back, and tell her I would rather not make her life wretched by
dragging her into all these troubles. I forgot, for the moment,
that it was the mission of man to be aggressive, to make woman's
existence fruitful by stirring up disquiet in the depth of her
passivity, to make the whole world blessed by churning up the
immeasurable abyss of suffering! This is why man's hands are so
strong, his grip so firm. Bimala had been longing with all her
heart that I, Sandip, should demand of her some great sacrifice -
should call her to her death. How else could she be happy? Had
she not waited all these weary years only for an opportunity to
weep out her heart - so satiated was she with the monotony of her
placid happiness? And therefore, at the very sight of me, her
heart's horizon darkened with the rain clouds of her impending
days of anguish. If I pity her and save her from her sorrows,
what then was the purpose of my being born a man?
The real reason of my qualms is that my demand happens to be for
money. That savours of beggary, for money is man's, not woman's.
That is why I had to make it a big figure. A thousand or two
would have the air of petty theft. Fifty thousand has all the
expanse of romantic brigandage. Ah, but riches should really
have been mine! So many of my desires have had to halt, again
and again, on the road to accomplishment simply for want of
money. This does not become me! Had my fate been merely unjust,
it could be forgiven - but its bad taste is unpardonable. It is
not simply a hardship that a man like me should be at his wit's
end to pay his house rent, or should have to carefully count out
the coins for an Intermediate Class railway ticket - it is vulgar!
It is equally clear that Nikhil's paternal estates are a
superfluity to him. For him it would not have been at all
unbecoming to be poor. He would have cheerfully pulled in the
double harness of indigent mediocrity with that precious master
of his. I should love to have, just for once, the chance to
fling about fifty thousand rupees in the service of my country
and to the satisfaction of myself. I am a nabob born, and it is
a great dream of mine to get rid of this disguise of poverty,
though it be for a day only, and to see myself in my true
character. I have grave misgivings, however, as to Bimala ever
getting that fifty thousand rupees within her reach, and it will
probably be only a thousand or two which will actually come to
hand. Be it so. The wise man is content with half a loaf, or
any fraction for that matter, rather than no bread. I must
return to these personal reflections of mine later. News comes
that I am wanted at once. Something has gone wrong ...
It seems that the police have got a clue to the man who sank
Mirjan's boat for us. He was an old offender. They are on his
trail, but he should be too practised a hand to be caught
blabbing. However, one never knows. Nikhil's back is up, and
his manager may not be able to have things his own way.
"If I get into trouble, sir," said the manager when I saw him, "I
shall have to drag you in!"
"Where is the noose with which you can catch me?" I asked.
"I have a letter of yours, and several of Amulya Babu's." I
could not see that the letter marked "urgent" to which I had been
hurried into writing a reply was wanted urgently for this purpose
only! I am getting to learn quite a number of things.
The point now is, that the police must be bribed and hush-money
paid to Mirjan for his boat. It is also becoming evident that
much of the cost of this patriotic venture of ours will find its
way as profit into the pockets of Nikhil's manager. However, I
must shut my eyes to that for the present, for is he not shouting
__Bande Mataram__ as lustily as I am?
This kind of work has always to be carried on with leaky vessels
which let as much through as they fetch in. We all have a hidden
fund of moral judgement stored away within us, and so I was about
to wax indignant with the manager, and enter in my diary a tirade
against the unreliability of our countrymen. But, if there be a
god, I must acknowledge with gratitude to him that he has given
me a clear-seeing mind, which allows nothing inside or outside it
to remain vague. I may delude others, but never myself. So I
was unable to continue angry.
Whatever is true is neither good nor bad, but simply true, and
that is Science. A lake is only the remnant of water which has
not been sucked into the ground. Underneath the cult of __Bande
Mataram__, as indeed at the bottom of all mundane affairs,
there is a region of slime, whose absorbing power must be
reckoned with. The manager will take what he wants; I also have
my own wants. These lesser wants form a part of the wants of the
great Cause - the horse must be fed and the wheels must be oiled
if the best progress is to be made.
