Q.1. How was the rediscovery of the Indian past significantly connected with the birth of Indian nationalism? What negative features did it produce? ( 8 marks)
Ans. Indian Nationalism was a product of numerous factors. Among these factors, rediscovery of Indian past can be said to be an important feature. Many Indians had fallen so low as to lose confidence in their self-government under the British rule. The British officials and writers had constantly emphasized that Indians had never been able to rule themselves in the past, that Hindus and Muslims had always fought one another, that Indians were destined to rule by foreigners. All this was done to justify the British rule in India. But by the last decade of 19th century, nationalism was surfacing itself in India. The rediscovery of the Indian past played an important role in the rise of nationalist sentiments in India.
The credit for the rediscovery of Indian past goes to the extremist wing of congress as well as the social reformers. Many of the nationalist leaders tried to arouse the self -confidence and self -respect of the people by countering this propaganda. They pointed to the Indian heritage with pride and referred the critics to the political achievements of the rulers like Ashoka, Chandragupta, Vikramaditya and Akbar. They rediscovered India’s national heritage in art, architecture, literature and philosophy. The press played an important role in spreading these ideas. The partition of Bengal was followed by the rise in extremist activities. These extremists revived the Ganapati and Durga festivals to spread the aura of the past.
This revival of the past united the Indians . It gave them a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in their culture and heritage. Through this rediscovery, the western claims that India could develop only through the West came to be challenged. The revival of the past glories of the rulers made the masses realized that the Indian populace could progress on its own. This rediscovery of the past was also accompanied by the growth of negative feelings as it gave birth to communalism. Some of the nationalists went to the extreme and began to glorify India’s past uncritically, ignoring its weaknesses and backwardness. Greta harm was done, in particular, by the tendency to look up only to the heritage of ancient India while ignoring the equally great achievements of the medieval period. A false sense of smugness and pride was introduced which tended to prevent Indians from looking critically at their society.