Before and during his political career (1906--1910) Sri Aurobindo gave a number of public speeches. The twenty-eight reproduced in this book are those that were noted down at the time of delivery and printed in journals or in government files.
There are three rights which are particularly cherished by free nations... These are:
- the right of a free Press
- the right of free public meeting
- the right of association.
There is a particular reason why they cling to these three as inherent rights which they claim as sacred and with which authority has not right to interfere.
The right of free speech ensures to the people the power which is the greatest means for self-development, and that is the power of spreading the idea. According to our philosophy it is the idea which is building up the world. It is the idea which expresses itself in matter and takes to itself bodies. This is true also in the life of humanity; it is true in politics, in the progress and life of a nation. It is the idea which shapes material institutuions. It is the idea which builds up and destroys administrations and Governments. Therefore the idea is a mighty force, even when it has no physical power behind it, even when it is not equipped with means, even when it has not organised itself in institutions and associations. Even then the idea moves freely abroad through the minds of thousands of men and becomes a mighty force. It is a power which by the very fact of being impalpable assumes all the greater potency and produces all the more stupendous results.
Therefore the right of free speech is cherished because it gives the idea free movement, it gives the nation that power which ensures its future development, which ensures success in any struggle for national life, however stripped it may be of means and instruments. It is enough that the idea is there and that the idea lives and circulates. Then the idea materialises itself, finds means and instruments, conquers all obstacles and goes on developing until it is expressed and established in permanent and victorious forms.
This right of free speech takes the form first of a free Press. It is the Press which on its paper wings carries the idea abroad from city to city, from province to province until a whole continent is bound together by the links of one common aspiration.
The right of public meeting brings men together. That is another force. They meet together on a common ground, moved by a common impulse, and as they stand or sit together in their thousands, the force of the idea within moves them by the magnetism of crowds...
Then comes the right of association, the third of these popular rights. Given the common aspiration, common idea, common enthusiasm and common wish to act, it gives the instrument which binds men to strive towards the common object by common and associated actions; the bonds of brotherhood grow, energy increases, the idea begins to materialise itself to work in practical affairs and that which was yesterday merely an idea, merely a word thrown out by the eloquence of the orator, becomes a question of practical politics...
Association is the mightiest thing in humanity; it is the instrument by which humanity moves, it is the means by which it grows, it is the power by which it progresses towards its final development.
- Sri Aurobindo
About the Author:
Sri Aurobindo was an Indian/Hindu nationalist, scholar, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, yogi and guru. After a short political career in which he became one of leaders of the early movement for the freedom of India from British rule, Sri Aurobindo turned to the development and practice of a new spiritual path which he called the "integral yoga," the aim of which was to further the evolution of life on earth by establishing a high level of spiritual consciousness which he called the Supermind that would represent a divine life.
Sri Aurobindo wrote prolifically in English on his spiritual philosophy and practice, on social and political development, on Indian culture including extensive commentaries and translations of ancient Indian scriptures, on literature and poetry including the writing of much spiritual poetry.