But we have now learnt that lesson. It is true that we do not yet know the steps by which we shall effectively assert it, we do not yet know what is the road we are to tread in its progressive application, but we have gained a deep conviction, from which nothing can ever move us. The scales have fallen from our eyes, and we see and know that we are one. Those very surface-diversities of which it has been common to make much, have become in our own eyes now, but so many proofs of our unity.
As in one of the higher organisms, no limb is a mere repetition of any other, but the whole is served in some special way by each, so here also, no one province duplicates or rivals the functions of any other. The Mahratta serves the Bengalee and the Bangalee the Mahratta, the Hindu and the Mohammedan find themselves complementary to one another, and the Punjabee and the Madrasi are both equally essential to the whole, in virtue of their mutual unlikenesses, not their resemblances. It is by our unlikeness—an unlikeness tempered, of course, by deep sympathy—that we serve one another, not by our similarities. The lower the organism, the greater the multiplication of a given part; the higher, the more specialized is each limb and each organ. In humanity, not even two hands or two feet are exactly identical.
With regard to nations, the requisites of unity are commonplace and common circumstances. A people who are one in home and one in interests, have no need to speak a common language, or believe a common mythos, in order to realize their mutual cohesion. Questions of race and history are merely irrelevant, in face of the determination of a given group to become a nation. Much has to be remembered and much forgotten; but man can determine such things by his own will, and when, in addition, he possesses, as we in India do, an enormous mass of common and related customs, he stands already provided with an inexhaustible language for the expression of his national unity. Ours is the advantage that not merely all sects of Hinduism, but also all the peoples of Asia express themselves through certain characteristic modes in common. Fire to the European is a convenience : to most Asiatics, a sacred mystery. Water to the European represents physical cleanliness: to Asiatics, it is the starting-point of a new life. The simplicity of the Asiatic environment is a-quiver with mystic associations, vibrant with spiritual significance, and to these, Hindu and the Mohammedan respond alike.