VANDE MATARAM - Birth and Journey of the Mantra

  • This article tells you about the origin of Vande Mataram and how Congress succumbed to Muslim objections in the 1930’s whose impact is even seen today.  


The first day of the year 2019 began with a controversy in the Capital of Madhya Pradesh. The Chief Minister of the newly formed Congress government, Mr. Kamalnath discontinued the practice of official singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ at the Secretariat on the first working day of the month. 


“Vande Mataram is deeply rooted in our hearts, we have sung it from time-to-time….

Singing Vande Mataram for a day is not patriotism, are all those who don’t sing not patriotic…

Congress led the freedom struggle …….we don’t need a certificate of patriotism from anyone,” said Kamalnath


‘Sung it from time to time..’, when convenient Mr. CM?


Patriotism was always just another gimmick, no political agenda, one of the many anti-national conducts from the history of his party resurfaced in the new CM’s mind and he repeated the history of 1937, blame it on the Congress DNA.


For satisfying Muslim league in 1937, Congress retained only the first two stanzas of Vande Mataram and gave the freedom of singing any other song in addition to, or in place of its mutilated version.


Not only did they dilute the spirit of the Mantra of Vande Mataram, they simultaneously highlighted and popularised Saare Jahan se accha as a sign of Muslim patriotism to be engraved in the psyche of our coming generations.


Now the Dilemma, what Kamalnath’s ‘new form’ of Vande Mataram would be like!


Just to satisfy the Muslims, Congress had in 1922, adopted an alternative song, ’saare jahan se accha..’, a passing phase in the poetic outpouring of Muhammad Iqbal in 1905, that fizzled by 1910 reflecting his inherent pan-Islamic thought: 


Cheen-o-Arab hamara, Saar Jahan hamara, Muslim hain ham watan hai sara jahan hamara, Tegon ke saaye mein hum pal kar jawaan huae hain, Khanjar Halaal ka hai kaumi  nishan hamara".


Excerpts from his Presidential Address to the 25st session of the All India Muslim League at Allahabad 29th of December 1930, “The romantic imagination of the poet stated, “The construction of a polity on Indian national lines if it means displacement of Islamic principles, is unthinkable to a Muslim, he would never sacrifice his Islamic identity at the altar of national identity. He concluded his speech by saying that Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan be amalgamated into a single state.” Source External Link


Text books in Pakistan present him as the father of nation, a pious orthodox Muslim to whose vision its existence is credited.


Islam as a religion has no country” - Muhammad Iqbal

Vande Mataram becomes a Mantra of the national Soul


‘The father of Indian unrest’, Lokmanya Tilak made the freedom struggle, a movement of the masses with, “Swaraj is my birth right and I will have it”.


Lal Bal Pal mirrored the Nobel vision of Independence on to the nation’s mind.


Sri Aurobindo, Bankim Chandra Chaterjee sublimated nationalism into the worship of the Divine Bharat Mata.


A brilliant gathering of revolutionaries and nationalists with spiritual and cultural upsurge in Bengal, having a profound impact on the entire country, posed a serious threat to the British Imperialism. An alarmed Viceroy Lord Curzon, combined with the residue of Islamic Imperialism partitioned Bengal, to eliminate the looming threat on 16 October 1905, separated the Muslim Eastern areas from the Hindu western areas. The Muslim league fully supported the partition.


This set aflame the Muslim ambition of converting East Bengal into Dar-ul-Islam. With the support of English officers and magistrates, a call for jihad burst full fury on Hindus, women were molested, temples destroyed and properties looted. 


The revolutionaries had to battle against both, the British & remnants of Islamic imperialism.


The day of partition of Bengal was resolved to be observed as Rakshabandhan. Over 50,000 Hindus took a dip in the Holy Ganga. Rabindra Nath Tagore himself led mass protest of people on the streets, singing and tying Rakhi on each other’s wrists. He administered the vow of united Bengal with roars of Vande Mataram and an inspiring poem, 


Banglar mati Banglar jal, Banglar bayu, banglar phal, punya houk, hey Bhagaban… meaning, May the soil, the water and the air of Bengal be hallowed …. 


