Sunday, 20 May 2018


यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

A Nation of Students

We are a nation of students. The whole East is full of students. No figure in the streets of an Asiatic city—whether the country be India, Persia, or China—is so representative as that of the student. No power is so pervasive as the schoolmaster's might make itself, if maintained in harmony with the general aspiration. Why this prominence of the learner? What is the explanation? Does it point to a national immaturity? If so, let us face the fact. There is no advantage to be gained, by shutting our eyes to the position of affairs, on the contrary clear thought is itself the starting point of a good fight with crudity and ignorance.

National Immaturity

We must remember that the very words are foreign, in which this question is being discussed. We are, in fact, measuring ourselves and the maturity of our culture, against a modern and Western standard. So measured, we are decidedly immature. There are many practical situations in life, where, beside the ease and mastery of the European, we feel ourselves mere children. Is this immaturity, then, an absolute, or only a relative truth? Is it perhaps true that all the people of the world are more or less immature? We cannot get the whole material advantage, out of a given situation as easily as the European can. But no one who has ever engaged in serious conversation with Europeans can doubt that there are many subjects on which they are, beside us, extremely childish. In the field of religious and philosophical speculation, they find it difficult to generalize, and propositions that are obvious to us will puzzle them severely. The same is true of the psychology of social relations. In the culture of the family, Europeans are curiously lacking. That whole idea of play that shines through all our domestic intercourse, and lubricates all the friction of intimacy, appears to be unborn amongst them. Here they are as immature as we in their field. Those strong faces, with their closed lips and air of instinctive mastery, notify us of nothing genial and easy, in the nature behind. Similarly, in us, the grave refined type of old men, indicates no large public experience. All the lineaments have been carved, in the one case, by contacts with the larger world, the world of struggle and complexities, of clashing interests, and grim affairs; and in the other, by quiet experience of love and suffering, by the thought of God, and by the garnered wisdom of the home.  Either European or Hindu, on his own ground, will appear unassailable; judged by the opposite standard, seem unripe, crude, but half-cultured and childish in his powers.

Complete Works of Sister Nivedita - V