Skip to main content

Bankim's Vande Mataram originally referred to Banga Mata not Bharat Mata: Netaji's grand nephew in new book

Sugata Bose
By Our Representative
A new book by the grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sugata Bose, has claimed that when top Bengali litterateur Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay first composed the national song “Vande Mataram”, his reference was to “Bangamata or Mother Bengal”.
Even as pointing out that “there is no specific mention of Bangamata or Mother Goddess”, Bose, who is a politician and a scholar, says, the national song’s reference to the “magic number of seven crore refers” essentially “to Bengalis”.
Thus, the song, translated by Bose into English, reads, “Seven crore voices in your clamorous chant,/ twice seven crore hands holding aloft mighty scimitars,/ Who says, Mother, you are weak?” Bankim’s hymn to the Mother, says Bose, was “originally written and printed in 1875 as a filler for a blank page in his journal “Bangadarshan (Vision/Philosophy of Bengal)”.
“It was inserted into Bankim’s novel ‘Anandamath’ in 1882 and set to music and sung publicly for the first time by Rabindranath Tagore at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1896”, says Bose in his book “The Nation as Mother: And Other Visions of Nationhood”, published by Penguin Viking.
Abanindranath Tagore's Bharatmata
Bose, 59, who is Gardiner Chair of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University, is also Director of the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata, a research center and archives devoted to the life and work of his grand uncle Netaji. Currently, he serves as MP from the Jadavpur Constituency in West Bengal.
Coming to perhaps the earliest “visual evocation” of Bharatmata, Bose says, it “came in 1905 with Abanindranath Tagore’s painting ‘Bharatmata’, adding, “Visualised as a serene, saffron-clad ascetic woman, the Mother carried the boons of food, clothing, learning and spiritual salvation in her four hands.”
However, points out Bose, “A conscious creation of an ‘artistic’ icon of the nation, Abanindranath tells us in a memoir that he had conceived his image as Bangamata and later, almost as an act of generosity towards the larger cause of Indian nationalism, decided to title it ‘Bharatmata’...”
At the same time, Bose says, “The name Bharatavarsha for the subcontinent as a whole was commonly used in the political discourse of Bengal, certainly since the Hindu Mela of 1867”, adding one of the “earliest literary evocations” of the concept of Bharatmata was in a poem by Dwijendralal Roy.
Roy’s poem, as translated into English, reads, “The day you arose from the blue ocean, Mother Bharatavarsha,/ The world erupted in such a joyful clamour, such devotion, Mother, and so much laughter.”
About 50 years later, suggests Bose, the consciousness of “Bangamata” continued, as reflected in the newsmagazine “Millat” (Nation), in an editorial on April 11, 1947, where it accuses the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha of “together raised a sharpened pickaxe to slice ‘Mother’ into two”, referring to the partition of Bengal – “Banga-bhanga”.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
In fact, “Millat” Bose quotes “Millat” at accusing Congress “for half a century”, talking “big” and preaching “many high ideals”, wondering, “What had happened to them so suddenly that having taken off their mask they were dancing on the same platform with the Hindu Mahasabha?”
Bose says, Bankim got the credit of “Vande Mataram” as having been written in praise of Bharat Mata first by Aurobindo Ghose, who argued in 1907, “It was thirty-two years ago that Bankim wrote his great song and few listened; but in a sudden moment of awakening from long delusions the people of Bengal looked round for the truth and in a fated moment somebody sang Bande Mataram.”

Comments

Uma said…
This should be widely circulated to put an end to the absurdity of propagating a second national anthem

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.