The Gift of India : Destructive Nature of war

Destructive Nature of War in “The Gift of India”

   Question:  Discuss the destructive nature of war in Sarojini Naidu’s  “The Gift of India”.

  Answer:  Sarojini Naidu’s” The Gift of India ” though a patriotic poem, but it also express her intense feeling of hatred towards war and violence.

     Thousands of soldiers were killed, wounded during the war which is often fought to satisfy bruised egoes. 

    During World War I, the British colonisers who ruled over India, sent about one million Indian soldiers to distant lands to fight against allied forces. 

   In this poem, Naidu has depicted the horrors of war through the brutal killing of the Indian soldiers in the First World War. 

      Naidu personified Mother India to give voice to every Indian mother who gave her son in the name of duty towards the British rule.

   The speaker says – 

    “And yielded the sons of my striken womb

     To the drum beats of the duty, the sabers of doom.”

    Mother India says to the British colonisers that she has given all her precious treasures to them even her sons, to whom she has given birth after suffering great pain on the calls of beating drums to serve the British. Although they are aware of the destructive nature of war; they know that they would never come back home, they went to fulfill their duty, without knowing the cause of the war. 

     They fought bravely and sacrificed their lives for their British masters. The poet presents the terrifying scene of dead bodies of Indian soldiers.

   Their bodies lay lifeless like the shells scattered on sands. And 

    “They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands

    They are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance

    On the blood – brown meadows of Flanders and                   France”

    These all are the horrifying images of war where thousands of dead bodies lie scattered like the flowers cut down casually. These dead bodies unknown and unlamented and were “gathered like pearls in their alien graves”.

      These soldiers fought in alien land and died there. They could never reunite with their families, while their mothers kept waiting for them. The poem also presents the immeasurable grief of their mothers by means of Mother India, whose heart bleeds for sons. She says – 

  ” Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep

     Or compass the woe of the watch I keep ?”

  During the war the sons of brave mothers die but the rulers remain unmoved. They do not recognise the sacrifices of young soldiers and the suffering and pain of their mothers who continue to wait for their return.

   The poet hopes that one such day will come when the war will over and there would be peace all over the world, on such day when you (British) would want to pay tribute to those who have bravely fought for your cause, you only remember their sacrifice and do not forget them. 

  “Remember the blood of my martyred sons!”

   This way the poem  “The Gift of India” presents a protest against wars and hence is an anti war poem.

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