Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. 28 August, 1906
The “Mirror” and Mr. Tilak
The Indian Mirror, which is now the chief ally of Government among the Congress organs in Bengal, has chosen, naturally enough, to fall foul of Mr. Tilak. Our contemporary, it appears, has heard that some people propose to put forward Mr. Tilak's name as President of the next Congress, and it hastens to point out how extremely distasteful the idea is to all thoughtful and enlightened men, that is to say, to all whose views agree with the Mirror's. Mr. Tilak, we learn, has seriously offended our contemporary by giving honour to Mr. Bhopatkar on his release from jail; his speeches on the occasion of the Shivaji festival were displeasing to the thoughtful and enlightened men who congregate in the office of the Indian Mirror; and to sum up the whole matter, he is a man of extreme views and without “tact”. Ergo, he is no fit man for the presidential chair of the Congress.
It is interesting to learn on this unimpeachable authority what are the qualifications which the moderate and loyalist mind demands in a President of the “National” Congress. It is not, apparently, the acknowledged leader of one of the greatest Indian races who can aspire to that post; it is a man of “tact” – one, in other words, who does not like to offend the authorities. It is not the great protagonist and champion of Swadeshi in Western India; it is a man of moderate views, one, let us say, who dare not look Truth in the face and speak out boldly what he thinks. It is not the one man whom the whole Hindu community in Western India delights to honour, from Peshawar to Kolhapur and from Bombay to our own borders; it is one who will not talk about Shivaji and Bhavani – only about Mahatmas. It is not the man who has suffered and denied himself for his country's sake and never abased his courage nor bowed his head under the most crushing persecution; it is one who by refusing to honour a similar1 courage in others, dishonours the country for which they have suffered.
If this is the creed of our contemporary and those whose opinions it “mirrors”, it is not the creed of the country at large. With the exception of a fast-dwindling minority of Anglophiles, the whole of India has learned to honour the name of the great Maratha2 leader and patriot. His social and religious views may not agree with those of the “enlightened”, but we have yet to learn that the Congress platform is sacred to advanced social reformers, that the profession of the Hindu religion is a bar to leadership in its ranks. Mr. Tilak's only other offence is the courage and boldness of his views and his sturdiness in holding by them. He has dared to go to jail and honour those who follow his example, – the bold bad man! And yet we seem to have somehow or other a dim recollection of a venerable Congress leader named Babu Narendra Nath Sen figuring prominently at a meeting in which men and boys who had gone to jail for resisting the Government were honoured and saluted as national heroes. Evidently we have been under an error. Evidently our contemporary is at heart a favourer of the doctrine of self-help and action. It is talking and writing against the Government that he condemns, but to act against the Government, rebellion against constituted authorities has Babu Narendra Nath's full approval. Wearing the outward guise of a loyalist, he is at heart revolutionary. Otherwise would he have presided at the 7th of August celebration and countenanced the raising of the National flag? Now, at last, we understand the policy of the Mirror.
Whether loyalism likes it or not, Mr. Tilak is now the leader of the Deccan, a man whom twenty millions look up to as their chief and head. If Mr. Mehta is the “uncrowned King” of Bombay City, Mr. Tilak is the uncrowned King of all Maharashtra. The attempt to exclude such a man from his rightful place and influence in the counsels of the nation can only recoil on its authors.
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 1890–1908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.
1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: honour similar
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Mahratta