Politics and the role of the Kshatriya



April 5, 1907

        Politics is the work of the Kshatriya and it is the virtues of the Kshatriya we must develop if we are to be morally fit for freedom.


April 8, 1907

        We reiterate with all the emphasis we can command that the Kshatriya of old must again take his rightful position in our social polity to discharge the first and foremost duty of defending its interests. The brain is impotent without the right arm of strength.

The Morality of Boycott

Ages ago there was a priest of Baal who thought himself commissioned

by the god to kill all who did not bow the knee to him.

All men, terrified by the power and ferocity of the priest, bowed

down before the idol and pretended to be his servants; and the

few who refused, had to take refuge in hills and deserts. At last

a deliverer came and slew the priest and the world had rest. The

slayer was blamed by those who placed religion in quietude and

put passivity forward as the ideal ethics, but the world looked

on him as an incarnation of God.

* * * *

A certain class of minds shrink from aggressiveness as if it were a

sin. Their temperament forbids them to feel the delight of battle

and they look on what they cannot understand as something

monstrous and sinful. “Heal hate by love, drive out injustice by

justice, slay sin by righteousness” is their cry. Love is a sacred

name, but it is easier to speak of love than to love. The love

which drives out hate, is a divine quality of which only one man

in a thousand is capable. A saint full of love for all mankind

possesses it, a philanthropist consumed with the desire to heal

the miseries of the race possesses it, but the mass of mankind

do not and cannot rise to that height. Politics is concerned with

masses of mankind and not with individuals. To ask masses of

mankind to act as saints, to rise to the height of divine love

and practise it in relation to their adversaries or oppressors, is

to ignore human nature. It is to set a premium on injustice and

violence by paralysing the hand of the deliverer when raised to

strike. The Gita is the best answer to those who shrink from

battle as a sin and aggression as a lowering of morality.

* * * *

1118 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

A poet of sweetness and love who has done much to awaken

Bengal, has written deprecating the boycott as an act of hate.

The saintliness of spirit which he would see brought into politics

is the reflex of his own personality colouring the political ideals

of a sattwic race. But in reality the boycott is not an act of hate.

It is an act of self-defence, of aggression for the sake of selfpreservation.

To call it an act of hate is to say that a man who

is being slowly murdered, is not justified in striking out at his

murderer. To tell thatman that he must desist from using the first

effective weapon that comes to his hand because the blow would

be an act of hate, is precisely on a par with this deprecation of

boycott. Doubtless the self-defender is not precisely actuated by

feelings of holy sweetness towards his assailant, but to expect

so much from human nature is impracticable. Certain religions

demand it, but they have never been practised to the letter by

their followers.

* * * *

Hinduism recognizes human nature and makes no such impossible

demand. It sets one ideal for the saint, another for the

man of action, a third for the trader, a fourth for the serf. To

prescribe the same ideal for all is to bring about varnasankara,

the confusion of duties, and destroy society and the race. If we

are content to be serfs, then indeed boycott is a sin for us, not

because it is a violation of love, but because it is a violation of the

Sudra’s duty of obedience and contentment. Politics is the field of

the Kshatriya and the morality of the Kshatriya ought to govern

our political actions. To impose on politics the Brahminical duty

of saintly sufferance, is to preach varnasankara.

* * * *

Love has a place in politics, but it is the love for one’s country, for

one’s countrymen, for the glory, greatness and happiness of the

race, the divine ananda of self-immolation for one’s fellows, the

ecstasy of relieving their sufferings, the joy of seeing one’s blood

flow for country and freedom, the bliss of union in death with

The Morality of Boycott 1119

the fathers of the race. The feeling of almost physical delight

in the touch of the mother soil, of the winds that blow from

Indian seas, of the rivers that stream from Indian hills, in the

sight of Indian surroundings, Indian men, Indian women, Indian

children, in the hearing of Indian speech, music, poetry, in the

familiar sights, sounds, habits, dress, manners of our Indian life,

this is the physical root of that love. The pride in our past, the

pain of our present, the passion for the future are its trunk and

branches. Self-sacrifice, self-forgetfulness, great service and high

endurance for the country are its fruit. And the sapwhich keeps it

alive is the realisation of the Motherhood of God in the country,

the vision of the Mother, the knowledge of the Mother, the

perpetual contemplation, adoration and service of the Mother.

