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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. July 15, 1907

Boycott and After

The twentieth century dawned on a rising flood of renascent humanity surging over Asia's easternmost borders. The first report of it reached the astonished world in the victorious thunder of Japan. And it spread onward, this resurgent wave of human spirit, swiftly, irresistibly, overflooding in a sweeping embrace China, India, Persia and the farther West. India received the ablution of the holy waters singing her sacred hymn Bande Mataram that filled the spaces of heaven with joyous echoes heard of the Gods as of old and the nations of the earth listened to the song of unfree India and knew what it was a voice in the chorus of Asiatic liberty. The unpremeditated and spontaneous declaration of the Boycott was the declaration of the country's recovery to life from its death-swoon of centuries, of her determination to live her own life not for a master, but for herself and for the world. All was changed. Patriotism, the half-understood catchword of platform oratory, passed out of its confinement into the heart of the people, the priest and the prince and the peasant alike giving to each that power of sacrifice which has now translated itself according to the confessions of the Times into the concrete fact of 42 million yards less of English cotton goods. And the demonstrations1 of the sixteenth of October joined in by the Hindu and the Mahomedan, the Buddhist, the Jain and the Sikh, the police and the people, through the mystic compulsion of an instinctive fraternity, was the enchanting prevision of the India to be. Such a vision is vouchsafed only to the man or the nation that stands on the threshold of emancipation; it came to the Rishi filling him with the immortal longing to be one with the Divine, to the medieval2 monk penetrating him with the life-long love of Christ, and it has ever come at the mature moment to the down-trodden peoples of the earth revealing to them in a flash the mission and the destination of their life. It remains but a moment, but those that have seen it can never forget or rest; they pursue the glory, even while it seems to recede into the distance, over the even and uneven walks of life, past the smiles of the tempter, through the prison-gate and exit, on through the jaws of death. Its effect on the individual is immediate, on a whole nation necessarily spread over a longer time during which the seer of it bears its message to him who has not seen. But the progress of the pursuit none can arrest till the vision is reached, realised and reinstalled in all the beauty of its first appearance. Ever since the Partition day, India has pressed on this path; the boycott of foreign goods, the return of the weaver to his loom, the dissociation of the people from the government, the strikes, the deluge of meetings all over the land, the insulting of the National leaders, the breaking up of the Barisal Conference, the dismissal of Fuller, the appointment of Hare, the persecution of boys, the dismissal of the school masters, who loved liberty more than money, the foundation of the National Council of Education, of National schools, the institution of technical education, the insolvency of dealers in Bideshi goods, the social ex-communication of anti-boycotters, the unbidden repetitions of the Rakhi-day first3, the passing of the Swadeshi resolution by the Congress, the prosecution of the Punjabees4, the Rawalpindi riot, the Mahomedan rowdyism in East Bengal, the loan to Salimullah, Newmania, the changed and respectful attitude of Anglo-Indians towards Indians, the deportation of Lajpat and Ajit Singh, the proclamation, the unmasking of English liberalism, the awakening of Madras, the prosecutions at Rajahmundry5 and Coconada, the continuing prosecution6 in the Punjab and Bengal, the admission by the Times of the success of the Boycott, the throwing of 150,000 English labourers out of employment, and the necessity of easing overstocked markets, are some of the landmarks of the country's progress. Before her now lies the valley of the shadow of death full of trials and unknown perils and temptations, but the light that leads her cannot fail; the inspiration of the Power that gives her strength is irresistible, superior to death; she will go on till the fulfilment of the vision of the 16th of October. There is a Divinity that has been shaping her ends no mere might of man, for nothing but the renovating touch of Divinity can account for the difference between now and then, between the days before and after the Boycott.


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: demonstration


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


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


4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Punjabis


5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Rajamundry


6 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: prosecutions