The inevitability of Indian unity by Sri Aurobindo

But the most striking example in history is the evolution of

India. Nowhere else have the centrifugal forces been so strong,

numerous, complex, obstinate. The mere time taken by the evolution

has been prodigious; the disastrous vicissitudes through

which it has had to work itself out have been appalling. And

yet through it all the inevitable tendency has worked constantly,

pertinaciously, with the dull, obscure, indomitable, relentless

obstinacy of Nature when she is opposed in her instinctive purposes

by man, and finally, after a struggle enduring through

millenniums, has triumphed. And, as usually happens when she

is thus opposed by her own mental and human material, it is the

most adverse circumstances that the subconscious worker has

turned into her most successful instruments. The beginnings of

the centripetal tendency in India go back to the earliest times

of which we have record and are typified in the ideal of the

Samrat or Chakravarti Raja and the military and political use of

the Aswamedha and Rajasuya sacrifices. The two great national

epics might almost have been written to illustrate this theme; for

the one recounts the establishment of a unifying dharmar¯ ajya

or imperial reign of justice, the other starts with an idealised

description of such a rule pictured as once existing in the ancient

and sacred past of the country. The political history of India is

the story of a succession of empires, indigenous and foreign, each

of them destroyed by centrifugal forces, but each bringing the

centripetal tendency nearer to its triumphant emergence. And it

is a significant circumstance that the more foreign the rule, the

greater has been its force for the unification of the subject people.

This is always a sure sign that the essential nation-unit is already

there and that there is an indissoluble national vitality necessitating

the inevitable emergence of the organised nation. In this

instance, we see that the conversion of the psychological unity

on which nationhood is based into the external organised unity

by which it is perfectly realised, has taken a period of more than

two thousand years and is not yet complete. And yet, since the

essentiality of the thing was there, not even the most formidable

difficulties and delays, not even the most persistent incapacity

for union in the people, not even the most disintegrating shocks

from outside have prevailed against the obstinate subconscious

necessity. And this is only the extreme illustration of a general law.


CWSA Vol 25 p308


Retd Air Vice Marshall of Pak Air Force on Modi

The writer is a Retied Air Vice Marshall of Pak Air Force but his analysis about Modi is very reasonable
Managing Modi
Friday, May 23, 2014 
Inline image 1Two glass ceilings got broken in the first two decades of this century: a black man’s son became the president of the United States – the oldest democracy in the world and a chaiwala’s son was elected in a sweeping victory as the prime minister of India – the largest democracy of the world. A third such occasion is likely in 2016 when a woman just might become the first ever female president of the US. This is paradigms being shattered. 

If you want to really celebrate democracy as some in this country are prone to do simply by seeing one civilian government transition to another, note the speed at which from mid-1960s both the ‘coloured’ and the women, and the weak, have been able to find their place in the real democracies of the world on their merit alone. 

No dynasties, no historical reference of a father or a grandfather having once been at a position of entitlement – simply the capacity and the ability of a person (men, women, ‘coloured’) to prove his credentials in a field of play that is cut-throat competitive and where only the best will survive. 

There are only two references in a competitive electoral play; the person: his charisma, charm and magical spell over the people – think Jinnah, Gandhi, Mandela, and Bhutto; and the performance – think Manmohan Singh when he got his country some exceptional growth figures under Narasimha Rao, and more recently, Narendra Modi with his outstanding developmental record in Gujarat. 

Modi romped home with a strength that was surprising even to him though pundits had already predicted a wave of change. But what a performance. Kudos to India for such an election; not a murmur of rigging or absence of fair-play. To win in such an election and with the margin that Modi has, is simply too big a landmark in contemporary political history. It was a ‘wow’ moment for India and the country needs to be applauded for it.

Modi is a rare combination of the two. He has his spell and a sterling record of development, aided without doubt by an enabling environment where the electorate could only rest their hopes on him after others had betrayed it with dismal performance. He seems a man who can easily connect with the people. An effective orator, he outshined Rahul Gandhi who appeared unenthused and listless in comparison. 

To the dismay of many in Pakistan, let me suggest that if Modi gets his act together, he will take India places. India will change, perhaps finally realising its dream and potential, as will its polity. India will never be the same again; this remains my considered opinion. He is that kind of fellow. 

Many in Pakistan wondered if this was an election lost or an election won. If there was one factor that played in wooing the voters, it was leadership, or the lack of it when they disavowed the Congress. That did it for Modi. Modi appeared resolute, clear headed, focused and decisive; all that Manmohan or Rahul were not. 

Is there a lesson out there for us and our political class? Especially in our current situation where not only are institutions entangled with each other, they are also breaking up within. What is needed for Pakistan too is a no-nonsense style of leadership that is upfront, owns the problems, and seems willing and active in doing something about it. Not the kind of absent leadership that sleeps by the side as the state and the nation unravel before it. 

Statesmanship has been wrongly understood by this clan. They think sleeping through, or remaining detached and above the fray is how statesmen are made. There cannot be another as fallacious a conception. Statesmen are leaders, and leaders work with their hands. Will Modi spur Nawaz to do better? I feel the simple relativity of how India propels, and how Pakistan nosedives under listless, lackadaisical leadership, will be enough factors to force a change. Of what kind will remain to be seen. Manmohan’s listlessness was too contagious.

Modi, however is no goody-two-shoes. He is also characterised as the ‘butcher of Gujarat’. That will change. He is someone who reads his role well. What was needed then to appease some at the RSS was then and that helped him establish his position within the party; but now there is a different role for him. 

The weight of his victory will help Modi establish his influence not only within the BJP, but also within the RSS. He is likely to have much greater freedom of action, as he now goes about establishing himself as a man of substance in the international arena. He will not be the gung-ho Modi that we assume, instead he will be deliberate, firm and unyielding in the way that he charts his and India’s future. 

How might then Pakistan manage him? The first apprehension is will he war with Pakistan. Here is how it will go. He will begin with an immediate assessment of what his armed forces will need to gain an assured level of readiness – armed forces are always short of what they assume is absolute readiness; remember the nine months that Manekshaw needed before the 1971 war, or how the Indian army dithered after Mumbai from a reprisal action. 

Modi’s aim will not be to seek a war. But come another situation like Mumbai 2008, he would like his military to respond with effect; of that there should be little confusion. Pakistan will then need to evolve its own plan to first deter and then respond to such a reprisal. That will put them both on a slippery slope of escalation dominance.

What both sides will need instead are measures and processes that will control and manage escalation, not dominate it. Failing these the spiral down the stability regime will be rather rapid; consequences untold and horrendous. It will also help if another Mumbai does not occur. We can be assured of Modi working hard to find space for an armed retribution if he was tested with something as horrible as that. It is better to be prepared than be surprised. And how do you manage him? By simply being better at what he does. With our current pack, forget it.

Tailpiece: In a master stroke Modi has invited Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration. That is enough to test the mettle of Pakistan’s leadership. If Nawaz goes he will need the acumen to dominate his first interaction with Modi. Otherwise he is coming back with a clearer enunciation of how Modi would like Nawaz to respond to his concerns. Devil and the deep blue sea, is it?

The writer is a retired air-vice marshal of the Pakistan Air Force and served as its deputy chief of staff.

view from Pakistan on Modi victory


Dear Members,
An interesting article on our neighbor is reproduced below.
It shows the state of Pakistan and can also explain the reasons why Sharif took so long to decide about his India visit.
Its in our interest to get Pakistan on its feet again and fighting the jihadis.

Fwd: Modi Victory – View from Pakistan

Modi victory a wakeup call for Pakistan  by  Ayaz Amir


For the first thing this victory will do is to draw an unfortunate contrast between India and Pakistan. We may not like Narendra Modi the instigator or abettor of the anti-Muslim riots in Godhra. But it is hard to deny that coming from where he does he will make a strong prime minister. His campaign was sharply focused and as prime minister, as all the signs suggest, he is likely to be clear about his goals and where he wants to take his country. He will be master in his own house.


Compare this with conditions in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif fancies himself a strongman but as the nation has had plenty of opportunity to observe, he is anything but that: confusion and lack of aim the hallmarks of his stewardship – qualities springing to the fore in the last one month in his dealings with the army and his government’s handling of the aftermath of the Geo affair.


In just the first year of his term he presides over not a united but a divided polity – government and army at daggers drawn, the media engaged in a civil war threatening to overwhelm the freedoms won not through any fictitious struggle but bestowed as a gift by a military dictator. It is the forgetting of thee basic truths by the media that is largely responsible for its present plight.


