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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. April 12, 1908

Baruipur Speech1

Sj. Shyamsunder Chakravarti having finished his speech, Srijut Aurobindo Ghose rose to address the audience. He began with an apology for being under the necessity of addressing a Bengali audience in a foreign tongue specially by one like himself who had devoted his life for the Swadeshi movement. He pointed out that through a foreign system of education developing foreign tastes and tendencies he had been de-nationalised like his country and like his country again he is now trying to re-nationalise himself.

Next he referred to the comparative want of the Swadeshi spirit in West Bengal to which Shyamsunder Babu made very polite reference, himself coming from East Bengal. But Sj. Ghose as he belonged to West Bengal had no hesitation in admitting the drawback. This superiority of East Bengal he attributed solely to its privilege of suffering of late from the regulation “lathis” and imprisonment administered by the alien bureaucrat2. He offered the same explanation of the increase of the strength of Boycott in Calcutta after the disturbances at the Beadon Square of which the police were the sole authors. The speaker dilated on the great efficacy of suffering in rousing the spirit from slumber by a reference to the parable of two birds in the Upanishads, so often referred to by the late Swami Vivekananda. The parable relates that there was a big tree with many sweet and bitter fruits and two birds sat on the tree, one on the top of it and the other on3 a lower part. The latter bird looking upwards sees the other in all his glory and richness of plumage and is at times enamoured of him and feels that he is no other than his own highest self. But at other moments when he tastes the sweet fruits of the tree he is so much taken up with their sweetness that he quite forgets his dear and beloved companion. After a while there comes the turn of bitter fruits, the unpleasant taste of which breaks off the spell and he looks at his brilliant companion again. This is evidently a parable concerning the salvation of individual souls who, when they enjoy the sweets of the world, forget to look upwards to the Paramatma who is really none else than their own highest self, and when they forget themselves in this way through the Maya of this world, bitterness comes to dispel the Maya and revive the true self-consciousness. The parable is equally applicable to national mukti. We in India fell under the influence of the foreigners' Maya which completely possessed our souls. It was the Maya of the alien rule, the alien civilisation, the powers and capacities of the alien people who happen to rule over us. These were as if so many shackles that put our physical, intellectual and moral life into4 bondage. We went to school with the aliens, we allowed the aliens to teach us and draw our minds away from all that was great and good in us. We considered ourselves unfit for self-government and political life, we looked to England as our exemplar and took her as our saviour. And all this was Maya and bondage. When this Maya once got its hold on us, put on us shackle after shackle, we had fallen into bondage of the mind by their education, commercial bondage, political bondage, etc., and we believed ourselves to be helpless without them. We helped them to destroy what life there was in India. We were under the protection of their police and we know now what protection they have given us. Nay, we ourselves became the instruments of our bondage. We Bengalis entered the services of foreigners. We brought in the foreigners and established their rule. Fallen as we were, we needed others to protect us, to teach us and even to feed us. All these functions of human life, so5 utterly was our self-dependence destroyed, we6 were left unable7 to fulfil8.

It is only through repression and suffering that this Maya can be dispelled, and the bitter fruit of Partition of Bengal administered by Lord Curzon dispelled the illusion. We looked up and saw that the brilliant bird sitting above was none else but ourselves, our real and actual self9. Thus we found Swaraj within ourselves and saw that it was in our hands to discover and to realise it.

Some people tell us that we have not the strength to stand upon our own legs without the help of the aliens and we should therefore work in co-operation with and also in opposition to them. But can you depend on God and Maya at the same time? In proportion as you depend on others the bondage of Maya will be upon you. The first thing that a nation must do is to realise the true freedom that lies within and it is only when you understand that free within is free without, you will be really free. It is for this reason that we preach the gospel of unqualified Swaraj and it is for this that Bhupen Dutt and10 Upadhyaya11 refused to plead before the alien court. Upadhyaya12 saw the necessity of realising Swaraj within us and hence he gave himself up to it. He said that he was free and the Britishers could not bind him; his death is a parable to our nation. There is no power so great that can make India subject when we will say that13 God will make us free. Herein lies the true significance of National Education, Boycott, Swadeshi, Arbitration. Do not be afraid of obstacles in your path, it does not matter how great the forces are that stand in your way, God commands you to be free and you must be free. We ask you to give up the school under the control of the foreign bureaucracy and point out to you National Education, we ask you to keep away from the legal system which prevails in your country as it is a source of financial and moral downfall another link in the chain of Maya. Do not suffer in bondage and Maya. Let Maya14 alone and come away. Don't think that anything is impossible when miracles are being worked on15 every side. If you are true to yourself there is nothing to be afraid of. There is nothing unattainable by truth, love and faith. This is your whole gospel which will work out miracles. Never indulge in equivocations for your ease and safety. Do not invite weakness, stand upright. The light of Swadeshi is growing brighter through every attempt to crush it. People say there is no unity among us. How to create unity? Only through the call of our Mother and the voice of all her sons and not by any other unreal means. The voice is yet weak but it is growing. The might of God is already revealed among us, its work is spreading over the country. Even in West Bengal it has begun its work16 in Uttarpara and Baruipur. It is not our work but that of something mightier that compels us to go on until all bondage is swept away and India stands free before the world.

April 12, 1908

 

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 A Swadeshi meeting was held at Baruipur, a sub-division of the district of 24 Parganas, on Sunday the 12th April, 1908. Srijuts Bepin Chandra Pal, Sri Aurobindo with a few other prominent nationalist workers of Calcutta were invited on the occasion. Text (third-person report) was published  in the Bande Mataram on 17 April.

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

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

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4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: in

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5 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: So

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6 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: destroyed that we

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7 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: were unable

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8 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: to fulfil every function of human life.

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9 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: selves

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10 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Bhupen and

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11 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Upadhyay

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12 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Upadhyay

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13 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: this,

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14 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Leave this maya

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15 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: out on

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16 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: it is working

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