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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. October 5, 1907

Novel Ways to Peace

We learn from the Empire that on Wednesday evening the Paharawallas got completely out of hand and that a number of them afterwards traversed the streets indulging in looting, destruction of property and assault. We are farther told by our contemporary that the moment the peace was broken, the Budmash element asserted itself. And the Empire winds up with a genial and smiling prophecy to the effect that the atmosphere will be more or less disturbed for a month (that is till the Puja is over and the European merchants have been able to get their consignments through) and there will be considerable bloodletting over the business; at the end of that period, we are told, the relations between the Government and the people, especially the Extremists, will be substantially improved, because the latter will have fully realised by then what Calcutta would be like if the British Government were actually “overthrown”. We rather fancy the Empire has carefully forgotten to include two very important and indeed essential considerations in its amiable prosings on the orgy of hooliganism and police outrage to which the unarmed Bengalis have been subjected in the interests of foreign trade. The first is that if the present bureaucratic government were to be, let us not say “overthrown” but to be driven to retire in a dungeon1 from the scene, the Arms Act would deal with them and the people would very soon have the means as well as the will to defend themselves. The second is that the police in a free India would be compelled to protect the citizens instead of supplementing the deficiencies of the hooligans. It is easy to wrench all means of self-defence out of the hands of people, savagely repress all attempts at mutual protection, leave them to the mercy of the turbulent classes, allowing even the police whom we pay to protect the peace to “get completely out of hand” and loot unpunished, and then taunt the victims with their inability to defend themselves and the necessity of an alien and irresponsible third party for keeping the peace. The argument has worn thin and can no longer serve its purpose. The Empire errs grievously in thinking that police violence and hooliganism are the royal road to peace and conciliation. East Bengal2 and the Chitpur outrages will not pacify and conciliate Calcutta. The only result will be to more fiercely embitter the struggle. One other result there may indeed be to eventually dethrone the nationalist leaders and destroy their control over the van of the movement as the control of the Moderates has already been destroyed; for as the exasperation increases their attempts to regulate the movement will be resented and themselves condemned as cowards and moderates at heart. But who will fill the vacant place? Police Commissioner Halliday or Mr. Blair, does the Empire think? Or prophets of desperation beside whom Bepin3 Chandra Pal will shine like an angel of loyalty in the eyes of Anglo-India? Yes, the bureaucrats and their underlings are doing much to break down the creed of passive resistance which we have promulgated and to prove our policy impossible. But will passive resistance be replaced by quiescence? If so, we have much misread history. The immediate future looks dark and gloomy, a chaos the end of which no man can foresee. But whatever God does is good and still our cry to our Mother is the same, “Though thou slay us, yet will we trust in thee.”


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.

1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: in dudgeon


2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Jamalpur has not pacified and conciliated, East Bengal


3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bipin