Modi is a self-made man, rising through the ranks of the RSS and the BJP to his present position. He is a friend of Indian capitalism but not a capitalist himself. Nawaz Sharif is a product of military patronage and one of the richest leaders in the world, his private fortune running into the uncounted billions.


Modi’s family is not into private business, factories here and abroad or real estate in London and elsewhere. Our ruling family – and it is now a ruling family – is into all these things. The mettle, the mould, the style of the two leaderships is thus different, and the disadvantage lies clearly on the Pakistani side.


Not that Pakistan looms large on the Indian mind or the Indian canvas. Those times have long gone. And Modi’s agenda will be about development and India’s rise as a great power and its place at the world’s high table. India cannot wish Pakistan away, geography not giving it that luxury. But the gap between our two countries has grown and we have seen to it that we lag far behind. And our missiles and bombs make not much of a difference to this larger equation.


So these are bad times for Pakistan, and this contrast between our two countries is likely to grow as a strong, no-nonsense leadership settles down to its task in Delhi and we are led by our Egyptian mummies in Islamabad.

There is another danger a Modi sarkar is likely to pose. It may well intensify our civil-military rivalry. The army, rightly or wrongly, is already distrustful of the Nawaz Sharif government and will look extra carefully at any move it makes towards India.


Because of its mishandling of the Musharraf trial and its mummified responses to the ISI and Geo affairs the government has already been pushed into a corner, the army going through the motions of form and courtesy but that being about the limits of its indulgence. When it comes to India the government’s freedom of action will be further curtailed. The great Indian opening that was so close to this government’s heart will thus be put on hold. And into the ghetto or bunker we have dug for ourselves we will sink deeper.


Unless, that is, we do something about this state our affairs: some compass-reading and some course correction. This is a government with a mandate, as legitimately elected as the Modi government next door. But the Congress government of Manmohan Singh was also elected. Look what a mess it made of things, for which it has been duly punished…proving once more that sans delivery merely being elected is seldom enough.


Manmohan Singh completed the cycle of his misfortune in ten years, Asif Zardari in five years. Nawaz Sharif has telescoped that performance into just a year. India under lacklustre leadership was a tolerable neighbour, something we could afford. Under a dynamic Modi leadership – let not our prejudices colour our judgement on this score – the light cast on us will not be flattering. And our discomfort will grow.


n our discomfort the worst thing will be if we allow any rein to our Hafiz Saeeds and our other Kashmir liberators. We have to put our house in order, reduce the discord affecting our polity and constraining our ability to act in any sphere. But the one thing we can do without is Kashmir adventurism. Let us not resile from our position, as we have done so often in the past. Let China’s Taiwan policy be our guide in this matter, firm and unwavering on the point of principle but avoiding needless posturing and empty rhetoric.


The problem is that to do any of this – putting our house in order, etc – requires, first and foremost, a semblance of leadership, a firm hand on the tiller, far-seeing eyes fixed on the distant horizon. In the shape of our Egyptian mummies we have everything except that. Nawaz Sharif is already a stricken leader, his credibility gone, and his effectiveness as leader lost. Perceptions are hard to replace. Like virginity, once lost they are lost. Just consider this: if he can’t talk to his own army how can he talk to anyone else?


Effectively then, we have a government but a government reduced to varying stages of impotence. And not so much the dogs of war as the dogs of discord have been let loose on it, and it doesn’t know what to do.


All that we are seeing on the national stage began with the government’s thoughtless approach to the Musharraf trial, media mujahids egging on the government and screaming, nay some of them baying, for the fallen dictator’s blood. These media mujahids had first convinced themselves, and then went about convincing everyone else, that with an independent judiciary and a powerful media a new Pakistan had come into being in which the path of military takeovers was blocked forever.


Musharraf’s failure lay in his frontal assault, the direct approach, on the former chief justice. The ISI has learnt its lesson. As in the smartest strategy, its approach in this media affair has been indirect: the approach from the flanks, not so much coming into the field itself as launching its many proxies against its target. And this approach is paying dividends, the media already feeling the squeeze.


But these are small battles and even as we are caught up in them the larger picture is changing, India already under a new leadership and Afghanistan about to get a new one, Narendra Modi on one side, Abdullah Abdullah on the other, such a nutcracker the worst of nightmares of the army general staff.


But this nutcracker will come to nothing if we can master our home-grown and mostly self-created difficulties, if the army wakes up to the new realities and the genie of jihad is put back into the bottles whence it came, and if some vigour-inducing vitamins from God knows where can be injected into our Egyptian mummies. If only we seize the chance India under Narendra Modi could yet goad us into the rediscovery of lost opportunities.


One thing is for sure: the old nostrums, the old rhetoric will just not do. A new Pakistani nationalism, different from everything that has gone before, will have to be invented if we are to meet the new challenges.__._,_.___

Extracts from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on India -guidelines for the new government

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The Nehru-Liaquat Pact and After

I am writing to explain the indications I had given of my

view that a change has taken place in the situation owing to

the Nehru-Liaquat Pact making the position I took in the letter

to Dilip6 no longer quite valid and necessitating a halt for a

reconsideration and decision of policy. I gather from what you

have written that you are rather surprised by my view of things

and think that there is no change in the situation; you seem to

regard the Pact as a futile affair not likely to succeed or to make

any change in the situation and foredoomed to speedy failure.

I would like to know what are the grounds for this view if you

really hold it. I am quite prepared to learn that the situation is

quite different from what it seems to be but that must be based

on facts and the facts published in the newspapers or claimed as

true by the Congress leaders point in a different direction. There

seems to be something, initially at least, like a radical change

in the situation and I have to face it, look at the possible and

probable consequences and decide what has to be done.

What was the situation when the Dilip letter was written

and what is it today? At that time everything had been

pushed to a point at which war still seemed inevitable. The

tension between Pakistan and India had grown more and more

intolerable in every aspect, the massacres in East Bengal still

seemed to make war inevitable and the India Government had

just before Nehru’s attempt to patch up a compromise made

ready to march its army over the East Bengal borders once

a few preliminaries had been arranged and war in Kashmir

would have inevitably followed. America and Britain would not

have been able to support Pakistan and, if our information is

correct, had already intimated their inability to prevent India

Government from taking the only possible course open to it in

face of the massacres. In the circumstances the end of Pakistan

would have been the certain consequence of war. The object we

had in view would have been within sight of achievement.

Now all this is changed. After the conclusion of the Pact,

after its acceptance by the Congress Party and the Assembly

and its initial success of organisation and implementation, its

acceptance also in both Western and Eastern Pakistan, no outbreak

of war can take place at least for some time to come and,

unless the Pact fails, it may not take place. That may mean in

certain contingencies the indefinite perpetuation of the existence

of Pakistan and disappearance of the prospect of any unification

of India. I regard the Pact as an exceedingly clever move of

Liaquat Ali to fish his “nation” out of the desperate situation

into which it had run itself and to secure its safe survival. I will

not go elaborately into the reasons for my view and I am quite

prepared for events breaking out which will alter the situation

once more in an opposite sense. But I had to take things as they

are or seem to be, weigh everything and estimate the position and

make my decisions. I will not say more in this letter, though I may

have much to say hereafter: you should be able to understand

from what I have written why I have reversed my course. Our

central object and the real policy of the paper stands, but what

steps have to be taken or can be taken in the new circumstances

can only be seen in the light of future developments.

Meanwhile I await your answer with regard to the question

I have put you. Afterwards I shall write again especially about

the stand to be taken by Mother India.


On Indian and World Events from CWSA Vol 36

6 See the letter of 4 April 1950, published on pages 506 – 7.—Ed. It is below.

To the Editor of Mother India 523

The Present Darkness (April 1950)

You have expressed in one of your letters your sense of the

present darkness in the world round us and this must have been

one of the things that contributed to your being so badly upset

and unable immediately to repel the attack. For myself, the dark

conditions do not discourage me or convince me of the vanity of

my will to “help the world”, for I knew they had to come; they

were there in the world nature and had to rise up so that they

might be exhausted or expelled so that a better world freed from

them might be there. After all, something has been done in the

outer field and that may help or prepare for getting something

done in the inner field also. For instance, India is free and her

freedom was necessary if the divine work was to be done. The

Messages on Indian and World Events 507

difficulties that surround her now and may increase for a time,

especially with regard to the Pakistan imbroglio,were also things

that had to come and to be cleared out.Nehru’s efforts to prevent

the inevitable clash are not likely to succeed formore than a short

time and so it is not necessary to give him the slap you wanted

to go to Delhi and administer to him. Here too there is sure to

be a full clearance, though unfortunately a considerable amount

of human suffering in the process is inevitable. Afterwards the

work for the Divine will become more possible and it may well

be that the dream, if it is a dream, of leading the world towards

the spiritual Light, may even become a reality. So I am not

disposed even now in these dark conditions to consider my will to help the world as condemned to failure.


