• 24 Jun, 2024

My Journey to Nationalism

My Journey to Nationalism

A brief account of a sadhaka's journey to Dharma and nationalism.


Early Life

I was born and raised in Chandigarh. As far back as I can remember, I used to feel a very strong and passionate love for our motherland—Bharat. I don’t know why it was so, since no one in our family was involved in the freedom struggle.

I strongly wished that I was born during India’s freedom struggle against the British. I used to day-dream of fighting the British as an armed revolutionary, not as a non-violent protestor. I could never relate much to the approach of Congress and Gandhi—even though the movie ‘Gandhi’ was so popular during my childhood. Instead, I strongly related to the revolutionary movement of the likes of Bhagat Singh, Azad, Rajguru, Savarkar. I also felt very connected to the ones who fought against the Mughals—Maharana Pratap, Chatrapati Shivaji, many of the Sikh gurus including Guru Gobind Singh and his sahibzadas, and so many more people. I felt strong anger against the Mughals who had enslaved and mistreated so many Indians, and the British who later ruled and perhaps did worse to India.

My mother says that she saw many signs of a revolutionary in me from a young age. The first public movement in which I actively participated was the Mandal Commission agitation that took place in India in 1990. I was 14 years old then, studying in the ninth grade. I participated again when the protests resurfaced briefly in 1992 when the Supreme court ruling was passed to implement the Mandal commission. After that, I got busy with university and building my career. For most of my working life, I was a part of the software and startup industries in Bangalore and travelled often to other countries on work. I always kept my connection with India and never felt any urge to settle in some developed country. In 2000, when I came back from my first trip aboard, I remember feeling sad at the pathetic condition of Delhi International airport—a place where so many important foreign nationals would land.

From 2004 to 2007, Nandini—my life and work partner—and I launched our first startup, and post that serendipitously started India’s first startup accelerator and founder community—the Morpheus Gang (2008-14) via which we participated in, and contributed to, the startup revolution in India.

Sri Aurobindo, Sanatan Dharma and Nationalism

I grew up a staunch atheist in an atheist atmosphere and with a super-atheist father. I don’t remember seeing any pictures of gods or doing any rituals at home. In 2012, things changed suddenly. As a result of a serendipitous introduction to Sri Aurobindo and his teachings, my inner journey, or sadhana, began for me. Through Sri Aurobindo I learnt about the deep and vast landscape of Sanatan Dharma and its importance for India. In Sri Aurobindo’s words, immortalized in his Uttarpara Speech in 1909—I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish.

Sri Aurobindo was considered the supreme leader of the revolutionary freedom movement of India during his active years of politics from 1903 to 1910. In 1910 he withdrew from politics and went to Pondicherry in order to devote himself entirely to his inner spiritual life and work. During his forty years in Pondicherry he evolved a new method of spiritual practice, which he called the Integral Yoga. It’s aim is a spiritual realization that not only liberates man's consciousness but also transforms his nature. (Source)  

As I went deeper into my sadhana along the lines of Integral Yoga, nationalism for me became one with the growth of Sanatan Dharma. Sanatan Dharma to me was the eternal principle of evolution of the universe towards a state of highest harmony, beauty and bliss, and its scope is not limited to India or to Hindus—its scope is cosmic.

Sanatan Dharma, widely referred to as ‘eternal religion’—perhaps owing to a mistranslation of the Sanskrit word dharma into religion—is not religion, nor even philosophy, but the cosmic principle of order and harmony that binds existence—similar to the electromagnetic forces that hold an atom together—and keeps cosmic existence from falling back into chaos. If cosmos—from the ancient Greek kosmos meaning order—is a movement from chaos to increasing order and harmony, then dharma is the inherent principle and force molding chaos into cosmos.

(Source : This is Sanatan Dharma—The Quest for Truth, by Partho)

Anna Hazzare anti-corruption movement

In 2014, when the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement began—Nandini, myself and a good number of nationalist friends felt very moved and attracted. We right away signed up as volunteers. We were fully charged up, gave up everything else and put all our time and energy into it. This same movement gave birth to the Aam Aadmi Party, which was projected as a prime challenger to Narendra Modi and BJP. We believed in them, we did whatever was given to us. We also organized a fund raising dinner in Chandigarh and ended up raising in excess of four lakh rupees. After elections got over in Chandigarh, I began to volunteer in Punjab elections with AAP and went to many remote parts. I was fully into it—anti-Modi and pro-Kejriwal. And the reason was simple: as a hard core nationalist it seemed to me AAP was the right party to work towards the best interests of India—a big part of which was removing corruption. It was a huge movement and many respectable Indians had joined the movement across the country and many from outside India, all were nationalists at heart—we all believed this was the right thing to do.

