Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. April 1, 1908
India and the Mongolian
When Srijut Bepin1 Chandra Pal in his speech at the Federation Ground was speaking of the possibility of China and Japan overthrowing European civilisation, how many of the audience understood or appreciated the great issues of which he spoke? We have lost the faculty of great ideas, of large outlooks, of that instinct which divines the great motions of the world. This huge country, this mighty continent, once full of the clash of tremendous forces, stirring with high exploits and gigantic ambitions, loud with the voices of the outside world, has become a petty parish; the palace of the Aryan Emperors is now the hut of a crouching slave, small in his ideas, mean in his aspirations, his head sunk, his eyes downcast, so that he cannot see the heavens above him or the magnificent earth around. If one speaks to him of his mighty possibilities of great deeds that he yet shall do, or seeks to remind him that he is the descendant of kings, he takes the speaker for a madman talking vain things and a derisive smile of pity is his only reply. We hold it to be the greatest injury of all that England has done us, that she has thus degraded our soul and dwarfed our imagination. It is only by the grace of God that a reawakening has come, that we are once more becoming conscious of our divine inheritance and the grandiose possibilities of our future.
Of all the minds that have stirred to the breath of God among us, refreshed themselves from the fountain of strength and inspiration and risen to their full height and stature Srijut Bepin2 Chandra's is the most penetrating, the most alive to the thoughts that are filling the modern world, the first to divine the future and prophesy the movements of God in the nation. While others were the slaves of Western ideals, his mind first caught the meaning of the sudden arising of India, first proclaimed the spiritual character of the movement, first discovered that it was not only the body but the soul of India that was awaking from the sleep of the ages. On Saturday when he spoke of India as the saviour of Europe, he again gave expression to a prophetic thought, again looked with more than human insight into the future. The truth was not one which his hearers could grasp; many must have gone away scoffing, few could have appreciated the luminous penetration of insight which lay behind the thought of the speaker. The awakening of Asia is the fact of the twentieth century, and in that awakening the lead has been given to the Mongolian races of the Far East. In the genius, the patriotic spirit, the quick imitative faculty of Japan,– in the grand deliberation, the patient thoroughness, the irresistible organisation3 of China, Providence found the necessary material force which would meet the European with his own weapons and outdo him in that science, strength and ability which are his peculiar pride. The political instinct of the European races has enabled them to understand the purpose of the Almighty in the awakening of the Mongol. A terror is in their hearts, a palsy has come upon their strength, and with blanched lips they watch every movement of the two Eastern giants, each wondering when his turn will come to feel the sword of the Mikado or what will happen when China, the Titan of the world, shall have completed her quiet, steady, imperturbable preparation. The vision of a China organised4, equipped, full of the clang of war and the tramp of armed men, preparing to surge forth westwards is the nightmare of their dreams. And another terror of economic invasion, of the Mongol swamping Europe with cheap labour and stifling the industries of Europe adds a fresh poignancy to the apprehensions which convulse the West. Hence the panic in America, in Australia, in Africa, the savage haste to expel the Asiatic at any cost before the military strength of China is sufficiently developed to demand entrance for her subjects with the sword emphasising5 her demand. This is the Yellow Peril, and every European knows in his heart of hearts that it is only a question of time6 necessary for his vision to translate itself into the waking world. But one thing the European has not yet perceived and that is that the Mongolian is no wild adventurer to go filibustering to Australia or bombard with his siege-guns San Francisco or New York before Asia is free. The first blow given by the Mongolian fell upon Russia because she stood across the Asiatic continent barring the westward surge of his destiny. The second blow will fall on England because she holds India.
The position of India makes her the key of Asia. She divides the Pagan Far East from the Mahomedan West, and is their meeting-place. From her alone can proceed a force of union, a starting-point of comprehension, a reconciliation of Mahomedanism and Paganism. Her freedom is necessary to the unity of Asia. Geographically, she occupies an impregnable position of strength commanding the East of Asia as well as the West, from which as from a secure fortress she can strike the nations of the Persian or the Chinese world. Such a position held by an European Power means a perpetual menace to the safety of Asia. It will therefore be the first great enterprise of a Chino-Japanese alliance to eject the English from India, and hold her in the interests of Asiatic freedom and Asiatic unity. This necessity of India's position is one which neither the English nor the Mongolian can escape. No treaties, no attempts to reconcile conflicting interests will stand against the secret and inexorable necessity which forces nations to follow not the dictates of prudence or diplomacy, but the fiat of their environment. When the inevitable happens and the Chinese armies knock at the Himalayan gates of India and Japanese fleets appear before Bombay harbour, by what strength will England oppose this gigantic combination? Her armies which took two years to overcome the opposition of forty thousand untrained farmers in the Transvaal? Her fleets which have never fought a battle with a trained foe since Trafalgar? They will be broken to pieces by the science and skill of the Mongolian. And the key of Asia will pass into Mongolian hands and the strength of India, the Sikh and the Rajput and the Maratha7, the force of Mahomedan valour and the rising energy of new nations in Bengal and Madras will all be at the service and under the guidance of the Mongolian who will not fail to use them as England has failed, letting them run to waste, but will hammer them into a sword of strength for the fulfilment of his mission, the extrusion of the European from Asia, Africa, Australia, the smiting down of European pride, the humiliation of Western statecraft, power and civilisation and its subordination to the lead of the dominant Asiatic.
The doom is drawing very near and the awakening of Bengal has come just in time to give India a chance of recovering her freedom of action. If she strains every nerve to use the chance, if she is able to develop her self-consciousness, her unity, her warlike instincts, her industrial independence, she will be in a position to assert her own will, to offer herself as an ally and not an instrument, it may be even, as Bepin8 Babu suggested, to mediate between the civilisation of Europe and Asia, both of them so necessary to human development. Two great obstacles stand in her way. The blindness of the bureaucracy which is straining every nerve to crush the Indian renascence in the vain hope that it can continue to rule, is the least of the two. Far more formidable is the greater though more excusable blindness of the people themselves who still persist in connecting their future with the rule of England. Our Moderate politicians refuse to allow their minds to shake off the delusion that the British rule is a dispensation of Providence and meant to endure. All their thoughts of the future assume that the present is perpetual, that what is, will be. As one long in darkness cannot see the light when it enters suddenly his prison, so our people even when the dawn has come, cannot believe that it is really daybreak. They persist in assuming that the night will continue and are content with merely turning a little in bed instead of rising and swiftly accoutring themselves for the work of the day. The warning which Srijut Bepin9 Chandra addressed to the British people, is also a warning to the people of India. British rule can only continue in India, if India is willing that it should continue and strong enough to defend it against all comers. If a rejuvenated India decides to be free, it depends on the present action of the bureaucracy whether free India will be a friend of England and a mediator between Europe and the triumphant Mongol or an ally of the latter in the approaching Armageddon. Even if the movement in India is crushed, it will not be England that will reap the fruit of her crime in strangling an infant Nationality. She will before long be swept out of India by the Mongolian broom and the latent forces which she refused to utilise10 will be used against her by a bolder and more skilful statesmanship. The people of India too will have to reap the fruits of their present Karma. On them far more than on the bureaucracy it depends whether they will meet the coming Mongolian as a destined slave and instrument, an ally or an equal whose voice shall override all others in determining the fate of the world.
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: Bipin
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bipin
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: organization
4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: organized
5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: emphasizing
6 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: of the time
7 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Mahratta
8 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bipin
9 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bipin
10 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: utilize