I (Kittu) got a copy of this interview from Late KD Sethna also known as Amal Kiran. In fact he told me that Munshi went straight to his house soon after the interview and gave this to him.

In the Collected works of Sri Aurobindo the last sentence has been deleted. It can be however still found in the Archives

An Inteview with Sri Aurobindo by KM Munshi

1. Later in 1950. K.M. Munshi came to Pondicherry. He was a former
student of Sri Aurobindo in Baroda. He was fortunate to have an
interview with Sri Aurobindo and he writes:

“Sri Aurobindo was my professor in the Baroda
College, and his militant nationalism of 1904 moulded
my early outlook.

Later, I casually read some of his works. Subsequently
his influence has been coming over upon me intermittently, and more and more perceptibly I have
felt benefited by it.

Often in the past, I wanted to go to Pondicherry, but I
did not wish to offer formal respects to a man whom I
revered so deeply.

When I visited Sri Aurobindo on March 12, 1950, after
a lapse of more than 40 years, I saw before me a
being completely transformed, radiant, blissful,
enveloped in an atmosphere of godlike calm. He spoke
in a low, clear voice, which stirred the depths of my

I talked to him of my spiritual needs. I said: “I am at a
dead end. The world is too much with me”.

The sage replied: “You need not give up the world in
order to advance in self-realisation. But you cannot
advance by impatience. I wrote to you that I would
help you, and in my own way I am helping you…. You
have the urge and the Light. Go your own way. Do not
be deflected from the faith in your natural evolution. I
will watch over your progress.”

Then we discussed Indian culture.
I said: “The younger generation is being fed on theories
and beliefs which are undermining the higher life of

The Master replied: “You must overcome this lack of
faith. Rest assured that our culture cannot be
undermined. This is only a passing phase.”

Then the Mahayogi sprang a surprise on me: ” When
do you expect India to be united?” he asked. I was
taken aback. I explained to him how our leaders had
agreed to partition.

I then said: “So long as the present generation of
politicians is concerned, I cannot think of any time
when the two countries – India and Pakistan – can be

Sri Aurobindo smiled and answered: ” India will be
reunited. I see it clearly.”

Was it an opinion? Was it a clear perception? I shook
my head in doubt and asked how India could be
reunited. In two short sentences the god-man
described what Pakistan stood for, and indicated how
the two countries could come together.”

Pakistan has been created by falsehood, fraud and force. It must be
brought under India’s military ambit.


 During the 1965 war, the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram sent an open message to the

Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The message ran like this: “It is for the sake and the triumph of truth that India is fighting and must fight until India and Pakistan have once more become One because that is the truth of their being”.

The question was asked that if the Security Council orders them to cease-fire, then?

Mother said, “India must still fight. Otherwise she will have to do it all over again“. White roses by Huta p279


3. In 1969,  She- Mother- felt it necessary to send a message to the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi.

So I had to send someone immediately to tell her, “For heaven’s sake, support the army. It’s India’s only hope. The army is good, but it’s not supported.”

April 19 1969 from the Agenda


4. Letter from Mother to Kittu Reddy:

English translation:

The disappearance of Pakistan is inevitable; it should already have taken place but human ignorance has delayed it.


                                The Mother

ADDENDUM from the Agenda

(Account of N.S.’s visit on April 17, 1969. Mother’s words were noted down in English from memory, and are therefore approximate.)

1. When N.S. spoke of what Indira said about the troubles she is having and the difficulties she is facing and that she wanted the Mother’s help, strength and guidance, the Mother said She knew very well about all this, and that she was constantly giving Her help and blessings to Indira.

2. Regarding the danger of Communism, the Mother said that Communism is a truth that has been distorted and that when the truth comes out, the distortion will fall off. The truth is that all one’s efforts and all one’s work should be turned not to the State, but to the Divine.

3. There is only one country in the world that knows that there is only one Truth to which everything should be turned, and that is India. Other countries have forgotten this, but in India it is ingrained in the people, and one day it will come out.

4. We must all recognize this and work for this. India is the cradle of the Truth and will lead the world to Truth. India will find its real place in the world when it realizes this.

5. The Mother asked N.S. to say to Indira that she should decide to become an obedient, faithful and devoted servant of the Truth and the Truth alone, and then nothing could obstruct her. All outward difficulties and even persons trying to upset her position will not be able to affect her, and if they seem to succeed, if she is firm in her faith and in her devotion to serve the Truth, nothing can prevail against her.

6. To be a true servitor of the Truth one must forget all one’s personal desires and preferences and have only the thought to serve the Truth.

7. The Mother then said to N.S. personally and hoped that the men present would not be offended, that it is only women who know how to use this Power that comes from serving the Truth.

8. The Mother also said to convey to Indira that she must know that the laws of man cannot stand before the laws of the Divine and ultimately it is the laws of the Divine that will prevail.

9. The Mother said that the new Consciousness that has descended on the 1st of January is very active, and that we have come to a very critical time in the history of the world, and it is most interesting to watch how things are happening. This new Consciousness is preparing for the Superman and so there are big changes happening all around. When the first man developed, the animal had no mind and could not appreciate the evolution. Man has mind and can appreciate the evolution. That is why this is the most interesting  time in history. If one can stand in that consciousness and watch the happenings from above, one can see how small and futile they are and one can then act upon them with a great Power.

10. The Mother said to N.S. that She wants Indira to continue in her present position because the Mother is able to work through her as she is sincerely trying to serve the country.

11. The Mother said: “I know the conditions of the country. Even if one person could put himself faithfully at the disposal of the Truth, he could change the country and the world.”

12. The Mother said that Auroville is the only hope for preventing a new world war. Tensions are growing and the situation is becoming very critical. But only the Idea of Auroville, if it can become more widespread, can prevent world war.

13. The children who are born at this time are fortunate.



The bourgeois and the Samurai – Sri Aurobindo


The Bourgeois and the Samurai

Two oriental nations have come powerfully under the influence

of Western ideas and felt the impact of European civilization

during the nineteenth century, India and Japan. The results have

been very different. The smaller nation has become one of the

mightiest Powers in the modern world, the larger in spite of

far greater potential strength, a more original culture, a more

ancient and splendid past and a far higher mission in the world,

remains a weak, distracted, subject & famine-stricken people

politically, economically, morally & intellectually dependent on

the foreigner and unable to realise its great possibilities. It is

commonly said that this is because Japan has assimilated Western

Science and organization and even in many respects excelled

its teachers; India has failed in this all-important task of assimilation.

If we go a step farther back and insist on asking why this

is so, we shall be told it is because Japan has “reformed” herself

and got rid of ideas & institutions unsuited to modern times;

while India clings obstinately to so much that is outworn and

effete. Even ifwewaive aside the questionwhether the old Indian

ideals are unfit to survive or whether all our institutions are

really bad in themselves or unadaptable to modern conditions,

still the explanation itself has to be explained. Why has Japan

so admirably transformed herself? why has the attempt at transformation

in India been a failure? The solution of problems of

this kind has to be sought not in abstractions, not in machinery,

but in men. It is the spirit in man which moulds his fate; it is the

spirit of a nation which determines its history

Describe the type of human character which prevails in a nation

during a given period of its life under given conditions, and

it is possible to predict in outline what the general history of

1092 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

the nation must be during that period. In Japan the dominant

Japanese type had been moulded by the shaping processes of an

admirable culture and when theWestern impact came, Japan remained

faithful to her ancient spirit; she merely took over certain

forms of European social & political organization necessary to

complete her culture under modern conditions and poured into

these forms the old potent dynamic spirit of Japan, the spirit of

the Samurai. It is the Samurai type which has been dominant

in that country during the nineteenth century. In India the mass

of the nation has remained dormant; European culture has had

upon it a powerful disintegrating and destructive influence, but

has been powerless to reconstruct or revivify. But in the upper

strata a new type has been evolved to serve the necessities and

interests of the foreign rulers, a type which is not Indian, but

foreign—and in almost all our social, political, educational,

literary & religious activities the spirit of this new & foreign

graft has predominated & determined the extent & quality of

our progress. This type is the bourgeois. In India, the bourgeois,

in Japan, the Samurai; in this single difference is comprised

the whole contrasted histories of the two nations during the

nineteenth century.

