Difference Between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism is that Mahatma Gandhi’s definition of Nationalism varied from European Nationalism. He saw Nationalism as a broadly inclusive concept where no one should be seen as an enemy. On the other hand, for Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism was a concept of Maya or Mirage, and one should not persistently run after it. He only believed in the concept of Nationalism till WW1 in 1914-18. Here, we have provided the difference between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi and other important related details.

Difference Between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism PDF

Jawaharlal Nehru rightly said, “No two persons could probably differ so much as Gandhi and Tagore. The surprising thing is that both men with so much in common and drawing inspiration from the same wells of wisdom, thought, and culture should greatly differ from each other!”. There is some important difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism.

Difference Between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism

Gandhi and Tagore shared a great deal of respect for one another. Still, they also disagreed widely on a wide range of issues, including nationalism, patriotism, the importance of reason and science, and the nature of economic and social growth.

Let us discuss the key difference between Gandhi and Tagore on nationalism.

Gandhi vs Tagore

Difference Between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism

Mahatma Gandhi

Rabindranath Tagore

Mahatma Gandhi wished to develop a more India-centric approach to Nationalism.

Tagore was a believer in Nationalism only till WW1.

Mahatma Gandhi wanted to build the concept of Nationalism around conflicting definitions of individualism/collectivism and regionalism/nationalism/internationalism.

Tagore was more of a humanist than a nationalist.

He believed nationalism evoked political extremism and destroyed peace and harmony.

Gandhi supported that lingua Franca (common language between speakers whose native languages are different) will play a crucial role in fostering nationalism.

Rabindranath Tagore thought that contemporary nationalism would ultimately take a violent form.

It was founded on complete self-sufficiency.

According to him, nationalism was built on the social compassion and love that existed between individuals.

He supported internationalism as well.

The nationalism that is favoured by liberation warriors worldwide, according to Mahatma Gandhi, is too aggressive in form and approach, and it would only result in more conflicts in the future.

According to Rabindranath Tagore, violence-fueled nationalism would lead to the end of civilization.

In addition, he disagreed with non-violent nationalism, such as that embodied by Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement, which he believed promoted a restricted perspective of India.

Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore

While Gandhi promoted the idea that nationalism should be built on self-sufficiency at all levels of society, Tagore saw imperialism as an outward representation of nationalism. Below we have provided the similarities, difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism, along with a brief introduction about them.

Who is Mahatma Gandhi?

Mahatma Gandhi is known as the Father of our Nation. Gandhiji’s conception of nationalism was different from post-Westphalian peace treaties in Europe. He believed nationalism was a broad, inclusive idea that did not view anyone as an enemy.

  • According to him, people shouldn’t sacrifice themselves for the country and should instead cultivate social friendliness and shared brotherhood in order to coexist peacefully and improve their quality of life.
  • It wasn’t founded on imperialist principles.
  • He thought that the people ought to serve the nation.
  • His full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
  • He was an Indian lawyer who led major non-violence resistance and led India’s struggle for independence.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October is commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti in India, a national holiday.

Mahatma Gandhi on Nationalism

Gandhi believed that lingua franca (an adopted common language between speakers of the various language) would play a major role in fostering the feeling of Nationalism in the country.

  • Gandhi wished to develop an India-centric concept of Nationalism. One which is more rooted in Indian traditions and values rather than being influenced by the west
  • He wanted to build harmony between conflicting binaries like individualism/collectivism and regionalism/nationalism/internationalism.
  • He believed it is not the idea of Nationalism that is evil but other things that are associated with it, like selfishness, exclusiveness, westernism, etc.
  • As he mentioned in his book ‘Hind Swaraj’ the idea of Nationalism should ideally relate to ‘Hind’ or ‘India.’

Who is Rabindranath Tagore?

The Cult of the Charkha, written by Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest poets of all time, forcefully rejects Gandhiji’s nationalism during the Non-Cooperation Movement. He claimed that nationalism was a Maya or illusion idea. We shouldn’t pursue it adamantly.

  • We ought to practice spiritualism instead.
  • Swaraj was never his idea of our goal.
  • He had the opinion that a nation that has a narrow perspective of its own country will lag behind and be unable to live in harmony with more advanced nations.
  • Gandhi’s idea of nationalism, in his opinion, was quarrelsome.
  • Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali poet, playwright, painter, philosopher, and social reformer.
  • He played a big role in reshaping Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th.
  • He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913.

Tagore on Nationalism

Rabindranath Tagore believed imperialism was an external expression of Nationalism. Tagore believed in Nationalism till WW1 in 1914-18. His belief in it started to waiver during the final phase of the Swadeshi Movement when people started associating Nationalism with political extremism.

  • He believed the whole movement during that time began to develop as revolutionary terrorism.
  • He supported Internationalism and ardently believed that Nationalism could do no good other than destroy harmony and love.

Similarities Between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore

Apart from the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism, the following similarities were observed.

  • Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi both have strong nationalistic feelings.
  • Although Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi approached their opponents differently, they shared the same goals and ideologies.
  • Gandhi created the Civil Disobedience Movement and other activities to demonstrate that Indians supported this oppression while engaging in nonviolent conflict with the British.
  • In the meantime, Tagore turned to literature to instill nationalist ideas in the minds of children.
  • He also gave up his knighthood in support of the Indian freedom movement.
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