Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. April 2, 1907
The President of the Berhampur Conference
When the Moderate caucus which arranges our Congresses and Conferences selected Srijut Deepnarain Singh to preside at Berhampur, they thought, no doubt, that they had hit upon a doubly suitable choice. As a young man and one known to be an ardent patriot he would not disgust Bengal by an ultra-moderate pronouncement; as a Zemindar1 he might be expected to have the fear of the Government before his eyes and to avoid giving open support to the ideas and programme of the New School. It was this latter apprehension, we believe, that lay at the root of the dissatisfaction expressed by some of ourselves at the choice. For our part, we shared neither the hopes of the Moderates nor the fears of our own party. We happen to know something of Srijut Deepnarain Singh by report when he was in England, and we could not believe that so much fire, sincerity and ardour had been quenched in so short a time or even subdued by his position as a rich man and a Zemindar2. We confidently expected from him a pronouncement worthy of the occasion, and we have not been disappointed. The spirit of true nationalism underlies his address, as reported in substance; the programme of the New School, so far as it has yet taken concrete shape either in practice or in immediate urgency, has been accepted and the declaration for Boycott is satisfactorily clear and unmistakable. By bringing Srijut Deepnarain forward, it is probable that the3 real service will have been done to Bihar, which is in bad need of men who can understand the drift of the times and direct the political activities of the province towards the future instead of trying to keep them clamped to a dead and rotting past. Bihar has a future of its own as a Hindi-speaking sub-race of our nationality; and in that United States of India, which the prophetic vision of the President has forecast, it will have its individual station. But in order to carry weight in that Union Bihar must take up its destinies and become an active force in the general movement towards independence. Whether the Biharees4 are wise in desiring administrative separation from Bengal under the present bureaucracy, it is difficult to say. For our own part, we are inclined to doubt whether Bihar is as yet quite strong enough to stand by itself unassociated with Bengal or the United Provinces in resistance to a bureaucratic oppression; but if the Biharees5 generally think themselves strong enough and desire to stand apart, we should be the last, professing the principles we do, to oppose the idea. Administrative arrangements have ceased to be of vital importance. But the attempt which has been made in recent times to estrange the Biharees6 from the Bengalis in spirit is a more serious matter. There can be no ground of quarrel between the two peoples except such as arises from the unholy passion for Government service, places and favours; and this ignoble cause of dissension the new spirit will, we hope, destroy before long by making place and service a brand of dishonour rather than of distinction. Judging from Srijut Deepnarain's address we seem to have in him a Biharee7 of spirit, judgment and intellectual ability who has already grasped the future in anticipation and is likely to model the activities of his province in accordance with that larger vision and not under the stress of petty and evanescent interests. No province can advance under a more unerring guide or shape its activities to the demands of a more infallible ideal than this vision of an India united in its variety. Regional and communal individualities and activities cannot be blotted out from this vast country, but they can be harmonised into a dominating unity.
For the rest, it is curious to note how invariably the manoeuvres of the Moderates turned against themselves. This is indeed inevitable, for when Fate is against men, their likeliest measures and best-concerted combinations act to their own detriment. Dadabhai Naoroji was made President in order to dish the Extremists; yet it was this Moderate President who gave us the cry of Swaraj which the Extremists have made their own and which is stirring the blood of the nation to great actions and great ideals. Madras and the United Provinces were declared to be unanimous against Boycott in order to prevent the Boycott Resolution from passing through the Congress; but the only result has been to raise a storm of Extremism in South and North alike, and set the cry of Boycott ringing from one end of India to the other. The shamelessly arbitrary action of the Moderate caucus at Allahabad has done more to kill the old and help the new than the free admission of the Boycotters could possibly have done. The selection at the last moment of Srijut Deepnarain as President in the hope of a “safe” address,– just as Berhampur was selected as a “safe” place – only resulted in a fresh testimony to the growth of the new ideas. How long will you try with these two-penny half-penny brooms of party manoeuvring to sweep back the ocean?
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 1890–1908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.
1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Zamindar
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Zamindar
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: a
4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Biharis
5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Biharis
6 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Biharis
7 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bihari