Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 3/Chapter 12

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The victorious children celebrated their victory on the banks of the Ajai. Mahatma Satya was the centre of attraction. Crowds gathered around him in joyous and demonstrative festivities. But the Mahatma was sad at heart. He was thinking of Bhavan.

During the battle the Children had had little of music. But somehow or other hundreds of wind and leather instruments managed to arrive at the Ajai to swell the tide of merrymaking with deafening sound. The festivities continued for a long time.

'God has indeed been kind to the Children,' Mahatma Satya said. 'But there is one thing that still remains unfinished. We cannot afford to forget those who have made these festivities possible; and yet, they are not here to enjoy them with us. Let us cremate those dead lying on the battlefield. Especially, let us cremate the dead body of Bhavan with proper honours; for that great soul won this victory for us and gave his very life to win it for the Mother.'

They lighted a fire of sandalwood, and cremated Bhavan's dead body with highest honours singing Bande Mataram from the very depth of their souls.

After the cremation, Mahatma Satya, Jiban, Mahendra, Nabin and Dhiren met in the woods for a secret conference.

'The cause,' Mahatma Satya said, 'for which we have so long sacrificed our homes, our hearts, our professions, our personal duties, and all sources of earthly happiness, is now crowned with success. The British are driven out of this part of our country. Their soldiers are gone and the few that are left will soon be crushed by us. What do you think we should do now?'

'Let us march out of here and capture the capital and drive the British beyond the seas,' said Jiban.

'I, too, think the same way,' Mahatma Satya said.

'Where are the soldiers for that?' Dhiren inquired.

'Why, there are plenty of soldiers around!' Jiban said.

'Whom do you mean?' Dhiren asked.

'They are resting here. When the war drums beat they will all rally round us,' Jiban said.

'You would not find a soul to respond to your call.'

'Why?' the Mahatma inquired.

'They are all away on a looting spree,' Dhiren said. 'The villages are now unprotected. They are going to loot the English silk factories before they return home. You will not find anyone now. I went out to look for them.'

'When all is said and done,' Mahatma Satya said sadly, 'we have captured this part of the country. There is no one here to question our sovereignty. You may establish our kingdom here, gather taxes and revenues from the people, and then recruit soldiers to occupy the capital and free all India from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari. When we establish our independent kingdom, the very news of it will win us the allegiance of our fellow countrymen in the distant provinces and states.' They all bowed at the Mahatma's feet.

'Master,' Jiban said, 'we bow before you. Master, if you so desire, we shall build a throne for you here.'

For the first time in many years Mahatma Satya showed anger and said: 'Shame on all of you. Do you think I am such an empty-headed person? None of us may be king. We all are ascetics. The king of the country is God himself. He is our Protector. After we capture the capital, you may crown a king. But know this for certain that I shall accept no other duty in life except the one of rigid asceticism. You may now retire to your respective duties.'

The four Children saluted the Mahatma and were about to retire. Quite unnoticed by others, Satya signalled Mahendra to stay.

'Mahendra,' the Mahatma said, 'all of you took the oath before the golden map of Mother India. Both Bhavan and Jiban broke their oaths of honour. Bhavan made proper atonement with his life today. I am afraid one of these days Jiban, too, will follow him. But I cling to one ray of hope that for a certain mysterious reason he may not die yet. You, however, are the only one who has been truly loyal to his vow. Now we have reached our temporary goal. You promised not to see your wife and child until we had won success. Now we are successful. You may return home to be a householder again.'

'Master, how can I be a householder again?' said Mahendra, crying like a child. 'My wife committed suicide and I do not know where my daughter is. And how can I ever expect to know where to look for her now? You once told me that she was alive but that is all I know of her.'

Then Mahatma Satya asked Nabin to return to him and be introduced to Mahendra: 'This is Nabin, my pure and beloved disciple. He will tell you all about your daughter,' and the Mahatma signalled a message to Nabin. Nabin bowed to the Mahatma and was about to retire when Mahendra inquired: 'Where and when shall I meet you, Nabin?'

'Please, come to my cottage,' said Nabin, and led the way.

Mahendra bowed at the Mahatma's feet and followed Nabin to her cottage. It was late at night. Nabin refused to rest. She at once started for the city alone.