The long and short of it is that money we must have, and that
soon. We must take whatever comes the readiest, for we cannot
afford to wait. I know that the immediate often swallows up the
ultimate; that the five thousand rupees of today may nip in the
bud the fifty thousand rupees of tomorrow. But I must accept the
penalty. Have I not often twitted Nikhil that they who walk in
the paths of restraint have never known what sacrifice is? It is
we greedy folk who have to sacrifice our greed at every step!
Of the cardinal sins of man, Desire is for men who are men - but
Delusion, which is only for cowards, hampers them. Because
delusion keeps them wrapped up in past and future, but is the
very deuce for confounding their footsteps in the present. Those
who are always straining their ears for the call of the remote,
to the neglect of the call of the imminent, are like Sakuntala
 absorbed in the memories of her lover. The guest comes
unheeded, and the curse descends, depriving them of the very
object of their desire.
The other day I pressed Bimala's hand, and that touch still stirs
her mind, as it vibrates in mine. Its thrill must not be
deadened by repetition, for then what is now music will descend
to mere argument. There is at present no room in her mind for
the question "why?" So I must not deprive Bimala, who is one of
those creatures for whom illusion is necessary, of her full
supply of it.
As for me, I have so much else to do that I shall have to be
content for the present with the foam of the wine cup of passion.
O man of desire! Curb your greed, and practise your hand on the
harp of illusion till you can bring out all the delicate nuances
of suggestion. This is not the time to drain the cup to the
- - -
19. Sakuntala, after the king, her lover, went back to his
kingdom, promising to send for her, was so lost in thoughts of
him, that she failed to hear the call of her hermit guest who
thereupon cursed her, saying that the object of her love would
forget all about her. [Trans.].
Our work proceeds apace. But though we have shouted ourselves
hoarse, proclaiming the Mussulmans to be our brethren, we have
come to realize that we shall never be able to bring them wholly
round to our side. So they must be suppressed altogether and
made to understand that we are the masters. They are now showing
their teeth, but one day they shall dance like tame bears to the
tune we play.
"If the idea of a United India is a true one," objects Nikhil,
"Mussulmans are a necessary part of it."
"Quite so," said I, "but we must know their place and keep them
there, otherwise they will constantly be giving trouble."
"So you want to make trouble to prevent trouble?"
"What, then, is your plan?"
"There is only one well-known way of avoiding quarrels," said
I know that, like tales written by good people, Nikhil's
discourse always ends in a moral. The strange part of it is that
with all his familiarity with moral precepts, he still believes
in them! He is an incorrigible schoolboy. His only merit is his
sincerity. The mischief with people like him is that they will
not admit the finality even of death, but keep their eyes always
fixed on a hereafter.
I have long been nursing a plan which, if only I could carry it
out, would set fire to the whole country. True patriotism will
never be roused in our countrymen unless they can visualize the
motherland. We must make a goddess of her. My colleagues saw
the point at once. "Let us devise an appropriate image!" they
exclaimed. "It will not do if you devise it," I admonished
them. "We must get one of the current images accepted as
representing the country - the worship of the people must flow
towards it along the deep-cut grooves of custom."
But Nikhil's needs must argue even about this. "We must not seek
the help of illusions," he said to me some time ago, "for what we
believe to be the true cause."
"Illusions are necessary for lesser minds," I said, "and to this
class the greater portion of the world belongs. That is why
divinities are set up in every country to keep up the illusions
of the people, for men are only too well aware of their
"No," he replied. "God is necessary to clear away our illusions.
The divinities which keep them alive are false gods."
"What of that? If need be, even false gods must be invoked,
rather than let the work suffer. Unfortunately for us, our
illusions are alive enough, but we do not know how to make them
serve our purpose. Look at the Brahmins. In spite of our
treating them as demi-gods, and untiringly taking the dust of
their feet, they are a force going to waste.
