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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. April 10, 1908

The Work Before Us

The little that we have done is the first faint shadowing forth of our future activities, nothing more. If we are content with what we have done, even that little will disappear, the movement will be abortive and the country fall back into its former condition. It is therefore necessary to give a new impetus to the movement everywhere, and now that Srijut Bepin1 Chandra is out of prison, the necessary will no doubt be done. The first work is to revive courage in the hearts of the people. The effect of the recent repression has been not to crush the movement, but to discourage its outward activity. This discouragement must be removed. We cannot allow the movement to be driven inward and become an affair of secret societies and terrorism, as it will inevitably become if the outward expression of it is stopped. The next work is to give a stronger impetus to the boycott, so that the little that we have gained may become the starting-point for fresh victories; the organisation of boycott is the first work to which we should set our hands. The third thing to be done is to spread National Education. A serious effort must be made to take in hand the raising of funds for this branch of national activity, so that the National Council may be in a position both to effect the complete organisation of its scientific, technical and other sides and to extend aid to the increasing number of schools which are springing up all over the country. It is also necessary to bring the existing primary schools under the Council; for this is a work of great importance, and until it is done, the foundations of the new educational edifice will not be secure, since it is the primary schools in which the bulk of the people are educated. If the present institutions will not come into the new system, the country must be covered with a network of new primary schools on national lines, such as the one which is now being projected at Uttarpara, schools giving a primary literary education along with such technical instruction as will enable the students to earn a livelihood as small artisans. If this is done, the public will flock into the national institutions and the old primary schools will perish.

So much is necessary for the completion of the work for which we have already laid a foundation, but the time has come when we should start actively on fresh lines. The most important of these is arbitration, which will, if successfully carried out, form the basis of our future self-government. Education will give us the necessary training of mind and character for self-government, arbitration will provide a practical field in which our capacities can be tested. In some parts the work has already been begun and with remarkable success, but it is necessary to lay the foundations all over Bengal. The difficulties that lie in its way are not so insuperable as they at first appear; if the lawyer class can be provided with a means of living by the arbitration system, their passive opposition, which is the only real obstacle to be dreaded, can be removed. The existing courts will provide careers for those who wish to earn large fortunes in the legal line, but the host of small practitioners in the mofussil are those who will be affected by the spread of arbitration and some provision must be made in our arbitration schemes by which their field, if restricted, may not be entirely destroyed. This subject is one which demands detailed treatment and it will be the theme of a future article. At present we wish only to emphasise2 its great importance.

When we have laid the foundations of arbitration, our work is not finished; the positive side of it only has been done. There is another side less palpable, but even more important, and it is the destructive or negative side, the removal of old prepossessions, false beliefs, false ideals from the mind of the people. So long as the least little of faith in the bureaucracy remains in the lowest class of our population, the conditions of success are not complete. The bureaucracy is itself doing much to destroy the ancient faith in its philanthropy, integrity and high motive which was the source of its strength, but this is chiefly in the educated class and the landed aristocracy, both of which, whatever the outward professions, fear or self-interest may dictate, are now thoroughly alienated. The only work which remains to be done so far as these classes are concerned, is to generate faith in the nation, for so far as moderatism still prevails, it is not owing to faith in the bureaucracy but to distrust in the nation. The lower classes have still to be inoculated with the spirit of self-help, separation from the alien and confidence in their own countrymen. To some extent the work has been done, the seed has been sown; Swadeshi is the seedbed of this spirit of self-reliance, this sense of separateness, and, at least among the Hindu community, Swadeshi is deeply rooted in all classes. But this seed has yet to fructify and spring up. The only way in which this can be done is to destroy the barriers between the educated class and the peasantry which English education has created, to restore the old unity of society by mutual service, by love, by self-identification with the mass of our countrymen. The volunteer movement, now in a rudimentary state, has to be developed and perfected so as to form the bridge of communication between the heart of the people and the brain of the educated community. Our propaganda among the masses must consist less in the teaching of ideas than in teaching by acts, less in intellectual conviction than in the appeal to the heart and to the imagination. No time should be lost in taking this work in hand, the days are passing by with great swiftness and bringing us nearer and nearer to the final struggle when the people and the bureaucracy will stand face to face. On that day the masses will weigh down the scale and decide victory or defeat.


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: Bipin


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