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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. 1 September, 1906

Lessons at Jamalpur

The incidents at Jamalpur are in many ways a sign of the times. They reveal to us, first and foremost, as many incidents of the Swadeshi movement have revealed to us, the great reservoir of potential strength which the Congress movement has for so long a time left untapped. The true policy of the Congress movement should have been from the beginning to gather together under its flag all the elements of strength that exist in this huge country. The Brahman1 Pandit and the Mahomedan Maulavi, the caste organisation and the trade-union, the labourer and the artisan, the coolie at his work and the peasant in his field, none of these should have been left out of the sphere of our activities. For each is a strength, a unit of force; and in politics the victory is to the side which can marshal the largest and most closely serried number of such units and handle them most skilfully, not to those who can bring forward the best arguments or talk the most eloquently.

But the Congress started from the beginning with a misconception of the most elementary facts of politics and with its eyes turned towards the British Government and away from the people. To flaunt its moderation and reasonableness before approving English eyes, to avoid giving offence to British sentiments, to do nothing that would provoke a real conflict, this was its chief pre-occupation. It concerned itself with such things as Simultaneous Examinations, Exchange Compensation, with the details of administration and the intricacies of finance; it presumed to give the Government advice on its military policy, and it passed omnibus resolutions covering the whole field of Indian affairs. All the time it had nothing behind it that could be called strength, no tangible reason why the British Government should respect and give form to its irresponsible criticisms. The Government on its side took the measure of the Congress and acted accordingly.

Under the stimulus of an intolerable wrong, Bengal in the fervour of the Swadeshi movement parted company with the old ideals and began to seek for its own strength. It has found it in the people. But the awakening of this strength immediately brought the whole movement into collision with British interests, and the true nature of the Englishman, when his interests are threatened, revealed itself. The Swadeshi threatened British trade and immediately an unholy alliance was formed between the magistracy, the non-officials and the pious missionaries of Christ, to crush the new movement by every form of prosecution and harassment. The Trade Union movement threatens the tyranny of British Capital over Indian Labour, and at once British Capital responds by unprovoked lockouts, illegal dismissals and finally by volleys of gunshot. The struggle is bound to increase in its intensity and the prospect it opens, is one which only the most courageous can face. But for us there is no choice. The faith in British justice has crumbled into the dust. Nothing can again restore it. Go back we cannot, halt we cannot, go on we must. It will be well for us if our leaders recognise2 the situation and instead of hesitation and timidity which will not help them, meet it with clear eyes and an undaunted spirit.


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 18901908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.

1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Brahmin


2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: recognize