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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. October 7, 1907

The Price of a Friend

Recent events are daily putting a greater and greater strain on the sweet and cordial relation of the Friend of India with her people. It is no doubt hard to part when friends are dear, perhaps it will cost a sigh, a tear. Under the circumstances the poet's advice is to steal away and choose one's own time. But the Friend of India is giving us warning after warning that it will cease to be our friend unless we consent to do its bidding. When the people do not much mind the sundering of this tie the Friend should be prepared for the inevitable and devise some means for avoiding the heart-wrench which the sudden severance of such a long-standing connection must necessarily cause. The Friend so fondly hoped that the Moderates compared with whom the Extremists are “a mere drop in the ocean” would ever remain docile and teachable, sit at its feet for all time and hang on its lips with the attention and reverence they show to their spiritual preceptors. But this sudden change in their attitude has come to our friend as a surprise. The Moderates are now most indecently and openly hobnobbing with the Extremists. When a prominent Extremist goes to jail the Moderates stand by him, nay shed tears over his unjust incarceration. When an Extremist newspaper is prosecuted and the bureaucracy fails to spot the real offender on account of its having been conducted under an arrangement which whatever its merit, lacks the fairness and candour of delivering the management at once into the hands of the enemy whenever so required, the Moderates do not realise the enormity of the latter's offence and what is more, resent the Friend of India's pious demand that the conductors of the paper should have thrust their neck, down the wolf's throat. This ill-advised obstinacy the friend can hardly excuse and we quite understand its righteous indignation. There is time yet for the Moderates to come round, go on their knees before their justly offended friend and sign a pledge to go back to his guidance. This the friend demands and hopes that the Moderates will accede to it. The friend also reaffirms his claim to their allegiance and that is his persistent support of their “just aspirations”. It is by their unjust aspirations that they have forfeited the sympathy of this precious friend. There cannot be a greater iniquity than the attempt at self-realisation; justice and equity demand that one nation should for ever be in the leading strings of another. Whoever wants to alter this most reasonable and fair arrangement must be shunned and expelled from the Congress and all other institutions which desire the countenance of the Statesman. The friend also contends that though the constitutional method has not hitherto paid, that does not mean that it will never pay. Even if it does not pay at all, the Moderates have no business to rub the shoulders1 with the Extremists; for in that case they stand to lose the most valuable thing they possess, the friendship of the Friend of India.


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: rub shoulders