Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 3/Chapter 8

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Gradually it became known among the Children that Mahatma Satya had returned to the ashram; and that he had asked the Children to meet in the ashram grounds to hear an important message. So groups of Children began to gather, and before long ten thousands of them had assembled in the forest by the river.

The vast forest was full of mango, palm, banyan, sal and other trees. Everyone was happy and shouted with joy to hear of the return of the Mahatma. The rank and file of the Children did not know where he had gone, nor for what purpose. It was rumoured, however, that he had gone to the Himalayas for prayers and meditation for the welfare of the Children. And thus they all whispered into one another's ears: The Mahatma's prayers have been answered. We are sure to defeat the British and win back the sovereignty of our country.'

Louder and louder they shouted Bande Mataram. Yes, ten thousand Children shouted Bande Mataram at the top of their voices. The trees were rustling in the winds, the river was singing, the moon and the stars were shining brightly in the blue sky, here and there patches of white clouds floated by carelessly. Green trees towered over green earth. White beds of sand bordered the translucent stream. The entire length of the river bank was covered with flowers of every kind.

Amidst deafening shouts of Bande Mataram, Mahatma Satya appeared. Bathed bright in the moonlight that filtered through the leaves, ten thousand Children bowed on the soft green grass to pay homage to him.

'May God, who is great, bless you with success,' Mahatma Satya said loudly, lifting both his hands to bless the assembled Children. 'May He grant strength to your arms, devotion to your mind and unalloyed consecration on your part to our beloved Mother India. Now let us sing Bande Mataram.'

And they all sang Bande Mataram together. The song over, Mahatma Satya blessed them again, and continued: 'My beloved Children! Listen closely. I have something very important to tell you tonight. Captain Thomas of England, that villain and assassin, has massacred numerous Children. Tonight we shall destroy him with all his soldiers. This is the command of God. What do you say?'

The answer came in the form of a spontaneous shout, a fierce Bande Mataram that rent the skies and shook the forest all around.

'Yes, indeed,' shouted a leader from the crowd, 'we must destroy the British soldiers and their Captain instantly. Just tell us where they are, and the task will be shortly over. Tell us where they are!'

'Kill, kill the British soldiers,' shouted a second, 'yes, kill them all; for they have killed too many of our patriots.' Words like these echoed from the distant mountainsides.

'We have to be patient,' Mahatma Satya said, 'so that we may perform our duties successfully. The British have cannon. It is impossible for us to fight with them without cannon. Moreover, they are a heroic race. Seventeen cannon are on the way to us from our fort at Padachina. When these arrive we will march out to fight the enemy. Look, the day is dawning in the East! Probably within a few hours — but hear — what is that? What do I hear?'

Suddenly, cannon roared simultaneously on all sides of the woods. But they were British cannon that thundered. Captain Thomas had surrounded the forest and sought to kill the Children like fish trapped in a net.