Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. August 12, 1907
A Compliment and Some Misconceptions
We extract in another column the opinions and interpretations of the London Times anent the Bande Mataram. It is gratifying to find the Thunderer so deeply impressed with the ability with which this journal is written and edited, even though the object of this generous appreciation be to point us out as the tallest oak of all on which the lightning may most fitly descend. But we feel bound to correct certain misapprehensions into which the Times has too readily fallen. It suits the Times to pretend that the Nationalist movement in India is a pure outcome of racial hatred and that the creation and fomentation of that hatred is the sole method of Indian agitators and the one object of their speeches and writings. But Nationalism is no more a mere ebullition of race hatred in India than it was in Italy in the last century. Our motives and our objects are at least as lofty and noble as those of Mazzini or of that Garibaldi1 whose centenary the Times was hymning with such fervour a few days ago. The restoration of our country to her separate existence as a nation among the nations, her exaltation to a greatness, splendour, strength, magnificence equalling and surpassing her ancient glories is the goal of our endeavours: and we have undertaken this arduous task in which we as individuals risk everything, ease, wealth, liberty, life itself it may be, not out of hatred and hostility to other nations but in the firm conviction that we are working as much in the interests of all humanity including England herself as in those of our own posterity and nation. That the struggle to realise our ideal must bring with it temporary strife, misunderstanding, hostility, disturbance,– that in short, it is bound to be a struggle and not the billing and cooing of political doves, we have never attempted to deny. We believe that the rule of three hundred millions of Indians by an alien bureaucracy not responsible to the nation is a system unnatural, intrinsically bad and inevitably oppressive, and we do not pretend that we can convince our people of its undesirability without irritating the bureaucracy on one side and generating a strong dislike of the existing system on the other. But our object is constructive and not destructive, to build up our own nation and not to destroy another. If England chooses to feel aggrieved by our nation-building, and obstruct it by unjust, violent or despotic means, it is she who is the aggressor and guilty of exciting hatred and ill-feeling. Her action may be natural, may be inevitable, but the responsibility rests on her, not on Indian Nationalism.
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: of Garibaldi