Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. August, 19, 1907
Justice Mitter and Swaraj1
Justice Mitter's conduct in connection with the cases which were more or less of a political nature, has been a surprise to many of his own countrymen. He has risen high above the servile impulses which our education, surroundings and life raise in us, and is giving his country the full benefit of the advantageous position he holds under an alien bureaucracy. His native independence and uncommon intellectuality seem to have been specially invigorated by the spiritual re-awakening of which the whole country is giving some indication, and in all the cases he has lately tried he has done his utmost to annihilate the vast distance between absolute and bureaucratic justice. He has shewn the service-holding section of his countrymen an example which they will do well to imitate in the interests of their country and humanity. The moral of his conduct is that our duty as men and Indians should always get the precedence of our duty as servants. If we be true to ourselves, we cannot be false to anyone. Self-reverence cannot fail to extort respect even from our enemies. But this is by the way.
Justice Mitter's explanation of Swaraj is now the subject of talk amongst the thinking portion of our people. It has almost thrown into comparative oblivion his luminous and unexceptionable judgment in the now famous Comilla Case. And we propose to offer our opinion on his interpretation of Swaraj. His explanation of Swaraj as Home Rule under British control no doubt echoes the sentiment of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji who is considered the prophet of this new message. But Saroda Charan is not only a Justice but a scholar too. Without seeking to justify the ideal of Swaraj under the somewhat narrow meaning which Mr. Naoroji has given to it, Justice Mitter might have taken an excursion into our Vedic literature, traced the word to its very source, and pointed out that it represents an ideal which, having regard to its inspired scriptural origin and high moral and spiritual significance can never lack the sanction of law and justice, if law and justice are of divine origin and concern themselves with promoting the real welfare of mankind. The Vedas say that if we pursue real happiness we must seek the great, the universal. Our aspiration can be satisfied with nothing short of the Omnipresent. In littleness there is no bliss. So we must not run after petty ideals. The Universal alone should be the one object of our knowledge and pursuit. Then the Vedas explain the nature of the Universal. It is independent, self-protecting, and stands by its greatness, and in its greatness – stands sva-mahimni, as we have it in the text. This sva-mahimni is synonymous with Swaraj as everyone who understands Sanskrit can very well see. According to the Vedanta which is only the philosophical exposition of the Vedas, every individual self is nothing but divinity itself and should stand by and in its own greatness. To be impressed with the dignity of one's own self, to realise its identity with the Universal is the goal of our aspiration, the end of our being. If this is the object of an individual life, the nation also should set its heart on the same ideal. The nation also should try to know itself, to work out its potentialities, to realise its mightiness and identity with the Universal. Such an ideal does not at all brook the notion of dependence. The very radical meaning of the term Swaraj excludes it. Swaraj emphasises the idea of self-sufficiency and insists on it. It mitigates against the idea of there being any limit to our expansion. We must be full, we must be perfect, we are the divinity in embryo and when fully developed we shall be coextensive with God Himself. This is what Swaraj unmistakably means. It at once embodies the ideals of independence, unity, liberty. It can never compromise itself with anything having a limit. It is the ideal of infinite possibility and Justice Mitter has not fully used the opportunity to point out to his countrymen the ideal which alone should engage their attention if they really mean self-improvement as a nation. But what he has done is so much, in his position, that the admiration and respect of the whole country for his fearless sense of Justice is no more than his right.
This work was not reprinted in the CWSA and it was not compared with other editions.
1 The exact date of the article is uncertain. It appeared in the daily edition on 19 or 20 August. These issues have been lost. The article were reprinted in the weekly edition on 25 August.