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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. March 21, 1907

By the Way

Says the Englishman:

It is interesting and to the man with a wicked sense of the ludicrous not unamusing to see the heroism with which various Bengali papers call upon the nations of India to arise, fling out the Feringhee, and establish vast secretariats replete with fat billets in which, secured by the warlike races, sixty million sons of the Lower Provinces will dream and scribble for the benefit of the sixty million. “Motherland” is sadly of opinion that but for the system of education forced upon India, and the presence of Indians in Government Service, foreign dominion in India would be impossible and the “male family members” of its editor's tribe would all be Togos and Kurokis. Bande Mataram has “found out the natural antagonism between a handful of aliens and the oppressed and down-trodden children of the soil”, and yearning heroically for the inevitable struggle to come, sniffing the battle afar off snorts, “if the aliens are determined to preserve their own superiority, let them make a fresh attempt and see how events turn out”. Other papers look back with regret upon the glorious deeds of the Spartan warriors who, Heraclidae and Bayards all, filled Bengal before the recreant English, in coward fashion seduced the people to the paths of peace. All express ardent longings for the coming of the day of Armageddon when the strong man armed will wake from his poppied sleep and a wave 400 million strong will blot out the white specks who think that they govern India. In the meanwhile, we would commend to the attention of our militant friends of the perfervidly patriot press the moral to be drawn from the little drama in Market Street on Sunday. The lads became possessed of a loaded double-barrelled pistol they may have borrowed it from the armoury of some hopeful patriot. They took it to a tinsmith, and he got playing with it. It went off and a woman was shot in the back. A crowd collected and one man picked up the weapon which went off again and shattered his hand. There was nearly a panic and at length a string was tied to the pistol butt, and it was dragged to the police station. The two boys who had brought the pistol ran away. There is no need to labour the moral, but revolutions are more dangerous than loaded pistols and none can tell who will get badly hurt. All that can be predicted with safety is that the real authors of the trouble will get away early.

“The wicked sense of the ludicrous” has become a little too keen in the Englishman. It is no doubt ludicrous that anybody should question the Englishman's natural right to hold down others. It is no doubt ludicrous that two Bengali boys in their teens, only lads according to the Englishman's own version, should not know the use of a loaded double-barreled pistol. It is far more ludicrous that a Bengali crowd should not know what a gun is like when the benign Government has made it penal even for respectable gentlemen to be in possession of that formidable weapon. It is still more ludicrous that the Bengalis should fail to be heroes when the Englishman has advised the Government not to give them any offensive weapon lest their naked valour should suffer. It is ludicrous indeed that the Bengalis do not rise to their full height notwithstanding the faculties which the Englishman's countrymen have provided for them. There is no cowardice in emasculating a man in every way and then twitting him with his symptoms of weakness.

The Englishman is making capital out of the Market Street incident. He thinks he has scored a point against the Revolutionists who, when their ignorant crowd get dazed at the going off of a pistol, “call upon the nations of India to arise and fling out the Feringhees”. We have been further told that revolutions are more dangerous than loaded pistols; and if the worst comes to happen the real authors of the trouble will get away early.

We are glad the Englishman has dissipated our ignorance. Till now, we were under the impression that revolutions were far easier than quill-driving in a Chowringhee office, under the electric fan attended by a thousand liveried servants. We have yet to learn that all Englishmen are Heraclidae and Bayards and there is none amongst them whom even our demoralised crowd would put to shame. Every stick is good enough to beat the dog with; and the Market Street incident has very rightly been pounced upon by the Englishman to pooh-pooh the aspirations of the perfervidly patriotic press. It is rather late in the day to smile the New Spirit away. The perfervid press have by this time learnt that two and two makes four and can be spared the Englishman's enlightenment as to what revolution is like. The Bengalis are quick-witted and only a day's experience, we believe, has befitted the Market Street crowd to take part in a revolution, if the Englishman can bring about any. The real truth is that so many gun-shot incidents are ominous to the Englishman.

 

This work was not reprinted in the CWSA and it was not compared with other editions.