What is the bourgeois? For the word is unknown in India,

though the thing is so prominent. The bourgeois is the average

contented middle class citizen who is in all countries much

the same in his fundamental character & habits of thought,

in spite of pronounced racial differences in temperament &

self-expression. He is a man of facile sentiments and skindeep

personality; generally “enlightened” but not inconveniently illuminated.

In love with his life, his ease and above all things

his comforts, he prescribes the secure maintenance of these

precious possessions as the first indispensable condition of all

action in politics and society; whatever tends to disturb or destroy

them, he condemns as foolish, harebrained, dangerous or

fanatical, according to the degree of its intensity and is ready

to repress by any means in his power. In the conduct of public

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1093

movements he has an exaggerated worship for external order,

moderation and decorum and hates over-earnestness and overstrenuousness.

Not that he objects to plenty ofmild&innocuous

excitement; but it must be innocuous and calculated not to have

a disturbing effect on the things he most cherishes. He has ideals

and likes to talk of justice, liberty, reform, enlightenment and

all similar abstractions; he likes too to see them reigning and

progressing around him decorously and with their proper limitations.

Hewishes to have them maintained, if they already exist,

but in moderation and with moderation; if they do not exist, the

craving for them should be, in his opinion, a lively but still wellregulated

fire, not permitted to interfere with the safety, comfort

and decorum of life,—the means adopted towards acquiring

them should be alsomoderate and decorous and as far as may be

safe and comfortable. An occasional sacrifice of money, leisure

and other precious things for their sake, he is always ready

to meet; he has a keen zest for the reputation such sacrifices

bring him and still more for the comfortable sense of personal

righteousness which they foster. The bourgeois is the man of

good sense and enlightenment, the man of moderation, the man

of peace and orderliness, the man in every way “respectable”,

who is the mainstay of all well-ordered societies. As a private

man he is respectable; that is to say, his character is generally

good, and when his character is not, his reputation is; he is all

decorous in his virtues, decent in the indulgence of his vices or

at least in their concealment, often absolutely honest, almost

always as honest as an enlightened self-interest will permit. His

purse is well filled or at any rate not indecently empty; he is

a good earner, a conscientious worker, a thoroughly safe &

reliable citizen.1 But this admirable creature has his defects and

limitations. For great adventures, tremendous enterprises, lofty

achievements, the storm and stress of mighty&eventful periods

in national activity, he is unfit. These things are for the heroes, the

1 The following sentence was written in the top margin of the manuscript. Its place of

insertion was not marked, but it presumably was meant to be inserted here:

Of course there are exceptions, instances of successful & respected blackguardism,

but these are the small minority.

martyrs, the criminals, the enthusiasts, the degenerates, geniuses,

the men of exaggerated virtue, exaggerated ability, exaggerated

ideas. He enjoys the fruit of their work when it is done, but while

it is doing, he opposes and hinders more often than helps. For he

looks on great ideals as dreams and on vehement enthusiasms

as harebrained folly; he distrusts everything new & disturbing,

everything that has not been done before or is not sanctioned

by success & the accomplished fact; revolt is to him a madness

& revolution a nightmare. Fiery self-annihilating enthusiasm,

noble fanaticism, relentless & heroic pursuit of an object, the

original brain that brings what is distant & ungrasped into

the boundaries of reality, the dynamic Will and genius which

makes the impossible possible; these things he understands as

matters of history and honours them in the famous dead or

in those who have succeeded; but in living & yet striving men

they inspire him with distrust and repulsion. He will tell you

that these things are not to be found in the present generation;

but if confronted with the living originator, he will condemn

him as a learned idiot; face to face with the living hero, he

will decry him as a dangerous madman,—unless & until he

sees on the head of either the crown of success & assured

He values also the things of the mind in a leisurely comfortable

way as adorning and setting off his enlightened ease and

competence. A little art, a little poetry, a little religion, a little

scholarship, a little philosophy, all these are excellent ingredients

in life, and give an air of decorous refinement to his surroundings.

They must not be carried too far or interfere with the

great object of life which is to earn money, clothe and feed one’s

family, educate one’s sons to the high pitch of the B.A. degree

or the respectable eminence of the M.A., marry one’s daughters

decently, rank high in service or the professions, stand well in the

eye of general opinion and live & die decorously, creditably and

respectably. Anything disturbing to these high duties, anything

exaggerated, intense, unusual is not palatable to the bourgeois.

He shrugs his shoulders over it and brushes it aside with the one

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1095

word, “mad”, or eccentric.2

(Such is the bourgeois and it was the bourgeois of the mildest

& most inefficient type who reigned in India in the nineteenth

century. It was the bourgeois which University education tended,

perhaps sought to evolve; itwas the bourgeoiswhich the political

social conditions moulded and brought to the front. In India

the bourgeois; in Japan the Samurai, that one enormous difference

explains the difference in the histories of the two countries

during the second half of the last century.)3

It is undoubtedly this type which has dominated us in the

nineteenth century. Of course the really great names, those that

will live in history as creators & originators are men who went

beyond this type; either they belonged to, but exceeded it or

they departed from it. But the average, the determining type

was the bourgeois. In Senate & Syndicate, in Legislative Council

& District Board or Municipal Corporation, in Congress &

Conference, in the services & professions, even in literature &

scholarship, even in religion he was everywhere with his wellregulated

mind, his unambitious ideals, his snug little corner of

culture, his “education” and “enlightenment”, his comfortable

patriotism, his comfortable enlightenment, his easy solution of

the old problem how to serve both God&Mammon, yet offend

neither, his self-satisfaction, his decorous honesty, his smug respectability.

Society was made after his model, politics moulded

in his image, education confined within his limits, literature &

religion stamped with the seal of the bourgeois.

The bourgeois as a distinct & well-evolved entity is an entirely

modern product in India, he is the creation of British policy,

English education, Western civilization. Ancient India, mediaeval

India were not a favourable soil for his growth. The spirit

of ancient India was aristocratic; its thought & life moulded

2 The following sentence was written in the top margin of the manuscript. Its place of

insertion was not marked:

Such a type may give stability to a society; it cannot reform or revolutionize it. Such

a type may make the politics of a nation safe, decorous and reputable. It cannot make

that nation great or free.

3 Sri Aurobindo placed parenthesis marks on both sides of this paragraph after writing

it. He seems to have intended to move it elsewhere. – Ed.

1096 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

in the cast of a high & proud nobility, an extreme & lofty

strenuousness. The very best in thought, the very best in action,

the very best in character, the very best in literature & art, the

very best in religion and all the world well lost if only this very

best might be attained, such was the spirit of ancient India. The

Brahmin who devoted himself to poverty&crushed down every

desire in the wholehearted pursuit of knowledge&religious selfdiscipline;

the Kshatriya who, hurling his life joyously into the

shock of chivalrous battle, held life, wife, children, possessions,

ease, happiness as mere dust in the balance compared with honour&

the Kshatriya dharma, the preservation of self-respect, the

protection of the weak, the noble fulfilment of princely duty; the

Vaishya, who toiling all his life to amass riches, poured them out

as soon as amassed in self-forgetting philanthropy holding himself

the mere steward&not the possessor of his wealth; the Shudra

who gave himself up loyally to humble service, faithfully devoting

his life to his dharma, however low, in preference to selfadvancement&

ambition; these were the social ideals of the age.

The imagination of the Indian tended as has been well said

to the grand & enormous in thought and morals. The great

formative images of legend & literature to the likeness with

which his childhood was encouraged to develop & which his

manhood most cherished were of an extreme & lofty type. He

saw Harischundra give up all that life held precious & dear

rather than that his lips should utter a lie or his plighted word

be broken. He saw Prahlada buried under mountains, whelmed

in the seas, tortured by the poison of a thousand venomous

serpents, yet calmly true to his faith. He saw Buddha give up

his royal state, wealth, luxury, wife, child & parents so that

mankind might be saved. He saw Shivi hew the flesh from his

own limbs to save one small dove from the pursuing falcon;

Karna tear his own body with a smile for the joy of making a

gift; Duryodhan refuse to yield one inch of earth without noble

resistance & warlike struggle. He saw Sita face exile, hardship,

privation&danger in the eagerness ofwifely love&duty, Savitri

rescue by her devotion her husband back from the visible grip

of death. These were the classical Indian types. These were the

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1097

ideals into the mould of which the minds of men&women were

trained to grow. The sense-conquering thought of the philosopher,

the magnificent achievements of the hero, the stupendous

renunciations of the Sannyasin, [the] unbounded liberality of

the man of wealth, everything was exaggeration, extreme, filled

with an epic inspiration, a world-defying enthusiasm. The bourgeois

though he existed in the rough of course, as in all civilized

societies he must exist, had no real chance of evolution; on

such a height with so rare an atmosphere, he could not grow;

where such tempests of self-devotion blew habitually, his warm

comfortable personality could not expand.

