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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. February 28, 1907

Mr. Gokhale's Disloyalty

Dear Bande Mataram,

You may reasonably ask me where I had been so long. My answer is that seeing the Extremists fare very well at the last Congress, I thought I had some claim to a well-earned repose. When all India kindly took to my views and fought for them in the National Assembly, I thought I could suspend my activity for a time.

But with Mr. Gokhale stumping the country to recover the lost ground and the Bengalee taking the brief of the all-powerful executive, I cannot be a silent spectator of the cold-blooded deposition of Demos.

The Aga Khan too has entered the lists. Alarmed at the Extremists' talk of freedom from British control, the combined wit and wisdom of the country is making a dead set at this crazy class so that prudence and good sense may once more prevail in the land. The normal calm and the much-coveted peace has, to a certain extent, been restored to the country and what little of unrest still exists will pass away as soon as Mr. Gokhale will say “Amen”.

Unlike the grave-diggers of Ophelia, Mr. Gokhale wants to make the extinction of British autocracy in India quite an unchristian procedure. Here lies the Empire, good; here stands India, good; if India goes to this Empire and prays for its death, it is will she nill she, she prays for something bad but if the Empire comes to her and kills itself, she kills not the Empire: argal, she is not guilty of disloyalty.

The Extremists want to bring the Empire to themselves, and not themselves to go to the Empire. What is more Christian and loyal? To make the Empire part with us as friends, or to provoke it with childish demands of colonial self-government or self-government within the Empire?

Besides, does not Mr. Gokhale know the fable that by mere buzzing about the head of a Bull or even settling himself upon his head, the gnat cannot at all inconvenience him, but though small it is by stinging only that he can arouse his attention.

In vain is Mr. Gokhale trying conclusions with people who have tried their remedies times without number and found them wanting.

Mr. Gokhale's patriotism is based on truth he paints us as we are and warns us against the danger of too strong a stimulus in this our exceptionally weak condition.

Here is he1 like a wise physician who knows his patient.

But Mr. Gokhale, being such an educated and enlightened reformer, with supreme contempt for Indian prejudices, superstitions and idolatry, should be the last man to trust to mere prayer and petition for the recovery of his patient.

When the Scotch asked the King of England to appoint a day of prayer and fasting for abating the fury of cholera when it raged there a few years back, the authorities in England pooh-poohed the idea and told them to attend to the recommendations of sanitary science.

Should not Mr. Gokhale be true to himself and ask the people to attend to the recommendations of political science excluding altogether from their programme the superstition of prayer? More in my next.

Yours sincerely,
By The Way


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: he is