spirit of the book". Indeed, if it were, then "India would establish
in a day".
An Indian nation in the making
An Indian nation struggling to come into being was a verydistinct component of Gandhi's vision, as he wrote
. Unlike Rabindranath Tagore, who he was yet to personally encounter, he had little reserve about embracingnationalism as an organising principle of political action. And again unlike Tagore, he was willing to give theCongress ample credit, as the principal vehicle of theIndian nationalist project then. For all its failings, theCongress, said Gandhi, had imbued all of India with thespirit of nationalism. "The spirit generated in Bengal" inresponse to the imperialist stratagem of dividing up the province, had "spread in the north to the Punjab, and inthe south to Cape Comorin".
If Gandhi was quick to recognise the power of nationalism -- as a slogan and a concept -- for mobilising the peopleagainst British colonialism, he remained sceptical aboutthe moral and ethical legitimacy of an organised polity.Though the term did not enter his political lexicon till much later, Gandhi in
, had little use for what would be called "the State" in the vocabulary of modern political science. Indeed, the modern State for Gandhi,seemed to embody man's impertinence in seeking to supplanta benevolent God.This seeming conceit of the human race was best expressed by his ideological adversary in
. "We must haveour own navy, our army, and we must have our own splendour,and then will India's voice ring through the world", saysthe "reader", intent on challenging the most deeply held beliefs of Gandhi, who speaks through the medium of the"editor". Gandhi is equal to the challenge, though notquite able to descend to the same level of banality. In hisguise as the "editor", he gently chides the "reader":
You have drawn the picture well. In effect, it means that we want English rule without the Englishman. You want thetiger's nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you
would make India English…. This is not the Swaraj that I
The challenge that Gandhi posed before his "reader" then was daunting: it was "to learn, and to teach others, that we do not want the tyranny of either English rule or Indianrule".