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

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