"There will always be a large class of people, given to
grovelling, who can never be made to do anything unless they are
bespattered with the dust of somebody's feet, be it on their
heads or on their backs! What a pity if after keeping Brahmins
saved up in our armoury for all these ages - keen and serviceable
- they cannot be utilized to urge on this rabble in the time of
But it is impossible to drive all this into Nikhil's head. He
has such a prejudice in favour of truth - as though there exists
such an objective reality! How often have I tried to explain to
him that where untruth truly exists, there it is indeed the
truth. This was understood in our country in the old days, and
so they had the courage to declare that for those of little
understanding untruth is the truth. For them, who can truly
believe their country to be a goddess, her image will do duty for
the truth. With our nature and our traditions we are unable to
realize our country as she is, but we can easily bring ourselves
to believe in her image. Those who want to do real work must not
ignore this fact.
Nikhil only got excited. "Because you have lost the power of
walking in the path of truth's attainment," he cried, "you keep
waiting for some miraculous boon to drop from the skies! That is
why when your service to the country has fallen centuries into
arrears all you can think of is, to make of it an image and
stretch out your hands in expectation of gratuitous favours."
"We want to perform the impossible," I said. "So our country
needs must be made into a god."
"You mean you have no heart for possible tasks," replied Nikhil.
"Whatever is already there is to be left undisturbed; yet there
must be a supernatural result:"
"Look here, Nikhil," I said at length, thoroughly exasperated.
"The things you have been saying are good enough as moral
lessons. These ideas have served their purpose, as milk for
babes, at one stage of man's evolution, but will no longer do,
now that man has cut his teeth.
"Do we not see before our very eyes how things, of which we never
even dreamt of sowing the seed, are sprouting up on every side?
By what power? That of the deity in our country who is becoming
manifest. It is for the genius of the age to give that deity its
image. Genius does not argue, it creates. I only give form to
what the country imagines.
"I will spread it abroad that the goddess has vouchsafed me a
dream. I will tell the Brahmins that they have been appointed
her priests, and that their downfall has been due to their
dereliction of duty in not seeing to the proper performance of
her worship. Do you say I shall be uttering lies? No, say I, it
is the truth - nay more, the truth which the country has so long
been waiting to learn from my lips. If only I could get the
opportunity to deliver my message, you would see the stupendous
"What I am afraid of," said Nikhil, "is, that my lifetime is
limited and the result you speak of is not the final result. It
will have after-effects which may not be immediately apparent."
"I only seek the result," said I, "which belongs to today."
"The result I seek," answered Nikhil, "belongs to all time."
Nikhil may have had his share of Bengal's greatest gift -
imagination, but he has allowed it to be overshadowed and nearly
killed by an exotic conscientiousness. Just look at the worship
of Durga which Bengal has carried to such heights. That is one
of her greatest achievements. I can swear that Durga is a
political goddess and was conceived as the image of the
__Shakti__ of patriotism in the days when Bengal was praying
to be delivered from Mussulman domination. What other province
of India has succeeded in giving such wonderful visual expression
to the ideal of its quest?
Nothing betrayed Nikhil's loss of the divine gift of imagination
more conclusively than his reply to me. "During the Mussulman
domination," he said, "the Maratha and the Sikh asked for fruit
from the arms which they themselves took up. The Bengali
contented himself with placing weapons in the hands of his
goddess and muttering incantations to her; and as his country did
not really happen to be a goddess the only fruit he got was the
lopped-off heads of the goats and buffaloes of the sacrifice.
The day that we seek the good of the country along the path of
righteousness, He who is greater than our country will grant us
The unfortunate part of it is that Nikhil's words sound so fine
when put down on paper. My words, however, are not meant to be
scribbled on paper, but to be scored into the heart of the
country. The Pandit records his Treatise on Agriculture in
printer's ink; but the cultivator at the point of his plough
impresses his endeavour deep in the soil.
When I next saw Bimala I pitched my key high without further ado.
"Have we been able," I began, "to believe with all our heart in
the god for whose worship we have been born all these millions of
years, until he actually made himself visible to us?
"How often have I told you," I continued, "that had I not seen
you I never would have known all my country as One. I know not
yet whether you rightly understand me. The gods are invisible
only in their heaven - on earth they show themselves to mortal
Bimala looked at me in a strange kind of way as she gravely
replied: "Indeed I understand you, Sandip." This was the first
time she called me plain Sandip.
