The Indian Struggle: An Excerpt

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The Indian Struggle by Subhash Chandra Bose

Subhash Chandra Bose, born 23rd January 1897 was the commander-in-chief of the Indian National Army (INA). A firm believer in the necessity of an armed uprising against the British rule, Subhash Chandra Bose spent a large part of his life in Europe, trying to mobilise funds and resources for his army. While in Vienna, he wrote ‘The Indian Struggle’ published in 1935 from Wishart & Company, London. Here’s an excerpt from the book which gives us a vivid insight into Bose’s thoughts on India’s history, culture and politics. 

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It is only during the last three decades that attempts have been made to give a true picture of the history of India since the earliest times. Prior to that it was customary. for British historians to ignore the pre-British era of Indian history. Since they were the first to interpret political India to modern Europe, it was but natural that modern Europe should think of India as a land where independent ruling chiefs had been fighting perpetually among themselves until the British arrived and after conquering the land, proceeded to establish peace and order and bring the country under one political administration.

In order to understand India, however, it is essential to bear in mind at the outset two important facts. Firstly, the history of India has to be reckoned not in decades or in centuries, but in thousands of years. Secondly, it is only under British rule that India for the first time in her history has begun to feel that she has been conquered. Owing to her long history and to the vastness of her territory, India has passed through various vicissitudes of fortune. Neither for the individual nor for the nation is it possible to have an uninterrupted career of progress and prosperity. Consequently there have been in the course of India’s history, periods of progress and prosperity followed by intervals of decay and even chaos and the former have been always characterised by 1 very high level of culture and civilisation. Only through ignorance or through prejudice could one assert that under British rule, India began to experience for the first time what political unity was. As a matter of fact, though for reasons of expediency, India has been brought under one political administration by Great Britain and English has been enforced on the people everywhere as the state language, no pains have been spared to divide the people more and more. If there is nevertheless a powerful nationalist movement in the country to-day and a strong sense of unity, it is due entirely to the fact that the people have for the first time in their history begun to feel that they have been conquered and simultaneously they have begun to realise the deplorable effect–both cultural and material–which follow in the wake of political servitude.

Though geographically, ethnologically and historically India presents an endless diversity to any observer-there is nonetheless a fundamental unity underlying this diversity. But as Mr. Vincent A. Smith has said: ‘European writers a a rule, have been more conscious of the diversity than of the unity of India…. India beyond all doubt possesses a deep underlying fundamental unity, far more profound than that produced either by geographical isolation or by political suzerainty. That unity transcends the innumerable diversities of blood, colour, language, dress, manners and sect.”” Geographically, India seems to be cut out from the rest of the world as a self-contained unit. Bounded on the north by the mighty Himalayas and surrounded on both sides by the endless ocean, India affords the best example of a geographical unit. The ethnic diversity of India has never been a problem for throughout her history she has been able to absorb different races and impose on them one common culture and tradition. The most important cementing factor has been the Hindu religion. North or South, East or West, wherever you may travel, you will find the same religious ideas, the same culture and the same tradition. All Hindus look upon India as the Holy Land. The sacred rivers like the sacred cities are distributed all over the country. If as a pious Hindu you have to complete your round of pilgrimage, you will have to travel to Setubandha-Rameswara in the extreme south and to Badrinath in the bosom of the snow-capped Himalayas in the north. The great teachers who wanted to convert the, country to their faith had always to tour the whole of India and one of the greatest of them, Shankaracharya, who flourished in the eighth century A.D., built four ashramas (monasteries) in four corners of India, which flourish to this day. Everywhere the same scriptures are read and followed and the epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are equally popular wherever you may travel. With the advent of the Mohammedans, a new synthesis was gradually worked out. Though they did not accept the religion of the Hindus, they made India their home and shared in the common social life of the people-their joys and their sorrows. Through mutual co-operation, a new art and a new culture was evolved which was different from the old but which nevertheless was distinctly Indian. In architecture, painting, music-new creations were made which represented the happy blending of the two streams of culture. Moreover, the administration of the Mohammedan rulers left untouched the daily life of the people and did not interfere with local self- government based on the old system of village communities. With British rule, however, there came a new religion, a new culture and a new civilisation which did not want to blend with the old but desired to dominate the country completely. The British people, unlike the invaders of old, did not make India their home. They regarded themselves as birds of passage and looked upon India as the source of raw materials and as the market for finished goods. Moreover, they endeavoured to imitate the autocracy of the Mohammedan rulers without following their wise policy of complete non-interference in local affairs. The result of this was that the Indian people began to feel for the first time in their history that they were being dominated culturally, politically and economically by a people who were quite alien to them and with whom they had nothing whatsoever in common. Hence the magnitude of the revolt against the British domination of India.

In order to study the present political movement in India with the proper perspective, it is necessary to make a brief survey of the development of political thought and of political institutions in the past. The civilisation of India dates back 3000 B.C., if not earlier, and since then, there has been on the whole a remarkable continuity of culture and civilisation.

The whole book is available for downloading at Archive.org

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