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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. December 13, 1907

The Surat Congress

When the All-India Congress Committee first betrayed its charge and degraded itself from the position of a high arbiter and guide in all national affairs to that of a party machine subservient to a single political tactician, we said that there were but two courses open to us, either to refuse to accept a party trick engineered in defiance of justice, decency and all the common rules of public procedure and to hold our own Congress at Nagpur, or to go in force to Surat and, if we could not swamp the Congress, at least to show that into whatever farthest nook or corner of India Sir Pherozshah Mehta might fly for refuge, he could not get rid of the presence of Nationalism, to fling ourselves at once on Gujerat and organise1 Nationalism there, so that the Loyalist's chosen haven of refuge might become another place of shipwreck. In any case, we said, we must have a Conference of Nationalists this year and organise Nationalism all over the country. We have not concealed our opinion that the session at Nagpur would be the preferable course, as being both the most logical and the manliest and involving the least waste of energy now and in future. But such a course was out of the question unless all could agree upon it, and this was not found possible. Especially when Mr. Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai, fresh from his exile, were in favour of attending the Surat session, there could be no further question of our course. It has been decided, then, to attend the Surat Congress in what force we can muster at this short notice and do our best to hold the ground we have gained, as well as to see that certain questions which were held over last year are not held over again. A Nationalist Conference has also been arranged by the efforts of the Nationalists at Surat and arrangements will be made for Nationalist delegates, a ticket of one rupee being issued to each delegate for the recovery of expenses.

We call upon Nationalists in Calcutta and the Mofussil, who are at all desirous of the spread of Nationalist principles and Nationalist practice all over India, to make ready at whatever inconvenience and, if they find it humanly possible, go to Surat to support the Nationalist cause. We are aware of the tremendous difficulties in our way. Surat is far-distant, the expenses of such a journey are almost prohibitive, for only a small percentage of our party are men of means, and the time for preparation is almost nil. And yet we must go. What is a Nationalist good for if he cannot make up by his enthusiasm and energy for his other deficiencies, if he cannot make nothing of difficulties and turn the impossible into the possible? It is to sweep away difficulties and to strike the word impossible out of the Indian's dictionary that our party has arisen. The leaders of the Deccan call us; Lala Lajpat Rai, a name now made sacred to us all, is waiting to see the first fruit of his sufferings in the increase of patriots wedded to the principles for professing and practising which he has suffered, and the people of Gujerat are waiting eagerly for our advent. If Bengal goes there in force it will, we believe, set flowing such a tide of Nationalism as neither bureaucrats nor Bombay Loyalists are prepared to believe possible. The Christmas concessions given by the Railway companies reduce the expense to a minimum and for those who travel by the intermediate, Rs. 75 at the outside should be enough. For we are going not as holiday sight-seers making a national occasion an excuse for a Christmas jaunt and we do not demand comfort on the way or luxuries when we arrive. We must go as poor men whose wealth is our love for our Motherland, as missionaries taking nothing with them but the barest expenses of the way, as pilgrims travelling to our Mother's temple. We have a great work to do and cannot afford to be negligent and half-hearted. Be sure that this year 1907 is a turning-point of our destinies, and do not imagine that the session of the Surat Congress will be as the sessions of other years. Let us fear to miss by absenting ourselves the chance of helping to put in one of the keystones of the house we are building for our Mother's dwelling in the future, the house of her salvation, the house of Swaraj.


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: organize