to in India, why not sanctify, deify the great Mother that cradles you and nourishes you? Through Prana-pratishtha you vitalize an idol of stone or an effigy of clay. How much more worthwhile would it be to call forth the inherent glory and evoke fire and life in the Deity that is Mother India?”. Thus, to Rama, the national Dharma of love to the motherland was a spiritual Dharma of Virat Prem. Let every Indian today fervently take this legacy into his heart. By this act show your real appreciation of the great seer; show your gratitude to the great seer. Thus can you glorify his life and his teachings. The highest realisation of patriotism, Rama believed, lay in fully identifying yourself with the land of your birth. Remember his words: “Tune yourself in love with your country and people”. Be a spiritual soldier. Lay down your life in the interest of your land abnegating the little ego, and having thus loved the country, feel anything and the country will feel with you. March and the country will follow. This, indeed, is practical Vedanta.
Swami Ramatirtha spoke of Spiritual Patriotism, which is something different from a dry, mechanical interpretation of it. He spoke of it like Swami Vivekananda spoke of Practical Vedanta.
You may call it by any name and it won’t
matter. All that is important
is whether there is a connection - by experience, of evoked feelings of
pure, unselfish vibrations in the heart of every Indian with these
slogans. This is the spirit in which either Vande Mataram or Bharat Mata
ki Jai emerged, and it surely is the same feeling of emotion that
should ideally come into play when we chant them today as well.
An oft heard argument is that Muslims in India are okay with a slogan of “Jai Hind” instead of Bharat Mata ki Jai. This actually is an oxymoron, as the term Hind, signifies, Hindustan. Does Hindustan signify only a geographical idea? Doesn’t it also include the people and a common cultural heritage? So in effect, isn’t the reference to Jai Hind also point to the same?
Well, it is for the Muslim community to realize
this. In this context, mere shout-outs aren’t the goal, but lives
lived in tune with those slogans is what everyone wants to see – Living
Recently, the RSS Chief, Mohanji Bhagwat clarified in a statement, where he said “nobody should be forced to chant any slogan.” That statement reflects the all-inclusive trait so essential to Hinduism displayed in this country from time immemorial.
Swami Ramatirtha’s unique message, so relevant even today, adds in the spiritual dimension to this view of patriotism. This again is so unique to the seers from India and it is time we started believing in them again.
In the end I wish to quote Swami
Ramatirtha which is apt for our times–
Wanted —Reformers Not of others but of themselves, Who have won Not university distinctions, But victory over the local self.
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