Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. October 1, 1906
By the Way
To the onlooker the duel between the Statesman and the Englishman is extremely amusing. The interests of Anglo-India are safe in the hands of both; only they differ as to the extent to which the alien yoke should be made light. The Englishman advocates an open and straightforward course to make the Indians feel that they are a conquered people as helpless in the hands of the conquerors as was the dwarf of the story in the iron grip of the giant. The Statesman, on the other hand, wants to cover the heels of British boots with soft velvet. We for ourselves prefer an open course to a crooked policy.
The fun of the thing is that from consideration of methods they have descended to personalities. The Englishman credits the Statesman with the instinct to follow Mr. Surendranath Banerji with doglike fidelity. To this the Statesman replies “Strange as it may appear to the Englishman, we are in the habit of forming our own opinions and of expressing them without any extraneous assistance even from the Bar Library, or elsewhere. Mr. Banerji has certainly not done us the honour of tendering his help, nor have we found it necessary to invite it.” We take our contemporary at his word. But we may be permitted to ask our contemporary if the paragraph about the New India to which we referred the other day was not written under some extraneous inspiration, white or brown? Next, our Chowringhee contemporary boasts of his independent policy and fearless proclamation of it. “In order,” says our contemporary, “to attain a wide circulation and a position of influence, it is not enough to follow the example which this journal set a quarter of a century ago by reducing its price to an anna. If the Englishman is ever again to become a force in journalism, it must copy the Statesman in matters of greater importance than the mere cost of its daily issue. It must learn to have an honest and independent policy and to proclaim it fearlessly.” And our contemporary seems to think that man's1 lapses like their civil claims are barred by limitation, or he has a very conveniently short memory, or how could he otherwise so soon forget the dangerous position he was placed in at the time of the Rent Bill controversy and the way out he found by removing Mr. Riach, the responsible editor?
After all we do not despair. There is yet some hope left for our contemporary, for he can still understand that “it is possible for a newspaper, as for an individual, to err at times and honestly to advocate views which may be mistaken.”
The Indian Mirror has, after all, found one good point in the armour of the “extremists”; they will not stand any humbug, says our ancient contemporary, and no one will dare question the truth of his opinion, for he speaks clearly from personal experience.
Babu Surendranath Banerji is reported to have advised the youthful students of Bally “to keep themselves within the limits of law and never, in their excitement, run into excesses but always to serve their motherland with unflinching devotion, through good report and evil”, and the old leader is right, because the latest2 experience shows that Indian publicists and patriots have good reason to stand in fear of reports.
The Indian Mirror is surprised that we are resting on our oars when the Congress-bark should be fast sailing. The light that the Mirror is reflecting is both dim and antiquated in these days of radium and X-rays. Our information is that the “recognised” leaders are making arrangements for the Congress though even the Mirror has not been taken into their confidence.
The old saw was that a mountain in labour produced a mouse. But the modern saw is that the Indian politicians in labour produce speeches and interviews. Somehow the information has leaked out that the Hon'ble Mr. Gokhale's recent visit to England has not been much of a success. Now Sir William Wedderburn comes to the rescue of the Bombay patriot and says that the Hon'ble gentleman had a series of interviews with eminent British politicians from the Prime Minister down to 150 pro-Indian M.P's. Achievement indeed!
“Star to star vibrates light” is there also a similar responsiveness between mind and matter, or else why should there be so fearful a tremor in mother earth, keeping time, as it were, to the nervous tremors of the bold British and the timid Indian heart, at the present unrest3 in Bengal caused by Sonar Bangla and the Shanti-Sechan?
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: mens
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: because latest
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: present Indian unrest