From the National to the International -2
A foreign system, the invention of a strange people, can never be so intimately ours as this. We can never reach the same last pitch of utmost perfection in anything that is not our mother language, as it were, anything that bears on it the impress of a character different from ours, and accumulating that difference, through strange forms and institutions of many kinds. In the foreign thing, we can never be as perfect as the foreigner. Through the foreign thing, we can never reach our own perfection.
But there is such a thing as Freedom. In the use of every faculty, separately, there comes a point of development more or less correspondent to Mukti for the whole personality. When the training is finished, when preparation is sufficient, then there arrives enjoyment, use. Here we come upon the value of foreign culture. The freed faculty is same-sighted. Education has been its introduction—it is not a barrier!—to the riches of the World. Education has sought to bring the man to the knowledge of humanity. Through the creations of his own people, he has realized the heart of mankind. He has learnt to discriminate the common impulse of all men, from the special form peculiar to each people. He himself respects woman, for instance, in .the Indian way, through Indian forms. But he knows that respect is the thing required, and he is made free to enrich his expression from all sources. It would be a sin to bring up an Indian child on anything but the Mahabharata, But if he could not, when educated, appreciate the poetry of Homer, that fact would mean a limitation of his culture.
A thorough training in our own ideals is the only preparation for an enjoyment of all. A truly cultivated Western man will kneel before the character of Bhishma, as the Indian will clasp his hands before Tennyson or Fra Angelico. We learn our own, in order to enjoy all. Through our own struggle, we appreciate their effort. But we must not seek to reverse the process. We must not seek through Tennyson to produce the love of the Ramayana. Such shilly-shallying can induce only an imitative and bastard culture. Not by such training of poetic faculty can immortal literature ever again be written by us. Not even can there be perfect appreciation either of our own or foreign greatness.
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