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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. July 25, 1907

One More for the Altar

Srijut Bhupendranath Dutt has been sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment for telling the truth with too much emphasis. As to that we have nothing to say, for it is a necessary part of the struggle between Anglo-Indian bureaucracy and Indian democracy. The bureaucracy has all the material power in its hands and it must necessarily struggle to preserve its unjust and immoral monopoly of power by the means which material strength places in its hands, by the infliction of suffering on the bodies of its opponents and on their minds, so far as they allow the suffering of the body to affect the mind, by forcible interference with the outward expression of their feelings, by intimidation and a show of brute power and force. But if the bureaucracy has all the material power in its hands, the democracy has all the spiritual power, the power and force of martyrdom, of unflinching courage, of self-immolation for an idea. Spiritual power in the present creates material power in the future and for this reason we always find that if it is material force which dominates the present, it is spiritual which moulds and takes possession of the future. The despot in all ages can lay bonds and stripes and death on our body; his power is only limited by his will, for law is an instrument forged by himself and which he can turn to his own uses and morality is a thing which he regards not at all, or if he affects to regard it, he is cunning enough to throw a veil of words over his actions and mislead the distant and ill-informed opinion which is all he cares for. But if the despot can lay on the body the utmost ills of the scourge and the rack and the sword, if he can directly or indirectly plunder the goods of those who resist him and seek to crush them by wounding them in their dearest point of honour, the enthusiast for liberty can also turn suffering into strength, bonds into a glorious emancipation and death into the seed of a splendid and beneficent life. He can refuse to allow the tortures of the body to affect the calm and illumined strength of his soul where it sits, a Divine Being in the white radiance of its own self-existent bliss, rejoicing in all the glorious manifestations of its Will, rejoicing in its pleasures, rejoicing in its anguish, rejoicing in victory, rejoicing in defeat, rejoicing in life, rejoicing in death. For we in India who are enthusiasts for liberty, fight for no selfish lure, for no mere material freedom, for no mere economic predominance, but for our national right to that large freedom and noble life without which no spiritual emancipation is possible; for it is not among an enslaved, degraded and perishing people that the Rishis and great spirits can long continue to be born. And since the spiritual life of India is the first necessity of the world's future, we fight not only for our own political and spiritual freedom but for the spiritual emancipation of the human race. With such a glorious cause to battle for, there ought to be no craven weakness among us, no flinching, no coward1 evasion of the consequences of our action. It is a mistake to whine when we are smitten, as if we had hoped to achieve liberty without suffering. To meet persecution with indifference, to take punishment quietly as a matter of course, with erect head and undimmed eyes, this is the spirit in which we must conquer.


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: cowardly