Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

If the finger points them to prison, to the prison they go

You will have no complaints to make against others, because then you will not need any leader. The leader is within yourselves.
A lecture delivered under the auspices of the Bombay National Union by Sri Aurobindo to a large gathering at Mahajan Wadi, Bombay, on Sunday, the 19th January, 1908. Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Bande Mataram Volume-01 > The Present Situation
I have written about many things, about Swadeshi, Boycott, National Education, Arbitration and other subjects. But there was one truth that I have always tried, and those who have worked with me have also tried, to lay down as the foundation stone of all that we preached. It is not by any mere political programme, not by National Education alone, not by Swadeshi alone, not by Boycott alone, that this country can be saved.
Swadeshi by itself may merely lead to a little more material prosperity, and when it does, you might lose sight of the real thing you sought to do in the glamour of wealth, in the attraction of wealth and in the desire to keep it safe. In other subject countries also, there was material development; under the Roman Empire there was material development, there was industrial progress, but industrial progress and material development did not bring life to the Nation. When the hour of trial came, it was found that these nations which had been developing industrially, which had been developing materially, were not alive. No, they were dead and at a touch from outside they crumbled to pieces. So, do not think that it is any particular programme or any particular method which is the need of the situation. These are merely ways of working; they are merely particular concrete lines upon which - the spirit of God is working in a Nation, but they are not in themselves the one thing needful.
  • What is the one thing needful?
  • What is it that has helped the older men who have gone to prison?
  • What is it that has been their strength, that has enabled them to stand against all temptations and against all dangers and obstacles?

They have had one and all of them consciously or unconsciously one over-mastering idea, one idea which nothing can shake, and this was the idea that there is a great Power at work to help India, and that we are doing what it bids us. Often they do not understand what they are doing. They do not always realise who guides or where he will guide them; but they have this conviction within, not in the intellect but in the heart, that the Power that is guiding them is invincible, that it is Almighty, that it is immortal and irresistible and that it will do its work. They have nothing to do. They have simply to obey that Power. They have simply to go where it leads them. They have only to speak the words that it tells them to speak, and to do the thing that it tells them to do.

If the finger points them to prison, to the prison they go. Whatever it bids them to endure, they gladly endure. They do not know how that enduring will help, and the worldy-wise people may tell them that it is impolitic, that by doing this they will be wasting the strength of the country, they will be throwing the best workers away, they are not saving up the forces of the country. But we know that the forces of the country are other than outside forces. There is only one force, and for that force, I am not necessary, you are not necessary, he is not necessary. Neither myself nor another, nor Bepin Chandra Pal, nor all these workers who have gone to prison. None of them is necessary. Let them be thrown as so much waste substance, the country will not suffer.

God is doing everything. We are not doing anything. When he bids us suffer, we suffer because the suffering is necessary to give others strength. When he throws us away, he does so because we are no longer required. If things become worse, we shall have not only to go to jail, but give up our lives, and if those who seem to stand in front or to be absolutely indispensable are called upon to throw their bodies away, we shall then know that that also is wanted, that this is a work God has asked us to do, and that in the place of those who are thrown away, God will bring many more. He himself is behind us. He himself is the worker and the work. He is immortal in the hearts of his people.

Faith then is what we have in Bengal. Some of us may not have it consciously; some may not call it by that particular name. As I said, we have developed intellectuality, we have developed it notably and we are still much dominated by it. Many have come to this greater belief through the longing to live for their countrymen, to suffer for their countrymen, because God is not only here in me, he is within all of you, it is God whom I love" it is God for whom I wish to suffer. In that way many have come to do what God bade them do and he knows which way to lead a man. When it is his will he will lead him aright.

Another thing which is only another name for faith is self-lessness. This movement in Bengal, this movement of Nationalism is not guided by any self-interest, not at the heart of it. Whatever there may be in 'some minds, it is not, at the heart of it, a political self-interest that we are pursuing. It is a religion which we are trying to live. It is a religion by which we are trying to realise God in the nation, in our fellow-countrymen. We are trying to realise him in the three hundred millions of our people. We are trying, some of us consciously, some of us unconsciously, we are trying to live not for our own interests, but to work and to die for others. When a young worker in Bengal has to go to jail, when he is asked to suffer, he does not feel any pang in that suffering, he does not fear suffering. He goes forward with joy. He says,

"The hour of my consecration has come, and I have to thank God now that the time for laying myself on his altar has arrived and that I have been chosen to suffer for the good of my countrymen. This is the hour of my greatest joy and the fulfilment of my life."