"Krishna," I continued, "whom Arjuna ordinarily knew only as the
driver of his chariot, had also His universal aspect, of which,
too, Arjuna had a vision one day, and that day he saw the Truth.
I have seen your Universal Aspect in my country. The Ganges and
the Brahmaputra are the chains of gold that wind round and round
your neck; in the woodland fringes on the distant banks of the
dark waters of the river, I have seen your collyrium-darkened
eyelashes; the changeful sheen of your __sari__ moves for me
in the play of light and shade amongst the swaying shoots of
green corn; and the blazing summer heat, which makes the whole
sky lie gasping like a red-tongued lion in the desert, is nothing
but your cruel radiance.
"Since the goddess has vouchsafed her presence to her votary in
such wonderful guise, it is for me to proclaim her worship
throughout our land, and then shall the country gain new life.
'Your image make we in temple after temple.'  But this our
people have not yet fully realized. So I would call on them in
your name and offer for their worship an image from which none
shall be able to withhold belief. Oh give me this boon, this
Bimala's eyelids drooped and she became rigid in her seat like a
figure of stone. Had I continued she would have gone off into a
trance. When I ceased speaking she opened wide her eyes, and
murmured with fixed gaze, as though still dazed: "O Traveller in
the path of Destruction! Who is there that can stay your
progress? Do I not see that none shall stand in the way of your
desires? Kings shall lay their crowns at your feet; the wealthy
shall hasten to throw open their treasure for your acceptance;
those who have nothing else shall beg to be allowed to offer
their lives. O my king, my god! What you have seen in me I know
not, but I have seen the immensity of your grandeur in my heart.
Who am I, what am I, in its presence? Ah, the awful power of
Devastation! Never shall I truly live till it kills me utterly!
I can bear it no longer, my heart is breaking!"
Bimala slid down from her seat and fell at my feet, which she
clasped, and then she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
This is hypnotism indeed - the charm which can subdue the world!
No materials, no weapons - but just the delusion of irresistible
suggestion. Who says "Truth shall Triumph"?  Delusion
shall win in the end. The Bengali understood this when he
conceived the image of the ten-handed goddess astride her lion,
and spread her worship in the land. Bengal must now create a new
image to enchant and conquer the world. __Bande Mataram__!
I gently lifted Bimala back into her chair, and lest reaction
should set in, I began again without losing time: "Queen! The
Divine Mother has laid on me the duty of establishing her worship
in the land. But, alas, I am poor!"
Bimala was still flushed, her eyes clouded, her accents thick, as
she replied: "You poor? Is not all that each one has yours?
What are my caskets full of jewellery for? Drag away from me all
my gold and gems for your worship. I have no use for them!"
Once before Bimala had offered up her ornaments. I am not
usually in the habit of drawing lines, but I felt I had to draw
the line there.  I know why I feel this hesitation. It is
for man to give ornaments to woman; to take them from her wounds
But I must forget myself. Am I taking them? They are for the
Divine Mother, to be poured in worship at her feet. Oh, but it
must be a grand ceremony of worship such as the country has never
beheld before. It must be a landmark in our history. It shall
be my supreme legacy to the Nation. Ignorant men worship gods.
I, Sandip, shall create them.
But all this is a far cry. What about the urgent immediate? At
least three thousand is indispensably necessary - five thousand
would do roundly and nicely. But how on earth am I to mention
money after the high flight we have just taken? And yet time is
I crushed all hesitation under foot as I jumped up and made my
plunge: "Queen! Our purse is empty, our work about to stop!"
Bimala winced. I could see she was thinking of that impossible
fifty thousand rupees. What a load she must have been carrying
within her bosom, struggling under it, perhaps, through sleepless
nights! What else had she with which to express her loving
worship? Debarred from offering her heart at my feet, she
hankers to make this sum of money, so hopelessly large for her,
the bearer of her imprisoned feelings. The thought of what she
must have gone through gives me a twinge of pain; for she is now
wholly mine. The wrench of plucking up the plant by the roots is
over. It is now only careful tending and nurture that is needed.
