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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. May 30, 1907

Drifting Away

Bombay is nearer London than Calcutta; and while Mr. Gokhale during his visit to Calcutta tried to organise a special session of the Congress at Bombay, the people of Bombay are contemplating the holding of the next session of the Congress in London. The Gujerati writes:

“The idea of holding the next session of the Indian National Congress in London is a good idea. Years ago a similar proposal was put forward. But it was not taken up by Congressmen in right earnest. The extremists who are sure to quote Mr. Morley's reply to the anti-Partition memorialists in justification of their opposition to sending any petitions, will be probably also opposed to holding any session of the Congress in London. Excluding this class of Indians, the more thoughtful, sober-minded and responsible section of Congressmen who form the majority, will be in favour of the idea, provided financial difficulties could be overcome and the most representative Congressmen induced to visit England.”

And it asserts that “a successful Congress session in London would be more fruitful especially at a juncture like the present than five sessions held in India”. Fruitful in what respect? If our contemporary means fruitful in expenditure, humiliation and loss of self-respect, then we must agree with him. Why should the National Congress hold its session in London? The nation does not live in London and the root-idea of a national movement is opposed to this continual theatrical supplication to the very people who are interested in preventing us from becoming a nation. While our contemporary confidently asserts that a successful session in London would be more “fruitful” than five sessions held in India, we, belonging as we do to that section which Mr. Romesh Dutt during his two hours' presidentship of the Congress saw routed by the Moderates, may be permitted to suggest that one such session will do more injury to the country and the cause than five years without a session of the Congress. The attitude of British statesmen, moreover, is not encouraging even to the Moderates who still think of getting rights marked “Made in Great Britain” in the same consignment with Liverpool salt or Manchester piecegoods. The hand on the dial will be put back if we leave the nation and check the growing spirit of self-help and self-exertion to go and beg for “rights” in England and spend on this fruitless act sums which we badly require for the long-neglected task of national organisation. “The time,” says our contemporary, “has come when Congressmen in a body should face the British public.” Possibly; but not to “plead the cause of India and her inhabitants in the very metropolis of the Empire”. This idea about the British public is a pure superstition. The British public will never interfere with the action of its representatives and kinsmen in India and in the India Office, unless and until it finds itself in danger of losing its Empire in the East. The quarrel has to be fought out between the people of India and the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy, and it must be fought out on the soil. To attempt to transfer the field of battle to London will be impracticable and harmful.


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.