Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. September 3, 1907
When the mailed fist of young Japan was striking blows after blows1 at the huge Russian bear our benevolent rulers who were secretly dismayed and astonished tried to put on a smiling face as best they could and persuade us into the belief that Japan was only an exception which proved the rule of Eastern worthlessness. Somehow or other, however, inconvenient facts cropped up to challenge their favourite theory and Persia, and even Afghanistan began to raise their heads. Even China threw away her phial of laudanum and opened her eyes to the rays of the rising sun. Our honest Anglo-Indian Press tried to ignore this ugly fact as long as it could; but now with a deep sigh it has to confess that the Eastern nations have secured a fresh lease of life and have begun in right earnest to set their houses in order. Here is an extract published by the Pioneer from a circular issued by the Chinese authorities:
“Those who are able to promote agricultural enterprises, mechanical arts and handicrafts, trade and mines or any other kind of business, or aid merchants to subscribe capital for industrial enterprises, and succeed in them – such officials or gentry who have worked to such an end, will be rewarded by the Throne to an extraordinary degree. Should any one be able to show that he has succeeded in starting a manufactory or industrial work with a capital of over ten million taels, where the workmen number several thousand, such persons will be even more greatly rewarded – even to the extent of being raised to the peerage.”
Japan joined in the race of commercial enterprise later than India and outstripped her in no time and now China, where there are no “honest Swadeshi” officials to let loose mercenary Goorkha2 bands to crush all spirit of enterprise, may very well be expected to do the same. Here in India we lag behind and lose the race not because the other Eastern nations are naturally more gifted than we are but because there is that benevolent despotism which like a leaden extinguisher puts out all the fire of our genius. There is scarcely a word of encouragement, and in fact there cannot be; but of repression and Swadeshi cases there is3 plenty.
But the Time-Spirit is abroad, and out of the extinguishers4 leap5 forth the tongues of fire that will at no distant date set all obstacles ablaze. The nations of the East will rear up their heads and India will be herself again. Repression will only enhance the glory of her victory and help in putting her in the vanguard of nations.
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: blow after blow
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Gurkha
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: are
4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: extinguisher
5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: leaps