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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. 1 September, 1906

By the Way

There is a limit to everything. There is also a limit to hero-worship and to self-laudation. It seems to us that limit was passed in the extraordinary proceedings of the Pandits' meeting which deified Babu Surendranath Banerji, and in the undignified effusion of the report which appeared in Babu Surendranath's own paper the Bengalee. A regular abhishek ceremony seems to have been performed and the assembled Brahmins paid him regal honours as if he had been the just and truthful Yudishthira1 at the Rajasuya sacrifice. If Babu Surendranath wishes to be the king of independent Bengal, he should surely conquer his kingdom first and then enjoy it. Even Caesar refused the crown thrice; but Surendra Babu has no scruples. He accepted his coronation with effusive tearfulness in the touching language of the Bengalee, “his mighty voice shook and he got choky”.

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But the thing passes a joke. Whatever differences of opinion we may have with Babu Surendranath, we have always recognised2 him as the leader of Bengal, the one man among us whose name is a spell to sway the hearts of millions. We do not like to see him making himself publicly ridiculous, for, by doing so, he makes the whole of Bengal ridiculous. Such performances are rather likely to diminish his prestige than increase it. But ever since the rise of a party which questions his methods and ideals, Surendra Babu has shown an uneasy desire to have his personal leadership proclaimed on the housetops and an almost hysteric tendency towards self-praise. The indecorous comparisons of himself with Christ and Gauranga, the tone of his Barisal speech and this coronation ceremony are indications which make us uneasy for our veteran leader. He should remember the last days of Keshab Chandra Sen and avoid a similar debacle.

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It is time that public opinion should forbid this habit of self-laudation in our leaders. The Maratha3 leaders have a much keener sense of the decorum and seriousness which public life demands. Recently a movement was set on foot in the Deccan to celebrate Mr. Tilak's birthday and pay to the great Maratha4 leader almost the same honours as are paid to the memory of Shivaji in the Shivaji Utsav. The whole of Maharastra5 prepared to go mad with a frenzy of hero-worship when everything was brought to a sudden end by prompt and imperative prohibition from Mr. Tilak himself. This entire absence of self-seeking and self-advertisement is one of the most characteristic features of Mr. Tilak's public conduct. We hope it will become a more general standard if not of character, at least of public etiquette throughout India.

 

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: Yudhishthira

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

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3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Mahratta

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4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Mahratta

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5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Maharashtra

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