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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. June 21, 1907

The Moral of the Coconada Strike

That the weapon of passive resistance is sometimes a match even for sword and bayonet, not to speak of milder instruments of repression, is being evidenced in the strike of the shipping coolies at Coconada. We may have to resort to this means of protest for some time to come until the Britishers so far forget themselves as to begin firing on strikers and boycotters a contingency for which the country should now learn to be prepared. If the despot still entertains some doubt as to the working of the time-spirit, it should be set to1 rest by the instinctive resort of the Coconada coolies to a wholesale strike as an effective protest against the arrest of some of their own people for alleged participation in a riot. The drafting of the military and the punitive police to the locality has perhaps strengthened their firmness. The Englishman while alarmed at this unexpected combination among the lower class, hopes that the strike is not political in its character. This comfortable deduction has provoked a sort of subdued laughter from the Madras Hindu. Events alone make men wise. The opinion that is today punished and ridiculed as mere heresy, has its ratification tomorrow in experience. Our moderate contemporary now sees eye to eye with the Nationalists when it says: “If once the lower classes of the people begin to know and feel their real strength and power, it will be difficult to predict the results that would follow. No prudent administrator would, in our opinion, tempt the bringing into play of the capacity for combination which the lower strata of people have. They cannot be cowed down into submission with half the ease and celerity with which the educated classes can be brought down by the display of military strength.” The whole plan of Nationalist campaign rests on the basis of this potential strength of the people which does not require for its re-awakening years of mass education as is contended by the Moderates, but only tangible instances of bureaucratic high-handedness. Education in the ordinarily accepted sense is not a very effective means of national regeneration, as the Hindu itself admits. The responsiveness of untampered and unsophisticated nature, its want of calculation and its speedy decision have to be turned to advantage.

Thus the Coconada strike comes handy with its moral to dispel another of our superstitions.


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: at