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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. May 27, 1907

National Volunteers

Our Barisal Correspondent seems, like the Khulna Magistrate, to have taken the Englishman's Special Correspondent much too seriously. The fictions of Mr. Newman are too evidently fictions to deserve serious criticism. Whether they are the distortions of a panic-stricken imagination or actual inventions, we need not too closely enquire. They have a certain journalistic effectiveness, and they serve the political ends of this paper whose efforts are wholly directed towards urging on the Government to a policy of thoroughgoing repression. Everybody in Bengal knows that previous to the disturbances in East Bengal, there was no movement of the kind which has sent Mr. Newman into carefully calculated hysterics. There was a movement for physical training and the institution of Akharas, which was by no means so widespread or successful as it should have been. There was also a custom which had first grown up in the Congress and naturally extended to Conferences and then to public meetings, of employing the services of young men in making the arrangements and keeping order. It is those only who bore the name of volunteers and they were never a standing organisation, but merely organised themselves for the occasion and broke up when it was over, nor had they any connection with the Akharas. Finally, there was in the earlier days of the Swadeshi movement great activity among the young men in picketing and other means of moral suasion to enforce the boycott, but except in one or two places this has long fallen into desuetude except for occasional spasmodic attempts. Neither were the picketers ever formed into an organisation or termed volunteers. After the outbursts of anti-Swadeshi violence at Comilla and Jamalpur, the young men spontaneously united to present a firm defence against hooligan outrages1 and this is the terrible phenomenon which has made Mr. Newman delirious. In his ravings he has mixed up all these loose threads and woven out of them a web fearful and wonderful. As a matter of fact hundreds of youths who are taking part in the defence of hearth and home, never entered an Akhara or handled a lathi before, and are now first realising what they ought to have realised long ago, the necessity of physical exercise and training to2 self-defence.

With extraordinary ingenuity this imaginative Sherlock Holmes of Anglo-India has discovered that the Anti-Circular Society, the Bande Mataram Sampraday and the Brati-Samity harmless and peaceful relics of the first Swadeshi enthusiasm, are separately and unitedly the organising centre of these terrible Volunteers! We only wish our countrymen had shown themselves capable of forming such an organisation, deliberate, well-knit and pervasive. But we have still some way to travel before this3 becomes possible.

 

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: outrage

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

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

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