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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. April 12, 1907

By the Way

Adversity brings us strange bedfellows, says the poet, but surely it never played as1 strange a freak as when it brought Babu Surendranath Banerji and Mr. N. N. Ghose under the same political counterpane. Time was when the cryptic2 sneering self-worshipper of Metropolitan College and the flamboyant, brazen-throated Tribune of the people were polls3 apart in their politics. The Tribune ignored with a splendid scorn the armchair prosings of the Cynic and the unsuccessful Cynic was always digging his fang of cultured envy into the successful Tribune. How all has4 changed! Adversity has come upon both; the floods of extremism are washing over the political world; and the literary recluse who would fain pose as a politician holds out his arm of succour from the select little Ararat to the great man in difficulties. The mouse protecting the lion and Mr. N. N. Ghose championing the great Surendranath against the attacks of Extremists form companion pictures in freaks of natural history. Whatever else Babu Surendranath may be, he is a great man, an orator, a5 genius, a personality which will live in history. And for him to be protected by Mr. N. N. Ghose! Really, really! Of all the humiliations to6 have recently overtaken our famous Tribune, this is surely the worst.

*

If Mr. N. N. Ghose reminds us of the mouse that saved the lion, he still more forcibly recalls Satan reproving sin. We cull a few choice epithets from this gentle and cultured critic in which he described the new party with his usual sweet and courteous reasonableness. “The men who glorify themselves and singularly enough are glorified by others.” “The new school has scarcely anything to distinguish itself except scurrility and factiousness.” “Its politics are of the do-nothing sort.” “It is moved by the dog-in-the-manger spirit.” “It seeks to thrust itself into notoriety by abusing prominent men.” “In the new school personal malice often did duty for patriotism.” It is amazing with what accuracy the sentences characterise the political attitude of Mr. N. N. Ghose through all the years that he has been trying in vain to get the country to take him seriously as a politician. Irresponsible, captious criticism, abuse of everyone more successful than himself, a do-nothing, fault-finding, factious dog-in-the-manger spirit, self-glorification as the one wise man in India, this is the compound labelled Mr. N. N. Ghose. Surely, those whom he now turns round to rend may well cry, “Physician, heal thyself.” We can well understand why he has transferred his attentions from Babu Surendranath to the new party. Envy of others' success is the Alpha and Omega of Mr. N. N. Ghose's politics. When the new party was still struggling for recognition, he extended to it a sort of contemptuous patronage; now that it is recognised as a force he cannot contain his bitterness and venom.

*

Mr. Ghose is in raptures over Rai Srinath Pal Bahadur's7 pompous and wordy address the Rai Bahadur8 was not successful in commanding approval and9 respect by the10 speech, so our only N. N. stands forth as his solitary admirer. Sj.11 Deepnarain's splendid address revealed a new personality in our midst, a man with a brain and a heart, not a cold and shallow joiner of choice literary sentences; it commanded the admiration of all Bengal without distinction of parties. After that it was inevitable that Mr. N. N. Ghose should be unable to find in it anything but words. Again we see the ruling passion at work.

*

But Mr. Ghose has another cause of quarrel with Srijut Deepnarain. Has he not dared to talk of the recent birth of Indian Nationalism in Bengal? What can he mean? Has not Mr. Ghose been editing the Indian Nation for years past? What then is this new Indian Nation of which Mr. N. N. Ghose knows nothing or this new nationalism which for the life of him Mr. N. N. Ghose cannot understand? Quite right, O sapient critic! Before you can understand it you must change your nature and get what you never possessed a heart that can feel for the sufferings of your fellow countrymen and beat higher at the prospect of making great sacrifices and facing strong perils for their deliverance.

*

We are really struck by the infinite capacity for not understanding which Mr. Ghose possesses. This is his idea of the new politics. “They have nothing to do. As they mean to ignore the Government, they will not discuss its measures or care to suggest reforms. They are waiting for that political millennium, Swaraj. When Swaraj comes, they will assume functions; in the meantime they must only preach and abuse. A comfortable programme of patriotism.” Hardly so comfortable as the armchair from which do-nothing critics criticise do-nothingness. Whether the new school is doing something or nothing, is not for him to judge but for the future. He thinks that national schools and colleges are nothing, that the boycott is worse than nothing, that to awake a new heart and a new spirit in a great and fallen nation is nothing; that to restore the habit of self-dependence and self-defence is nothing. What then is something in the eyes of this great man of action? To do something is to discuss Government measures and “suggest” reforms. We are overwhelmed! We can only apostrophise the editor of the Nation as the Greek General apostrophised his victorious adversary, “O thou man of mighty activity!”

 

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: so

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

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

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

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

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6 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: that

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7 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Srinath Paul Rai Bahadoor's

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8 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bahadoor

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9 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: or

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10 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: his

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11 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Sjt.

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