The Beginning Signs of a Change in Humanity to Develop a Self-Conscious National Entity

Sri Aurobindo has recognised the development of a subjective self-conscious awareness in various nations which were circumstanced, either through external weak development, or through external subjugation, to turn their view within.  He sees this, not as some kind of solitary and unusual development, but as a precursor of a general change taking place in humanity, which began in those areas most receptive and prepared for such a change to occur.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Therefore in nations so circumstanced this tendency of self-finding has been most powerful and has even created in some of them a new type of national movement, as in Ireland and India.  This and no other was the root-meaning of Swadeshism in Bengal and of the Irish movement in its earlier less purely political stages.  The emergence of Bengal as a sub-nation in India was throughout a strongly subjective movement and in its later development it became very consciously that.  The movement of 1905 in Bengal pursued quite a new conception of the nation not merely as a country, but a soul, a psychological, almost a spiritual being and, even when acting from economical and political motives, it sought to dynamise them by this subjective conception and to make them instruments of self-expression rather than objects in themselves.  We must not forget, however, that in the first stages these movements followed in their superficial thought the old motives of an objective and mostly political self-consciousness.  The East indeed is always more subjective than the West and we can see the subjective tinge even in its political movements whether in Persia, India or China, and even in the very imitative movement of the Japanese resurgence.  But it is only recently that this subjectivism has become self-conscious.  We may therefore conclude that the conscious and deliberate subjectivism of certain nations was only the sign and precursor of a general change in humanity and has been helped forward by local circumstances, but was not really dependent upon them or in any sense their product.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 4, The Discovery of the Nation-Soul, pp. 38-39