"Queen!" said I, "that fifty thousand rupees is not particularly
wanted just now. I calculate that, for the present, five
thousand or even three will serve."
The relief made her heart rebound. "I shall fetch you five
thousand," she said in tones which seemed like an outburst of
song - the song which Radhika of the Vaishnava lyrics sang:
For my lover will I bind in my hair
The flower which has no equal in the three worlds!
- it is the same tune, the same song: five thousand will I bring!
That flower will I bind in my hair!
The narrow restraint of the flute brings out this quality of
song. I must not allow the pressure of too much greed to flatten
out the reed, for then, as I fear, music will give place to the
questions "Why?" "What is the use of so much?" "How am I to get
it?" - not a word of which will rhyme with what Radhika sang! So,
as I was saying, illusion alone is real - it is the flute itself;
while truth is but its empty hollow. Nikhil has of late got a
taste of that pure emptiness - one can see it in his face, which
pains even me. But it was Nikhil's boast that he wanted the
Truth, while mine was that I would never let go illusion from my
grasp. Each has been suited to his taste, so why complain?
To keep Bimala's heart in the rarefied air of idealism, I cut
short all further discussion over the five thousand rupees. I
reverted to the demon-destroying goddess and her worship. When
was the ceremony to be held and where? There is a great annual
fair at Ruimari, within Nikhil's estates, where hundreds of
thousands of pilgrims assemble. That would be a grand place to
inaugurate the worship of our goddess!
Bimala waxed intensely enthusiastic. This was not the burning of
foreign cloth or the people's granaries, so even Nikhil could
have no objection - so thought she. But I smiled inwardly. How
little these two persons, who have been together, day and night,
for nine whole years, know of each other! They know something
perhaps of their home life, but when it comes to outside concerns
they are entirely at sea. They had cherished the belief that the
harmony of the home with the outside was perfect. Today they
realize to their cost that it is too late to repair their neglect
of years, and seek to harmonize them now.
What does it matter? Let those who have made the mistake learn
their error by knocking against the world. Why need I bother
about their plight? For the present I find it wearisome to keep
Bimala soaring much longer, like a captive balloon, in regions
ethereal. I had better get quite through with the matter in
When Bimala rose to depart and had neared the door I remarked in
my most casual manner: "So, about the money ..."
Bimala halted and faced back as she said: "On the expiry of the
month, when our personal allowances become due ..."
"That, I am afraid, would be much too late."
"When do you want it then?"
"Tomorrow you shall have it."
- - -
20. A line from Bankim Chatterjee's national song __Bande
21. A quotation from the Upanishads.
22. There is a world of sentiment attached to the ornaments worn
by women in Bengal.
They are not merely indicative of the love and regard of the
giver, but the wearing of them symbolizes all that is held best
in wifehood - the constant solicitude for her husband's welfare,
the successful performance of the material and spiritual duties
of the household entrusted to her care. When the husband dies,
and the responsibility for the household changes hands, then are
all ornaments cast aside as a sign of the widow's renunciation of
worldly concerns. At any other time the giving up of omaments is
always a sign of supreme distress and as such appeals acutely to
the sense of chivalry of any Bengali who may happen to witness it
PARAGRAPHS and letters against me have begun to come out in the
local papers; cartoons and lampoons are to follow, I am told.
Jets of wit and humour are being splashed about, and the lies
thus scattered are convulsing the whole country. They know that
the monopoly of mud-throwing is theirs, and the innocent passer-
by cannot escape unsoiled.
They are saying that the residents in my estates, from the
highest to the lowest, are in favour of __Swadeshi__, but they
dare not declare themselves, for fear of me. The few who have
been brave enough to defy me have felt the full rigour of my
persecution. I am in secret league with the police, and in
private communication with the magistrate, and these frantic
efforts of mine to add a foreign title of my own earning to the
one I have inherited, will not, it is opined, go in vain.
On the other hand, the papers are full of praise for those