In the eyes of Lieutenant Governor of the newly formed province, Sir Joseph Fuller, this was treason and as a punishment. He let loose atrocities on Hindus. The rape of their women by British soldiers added fuel to fire, Vande Mataram crossed the Bengal borders and became the war cry of the entire nation. Braving British lathis for their thunderous roars of Vande Mataram, thousands of revolutionaries sanctified the two words with their blood making it a potent Rashtra Mantra, an inspiring chant on the lips of men, women, young, old, illiterate, educated, a miracle that a thousand speeches couldn’t have achieved.


Composed in Bengali and Sanskrit in 1882, Vande Mataram appeared in the historical novel, Anand Math that was authored by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay/Chatterjee and was first sung in 1896 by Rabindra Nath Tagore at a session of National Congress.


Emperor George V of England hurried to Delhi and in a special Durbar annulled the partition of Bengal on December 12, 1911, making it the first resounding victory of the forces of Indian nationalism.


“Vande Mataram holds before one’s mind, the picture of one indivisible Bharat”, said Gandhi at Comilla, 1927.


The first assault on the National Song Vande Mataram


Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, who used to sing Vande Mataram at the inaugural sessions of the Congress, was stopped from singing at the Kakinada session in 1932. Maulana Mohammad Ali exclaimed that singing was a taboo in Islam and he would not permit Paluskar to do so.


“Indian National Congress is not the monopoly of the particular religion, this is no mosque and you have no authority to prevent me from singing Vande Mataram….


If singing is against your religion, why did you tolerate it in your presidential procession”, resorted a defiant Paluskar. Having no answer to that, Maulana left the Dias and Paluskar did sing!


Congress returned to power in seven provinces in 1937 Provincial assembly elections. The Assembly proceedings began with Vande Mataram. True to its traditions, the Muslim League raised a storm of protest and staged walk outs.


The Muslim League conducted its session before the scheduled time of another meeting of the Congress working Committee in October the same year, denouncing the Congress ruled states as Hindu States with a testimony it cited as evidence, ‘the singing of Vande Mataram in Assemblies’.


Terming Vande Mataram as callous, idolators and anti-Islamic, the League called upon Muslims not to associate themselves in any manner with this highly objectionable song.


Congress wavered in the face of Muslim opposition. Vande Mataram was an irritating hurdle in the path of winning over the Islamists.


Challenging Kamal Nath’s order, the former Chief Minister of MP Shivraj Singh Chouhanji stated that along with his 109 MLAs he will sing Vande Mataram on January 7 2019, at Vallabh Bhavan in Bhopal.


Had some revolutionary challenged the dynasts who defiled the National Soul then, Vande Mataram  would have been a widely sung National Anthem and India not become a multicultural cockpit of the so called secular Congress. 


Congress upheld the validity of the objection raised by the Muslim League by retaining first two stanzas of Vande Mataram depicting the physical picture of Bharat, striking off those stanzas that enshrined the spirit of nationalism and freedom struggle because it offended the Muslims. It demolished the unparalleled Divinity of the Potent Mantra Vande Mataram by placing it on par with ‘saare Jahan se accha.’ or any other song. Muslims were free to sing any other song of an unobjectionable character in addition to the mutilated version of Vande Mataram, or in the place of it.


After the stanzas which ‘smacked the Hindu religious odour’ were dropped, Muslims constructed a new objection that the background of the novel Anand Math offended them.


Jinnah raised a hue and cry that Muslims were being harassed in the Congress ruled provinces. Nawab Syed Muhammad Mehdi of Pirpur presented a report full of blatant lies on November 15 1938. Charges were mainly pertaining to Vande Mataram, Tricolour, Hindi and Wardha scheme of basic education.


Vande Matram continues to be objected to by Islamists even today. Has anything changed since the 1930s, is the question one needs to ask?


To read Vande Mataram with meaning


To hear soul stirring rendition of all five stanzas of Vande Mataram.

 Author is a hospitality entrepreneur. She is an avid history buff and perpetually researches episodes where history was faulted to manufacture faux narratives. She says “History is the mother of future and correct history is a debt we owe our future generations”.

Also read

1 A Replica of Pre-independence Islamism

2 Dr Ambedkar on Islam and Muslims

3 Who was responsible for partition?

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