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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. April 29, 1908

By the Way

The Parable of Sati

Daksha, the great Prajapati, had a daughter, named Sati, whom he loved beyond all his children, and the Rishis wedded her to Mahadeva, the great lord of the Universe. The choice of the Rishis was not pleasing to Daksha, because he was unable to see in Mahadeva anything but a houseless ascetic wandering with the beasts of the field and the demons of the night, a beggar's bowl in his hand, his body smeared with ashes, a tiger's skin for his only robe. His scorn increased the more he came to know of his son-in-law, a Bhang-eating, lazy ne'er-do-well, with no ascertainable means of livelihood, no home, no property, no degree or other educational qualification, no stake in the world. He cursed the Rishis for fools and evil counsellors, visionaries who saw in this pauper with his bowl and his matted hair the Master of the World. So when he had to offer a great sacrifice, he sent invitations to all the gods, but deliberately excluded his son-in-law. The result was disastrous. Sati, full of grief and indignation at the affront to her lord, gave up her body and disappeared from mortal ken. Then came Mahadeva in his wrath, the mighty One, the destroyer of Universes, and broke Daksha's sacrifice to pieces and shattered the hall of sacrifice and slew Daksha in his hall.


There was a Daksha too in India which was called the Indian National Congress. Like Daksha it was a great figure, a Prajapati with numerous offspring, full of dignity, sobriety, wisdom, and much esteemed by the gods. This Daksha too had a daughter whom he loved, the young Indian Nation. When the time for her marriage came, she chose for herself the bridegroom offered to her by the Rishis who declared him to be Mahadeva, the Destiny of India and her fated Lord. It was at sacred Benares that she first saw Mahadeva face to face and betrothed herself to him, but the marriage took place at Calcutta with a fourfold Mantra, Swaraj, Swadeshi, Boycott, National Education, as the sacred formula of union. The marriage did not please Daksha, but the Rishis were importunate and Sati firm, so he was compelled to give way. He cursed the Rishis freely. “What manner of husband is this they have given to my Sati? A homeless beggar, wild and half crazy with the Bhang he has drunk, wandering on the hills in company with the wild beasts and the demons, without culture, enlightenment and education, rude in speech, rough in manners, ill-clad, destitute, with no past, no present and no future! Yet these fanatics call him the Master of the World, an embodiment of the Almighty, and what not!” So he hid his grief and wrath but determined to be revenged. For Mahadeva the Mighty, the Destiny of India, had long wandered in the wilderness with a beggar's bowl in his hand, poor and destitute, an ascetic smeared with ashes and clad in a tiger's skin, with no home in which he could lay down his head. And when he came to the marriage, it was in fearsome guise and in evil company, drunk with the Bhang of a wild inspiration, shouting “Bombom Bande Mataram” at the top of his mighty voice, disreputable in appearance and unfit to associate with polite and cultured gentlemen such as Daksha had hitherto made his friends, poor, shaggy, ill-clad, with no visible means of existence and no tangible prospects in the future; and his companions were a wild company of lathi-bearing National Volunteers and other disquieting phantasms quite out of place in Daksha's tastefully got-up and elegant marriage Pandal. How could Daksha realise1 that in this uncouth figure was the Destroyer and Creator of an Universe, One who held the fate of India and of the world in his hands? The Rishis only knew it and they were called visionaries and fanatics for their pains.


Daksha prepared a great annual sacrifice in the year after the marriage and held it with much pomp, but he determined to exclude Mahadeva the Mighty from the sacrifice and so framed the rules of admission that the undesirable son-in-law might keep away in future. The result is known to everybody. The Destiny of India, whom Daksha tried to exclude, came in wrath and knocked at the gates of the hall of sacrifice and when Daksha's hired men tried to beat him back, he broke into the hall and shattered the sacrifice and slew Daksha in his hall.


The story goes that Mahadeva, entreated on behalf of Daksha, restored him to life, but when the head of Daksha was sought for, it could not be found, and so a goat's head was incontinently clapped on the unfortunate Prajapati's shoulders. When the modern Daksha died, there was a similar desire to revive him but the head could not be found. Some said it was lost, others argued in more legal language that it was functus officio. Accordingly, these wise men found a goat's head which they called a creed and stuck it on the shoulders of Daksha and put life into his trunk and swore that this goat-headed legless anomaly should in future be called Daksha. Unfortunately, they made the whole thing more grotesque by clapping on the goat's head the wrong way, so that its face was turned backward and, when the crippled monster tried to shove itself along, its progress was retrogression and its advance a retreat. For its eyes were turned to the past and not to the future.


Meanwhile, Mahadeva the Mighty wandered over the world carrying the dead body of Sati on his head, dancing a wild dance of ruin which shook the world to its foundations. For Sati had left her old body and men said she was dead. But she was not dead, only withdrawn from the eyes of men, and the gods clove the body of Sati into pieces so that it was scattered all over India, which thing is also a parable; for after the death of the Congress the unity of India which was the daughter of the Congress, must break up into factions and groups. The Convention is already developing parties and in the wild times that are coming the Nationalists also will break up into parties, some of which will make the present designation of extremism as applied to us look an absurdity, and the political life of India will become an anarchy. But not for ever. For Sati will be born again, on the high mountains of mighty endeavour, colossal aspiration, unparalleled self-sacrifice she will be born again, in a better and more beautiful body, and by terrible tapasyā she will meet Mahadeva once more and be wedded to him in nobler fashion, with kinder auguries, for a happier and greater future. For this thing is written in the book of God and nothing can prevent it, that Sati shall wed Mahadeva, that the national life of India shall meet and possess its divine and mighty destiny.


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: realize