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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. May 24, 1907

The Thunderer's Challenge

The London Times has thrown out to us a far more comprehensive and significant challenge than the deportation of Lajpat and all the series of repressions accomplished or contemplated. This Thunderer has all this time been watching the growth of national sentiments in the East with increasing mortification and has at last called out to the surging waves: “Thus far and no further.”

The British sword, which like King Arthur's Excalibur should have been thrown into these waves because its work in India, if it had any, is fulfilled and done with, is on the contrary being flourished vigorously as if its mere glitter would frighten the ocean back within its limits. Agitators are menaced and the whole East warned against her discontent with the overlordship of the West. The Times has done well to see the ongoings in the East in their proper perspective and not to belittle them as temporary and sporadic disturbances. It would have done better still if it had not talked of putting back a world-movement by the suppression of agitation or the waving of a sword in Fleet Street. The success of the “agitators” in bringing such a movement to a head should have convinced the Times that they are being aided by a higher power than any that Lala Lajpat or Ajit Singh can wield. The Times has got a superabundance of faith in its sword. But if it really thinks this much-flourished weapon a security against Indian progress, it should keep it waiting in the scabbard till the time for use. Familiarity breeds contempt and it is scarcely dignified for a power filling so important a place in the eyes of the world to indulge in puerile vauntings of its own strength in season and out of season. Let it strike at the right moment, if that will help, but unseasonable flourishings and proddings only give strength and speed to a movement which it is the Englishman's interest to weaken.

But England's folly is India's advantage. Imprudence and wrong-headedness on the part of the one nation are the sure provoca tives to courage and manliness on the part of the other. It is in these challenges that the hope of our speedy salvation lies. National regeneration would have been quite an uphill work for us if the alien bureaucracy had continued unmoved in their profession and begun the actual practice of sympathy. But their increasingly militant attitude is helping the attainment of that solidarity which we could hardly have achieved but for this pressure from without. Nationalism which is a creed of faith, love and knowledge has no longer to creep in the petty pace of argument and persuasion, but is making rapid strides towards recognition by the whole people in the overwhelming reaction for which the present bullying by journals like the Times and hasty acts of repression like those in the Punjab are responsible. The whole of India is turning Nationalist by one swift revolution of feeling. When the Partition agitation of Bengal has created a universal unrest throughout India, when the cry of resistance that emanated from the small district town of Dinajpur in Bengal has been adopted by the whole country, united India can no longer be called an impossibility. The scepticism about our fitness, the superstition of philanthropy in politics, are fast disappearing before a dawning race-consciousness. The insolence of the ruling race and their constant talk of our inability have touched into life even our atrophied amour-propre. The covert and open resistance to the Swadeshi-boycott movement has revealed to us the true nature of foreign sympathy. The events of the last two years have completed our political education.

We used to be much exercised how to bring on that struggle which alone can call forth the energies of body and soul in a subject people. For circumstanced as we are, we cannot act on the offensive, but if others goad us by attack, then only can this degenerate race be saved. Misguided bureaucrats and virulent publicists have created our opportunity. We have only to make the right use of the challenges which are coming in quick succession, and we shall be able to effect in a few years a work which would otherwise take centuries.


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