Travelogue as Comparative History: Tour Perspectives of a Tirunelveli Native with Special Reference to Malaysia
The idea of â€˜universal brotherhoodâ€™ remains rhetoric. Defining oneâ€™s living space merely in geographical terms said as â€˜regionalismâ€™ is not only often incompatible to â€˜universalismâ€™ having the possibility of imprisoning thought process pertaining to identity into narrow and parochial ideas of linguistic nationalism, cultural chauvinism, racial jingoism, religious sentimentalism, and the likes. Reading books and watching documentaries on living space beyond oneâ€™s own has the ability to enlighten and redefine perspectives. But it would not have the same effect as travelling personally and gathering experience. Hence, in the context of freedom movement, Gopala Krishna Gokhale advised M.K. Gandhi to travel the length and breadth of India to have a firsthand experience about the people, their culture and socio-political life. For Gandhi, there had been scope to meet people of diverse lingual background at the annual sessions of the Indian National Congress. But he understood the advantages of undertaking a tour. It should be remembered that it is natural for an intellectual like Gandhi to have understood the socio-political and cultural dynamics of the nation in the light of his readings from Tolstoy, Thoreau and Ruskin as well as experience gathered from countries like England and South Africa. The experience of travel â€“ among others â€“ had the dominant potential to elevate him to the status of a leader and a Mahatma. Thus he dreamt of a nation with villages at its heart after undertaking extensive travels in Asia, Europe and Africa.