Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. April 23, 1907
A Man of Second Sight
The tendency not to mince matters is in itself a virtue seldom appreciated by people who in consequence of long subjection cannot rate boldness in any form at its proper value. But to awaken boldness in a nation which has lost the sense of honour and self-respect, has always been the first engrossing effort of those political thinkers who meant to do their duty by the country honestly and sincerely. The capacity to look facts in the face and support a true grasp of the situation by a programme at once bold and heroic, has always met with a belated recognition when fallen nations have begun their first struggle towards emancipation. The charge of being wild and mischievous dreamers, cursed satanic1 perversity and a rash haste to mislead and destroy, has invariably been laid at the door of people who tried to initiate great national revivals. The outburst of indignation with which the new school propaganda is being received in some quarters, is therefore perfectly natural. But it is not these unbelievers whom we want to reach and influence. The Pharisees and Philistines will ever dog our footsteps and try their best to dissuade us and to defeat us. They will even try to bring about the persecution of the true patriots; but this too none need fear; for suffering only makes men stronger to bring about the redemption of their country. Timidity at such times is dignified with the name of prudence, moderation and humanitarianism; but it is mere scum and dross which bubbles to the surface; meanwhile the true metal is being purified for use below. The process of purification is always accompanied by such surface impurities, but they only serve to bring truth and sincerity into bold relief. These politicians are intoxicated with the ideal of a prosperous serfdom and cannot realise how it eats into the very vitals of a nation. It is largely because the honour and emoluments of a selfish few, whom the alien bureaucracy seek to humour for victimising the rest, are brought into jeopardy that we hear such hysterical denunciations of the straightforward and fearless efforts of the Nationalists. “Let their conduct be such as not to savour of ingratitude to the benefactors. When we find so many broad-minded Englishmen fighting our cause in and out of Parliament, when we see a Viceroy showing every consideration to our feeling2 and sentiments, when we see a Secretary of State openly sympathising with our aspirations, when we see the administration of the country shaping itself to modern needs, when we see all these and many more signs of the bright future awaiting us – we should take heart to abandon petty querulous feelings and set ourselves earnestly to the task of self-preparation. Before we aspire to govern our country we must learn to govern our own selves.”
Such are the ratiocinations and exhortations of the prophet of the Indian Mirror. His powers of vision evidently excel the ability of common men and amount to something more than second sight. He sees Englishmen fighting our cause in and out of Parliament, where the ordinary eye can only see a number of insignificant Members of the Parliament3 asking questions which lead to nothing and advising an oppressed nation to wait in patience for a far-off millennium. He sees a Viceroy showing every consideration to our feeling4 and sentiments where common beings can only see a policy of insincerity5. He sees a Secretary of State openly sympathising with our aspirations where others can only see a Radical Minister professing liberalism and practising hide-bound conservatism. He sees the administration shaping itself to modern needs where we poor mortals can only see an out-of-date and semi-civilized system, refusing to be modernized and reformed. This it is to be an occultist and dabble in white magic! And what does it all come to? That some slight and ineffectual reforms have been vaguely promised, whose only result will be to give a few more individuals the chance of getting name and fame at the expense of the country. The Mirror is in terror of losing this chance because of the spread of Nationalism; hence its hysterical appeals and chidings. The country is not likely to be diverted by these selfish and narrow-minded considerations from the mighty movement into which it is casting itself or held back from the great goal of national autonomy.
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: cursed with satanic
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: feelings
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: of Parliament
4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: of feelings
5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: insincere conciliation and tentative repression.