My sadhana was also developing strongly alongside. A critical aspect of the sadhana is developing silence and the capacity for listening to the inner voice of one’s true self, which is the direct representative of the highest divine consciousness, and to follow the advice of that inner voice. To a certain extent I had progressed towards that.

Suddenly one day, while doing election work in Amritsar, I got a clear inner indication to drop it all and go back home. That is what I did. That same evening my teammate from Morpheus and I took the train back to Chandigarh. I lost all interest in politics and elections, and totally pulled out of it—online and offline. Soon after, I got a clear understanding that at its core AAP had a very different agenda and mission, which was to fulfill the personal ambitions and power hunger of Arvind Kejriwal and a few other folks close to him. This was not an understanding based on any clear direct experience but just came to me in the form of intuition.

BJP and Modiji won in 2014 and I went back full time into Sadhana and into a politically neutral zone. I weakly held the mainstream views about Modi as a strong power center—who after Gujarat wanted to rule India and was a master of media and direct outreach. He wanted to fulfill his own and his party’s agendas. I was still a nationalist who believed from deep within that for Bharat to really grow into it’s full glory, we need leaders who are deeply rooted in Sanatan Dharma.

Blind Test

One day, during 2016, I had taken an Uber from the Chandigarh railway station to go home. Inside the car, a speech in the Punjabi language was playing on the radio. It caught my attention as the content and tone of it was out and out Sanatani—I got engrossed in it, and also began to think who this Punjabi gentleman with such clear experience and articulation of Sanatan Dharma, might be? May be I can find him and meet him in Punjab or Chandigarh. As the speech ended there was an announcement on the radio—This was the Punjabi Version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’. This was one of those “Oh F***” moments, I got blind tested. Without knowing whose speech it was, I had really deeply resonated with the person behind the words. Now I could not go back and change things. Still, I did not make an immediate switch—but I did become open to learn more and confirm if he was really a Sanatani or just a good orator who knows what to say in his speeches.

Over the next one year, through many conversations with people who had directly interacted or worked with Modiji, my understanding kept evolving. I also began to notice the multi-pronged development that was taking place, the quality of council of ministers in the cabinet. I guess sometime during 2017 I arrived at a very clear observation and intuitive understanding. That as a nationalist, as a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, as a sadhak of Sanatan Dharma, I believed that the country should be led by a party and people who align the most with the Sanatan vision that Sri Aurobindo had for India. And for now the party and person who was most suitable for this purpose was BJP and Narendra Modi.

Since then I have continued to be on the path of my sadhana and I have continued to observe the various developments in the country across many dimensions. Based on all of this, the stage our country is in, and given the available options currently—my personal and humble view is that BJP / NDA with Narendra Modi as the Prime minister is the best path forward for Bharat to become a developed nation in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s Sanatan Vision for Bharat, a Bharat which will play a crucial role in the future of the world—to bring the world to a path of consciousness, evolution, harmony, collaboration and peace. Modi ji is the best instrument we have and he is tuned pretty well into the divine will and wisdom.

The ideal of an Instrument

I have used the word ‘instrument’ in same sense as it is used in the Gita—one who has no sense of doership, he or she is an instrument of the Divine which does not have a personal will or agenda, instead he or she is aligned with, and driven by, the divine will; one who offers himself, all his works and their fruits to Sri Krishna, is the divine instrument.

If we wish to truly and completely offer ourselves to our nation, to Sanatan dharma, to Sri Krishna or Sri Aurobindo—we need to also prepare ourselves to live by the same ideal.

From Essays on Gita by Sri Aurobindo:

Give up then all sense that you are the doer; see the Eternal alone as the doer of the action. Let your natural being be an occasion, an instrument, a channel of power, a means of manifestation. Offer up your will to him and make it one with his eternal will: surrender all your actions in the silence of your self and spirit to the transcendent Master of your nature.

निमितमात्रं भव सव्यसाचिन् ।। Gita: 11.33  

Do thou become the occasion only, O Savyasachin.

Sameer Guglani

A student of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, deeply interested in Indian Spirituality and its relevance to the present and future of humanity, also a Co-founder of Supermorpheus, a community based ecosystem for building conscious startups.

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