The conditions of mediaeval India suited him little better,

—the continual clash of arms, the unceasing stir & splendour

& strenuousness of life, the fierceness of the struggle and the

magnificence of the achievement, the ceaseless tearing down

& building up which resulted from Mahomedan irruption and

the action & reaction of foreign & indigenous forces, formed

surroundings too restless & too flamboyant. Life under the

Moguls was splendid, rich & luxurious, but it was not safe

& comfortable. Magnificent possibilities were open to all men

whatever their birth or station but magnificent abilities and an

unshaken nerve&courage were needed to grasp them or to keep

what had been grasped. There was no demand for the stable &

easy virtues of the bourgeois. In the times of stress and anarchy

which accompanied the disintegration of mediaeval India, the

conditions were yet more unfavourable; character and morals

shared in the general disintegration, but ability & courage were

even more in demand than before and for the bourgeois there

was no place vacant. (The men who figured in the revolutions

in Bengal, the Deccan, the Punjab & the North were often,

like their European allies & antagonists, men of evil character,

self-seeking, unscrupulous & Machiavellian, but they were at

least men.) It was not till mediaeval India breathed its last in the

convulsions of 1857 that entirely new conditions reigned and an

entirely new culture prevailed with an undisputed sway wholly

favourable to the rapid development of the bourgeois type and

wholly discouraging to the development of any other.

1098 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

This emergence and domination of the bourgeois was a

rapid transformation, not unparalleled in history, for something

of the same kind seems to have happened in the provinces of

the Roman Empire under the Caesars, but astonishing in a people

whose past history & temperament had been so supremely

unPhilistine. That a society which had only a few decades ago

prostrated itself before the naked ascetic and the penniless Brahmin,

should now wear the monied man and the official as the

tilak on its forehead, was indeed a marvellous revolution. But

given the new conditions, nothing else could have happened.

British rule necessitated the growth of the bourgeois, British

policy fostered it, and the plant grew so swiftly because a forcinghouse

had been created for his rapid cultivation and the soil was

kept suitably shallow and the air made warm and humid for his

needs. It was as in the ancient world when the nations accepted

peace, civilisation and a common language at the cost of national

decay, the death of theirmanhood and final extinction or agelong

slavery. The Pax Britannica was his parent and an easy servitude

nursed him into maturity.

For the first need of the bourgeois is a guaranteed and perfect

security for his person, property and pursuits. Peace, comfort

and safety are the very breath of his nostrils. But he gravitates

to a peace for whose preservation he is not called on to wear

armour andwield the sword, a comfort he has not to purchase by

the discomfort of standing sentinel over his liberties, or a safety

his own alertness and courage must protect from the resurgence

of old dangers. The bourgeois in arms is not the true animal;

the purity of his breed is sullied by something of the virtues

and defects of the soldier. He must enjoy the fruits of peace

and security he has not earned, without responsibility for their

maintenance or fear of their loss. Such conditions he found in

almost unparallelled perfection in British India. He was asked

to stand as the head of a disarmed and dependent society, secured

from external disturbance & tied down to a rigid internal

tranquillity by the deprivation of all functions except those of

breadwinner and taxpayer and to vouch himself to the world by

a respectable but not remarkable education and achievement as

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1099

the visible proof of England’s civilising mission in India. Such

conditions were to the bourgeois as the moisture & warmth of

the hothouse to the orchid. He grew in them, rank & luxurious.

Then again, for his perfection and dominance, the society

he lives in must honour his peculiar qualities above all others

and the substantial rewards and covetable distinctions of life

[be] reserved for them chiefly or for them alone. The British rule

gave him this honour, showered on him these rewards & distinctions,

and Indian society, more & more moulded by British

ideas, followed as a society almost inevitably follows the lead

of the rulers. Under the new dispensation of Providence there

was no call for the high qualities of old, the Aryan or noble

virtues which, whatever else failed or perished, had persisted in

Indian character for thousands of years, since first the chariots

rolled on the hitherside of the Indus.What need for the Rajpoot’s

courage, the robust manhood, the noble pride of the Kshatriya,

when heroic and unselfish England claimed the right of shedding

her blood for the safety of the land? What room for the gifts of

large initiative, comprehensive foresight, wise aspiration which

make the statesman, when a Bentinck or a Mayo, a Dufferin or

a Curzon were ready & eager to take & keep the heavy burdens

of Government out of the hands of the children of the soil?

The princely spirit, the eagle’s vision, the lion’s heart, these were

things that might be buried away with the memories of the great

Indian rulers of the past. Happy India, civilised and cared for

by human seraphs from over the sea, had no farther need for

them. So from sheer inanition, from want of light, room and

air, the Kshatriya died out of the soil which had first produced

him and the bourgeois took his place. But if room was none

for the soldier & the statesman, little could be found for the

Brahmin, the sage or the Sannyasin. British rule had no need for

scholars, it wanted clerks; British policy welcomed the pedant

but feared, even when it honoured, the thinker, for the strong

mind might pierce through shows to the truth and the deep

thought teach the people to embrace great ideals and live and

die for them; British education flung contempt on the Sannyasin

as an idler and charlatan, and pointed with admiration to the

1100 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

strenous seeker for worldly goods and success as the finest work

of the creator. So Vyasa & Valmekie were forgotten for weavers

of idle tales and Smiles and Sir Arthur Helps took their place

as an instructor of youth, the gospel of Philistinism in its naked

crudeness was beaten into the minds of our children when most

malleable. Thus Ramdas was following Shivaji into the limbo of

the unreturning past. And if God had not meant otherwise for

our nation, the Sannyasin would have become an extinct type,

Yoga been classed among dead superstitions with witchcraft

& alchemy and Vedanta sent the way of Pythagoras & Plato.

Nor was the old Vaishya type needed by the new dispensation.

The Indian mechanician, engineer, architect, artist, craftsman

got notice of dismissal; for to develop the industrial life of the

country was no part of England’s business in India. As she had

taken the functions of government and war into her own hands,

so she would take that of production. Whatever India needed,

beneficent England with her generous system of free trade would

supply and the Indian might sit at ease under his palm tree or,

gladly singing, till his fields, rejoicing that Heaven had sent him

a ruling nation so greedy to do him good. What was wanted was

not Indian artisans or Indian captains of industry, but plenty of

small shopkeepers and big middlemen to help conquer & keep

India as a milch cow for British trade & British capital.

Thus all the great types which are nurtured on war, politics,

thought, spirituality, activity & enterprise, the outgrowths

of a vigorous and healthy national existence, the high fruits

of humanity who are the very energy of life to a community,

were discouraged and tended to disappear and in their place

there was an enormous demand for the bourgeois qualities. The

safe, respectable man, satisfied with ease and not ambitions of

command, content with contemporary repute and not hankering

after immortality, the superficial man who unable to think

profoundly could yet pose among his peers as intellectual, who

getting no true culture, wore a specious appearance of education,

who guiltless of a single true sacrifice for his country, yet bulked

large as a patriot, found an undisputed field open to him. The

rewards of life now depended on certain outward signs of merit

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1101

which were purely conventional. An University degree, knowledge

of English, possession of a post in Government service or

a professional diploma, a Government title, European clothes

or a sleek dress and appearance, a big house full of English

furniture, these were the badges by which Society recognized its

chosen. These signs were all purely conventional. The degree did

not necessarily denote a good education nor the knowledge of

English a wide culture or successful living into new ideas, nor

the Government post administrative capacity, nor the diploma

special fitness for the profession, nor the title any merit in the

holder, nor the big house or fine dress a mastery of the art of

social life, nor the English clothes, European grit, science and

enterprise. They were merely counters borrowed from Europe,

but universally taken, as they are not usually taken in Europe or

any living nation, as a sufficient substitute for the reality.Wealth,

success, and certain outward signs of a facile respectability had

become to our new civilised & refined society the supreme tests

of the man.