* * * *

Other love than this is foreign to the motives of political action.

Between nation and nation there is justice, partiality, chivalry,

duty but not love. All love is either individual, or for the self in

the race or for the self in mankind. It may exist between individuals

of different races, but the love of one race for another is a

thing foreign to nature.When, therefore, the boycott as declared

by the Indian race against the British is stigmatised for want of

love, the charge is bad psychology as well as bad morality. It is

interest warring against interest, and hatred is directed not really

against the race but against the adverse interest. If the British

exploitation were to cease tomorrow, the hatred against the

British race would disappear in a moment. A partial adhyaropa

makes the ignorant for the moment see in the exploiters and not

in the exploitation the receptacle of the hostile feeling. But like

all Maya it is an unreal and fleeting sentiment and is not shared

by those who think. Not hatred against foreigners, but antipathy

to the evils of foreign exploitation is the true root of boycott.

* * * *

If hatred is demoralising, it is also stimulating. The web of life

has been made a mingled strain of good and evil and God works

1120 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

His ends through the evil as well as through the good. Let us

discharge our minds of hate, but let us not deprecate a great and

necessary movement because in the inevitable course of human

nature, it has engendered feelings of hostility and hatred. If hatred

came, it was necessary that it should come as a stimulus,

as a means of awakening. When tamas, inertia, torpor have

benumbed a nation, the strongest forms of rajas are necessary

to break the spell, and there is no form of rajas so strong as

hatred. Through rajas we rise to sattwa, and for the Indian

temperament, the transition does not take long. Already the

element of hatred is giving place to the clear conception of love

for the Mother as the spring of our political actions.

* * * *

Another question is the use of violence in the furtherance of

boycott. This is, in our view, purely a matter of policy and expediency.

An act of violence brings us into conflict with the law

and such a conflict may be inexpedient for a race circumstanced

like ours. But the moral question does not arise. The argument

that to use violence is to interfere with personal liberty involves

a singular misunderstanding of the very nature of politics. The

whole of politics is an interference with personal liberty. Law

is such an interference, Protection is such an interference, the

rule which makes the will of the majority prevail is such an

interference. The right to prevent such use of personal liberty

as will injure the interests of the race, is the fundamental law

of society. From this point of view the nation is only using its

primary right when it restrains the individual from buying or

selling foreign goods.

* * * *

It may be argued that peaceful compulsion is one thing and violent

compulsion another. Social boycott may be justifiable, but

not the burning or drowning of British goods. The latter method,

we reply, is illegal and therefore may be inexpedient, but it is

not morally unjustifiable. The morality of the Kshatriya justifies

The Morality of Boycott 1121

violence in times of war, and boycott is a war. Nobody blames

the Americans for throwing British tea into Boston harbour, nor

can anybody blame similar action in India on moral grounds. It

is reprehensible from the point of view of law, of social peace

and order, not of political morality. It has been eschewed by

us because it is unwise and carries the battle on to a ground

where we are comparatively weak, from a ground where we

are strong. Under other circumstances we might have followed

the American precedent, and if we had done so, historians and

moralists would have applauded, not censured.

* * * *

Justice and righteousness are the atmosphere of political morality,

but the justice and righteousness of the fighter, not of the

priest. Aggression is unjust only when unprovoked, violence

unrighteous when used wantonly or for unrighteous ends. It

is a barren philosophy which applies a mechanical rule to all

actions, or takes a word and tries to fit all human life into it.

The sword of the warrior is as necessary to the fulfilment of

justice and righteousness as the holiness of the saint. Ramdas is

not complete without Shivaji. To maintain justice and prevent

the strong from despoiling and the weak from being oppressed

is the function for which the Kshatriya was created. Therefore,

says Sri Krishna in the Mahabharat, God created battle and

armour, the sword, the bow and the dagger.

VOLUME 6 and 7



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