Many of Tagore's Statements Against Cult of Nationalism: JNU Professor

New Delhi
Many of Tagore's Statements Against Cult of Nationalism: JNU Professor

Many of Rabindranath Tagore's statements were against the "cult of nationalism" and if it was possible to put someone behind the bars "posthumously" he would have landed there too, JNU professor Ranabir Chakravarti said here today.

Chakravarti was addressing students during a lecture series on nationalism at varsity's administration block, which is the venue for the student agitation against imposition of sedition charges on few students for an event against the hanging of Afzal Guru where "anti-national" slogans were raised.

"If you could put someone behind bars posthumously – the way you can award a Bharat Ratna – Rabindranath Tagore, composer of the song that became the national anthem, would have been there. Many of his statements are against the cult of nationalism," the professor at JNU's Centre for Historical Studies said.

"Tagore composed 'Baul song'– a folk song – for the first time from the context of the Partition of Bengal, between 1905 and 1910. Bringing a folk tune was a political act and was followed by a cavalcade of songs on swadesh.

"But Tagore was 'deeply ambivalent' about nationalism – if it meant fighting the colonial oppression, he was for it but opposed in a 'sustained manner' the nationalism that spelt parochialism, patriotism that's directed at hating others, belittling others," Chakravarti said.

"For him, swadesh was not my country, right or wrong but my homeland," he said noting the irony in Tagore's position on nationalism and his compositions being directly converted into or influencing national anthems of three countries – Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan.

The open-air lectures are being organised, in which professors from various universities are participating, in protest of the branding of the university as "anti-national" and the arrest of the JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

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