All these were conditions unusually favourable to a rank

luxuriance of the bourgeois type, which thrives upon superficiality

and lives by convention. The soil was suitably shallow,

the atmosphere sufficiently warm & humid. The circumstances

of our national life & the unique character of our education

hastened & perfected the growth. Both were characterized by

the false appearance of breadth covering an almost miraculous

superficiality. Our old Indian life was secluded, but lofty &

intense, like a pine-tree on the mountain-tops, like a tropical

island in unvisited seas; our new life parted with the loftiness &

intensity when it lost the isolation, but it boasted in vain of an

added breadth, for it was really more provincial & narrow than

the old, which had at least given room for the development of all

our human faculties. The news of the world’s life poured in on us

through the foreign telegrams&papers, we read English books,

we talked about economics and politics, science & history, enlightenment

&education, Rousseau,Mill, Bentham, Burke, and

used the language of a life that was not ours, in the vain belief

that so we became cosmopolitans and men of enlightenment.

1102 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

Yet all the time India was as much & more outside the great

life of the world than it was in the days of Mahomad Tughlak

or Bahadur Shah. The number of men in educated India who

had any vital conception or any real understanding & mastery

of the great currents of life, thought & motive which sway the

vast world outside, was always wonderfully small. It could not

be otherwise; for the life of that world was not our life, nor

was our life any part of the world’s, any more than the days

of a prisoner in a gaol or reformatory are part of the free activity

of society. The thunder of great wars, the grand collision

and struggle of world-moving ideas and mighty interests, the

swift & strong currents of scientific discovery and discussion,

the intellectual change & stir, the huge & feverish pulsation of

commercial competition from China to Peru, all this was to us

as the scenes in the street to a man watching from his prison

bars. We might take a deep & excited interest, we might almost

persuade ourselves by the vividness of our interest that we were

part of the scene, but if a voice within cried to us, “Out, out,

you too into the battle & the struggle and the joy & stir of this

great world’s life,” the cold iron of the window-bars and the

hard stone of the prison walls stood between. The jailer might

not jingle his keys obtrusively nor the warder flourish his baton,

but we knew well they were there. And we really believed in the

bland promise that if we conducted ourselves well, we should

some day get tickets of leave. We read & thought but did not

live what we read & thought. So our existence grew ever more

artificial and unreal. The fighter and the thinker in us dwindled

& the bourgeois flourished and grew.

Contentmentwith an artificial existence, the habit of playing

with counters as if they were true coin of life, made the old rich

flood of vitality, strong character, noble aspiration, excellent

achievement run ever shallower & thinner in our veins. So we

accepted and made the best of an ignoble ease.

Our education too had just the same pride in a false show of

breadth and the same confined and narrow scope. In our schools

& colleges we were set to remember many things, but learned

nothing. We had no real mastery of English literature, though

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1103

we read Milton & Burke and quoted Byron & Shelley, nor of

history though we talked about Magna Charta & Runnymede,

nor of philosophy though we could mispronounce the names of

most of theGerman philosophers, nor science thoughwe used its

name daily, nor even of our own thought & civilisation though

its discussion filled columns of our periodicals. We knew little

& knew it badly. And even we could not profit by the little we

knew for advance, for origination; even those who struggled to a

wider knowledge proved barren soil. The springs of originality

were fast growing atrophied by our unnatural existence. The

great men among us who strove to originate were the spiritual

children of an older time who still drew sap from the roots of our

ancient culture and had the energy of the Mogul times in their

blood. But their success was not commensurate with their genius

& with each generation these grew rarer & rarer. The sap soon

began to run dry, the energy to dwindle away. Worse than the

narrowness&inefficiency, was the unreality of our culture. Our

brains were as full of liberty as our lives were empty of it. We

read and talked somuch of political rights that we never somuch

as realized that we had none to call our own. The very sights &

sounds, the description of which formed the staple of our daily

reading, were such as most of us would at no time see or hear.

We learned science without observation of the objects of science,

words & not the things which they symbolised, literature by

rote, philosophy as a lesson to be got by heart, not as a guide

to truth or a light shed on existence. We read of and believed

in English economy, while we lived under Indian conditions,

and worshipped the free trade which was starving us to death

as a nation. We professed notions of equality, and separated

ourselves from the people, of democracy, and were the servants

of absolutism. We pattered off speeches & essays about social

reform, yet had no idea of the nature of a society. We looked to

sources of strength and inspiration we could not reach and left

those untapped which were ours by possession and inheritance.

We knew so little of life that we expected others who lived on

our service to prepare our freedom, so little of history that we

thought reform could precede liberty, so little of science that we

1104 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

believed an organism could be reshaped from outside. We were

ruled by shopkeepers and consented enthusiastically to think

of them as angels. We affected virtues we were given no opportunity

of assimilating and lost those our fathers had handed

down to us. All this in perfect good faith, in the full belief that

we were Europeanising ourselves, and moving rapidly toward

political, social, economical, moral, intellectual progress. The

consummation of our political progress was a Congress which

yearly passed resolutions it had no power to put in practice,

statesmen whose highest function was to ask questions which

need not even be answered, councillors who would have been

surprised if they had been consulted, politicians who did not

even know that a Right never lives until it has a Might to support

it. Socially we have initiated a feeble attempt to revivify the very

basis of our society by a few petty mechanical changes instead

of a spiritual renovation which could alone be equal to so high

a task; economically, we attained great success in destroying our

industries and enslaving ourselves to the British trader; morally,

we successfully compassed the disintegration of the old moral

ideas&habits and substituted for them a superficial respectability;

intellectually, we prided ourselves [on] the tricking out of our

minds in a few leavings, scraps and strays of European thought

at the sacrifice of an immense and eternal heritage. Never was

an education more remote from all that education truly denotes;

instead of giving the keys to the vastmass ofmodern knowledge,

or creating rich soil for the qualities that conquer circumstance

&survive, they made the mind swallow a heterogeneous jumble

of mainly useless information; trained a tame parrot to live in

a cage & talk of the joys of the forest. British rule, Britain’s

civilizing mission in India has been the record success in history

in the hypnosis of a nation. It persuaded us to live in a death

of the will & its activities, taking a series of hallucinations for

real things and creating in ourselves the condition of morbid

weakness the hypnotist desired, until the Master of a mightier

hypnosis laid His finger on India’s eyes and cried “Awake.”

Then only the spell was broken, the slumbering mind realised

itself and the dead soul lived again.

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1105

But the education which was poison to all true elements

of national strength and greatness, was meat & drink to the

bourgeois. The bourgeois delights in convention, because truth

is too hard a taskmaster and makes too severe a demand on

character, energy & intellect. He craves superficiality, a shallow

soil to grow in. For to attain depth requires time&energy which

would have to be unprofitably diverted from his chief business

of making his individual way in the world. He cannot give up

his life to his country, but if she will be grateful for a few of his

leisure hours, he will give in those limits ungrudging service &

preen himself on his public virtues. Prodigal charity would be

uncomfortable &unwise, but if he can earn applause by parting

with a fraction of his superfluities, he is always ready for the sacrifice.

Deep scholarship would unfit him for his part in life, but if

figuring in learned societies or writing a few articles and essays,

an occasional book guiltless of uncomfortable originality, or

a learned compilation prepared under his superintendence and

issued in his name will make him a man of letters, he will court

& prize that easily-earned reputation. The effort to remould

society and rebuild the nation is too huge and perilous a task for

a comfortable citizen, but he is quite prepared to condemn old

& inconvenient institutions & superstitions and lend his hand

to a few changes which will make social life more pleasant and

comfortable. Superficiality, unreality of thought & deed thus

became the stamp of all our activities.

