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In conjunction with the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in New Delhi, Oxford proudly announces the reissue of Glimpses of World History and The Discovery of India, two famous works by Jawaharlal Nehru. One of modern day's most articulate statesmen, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a on a wide variety of subjects. Describing himself as "a dabbler in many things," he committed his life not only to politics but also to nature and wild life, drama, poetry, history, and science, as well as many other fields. These two volumes help to illuminate the depth of his interests and knowledge and the skill and elegance with which he treated the written word!!
656 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1946
To know and understand India one has to travel far in time and space, to forget for a while her present condition with all its misery and narrowness and horror, and to have glimpses of what she was and what she did. 'To know my country', wrote Rabindranath Tagore, 'one has to travel to that age, when she realized her soul and thus transcended her physical boundaries, when she revealed her being in a radiant magnanimity which illumined the eastern horizon, making her recognized as their own by those in alien shores who were awakened into a surprise of life; and not now when she has withdrawn herself into a narrow barrier of obscurity, into a miserly pride of exclusiveness, into a poverty of mind that dumbly revolves around itself in an unmeaning repetition of a past that has lost its light and has no message for the pilgrims of the future.'
Nearly five months have gone by since I took to this writing and I have covered a thousand hand-written pages with this jumble of ideas in my mind. For five months I have travelled in the past and peeped into the future and sometimes tried to balance myself on that 'point of intersection of the timeless with time.' These month have been full of happenings in the world and the war has advanced rapidly towards a triumphant conclusion, so far as military victories go. […] Because of this business of thinking and trying to give some expression to my thoughts, I have drawn myself away from the piercing-edge of the present and moved along the wider expanses of the past and the future. But there must be an end to this wandering. If there was no other sufficient reason for it, there is a very practical consideration which cannot be ignored. I have almost exhausted the supply of paper that I had managed to secure after considerable difficulty and it is not easy to get more of it. The discovery of India — what have I discovered? It was presumptuous of me to imagine that I could unveil her and find out what she is today and what she was in the long past. […] Yet something has bound them together and binds them still. India is a geographical and economic entity, a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads. Overwhelmed again and again, her spirit was never conquered, and today when she appears to be the plaything of a proud conqueror, she remains unsubdued and unconquered. About her there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive. There are terrifying glimpses of dark corridors which seem to lead back to primeval night, but also there is the fullness and warmth of the day about her. Shameful and repellent she is occasionally, perverse and obstinate, sometimes even a little hysteric, this lady with a past. But she is very lovable, and none of her children can forget her wherever they go or whatever strange fate befalls them. For she is part of them in her greatness as well as her failings, and they are mirrored in those deep eyes of hers that have seen so much of life's passion and joy and folly, and looked down into wisdom's well. Each one of them is drawn to her, though perhaps each has a different reason for that attraction or can point to no reason at all, and each sees some different aspect of her many-sided personality.
The tragedy of Bengal and the famines of Orissa, Malabar, and other places are the final judgment on British rule in India. The British will certainly leave India, and their Indian Empire will become a memory, but what will they leave when they have to go, what human degradation and accumulated sorrow? Tagore saw this picture as he lay dying three years ago: 'But what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? When the stream of their centuries' administration runs dry at last, what a waste of mud and filth they will leave behind them!'
My generation has been a troubled one in India and the world. We may carry on for a little while longer, but our day will be over and we shall give place to others, and they will live their lives and carry their burdens to the next stage of the journey. How have we played our part in this brief interlude that draws to a close? I do not know. Others of a later age will judge. By what standards do we measure success or failure? That too I do not know. We can make no complaint that life has treated us harshly, for ours has been a willing choice, and perhaps life has not been so bad to us after all. For only they can sense life who stand often on the verge of it, only they whose lives are not governed by the fear of death. In spite of all the mistakes that we may have made, we have saved ourselves from triviality and an inner shame and cowardice. That, for our individual selves, has been some achievement. 'Man's dearest possession is life, and since it is given to him to live but once, he must so live as not to be seared with the shame of a cowardly and trivial past, so live as not to be tortured for years without purpose, so live that dying he can say: "All my life and my strength were given to the first cause of the world — the liberation of mankind."'
Nevertheless, we cannot just disrupt and hope for something better without having some vision of the future we are working for, however vague that vision may be. We cannot just create a vacuum, or else that vacuum will fill itself up in a way that we may have to deplore. In the constructive schemes that we make, we have to pay attention to the human material we have to deal with, to the background of its thought and urges, and to the environment in which we have to function. To ignore all this and to fashion some idealistic scheme in the air, or else to think in terms of imitating what others have done elsewhere, would be folly.What I seek in literature and nonfiction and any piece that does not follow the popular pretense of labeling itself fully one or the other is a reminder that the earth is round. The matter of Europe being on the top right of the map, masquerading under specialized nomenclature rather than the far more consistent title of West Asia, is one of power, born and bred long before I came to being and most likely still to be dominating the scene when I am gone. The self proclaimed, self ordained, self maintained holds no interest for me, not so long I must answer with lies to keep a grade and job and standard of living. If that were not bad enough, all this falsehood is split in twain along the camps of religion or science, ancient script or political economics, the modern day of globalization or the ancient grounds of philosophy. It is not often that a work acknowledges the dangers of blocking one aspect of humanity from another in both mental configuration and physical deportation. It is near impossible to find an author that sets life as the goal, never succumbing to those death dealers who call such holism naive.
