Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. August 8, 1907
Srijut Surendranath Banerji in his remarkable speech in College Square, the other day, observed that what the country now needed was not oratory but statesmanship, for the only effective answer to bureaucratic repression is the organisation of the whole strength of the country to carry out its natural1 ideal in spite of all repression. We think the veteran leader has gauged the situation very accurately, but we confess we do not see at present where the statesmanship is to come from which is to carry out the difficult, arduous and delicate task before us. What we have done hitherto we have done without leadership, almost without clear purpose, under an inspiring and impelling force which we must necessarily think divine. Where that force has visibly guided us, we have done astonishing things: but at the same time there has been much confusion, one-sidedness and incoherence in our work. And now that a powerful and organised Government has set itself in grim earnest to destroy our movement it is imperative that we too should organise and make our whole potential strength effective for self-defence. The divine guidance will only be continued to us if we show ourselves in our strength and wisdom worthy of it. But it cannot be denied that the first effect of the repression has been to disorganise our work. Since it began, there has been no concerted and coherent action, every man has done what seemed good in his own eyes or else remained inactive. The result has been much weakness, supineness and ineffectiveness. Barisal fights for its own hand to maintain the boycott. The Yugantar attacked carries on a heroic struggle with the bureaucracy with what stray assistance, individual generosity or patriotism may offer it. But organised resistance, organised persistence even there is none.
This unsatisfactory condition of things is traceable to one main cause. All Bengal is heartily agreed in Swadeshi and professedly all are agreed on the necessity of industrial Boycott. But a majority of the older leaders, trained in another school of politics cannot adapt themselves to the new state of things, they cannot even throw themselves heartily into the only measures which can make the individual2 boycott crushingly effective, and they are out of sympathy with the wider developments of boycott which are becoming indispensable if we are to meet the bureaucratic attack with full success. They object personally to the new men and decline to work in co-operation with them. The new men, on the other hand, who have immensely increased their following and influence in the country are not in possession of the machinery of Congress and Conference, are, in fact, zealously excluded from it by the present possessors and have but small following among the richer men who might provide the sinews of war. They are moreover prevented, by a natural unwillingness to hopelessly divide the nation, from organising a machinery of their own. Yet to talk of organising the nation while excluding the new men is absurd. If the older party have the greater solidity and resources, the younger men have the lion's share of the energy and driving force, they divide the great middle class and are no longer there in a hopeless minority, but are gathering adherents all over the country (even in Madras they commanded one third of the votes at the last Conference) and they exercise an overwhelming empire over the minds of the rising generation. To organise the nation means to make all its elements of strength efficient for a single clear and well-understood work under the leadership of a recognised central force. To exclude such important forces as these we have described, simply means3 to leave the nation unorganised.
The country is in need of a statesman, yes; but what kind of statesman? He must be a man thoroughly steeped in the gospel of Nationalism, with a clear and fearless recognition of the goal to which we are moving, with a dauntless courage to aim consciously, steadily, indomitably towards it, with a consummate skill to mask his movements and aims when necessary and to move boldly and openly when necessary and, last but not least, with an overmastering magnetic power and tact to lead and use and combine men of all kinds and opinions. Such a leader might organise the nation to some purpose, but those who shrink from following where their hearts and intellects lead them or who form4 party feelings or personal dislike or jealously5 try to exclude powerful forces from the common national work cannot claim the name of statesman. It is an encouraging sign of the times that Surendranath is coming more and more into sympathy with thoroughgoing Nationalism but will he have the courage and magnanimity to hold out his hand to the new men and if he does will he be able to retain the loyalty of his principal followers? If not, he will never be able to carry out the task he has declared to be the one and supreme need of the nation.
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 1890–1908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.
1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: national
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: industrial
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: means simply
4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: from
5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: jealousy