Those who say that the new spirit in India which, before

nascent & concealed, started to conscious life in the Swadeshi

agitation and has taken Swadeshi, Swaraj and Self-help as its

motto, is nothing new but a natural development of the old, are

minds blinded by the habits of thought of the past century. The

new Nationalism is the very antithesis, the complete and vehement

negation of the old. The old movement sought to make a

wider circle of activity, freer living-room and a more comfortable

and eminent position for the bourgeois, to prolong the unnatural

& evil conditions of which the subject nations died under the

civilizing rule of Rome and which British rule has recreated for

India; the new seeks to replace the bourgeois by the Samurai

1106 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

and to shatter the prison house which the nineteenth century

made for our mother and build anew a palace for her glory, a

garden for her pleasure, a free domain for her freedom & her

pride. The old looked only to the power & interests of the educated,

enlightened middle class, and shrank from the ignorant,

the uneducated, the livers in the past, the outer unilluminated

barbarian, drawing aside the hem of its robes lest it should touch

impurity. The new overleaps every barrier; it calls to the clerk at

his counter, the trader in his shop, the peasant at his plough; it

summons the Brahmin from his temple and takes the hand [of]

the Chandala in his degradation; it seeks out the student in his

College, the schoolboy at his books, it touches the very child in

its mother’s arms&the secluded zenana has thrilled to its voice;

its eye searches the jungle for the Santal and travels the hills for

the wild tribes of the mountains. It cares nothing for age or sex

or caste or wealth or education or respectability; it mocks at the

talk of a stake in the country; it spurns aside the demand for a

property qualification or a certificate of literacy. It speaks to the

illiterate or the man in the street in such rude vigorous language

as he best understands, to youth & the enthusiast in accents of

poetry, in language of fire, to the thinker in the terms of philosophy

and logic, to the Hindu it repeats the name of Kali, to the

Mahomedan it spurs to action for the glory of Islam. It cries to

all to come forth, to help in God’s work&remake a nation, each

with what his creed or his culture, his strength, his manhood or

his genius can give to the new nationality. The only qualification

it asks for is a body made in the womb of an Indian mother, a

heart that can feel for India, a brain that can think and plan for

her greatness, a tongue that can adore her name or hands that

can fight in her quarrel. The old shunned sacrifice & suffering,

the new rushes to embrace it. The old gave a wide berth to the

jail and the rods & scourges of Power; the new walks straight

to meet them. The old shuddered at the idea of revolution; the

new is ready to set the whole country in turmoil for the sake of

an idea. The old bent the knee to Caesar and presented him a

list of grievances; the new leaves his presence or dragged back

to it, stands erect and defies him in the midst of his legions.

The Bourgeois and the Samurai 1107

The initial condition of recovering our liberty meant a peril

and a gigantic struggle from the very possibility of which we

averted our eyes in a panic of bourgeois terror. It was safer &

easier to cheat ourselves into believing in a contradiction and

living a lie. Yet nothing could be more fatal, more insidiously

destructive to the roots of manhood. It is far better to fall and

bleed for ever in a hopeless but unremitting struggle than to

drink of that draught of death and lethe. A people true to itself,

a race that hopes to live, will not comfort itself and sap its manhood

by the opiate of empty formulas and specious falsehoods;

it will prefer eternal suffering&disaster. For in truth, as our old

thinkers used always to insist, the whole universe stands; truth is

the root and condition of life and to believe a lie, to live in a lie, is

to deliver oneself to disease and death. The belief that a subject

nation can acquiesce in subjection and yet make true & vital

progress, growing to strength in its chains, is a lie. The idea that

mitigations of subjection constitute freedom or prepare a race

for freedom or that anything but the exercise of liberty fits man

for liberty, is another lie. The teaching that peace and security

are more important and vital to man than liberty is a third lie.

Yet all these lies and many others we believed in, hugged to

our hearts and made the law of our thoughts throughout the

nineteenth century. The result was stagnation, or a progress in

weakness and disintegration.

The doctrine that social & commercial progress must precede

or will of themselves bring about political strength &

liberty, is a fourth & very dangerous lie; for a nation is no

aggregate of separable functions, but a harmony of functions,

of which government and political arrangement is the oldest,

most central and most vital and determines the others.

Our only hope of resurgence was in some such great unsealing

of the eyes to theMaya in whichwe existed and the discovery

of some effective mantra, some strong spiritual impulse which

should have the power to renovate us from within. For good or

for evil the middle class now leads in India, and whatever saving

impulse comes to the nation, must come from the middle class,

whatever upward movement begins, it must initiate and lead.

1108 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

But for that to happen the middle class must by a miracle be

transfigured and lifted above itself; the natural breeding ground

of the bourgeois, it must become the breeding ground of the

Samurai. It must cease in fact to be a middle class and turn

itself into an aristocracy, an aristocracy not of birth or landed

possessions, not of intellect, not of wealth and commercial enterprise,

but of character and action. India must recover her

faculty for self-sacrifice, courage and high aspiration. Such a

transformation is the work which has been set before itself by

the new Nationalism; this is at the back of all its enthusiasm,

audacity & turbulence and provides the explanation of all that

has shocked and alarmed the wise men and the elders in the

movement in Bengal. The new Nationalism is a creed, but it is

more than a creed; it is a method, but more than a method. The

new Nationalism is an attempt at a spiritual transformation of

the nineteenth century Indian; it is a notice of dismissal or at

least of suspension to the bourgeois and all his ideas and ways

and works, a call for men who will dare & do impossibilities,

the men of extremes, the men of faith, the prophets, the martyrs,

the crusaders, the [. . . ] & rebels, the desperate venturers and

reckless doers, the initiators of revolutions. It is the rebirth in

India of the Kshatriya, the Samurai.

CWSA vol 7  Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908

Sri “Aurobindo on India as the Mother

The Mother and the Nation
We have lost the faculty of religious fervour in Bengal and are
trying now to recover it through the passion for the country by
self-sacrifice, by labour for our fellow-countrymen, by absorption
in the idea of the country. When a nation is on the verge of
losing the source of its vitality, it tries to recover it by the first
means which the environment offers, whether it be favourable
to it or not. Bengal has always lived by its emotions; the brain
of India, as it has been called, is also the heart of India. The
loss of emotional power, of belief, of expansiveness of feeling
would dry up the sources from which she derives her strength.
The country of Nyaya is also the country of Chaitanya, who
himself was born in the height of the intellectual development
of Bengal as its fine flower and most perfect expression.
The land of Chaitanya is also the chosen home of the Mother
and in Bengal she has set her everlasting seat. Immeasurable ages
will pass, revolutions shake the land, religions come and go, but
so long as the Ganges flows through the plains of the delta,
so long shall the Mother sit enthroned in Bengal as sovereign
and saviour. New forms she will take, new aspects of power
or beauty, but the soul of her Motherhood will live unchanged
and call to her sons to adore her. In the new age she has taken
to herself a new form, she has come to us with a fresh face
of beauty the full sweetness of which we have not yet grasped.
When Bankim discovered the mantra Bande Mataram and the
song wrote itself out through his pen, he felt that he had been
divinely inspired, but the people heard his song and felt nothing.
“Wait” said the prophet, “wait for thirty years and all India will
know the value of the song I have written.” The thirty years
have passed and Bengal has heard; her ears have suddenly been
opened to a voice to which she had been deaf and her heart
filled with a light to which she had been blind. The Mother of
The Mother and the Nation 1115
the hymn is no new goddess, but the same whom we have always
worshipped; only she has put off the world-form in which she
was familiar to us, she has assumed a human shape of less terrible
aspect, less fierce and devastating power to attract her children
back to her bosom.
What is a nation?We have studied in the schools of theWest
and learned to ape the thoughts and language of theWest forgetting
our own deeper ideas and truer speech, and to the West the
nation is the country, so much land containing so many millions
of men who speak one speech and live one political life owing
allegiance to a single governing power of its own choosing.
When the European wishes to feel a living emotion for his country,
he personifies the land he lives in, tries to feel that a heart
beats in the brute earth and worships a vague abstraction of his
own intellect. The Indian idea of nationality ought to be truer
and deeper. The philosophy of our forefathers looked through
the gross body of things and discovered a subtle body within,
looked through that and found yet another more deeply hidden,
and within the third body discovered the Source of life and form,
seated for ever, unchanging and imperishable.What is true of the
individual object, is true also of the general and universal. What
is true of theman, is true also of the nation. The country, the land
is only the outward body of the nation, its annamaya kosh, or
gross physical body; the mass of people, the life of millions who
occupy and vivify the body of the nation with their presence, is
the pranamaya kosh, the life-body of the nation. These two are
the gross body, the physical manifestation of theMother.Within
the gross body is a subtler body, the thoughts, the literature,
the philosophy, the mental and emotional activities, the sum
of hopes, pleasures, aspirations, fulfilments, the civilisation and
culture, which make up the sukshma sharir of the nation. This
is as much a part of the Mother’s life as the outward existence
which is visible to the physical eyes. This subtle life of the nation
again springs from a deeper existence in the causal body of the
nation, the peculiar temperament which it has developed out of
its ages of experience and which makes it distinct from others.
These three are the bodies of the Mother, but within them all is
1116 Writings from Manuscripts 1907-1908
the Source of her life, immortal and unchanging, of which every
nation is merely one manifestation, the universal Narayan, One
in the Many of whom we are all the children.
When, therefore,we speak of a nation, we mean the separate
life of the millions who people the country, but we mean also
a separate culture and civilisation, a peculiar national temperament
which has become too deeply rooted to be altered and in all
these we discover a manifestation of God in national life which
is living, sacred and adorable. It is this which we speak of as the
Mother. The millions are born and die; we who are here today,
will not be here tomorrow, but the Mother has been living for
thousands of years and will live for yet more thousands when
we have passed away.

