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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. August 6, 1907

The 7th of August

The approaching celebration of the 7th of August has a double importance this year, for it has not only its general and permanent importance as the commemoration of our declaration of independence, but an occasional though none the less urgent importance as an opportunity of reaffirming our separate national existence against the arbitrary and futile attempt of the bureaucracy to reaffirm and perpetuate a vanishing despotism. The 7th of August will be recognised in the future as a far more important date to the building up of the nation than the 16th October. On the 16th October the threatened unity of Bengal was asserted against the disingenuous and dangerous attack engineered by Lord Curzon; and since it is on the solidarity of its regional and race units that the greater Pan-Indian unity can alone be firmly founded, the 16th October must always be a holy day in the Indian Calendar. But on the 7th of August Bengal discovered for India the idea of Indian independence as a living reality and not a distant Utopia, on the 7th of August she consecrated herself to the realisation of that supreme ideal by the declaration of the Boycott. The time has not come yet when the full meaning of that declaration can be understood; even the whole of Bengal has not yet understood, much less the whole of India. But the light is coming; partly by the efforts of the preachers of the light, still more by the efforts of the enemies of the light, it is coming: and in the dim wide glimmer of the mighty dawn we can see the vast slow surge of Indian life quickening under the breath of a stupendous wind, we can discern the angry fringes of the tide casting themselves far beyond the old low level, we can almost hear the roar of the surf hurling itself on the flimsy barriers it had once accepted as an iron and eternal boundary. The waters are at last alive with the breath of God, the flood which is to overwhelm the world has begun.

The 7th of August was India's Independence Day. A big word, it may be said, far too grandiose for the little that was accomplished. To those who judge only by the gross material event it may seem so, but to those who look beneath and watch the course of events as they shape themselves in the soul of a nation, the phrase will not seem one whit too excessive. It is the soul within us that decides, that makes our history, that determines Fate, and the material nature, material events only shape themselves under the limitations of Space and Time to give an outward body and realisation to the decisions of the soul. The day of a nation's independence is not the day when the administrative changes are made which complete the outward realisation of its independence but the day when it realises in its soul that it is free and must be free. For it is the self-sufficing separateness of a nation that is its independence, and when that separateness is realised and recorded as a determined thing in ourselves, the outward realisation is only a question of time. The seventh of August was the birthday of Indian Nationalism, and Indian Nationalism, as we pointed out the other day, means two things, the self-consecration to the gospel of national freedom and the practice of independence. Boycott is the practice of independence. When therefore we declared the Boycott on the seventh of August, it was no mere economical revolt we were instituting, but the practice of national independence; for the attempt to be separate and self-sufficient economically must bring with it the attempt to be free in every other function of a nation's life; for these functions are all mutually interdependent. August 7th is therefore the day when Indian Nationalism was born, when India discovered to her soul her own freedom, when we set our feet irrevocably on the only path to unity, the only path to self-realisation. On that day the foundation-stone of the new Indian nationality was laid.

Let us then celebrate the day in a spirit and after a fashion suitable to its great and glorious meaning. Let it be a reconsecration of the whole of Bengal to the new spirit and the new life, a purification of heart and mind to make it the undivided possession and the consecrated temple and habitation of the Mother. And, secondly, let it be a calm, brave and masculine reaffirmation of our independent existence. The bureaucracy has flung itself with savage fury on the new activities of our national life; it has attempted to trample on and break to pieces under its armed heel our economical boycott; it has made the service of the motherland penal in her young men; it has visited with the prison and deportation the preaching of Nationalism by the elder men. The 7th of August must be an emphatic answer to these persecutions and prohibitions. The Boycott must be reaffirmed and this time in its purity and simplicity as the national policy to which all are committed. The Risley Circular must be definitely and unmistakably challenged and negatived in action. Let there be a procession of students led by those venerable leaders of Bengal who are also professors of the Government University. And let us see afterwards what the bureaucracy can do and what it dare do to the men who refuse to give up their lifelong and sacred occupation at an alien bidding and to the youths who refuse to abstain from initiation in the same sacred service out of sordid hopes and fears.

But most of all the day should be a day of rejoicing and a day of consecration. The whole Indian part of the town should be illumined in honour of the divine birth which saw the light two years ago. And along with the outer illumination it should be a day of the illumination of hearts. It is the sacrament of our religion that can alone give the perfect and effective blessing to our movement, and the celebration of this great day will not be complete until every Indian makes it a sacred observance, worshipping God in his own way, the Hindu in his temple, the Brahmo in his Mandir, the Mahomedan in his mosque, to consecrate himself anew on that day to the service of that single and omnipresent Deity through the task He has set to the whole nation, the upbuilding of Indian nationality by self-sacrifice for the Motherland.

 

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.