Two types of souls are born among men. Those who manifest their innate divine nature through a slow process of progressive evolution are ordinary men. And those who are born as Vibhutis to help that process of evolution are a class apart. Accepting the character and mode of conduct of the nation, and the zeitgeist of the age in which they are born, they achieve ends which the ordinary people cannot attain, change the course of the world to some extent, and then return to their own respective occult worlds leaving immortal names in history. Their character and contribution are beyond man’s praise and blame. Whether we praise or condemn them, they have fulfilled the tasks given them by God, and the future of humanity, determined by their works, will speed on in the decreed course. Caesar, Napoleon, Akbar, Shivaji are such Vibhutis, Hirobumi Ito, the great man of Japan, belongs to this category and not one of the people I have just mentioned was superior to him in native qualities, genius, the greatness of his effort or in the future results he produced. Every one is aware of the pre-eminent position of Ito in history and in the tremendous progress of Japan. But all may not know that it was Ito who conceived the course, means and aim of that progress and achieved that great transformation single-handed, all the other great men were only his instruments. It was Ito indeed who conceived in his mind the unity, independence, education, army, navy, economic prosperity, commerce and politics of Japan and translated that dream into reality.
He was preparing the future Japanese empire. Whatever he did he achieved mostly from behind the scenes. The world learns immediately of what the Kaiser or Lloyd George is thinking or doing. But no one knew what Ito was thinking or doing — when his secret imagination and effort bore fruit, only then the world learnt with astonishment: this was being prepared so long. And yet what great effort, what wonderful genius is manifested in his achievement. If Ito had been used to publicise his great vision, the whole world would have laughed at him as a mad idealist given to fruitless dreams and bent upon achieving the impossible. Who would have believed that within fifty years, Japan would, maintaining its priceless independence, absorb western culture, become a very powerful nation like England, France and Germany, defeat China and Russia, spread Japanese trade and commerce and painting, and also induce admiration for the Japanese intelligence and fear of Japanese courage, capture Korea and Formosa, lay the foundation of a great empire, achieve the utmost progress in unity, freedom, equality and national education. Napoleon used to say: “I have banished the word ‘impossible’ from my dictionary”. Ito did not say but in fact did so. Ito’s achievement is greater than Napoleon’s. We should have no regret that the great man has been killed by a bullet of an assassin. It is a matter of gratification, of good fortune and something to be proud of that one who dedicated his life to Japan, whose one preoccupation and object of worship was Japan, has also sacrificed it for his country. “Slain thou shalt win heaven, victorious thou shalt enjoy the earth”. In the destiny of Hirobumi Ito we witness the attainment of both these fruits in the same life-tree.
(Dharma, No. 10, November, 1909)