CWSA Vol 7 P1115-1116

stop ecological devastation in Himalayas


18:20 (27 minutes ago)

to me

The writer of this mail, an American has been staying at the Maharshi Ashram above Uttarkashi for over 10 years immersed in long, deep silences, Vedic studies and is an expert on many of the Vedic sciences. Ditto for Martin Simson, a Scotsman whose family are well-known to me. His heroic escape from the Kedarnath tragedy was published last year by The Statesman (reproduced below). With the change in government at the Centre – and hopefully later in the state – we have to stop the further ecological devastation and desecration of the Valleys of the Gods.




Good news.



—– Original Message —–

From: Douglas Rexford

To: General Vinod Saighal ; Vinod Saigal Dole Bungalow ; Martin Simson

Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 11:18 AM

Subject: Fwd: India to Digitize Thousands of Sanskrit Manuscripts
> India to digitize scripts
> Ashok Pradhan,TNN | May 9, 2014, 12.00 AM IST
> BHUBANESWAR:  Thousands of significant Sanskrit and Hindi manuscripts including ancient Indian erotic literature written on palm leaves kept in University of the Punjab in Lahore and University of Dhaka will soon be digitized by India. 
> Director of National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) Prafulla Mishra said NMM will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran Culture House (ICH), New Delhi, for the digitization work. ICH has already been digitizing Persian and Arabian manuscripts in Lahore and Dhaka. 
> “After the MoU with NMM, it will also start scanning Sanskrit and Hindi texts on our behalf. We have already completed preliminary discussions with the cultural body,” Mishra said. 
> Mishra said there were around 9,500 Sanskrit and Hindi scripts in Punjab University, the largest and oldest seat of higher learning in Pakistan established in 1882. The collection includes around 2,000 palm leaf writings. Besides Hindi and Sanskrit, the stock includes texts in Prakrit, Telugu, Sharada, Tamil, and Nandinagari languages. 
> According to information given on the Punjab varsity library website, the scripts called “Woolner collection of Sanskrit manuscripts” are those mostly collected by A C Woolner who was a professor of Sanskrit. He had preserved these in the Punjab University Oriental College.
> In 1913, the Oriental College Library was merged with the Punjab University library and the Sanskrit manuscript collection became part of the varsity library. 
> The subjects of these scripts include Kamashastra, Indian philosophy, justice, yoga and meditation, Buddhist philosophy, Sanskrit grammar and composition, Vedic literature and medicine, decorative art, sculpture and astronomy. 
> The over 90-year-old Dhaka University too has over 10,000 such texts. Some of these scripts are over 1,000-year-old while many others are of pre-independence era, Mishra said. 
> The NMM director said the repository of knowledge in the two varsities will be of great help to researchers.
> “Once scanned these texts can be made available online so that research scholars can access them,” he said.
> The CD forms of the texts would be preserved at the National Archives of India. From various parts of the country and abroad, NMM has so far digitized 35 lakh manuscripts of over 1.50 crore pages.


Foreigners Trapped in the Himalayas


100,000 pilgrims were trapped in violent Himalayan deluges last month. Many thousands lost their lives, while millions of villagers were also held captive by the floods. Everyone has extraordinary stories to tell. This is just one from an American caught in the carnage.


I was staying in Gangotri near the source of the River Ganga Ji (Ganges) when the heavens let loose on June 14th. The earth shook beneath our ashram as boulders and trees thundered down the river, thrown into the air by the raging waters. For two days the rain hammered down incessantly. 


We were lucky that there were no serious landslides in Gangotri Valley, like there were at Kedarnath, where thousands of pilgrims were buried and swept away in floods. We had sufficient supplies, and we became accustomed to the furious sound of the river nearby.


After a few days the weather cleared, and the pilgrims in Gangotri emerged in relatively good spirits. Ganga Ji had stayed within relatively safe bounds in Gangotri. But further downstream She had ripped apart roads and mountainsides, stranding thousands of pilgrims, and leaving only sharp cliffs and rockslides descending into the river gorge. Our main hope for rescue was by helicopters.


The Trek To Civilization


On June 19th the sun emerged brilliantly illuminating crystal clear, sparkling white, snow covered mountains all around us. An Italian friend and I were among the first to hike 25 km to the Harsil Army Base. We had plane tickets to leave Delhi, and could not wait. We clambering over fallen rocks and mountain silt for most of the day. When we arrived in Harsil we learned that foreigners need special permission to board army helicopters – approval from Embassies, the Foreign Ministry, and the Air Force. 


We were assured that foreigners were a priority for evacuation, but we decided against taking a helicopter. Other needy refugees were pouring into the camp with emergency medical problems, babies and elderly. Also helicopter traffic was hampered by bad weather, which compounded the uncertainty and indecision at the army base. So we decided to try hiking out . . . despite the warnings of army scouts.


For ten years I had lived in an ashram in the mountains nearby, so I knew that the mountains were fragile. Every monsoon, bridges and roads routinely wash away. Last year’s road repairs were still unfinished. The week before when we drove to Gangotri a rock had smashed through the windshield of our vehicle. It was loosened by goats grazing on the mountainside above the road. It flew through our windshield like a cannon ball, striking the dashboard and then the driver. No one was hurt, but we were forewarned. 


About 20 km after leaving the Harsil army base, we encountered the most serious obstacles. Floodwaters had scoured away steep mountainsides, leaving only loose rock and dirt. Every footstep threatened to send a shower of rocks on others below. Further downstream, the road dropped off into the river hundreds of feet below. A sheer cliff towered hundreds of feet above. The only option was to climb up and across the cliff face.


My Italian friend was an accomplished mountaineer who had tackled Kedar Dome, one of the highest peaks in the region. We were joined by two former Israeli Army soldiers. They had never encountered anything so dangerous in all of their extensive military training. There were no safety nets, and we had no climbing equipment or trekking shoes, only sandals on our feet. The only support on the cliff were clumps of grass and scrub bushes. Hundreds of meters straight below us Ganga Ji roared. Two Indian pilgrims had slipped and fallen into the river the day before. Meanwhile, hearty local village women clambered around the cliff face with ease.


That night we made it to the Gangnani Hot Springs, a welcome relief for our aching feet. We celebrated the 27th birthday of one of the Israeli’s with Paratha Pancakes topped with candy bars and a candle.


The following day was the toughest. We climbed many kilometers over mountaintops to avoid the devastation near the river. From our mountaintop vantage we looked down into the valley to see rescue helicopters shuttling back and forth hundreds of meters below us. One overweight pilgrim succumbed to a stroke on the path. We offered water, reassurance and first aid, but there was little to be done, except to send police with stretchers and basic supplies when we reached the nearest town.


Environmental Awakening


Volunteers from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering were helping to open the rough trail for stranded pilgrims. After clambering over several mountain ridges above the river’s rage, we reached Uttar Kashi late at night. Relief agencies offered sweet drinks to the weary pilgrims emerging from the mountain trails. 


Unfortunately, in spite of their good intentions, the ‘relief’ agencies all throughout the region were leaving another disaster. Mountains of plastic cups and plates lined the roadsides where the relief distributions were underway . . . the same mountainous garbage that lines the roads and surrounds every shop and roadside in India. If Mother Nature is angry, She has good reason. The rivers and mountains that have been worshipped and honored for thousands of years, are now choked with garbage left by thousands of tourists every day. It is unforgivable vandalization against some of the most beautiful and sacred land on earth. 


No doubt, global warming and hydroelectric dams have contributed to the ecological disruptions of the region. But man’s disrespect for Mother Nature is most obvious in the careless trashing of India’s countrysides. The mounting piles of rubbish that wash into the rivers and lakes each day are a disgrace. One can only hope that whenever the holy shrines of the Himalayas are reopened – in a year or more – pilgrims and the local municipal governments will be more thoughtful and respectful of this gem of their national heritage.


Atmanand Douglas

Uttar Kashi