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Wednesday December 8 2004 08:03 IST

By Karmayogi

Man loves himself, only himself. His love of the family, though selfless to that extent, is also basically love of his own self. It further extends to his community, and his country.

His love of his country and the courage he exhibits in sacrificing for her is termed as patriotism. Gandhiji is a soul great in itself because he aroused in the Indians the emotion of patriotism while they were in love with the culture of the British and were ashamed of themselves.

In those days, it was known as Anglo-phobia. Sri Aurobindos father never wanted his children to hear Bengali spoken. From their earliest years, they were introduced to the culture of the Englishman. The whole personality is perverted by giving up ones own culture and extolling an alien culture, especially that of the oppressor.

Ireland was backward, poor, and superstitious.

Irish workers flooded the British rural side in search of jobs and depressed the wages there. England was Protestant. Ireland was Catholic. Ireland was a colony of England as much as India was. The Irish rose in revolt against England several times but it was in vain until 1920 when Ireland became an independent Republic. Even then, Northern Ireland, a small portion of Ireland, remained with UK.

A hundred years before Ireland became a Republic, a brilliant Irishman joined the army, came to India, fought in the wars of Maratha, and distinguished himself. Later he became the general who headed the British army that was to meet Napoleon in the famous battle of Waterloo. Britain defeated France, which sealed the fate of Napoleon and sent him to St. Helena.

The fame of the general came to stay as he had defeated Napoleon. From being the chief of the British army, he became the Prime Minister of England. It was Duke Wellington.

He was Irish. He was born in Ireland and brought up there. Now that an Irishman had become the head of UK, a new opportunity undreamt of opened before the oppressed Irish. All their national rights and claims could have justice. But the Duke was shy of his Irish origin and went so far as to deny it. He was a great British Prime Minister like Disraeli and Pitt. He could have served Ireland faithfully and restored her to dignity or raised her to dignity. He chose to be otherwise.

Patriotism was not yet born in him in 1825. He sought his own glory and achieved world fame. Patriotism is a nobler and greater emotion than the eminence to which Duke Wellington reached. Gandhi faced an India where men were fascinated by the British culture. In such hearts, he lit the flame of patriotism. He could do so because he was not merely political, he was a Saint in politics.

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