This is the second aspect of our religion, and is the absolute denial of the idea of one's separate self, and the finding of one's higher eternal Self in the three hundred millions of people in whom God himself lives.
The third thing which is again another name for faith and selflessness is courage. When you believe in God, when you believe that God is guiding you, believe that God is doing all and that you are doing nothing, —
  • what is there to fear?
  • How can you fear when it is your creed, when it is your religion to, throw yourself away, to throw your money, your body, your life and all that you have, away for others?
  • What is it that you have to fear?

There is nothing to fear. Even when you are called before the tribunals of this world, you can face them with courage. Because your very religion means that you have courage. Because it is not you, it is something within you.

  • What can all these tribunals, what can all the powers of the world do to that which is within you, that Immortal, that Unborn, and Undying One, whom the sword cannot pierce, whom the fire cannot burn, and whom the water cannot drown?

Him the jail cannot confine and the gallows cannot end.

  • What is there that you can fear when you are conscious of him who is within you?

Courage is then a necessity, courage is natural and courage is inevitable. If you rely upon other forces, supposing that you are a Nationalist in the European sense, meaning in a purely materialistic sense, that is to say, if you want to replace the dominion of the foreigner by the dominion of somebody else, it is a purely material change; it is not a religion, it is not that you feel for the three hundred millions of your country-men, that you want to raise them up, that you want to make them all free and happy. It is not that, but you have got some idea that your nation is different from another nation and that these people are outsiders and that you ought to be ruling in their place. What you want is not freedom for your countrymen, but you want to replace the rule of others by yours. If you go in that spirit,

  • what will happen when a time of trial comes?
  • Will you have courage?
  • Will you face it?

You see that is merely an intellectual conviction that you have, that is merely a reason which your outer mind suggests to you. Well, when it comes to be put to the test,

  • what will your mind say to you?
  • What will your intellect say to you?

It will tell you,

"It is all very well to work for the country, but, in the meanwhile, I am going to die, or at least to be given a great deal of trouble, and when the fruit is reaped, I shall not be there to enjoy it. How can I bear all this suffering for a dream?"

You have this house of yours, you have this property, you have so many things which will be attacked, and so you say, "That is not the way for me." If you have not the divine strength of faith and unselfishness, you will not be able to escape from other attachments, you will not like to bear affliction simply for the sake of a change by which you will not profit.

  • How can courage come from such a source?

But when you have a higher idea, when you have realised that you have nothing, that you are nothing and that the three hundred millions of people of this country are God in the Nation, something which cannot be measured by so much land, or by so much money or by so many lives, you will then realise that it is something immortal, that the idea for which you are working is something immortal and that it is an immortal Power which is working in you. All other attachments are nothing. Every other consideration disappears from your mind, and, as I said, there is no need to cultivate courage. You are led on by that Power. You are protected through life and death by One who survives in the very hour of death, you feel your immortality in the hour of your worst sufferings, you feel you are invincible...

  • Have you realised what Nationalism is?
  • Have you realised that it is a religion that you are embracing?

If you have, then call yourselves Nationalists; and when you have called yourselves Nationalists, then try to live your Nationalism. Try to realise the strength within you, try to bring it forward, so that everything you do may be not your own doing, but the doing of that Truth within you. Try so that every hour that you live shall be enlightened by that presence, that every thought of yours shall be inspired from that one fountain of inspiration, that every faculty and quality in you may be placed at the service of that immortal Power within you. Then you will not say, as I have heard so many of you say, that people are so slow to take up this idea, that people are so slow to work, that you have no fit leaders and that all your great men tell you a different thing and that none of them is ready to come forward to guide you in the path that is pointed out.

You will have no complaints to make against others, because then you will not need any leader. The leader is within yourselves. If you can only find him and listen to his voice, then you will not find that people will not listen to you, because there will be a voice within the people which will make itself heard. That voice and that strength is within you. If you feel it within yourselves, if you live in its presence, if it has become yourselves, then you will find that one word from you will awake an answering voice in others, that the creed which you preach will spread and will be received by all and that it will not be very long — in Bengal it has not been very long, it has not taken a century or fifty years, it has only taken three years to change the whole nation, to give it a new spirit and heart and to put it in front of all the Indian races..

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