Conversations of the Dead

Sri Aurobindo wrote these dialogues in 1910 or shortly before. He published the first two in the Karmayogin in 1910. The other three were published in 1920–23 without his editorial supervision; the fourth, between Jay Singh and Chh. Shivaji is reproduced here, from his manuscripts.

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IV

Shivaji, Jaysingh

JAYSINGH: Neither of us has prevailed. A third force has entered into the land and taken the fruits of your work, and as for mine, it is broken; the ideal I cherished has gone down into the dust.

SHIVAJI: For the fruit I did not work and by the failure I am not amazed nor discouraged.

JAYSINGH: Neither did I work for a reward, but to uphold the ideal of the Rajput. Unflinching courage in honourable warfare, chivalry to friend and foe, a noble loyalty to the sovereign of my choice, this seemed to me the true Indian tradition, preferable even to the unity and predominance of the Hindu races. Therefore I could not accept your overtures. But I gave you the opportunity to accept my own tradition and, when faith was not kept with either of us, I saved my honour and assisted your escape.

SHIVAJI: God extended to me His protection and moved the heart of a woman to give me love and aid. Traditions change. The ideal of the Rajput has its future, but the mould had to be broken in order that what was temporary in it might pass. Loyalty to the sovereign of my choice, that is good; but loyalty to the sovereign of my nation’s choice, that is better. The monarch is divine by the power of God expressed within him, but he has the power because he is the incarnation of the people. God in the nation is the deity of which the monarch must be the servant and the devotee. Vithoba, Virat of the Mahrattas, — Bhavani, incarnate as India, — in that strength I conquered.

JAYSINGH: Your political ideal was great, but your standard of means was abhorrent to our morality. Ruse, treachery, pillage, assassination were never excluded from your activity.

SHIVAJI: Not for myself I fought and ruled, but for God and the Maharashtra dharma, the religion of Hindu nationality which Ramdas enunciated. I offered my head to Bhavani and She bade me keep it to scheme and plot for the greatness of the nation. I gave my kingdom to Ramdas and he bade me take it back as a gift from God and the Mahrattas. I obeyed their commands. I slew when God commanded me, plundered because it was the means He pointed out to me. Treacherous I was not, but I helped my weakness in resource and numbers by ruse and stratagem, I conquered physical force by keenness of wit and brain-power. The world has accepted ruse in war and politics, and the chivalrous openness of the Rajput is not practiced either by the European or the Asiatic nations.

JAYSINGH: I hold the dharma as supreme and even the voice of God could not persuade me to abandon it.

SHIVAJI: I gave up all to Him and did not keep even the dharma. His will was my religion; for He was my captain and I his soldier. That was my loyalty, — not to Aurangzeb, not to a code of morals, but to God who sent me.

JAYSINGH: He sends us all, but for different purposes, and according to the purpose He moulds the ideal and the character. I am not grieved that the Mogul has fallen. Had he deserved to retain sovereignty, he could not have lost it; but even when he ceased to deserve, I kept my faith, my service, my loyalty. It was not for me to dispute the will of my emperor. God who appointed him might judge him; it was not my office.

SHIVAJI: God also appoints the man who rebels and refuses to prolong unjust authority by acquiescence. He is not always on the side of power; sometimes He manifests as the deliverer.

JAYSINGH: Let Him come down Himself, then, as He promised. Then alone would rebellion be justified.

SHIVAJI: From whence will He come down who is here already in our hearts? Because I saw Him there, therefore I was strong to carry out my mission.

JAYSINGH: Where is the seal upon your work, the pledge of His authority?

SHIVAJI: I undermined an empire, and it has not been rebuilt. I created a nation, and it has not yet perished.

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OpenSource Books | Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Today is the 160th birth Anniversary of Bal Gangadhar Tilak — Lokmanya, or, as the British chose to call him — Father of the Indian Unrest.

In an introduction to Tilak’s writings and speeches, this is what Sri Aurobindo had to say about Lokmanya Tilak.

Two facts of his life and character have to be insisted on as of special importance to the country because they give a great example of two things in which its political life was long deficient and is even now not sufficient. First, the inflexible will of the patriot and man of sincere heart and thorough action which has been the very grain of his character; for aspirations, emotion, enthusiasm are nothing without this; will alone creates and prevails. And wish and will are not the same thing, but divided by a great gulf; the one, which is almost of us get to, is a puny, tepid and inefficient thing and, even when most enthusiastic, easily discouraged and turned from its object; the other can be a giant to accomplish and endure. Secondly, the readiness to sacrifice and face suffering, not needlessly or with a useless bravado, but with a firm courage when it comes, to bear it and to outlive, returning to work with one’s scars as if nothing had happened. No prominent man in India has suffered more for his country; none has taken his sacrifices and sufferings more quietly and as a matter of course.

~ Sri Aurobindo

Download the full book here. [446 pages, Various Formats]

Photograph in Featured Image:By Madras : Ganesh & Co. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

OpenSource Books | Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi

Today is the 158th death anniversary of Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi. We found this short poem by Michael White, written in 1902.

Within no peerless Taj Mahal her body lies,
No gilded dome, nor fairy minarets against the azure skies,
Proclaim the place, where she, called by her foes, the “bravest and the best”
Was laid by reverential hands to her victorious rest:
But in the eternal sanctuary of her race,
The holy river, holy Mother Ganges, that coveted embrace,
Doth hold her ashes, and for a monument to her name,
Sufficeth it, that in the people’s hearts, her fame,
Doth shine immortal. For she was deeply loved, this Queen.
The beauteous, valiant Rani, India’s great heroine.

~ Michael White, in Lachmi Bai: Rani of Jhansi, 1902. Download the book for free from archive.org, here.

Featured image: By Lala Deen Dayal (1844–1905). [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons