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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. March 17, 1908

The Warning from Madras

The outbreak at Tinnevelly is significant as a warning both to the authorities and to the leaders of the popular party. For the bureaucracy, if they have eyes to see or ears to hear, it should be an index of the fierceness of the fire which is burning underneath a thin crust of patience and sufferance and may at any moment lead to a general conflagration. Whence does this fire come or what does it signify? It is a suddenly blazing fire of straw, say the bureaucrats, kindled by the hands of mischievous agitators; it means nothing except that the authors of the mischief must be vigorously repressed. Even if this were true, it is at least a subject which might well cause reflection in minds not blinded by selfish infatuation why it is so easily kindled, why it blazes out so fiercely and in so many places far apart from each other. Some years ago agitators might have spoken themselves hoarse and yet there would have been no such upsurging of the population of a whole city in reckless revolt against established authority. Still more significant is the defiant spirit of the people which neither the imprisonment of the leaders, nor the shots of the military could quell, but rather lashed into fiercer rage. This is no light fire of straw, but a jet of volcanic fire from the depths, and that has never in the world's history been conquered by repression. Cover it up, trample it down, it may seem to sink for a moment, but that is only because part of the imprisoned flame has escaped; every day of repression gives it a greater volume and prepares a mightier explosion. To the popular leaders it is a warning of the necessity to put their house in order, to provide a settled leading and so much organisation1 as is possible so that the movement may arrive at a consciousness of ordered strength. At Tuticorin it was the inspiring voices, the cheerful and confident faces, the strong and calm example of their leaders in which the people felt their strength, and enabled them also to act with a restrained enthusiasm and a settled courage. The removal of that inspiring, yet quieting force, led inevitably to the resort to violence which has startled the whole country by its devastating fierceness, though at the same time it was mild enough compared with what an European mob would have done at a similar pitch of excitement. Throughout the country the same fire is burning or beginning to burn and where it has gathered force, it can only be calm and restrained so long as it feels either that it is well led or that it is developing an ordered strength. Any weakness, any failure of a serious kind on the part of the leaders will be the signal for storms before which the ‘unrest’, so alarming to English politicians, will prove a mere bagatelle. It is only conscious strength, it is only organised2 courage that can afford to be calm and patient. This is not the time to be inventing creeds and constitutions which a year or two will tear into shreds, but to recognise3 facts, to put ourselves in touch with the present and make ourselves strong to control the future.


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: organization


2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: organized


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