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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. April 14, 1908

Indian Resurgence and Europe

In many of the European countries in which democracy is at present not fully developed, the monarchy and the people are still in a position of armed neutrality with regard to each other. The people look with distrust on the ruler, the ruler with fear and antipathy on the people. If the ruler takes a step in the direction of absolutism the bomb is ready in the hands of the people to put an end to his life. If the people seem to be inclined towards Republicanism or Socialism the whole energies of the ruler are bent towards the discovery of some means by which the tide of democracy can be kept in check or turned back. When we look to democratic countries we find a similar attitude between capital and labour, property and poverty. Distrust is the atmosphere of modern politics, mutual suspicion and hatred the secret spring of action. Under the fair outside of its material civilisation, a deep-seated moral disease is at work eating into the vitals of European society of which a thousand symptoms strike the eye, from the extreme of bomb-throwing Anarchism to the other extreme of Tolstoy's Utopianism. Is India to be infected with the disease? The present conditions of Government in this country are full of the germs of the occidental malady, and if India is to escape from it, it must be, first, by getting rid of these conditions and secondly, by seeking refuge in its own superior civilisation. The work of Nationalism is therefore twofold. It has to win Swaraj for India so that the present unhealthy conditions of political life, full of the germs of that social and political phthisis which is overtaking Europe, may be entirely and radically cured, and it has to ensure that the Swaraj it brings about shall be a Swadeshi Swaraj and not an importation of the European article. It is for this reason that the movement for Swaraj found its first expression in an outburst of Swadeshi sentiment which directed itself not merely against foreign goods, but against foreign habits, foreign dress and manners, foreign education, and sought to bring the people back to their own civilisation1. It was the instinctive protest of Nature against the malady that was eating its way into the national system and threatening to corrupt its blood and disturb the soundness of its organs. If there were some irrational features in the revolt of the people against foreign things, it was the violence of the malady which necessitated the violence of the reaction. The late Upadhyaya2 was the type and champion of this feature of the National movement. He was never weary of harping on the necessity of stripping from ourselves every rag of borrowed European thought and habits and becoming intensely, uncompromisingly Indian. When we put aside all the mannerisms of that strong personality and seek its kernel, we find that this was his message and the meaning of his life. After himself going through all the phases of Europeanised thought and religion, he returned like his country with a violent rebound to the religion, the thoughts, the habits and the speech of his forefathers. It is the spirit of old Bengal which incarnated itself in him with the strength, courage, passionate adherence to conviction which was the temperament of old Bengal and which modern Bengal had for a period lost. His declaration in Court and his death put a seal upon the meaning of his life and left his name stamped indelibly on the pages of history as a saint and martyr of the new faith. It washed out all human weakness and impurity with the wave of a great spiritual act of devotion and renunciation and left the soul of the man only for posterity to cherish. We have to take up his work and incorporate the essence of it into the accomplished heritage of the nation.

The return to ourselves is the cardinal feature of the national movement. It is national not only in the sense of political self-assertion against the domination of foreigners, but in the sense of a return upon our old national individuality. It is significant that all those who are out of touch with this feature of the movement are losing their position at its head, while those who keep in its forefront are being more and more suffused with the spirit of “Indianity” and overcome with the spell of India, the magic of her thought and civilisation, the overpowering touch of her religion. The highest qualities of head and heart cannot keep the lead for men who have not the saving grace of openness to this passion for India as she was, is and will be. On the other hand, men perhaps of inferior calibre are likely to do better work for the country, who have the power to respond. The secret of this peculiar feature of the movement is to be found in its essential nature and in the purpose which God intends it to serve. If India follows in the footsteps of Europe, accepts her political ideals, social system, economic principles, she will be overcome with the same maladies. Such a consummation is neither for the good of India nor for the good of Europe. If India becomes an intellectual province of Europe, she will never attain to her natural greatness or fulfil the possibilities within her. Paradharmaḥ bhayāvahaḥ, to accept the dharma of another is perilous; it deprives the man or the nation of its secret of life and vitality and substitutes an unnatural and stunted growth for the free, large and organic development of Nature. Whenever a nation has given up the purpose of its existence, it has been at the cost of its growth. India must remain India if she is to fulfil her destiny. Nor will Europe profit by grafting her civilisation on India, for if India, who is the distinct physician of Europe's maladies, herself falls into the clutches3 of the disease, the disease will remain uncured and incurable and European civilisation will perish as it perished when Rome declined, first by dry rot within itself and last by irruption from without. The success of the National movement, both as a political and a4 spiritual movement, is necessary for India and still more necessary for Europe. The whole world is interested in seeing that India becomes free so that India may become herself.

 

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: civilization

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

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

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4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: and as a

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