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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. June 21, 1907

The “Statesman” on Shooting

While Mr. John Morley was being cross-examined by the Nationalist and Labour members in Parliament and was answering in his usual style of Demigod plus Aristides the just plus Louis XIV of France plus the Archangel Gabriel, the tiger qualities of an imperial race suddenly awoke in the breast of Sir Howard Vincent and roared out “Why not shoot Lajpat Rai?” In that single trenchant sentence the war-like Knight gave a sudden illuminating expression to the heart's desire of all Anglo-India and two-thirds of England. It was not decorous, it was not politic, but it was frank and sincere. Yesterday the Friend of India noticed the incident with great sympathy for Sir Howard Vincent's feelings, but it could not altogether approve of applying his panacea just at present. The Friend, however, looks forward to a day when the shooting will begin; it invites the attention of the Indian reactionaries whoever they may be to this bloodcurdling Howard Vincent war-whoop and warns them that this is the prospect before them if a Tory Government comes into power while the present unrest continues. By its Indian reactionaries the Friend probably means not Nawab Salimullah and the Mihir Sudhakar, but the Democratic Nationalist Party in India; for the Friendly language must be usually interpreted by contraries, and it is quite natural for one who calls the Statesman a friend of India to call democracy and nationalism reactionary. Let us assure the Friend however that the Nationalist Party have from the beginning envisaged the possibility of the shooting being started; they did not need a Howard Vincent to open their eyes to it. The defenders of the established order of things have attempted almost every form of Russian repression except the taking of life. Deportation, condemnation without trial, punishment before conviction, flogging, the gagging of press and platform, police hooliganism, the employment of a Black Hundred, brutal personal persecution in jail and Hajat, have all been attempted though not as yet on the Russian scale. When all these methods have been found ineffective, it is quite possible that the order, “do not hesitate to shoot” may go out; already in the Punjab the threat has been used to prevent public meetings. The Friend of India is greatly mistaken if he thinks that his menaces will have any better effect than his abuse and cajolings; it is a wild dream for him to hope that any power can make Indian Nationalism fall down and kiss the feet of Archangel John.


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.