Ancient Greece is supposed to be the fountain-head of European civilization and much has been written about the fundamental difference between the Orient and the Occident. I do not understand this; a great deal of it seems to me to be vague and unscientific, without much basis in fact.I hope to never get used to the feeling that I am yet again not paying yet another country their due. With India, however, it is an above average disappointment, what with the plethora of Ragavis and Vikrams and Sureshs in my classrooms from kindergarten up, a multitude of friends and colleagues with whom I exchanged sheets and conversed upon disparate subjects of fencing and Doctor Who. Too great an obsession would truthfully do far more damage than my aspiring to be greater interest, but before this work, I did not get the sense of walking with trepidation into a room of millinia old conversations as I do with Japan, or Greece. It is a flaw that continues to affect hundreds of my concepts of countries and cultures, of course, but my building of an contextualized cathedral of India was especially disturbing in how often I across one thing that i head learned about as another. One philosophical concept, one mathematical breakthrough, one social humanitarianism of education and light, one of many myriad fields chipped down into textbooks and learned about as European triumphs. Much like the British Museum, one would have to ban many a class if one was thorough about the legalities of looting.
The future historians of England will have to consider how far England's decline from her proud eminence was due to her imperialism and racialism, which corrupted her public life and made her forget the lessons of her own history and literature.
Sometimes a vague sense of uneasiness films them at a seeming contradiction between their domestic and colonial policy, between their professions and practice, but, considering themselves above all as practical men of common sense, they sternly repress all these stirrings of conscience.Everywhere you look in my USA part of the world, England sells itself extraordinarily. The faces of actors, the conventions of humor, the tributaries of tea, the funniness of its history and the drama of its royalty. Many a colonizing European country does the same, but England is closest in my view for the simple matter that my country is its colony grown up. It is not too much to say that, for every propaganda appeal indulged in Anglophile tradition, India and so many others are reduced. It is one of choice: do I accept the Winston Churchill of war glory and Nobel Prize for Lit fame, or do I acknowledge the Bengal famine and its family tree of fascism, nazism, and imperialism. If I describe the book far more in context with colonialism than before all such occurred, it is because this world still necessitates essential readings that put dominant cultures into perspective. Jawaharlal Nehru is not the only one who disgruntled the status quo with more than beautiful amounts of rhetoric and cold hard facts, but all that is only a part of this work. If there is one country that shows the feebleness of excuses when it comes to wholesale domination, let it be India. The movement to reclaim the bindi here in 2015 United States shows how little that European desire to steal and distort this ancient world of nation's humanity has changed since 1946.
It may be said that a great part of the costs of transition to industrialism in western Europe were paid for by India, China, and other countries, whose economy was dominated by the European powers.
But it is a curious realism that sticks to the empty shell of the past and ignores or refuses to understand the hard facts of the present, which are not only political and economic but also include the feelings and urges of vast numbers of people. Such realism is more imaginative and divorced from to-day's and to-morrow's problems than much of the so-called idealism of many people.I will be reading The Bhagavad Gita because of this, as well as Monkey: The Journey to the West (unabridged, of course). Concepts of Yoga, the caste system, Pakistan, and so many others have put in a stronger, far more complicated place, enough that a fellow student's sensationalized simplification of "Does he focus on female infanticide?" both shocked and saddened to the bone. In terms of reservations, I know enough about Gandhi to forgo Nehru's boundless praise, and our all too similar suspicion of religion is too final on his side for me to draw from. What must be mentioned is that this was written in jail during a colonizer's wartime, a point where the world's raging still slanders, obfuscates, and every so often painfully tells the truth to my own. Above all, it is a careful consideration of humans, by a human, certainly within the context of India but of work, of play, of cultural bedrock, of hope, of the search for truth, in such a covering of all matters of disciplines around the supreme purpose of social justice that I cannot imagine a lack of resonance, leastwise not in full, with any and all.
We can never forget the ideals that have moved our race, the dreams of the Indian people throughout the ages, the wisdom of the ancients, the buoyant energy and love of life and nature of our forefathers, their spirit of curiosity and mental adventure, the daring of their thought, their splendid achievements in literature, art and culture, their love of truth and beauty and freedom, the basic values that they set up, their understanding of life's mysterious ways, their toleration of ways other than theirs, their capacity to absorb other peoples and their cultural accomplishments, to synthesize them and develop a varied and mixed culture; nor can we forget the myriad experiences which have built up our ancient race and lie embedded in our subconscious minds.I still have not said much of the critically specific sort about this work. Ah well. In light of that, one last wish would be to live to see another work of this epic sort in this vein of the world, where the number of quotes of Europeans Nehru so frequently made use of could easily be replaced with with ones of a far less foreign sort. A reclamation, if you will. It would be a nice feeling, to know that the earth is healing.