Nationalism is a book by poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It was first published in 1917 from Macmillan in United States’ New York. ⁣

Between 1916 and 1917, Tagore travelled to Japan and the United States of America. In his lectures at the Imperial University (now Tokyo University), Keio University and in several places in the United States, he put forward several stunning and soul-searching reflections. ⁣

First volume of Nationalism included three lectures delivered in Japan, in 1916. It was later translated into English (from Bengali) by Tagore himself. The compiled book includes three lectures by Tagore – “Nationalism in the West”, “Nationalism in Japan” and the third and final – “Nationalism in India”.⁣

Tagore had raised a fundamental question: Does world humanity need “Nationalism or Humanism”? While there has been no concept of “Nationalism” in civilisational history as such, humanity has crossed various stages of life from barbarism to cultural living values, from no ownership to common natural property of our entire humanity, to the highly corporatised one per cent property holders against 99 per cent who are deprived of minimum property at the global stage.⁣

Tagore rejects the idea of “national history” even: “There is only one history – the history of man.All national histories are merely chapters in the larger one. And we are content in India to suffer for such a cause.”⁣

In his second essay, “Nationalism in Japan”, Tagore emphasises the ancient culture of Japan, more than its nationhood.⁣

In this lecture, Tagore questions European values of science and modernity and expresses his own idea of modernity: “True modernism is freedom of mind, not slavery of taste. It is independence of thought and action, not tutelage under European school-masters. It is science, but not its wrong application in life.”⁣

In his third lecture, “Nationalism in India”, Tagore opines that the real problem of India is not political, but social. Here he comes closer to Ambedkar’s ideas on the Indian society.⁣

Tagore argued that when love for one’s country gives way to worship, or becomes a “sacred obligation” then disaster is the inevitable outcome.