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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fatwa on Vande Mataram: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's novel and two stanzas of the song

Movie based on Anand Math
Once again the issue over Vande Mataram [originally Bande Mataram in Bangla] has cropped up. Exactly a year ago there was a similar hue and cry over the issue.

First of all, the fatwa is absolutely uncalled for. Everybody is aware of the history of the hymn [song] and the context in which it was written.

But the strange debates on TV channels and the aggression among self-righteous and jingoistic anchors who are least aware of Bankimchandra and his Anand Math, complicates the situation.

How can someone call it 'imposing' the song, they wondered. And then a participant says, 'Hindustan me.n rahna hoga, Vande Mataram kahna hoga' [If you have to live in India, you must sing Vande Mataram].


To set the record straight, Bankim Chandra's novel Anand Math from where this song has been taken was nearly pro-British and fiercely anti-Muslim. It was written a few decades after 1857 but the novel portrays Muslims are outsiders and enemies.

Having heard so much about the novel, I bought it a few years back and was taken aback by the intense anti-Muslim pitch and the aim of eliminating Muslims and pulling down all the Mosques and Muslim shrines. It is much more shrill than the present day RSS' rhetoric.

In this novel, the protagonists exhort others to kill Muslims, clearly spreading hate.That the novel was written by a Bengali and set in Bengal, the state where both communities shared the same language and culture--much more than several other states, comes as a shock.

Hindu revivalism is understandable but not fanaticism and blind hate. It was this reason why not only Pt Jawaharlal Nehru but also Subhash Chandra Bose opposed this hymn. No wonder a socialist like Ram Manohar Lohia called the novel a blot on Indian national struggle because it hailed the British.

What about the tens of thousands of Indian who laid their lives for the independence? Just two stanzas of the hymn were approved to be sung in the late 30s in the Congress Working Committee. Unfortunately,  Bankim Chandra had done his BA with the Haji Mohsin Fund but wrote such a fierce anti-Muslim novel.


Novel & Comic for Kids based on Anand Math
Only the ignorant would term the novel as patriotic. It was basically against the Muslim dominance [population-wise] in Bengal. Otherwise Muslim representation was abysmally low in Bengal.

The fatwa would do little good because it will only be construed as the 'kattar-pan' [fundamentalism] of Muslims without giving a thought to this fact that it is a hymn in praise of Goddess Kali. I am not against Vande Matram.

But the song shouldn't be forced on anybody, particularly in schools. It is no litmus test for patriotism, rather it is a song that comes from a book that praised our colonial masters.


Now, if you have any more doubts.


Please go to this link and READ my take: 'From Pro-Vande Matram to Anti-Vande Mataram'

20 comments:

mystic-soul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mystic-soul said...

I learned something..thanks. This background of Vande Matram is new to me.

ASIE said...

Would any of these leaders who cried hoarse against demolition in Vadodara after the High court directive care to issue a fatwa against the Lahore authorities...? That would be being secular, being neutral and meaning to walk the talk...

indscribe said...

Why you remain obsessed with Pakistan? Kindly let us resolve our issues within our country. All of us, Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs will live like members with in the same family--pyaar, jhagda, sab hoga and we will resolve all. Please don't get so worked up and put an end to exile, come back to India.

ASIE said...

I am very much in India... but exiled out of my homeland because of so-called Jihadi forces.

I am not obsessed with Pakistan - Pakistan has been obsessed with gettin g me and my ilk ethnically cleansed from Kashmir.

I didnt expect Pakistan to do any better with the temple - but I am curious to see what fatwa Indian Moulvi's associations issue on this event..

Anonymous said...

indscribe said...

Dear Indscribe,

Where are you? In India Hindus live peacefully becuase they the numerous, Christians live peacefully becuase they are the minority to be shown to the world community(you know what this term means), Sikhs live peacefully because they are not considered from among any other group(they are not recognised as separate as far as religion is concerned)and are to die when fighting with Muslims as what happened when Hindustan was partitioned into Pakistan, India and East Pakistan(Bangladesh). So what is left is the last and unwanted. I have been arguing with my friends or strictly speaking colleages that the listing of communities ought to be as per the alphabets or population which was a norm when India was trying to prove itself secular but the new listing accoring to criminal logic is Hindi, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Buddhists, Bahais..... no gentlemen I have not erred typing the last sentence.

Anonymous said...

We all know what is being passed on as Nationalistic and otherwise. To give an example my son's diary of Central School carries poems in all languages. when Urdu's turn came 'SarE Jahaan sE achchha..' by Allamah Iqbal was there. on the misra' rashkE Jinaan, construding the word Jinaan to be related to QaedE Aazam Muhammad Ali Jinah of Pakistan, the criminals changed it to rashkE Jahaan.....
So much about being a Nation for 2500 years.

Kaatib

Diganta said...

"was nearly pro-British" - Sorry, it was not at all pro-British. The other point is that the novel was covering Sanyasi-revolt in Bengal, which was indeed aiming to form a Hindu establishment in Bengal. Hence, it had to be anti-British and anti-Muslim. Please don't blame the author, the author was covering a anti-muslim topic here.

Now coming to the anti-Muslim topic, the novel did never curse common Muslims, but it attacked the Muslim establishment in India. The author glorified Rajsingha against Aurangzeb, which you can't really mark as anti-muslim.

Diganta said...

"It was basically against the Muslim dominance (population-wise) in Bengal. Otherwise Muslim representation was abysmally low in Bengal." - The novel is about a rebellion of Sannyasi against the British and the Muslim rulers of Bengal. It has no relation with Muslim population of Bengal. The rebellion was after a famine in Bengal in 1770-1772. Bankim clarifies how in the 1770s the era of Muslim rule in Bengal was over and why British rule was to be welcomed. The nawabs of Bengal had become degenerate rulers, not looking after their subjects. In that way they had betrayed the people and forfeited support. Bengali Hindus needed to cooperate with their new masters because they could learn new things from them.

Diganta said...

Now coming back to the topic, the Novel can never be trusted as a Nationalist one, neither a secular one. The song as well does not walk in the secular line of thought. So, let's draw a line between what's history and what part of history we want to retain as 'positive history' or symbol of 'National Integrity and Harmony'. Anandamath and "Vande Mataram' does not fall in that category also Aurangzeb does not come to that category though the history might work as 'energizer' to respective group of people.

hutchrun said...

Hinduism's losses

There is no official estimate of the total death toll of Hindus at the hands of Islam. A first glance at important testimonies by Muslim chroniclers suggests that, over 13 centuries and a territory as vast as the Subcontinent, Muslim Holy Warriors easily killed more Hindus than the 6 million of the Holocaust. Ferishtha lists several occasions when the Bahmani sultans in central India (1347-1528) killed a hundred thousand Hindus, which they set as a minimum goal whenever they felt like "punishing" the Hindus; and they were only a third-rank provincial dynasty. The biggest slaughters took place during the raids of Mahmud Ghaznavi (ca. 1000 CE); during the actual conquest of North India by Mohammed Ghori and his lieutenants (1192 ff.); and under the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526). The Moghuls (1526-1857), even Babar and Aurangzeb, were fairly restrained tyrants by comparison. Prof. K.S. Lal once estimated that the Indian population declined by 50 million under the Sultanate, but that would be hard to substantiate; research into the magnitude of the damage Islam did to India is yet to start in right earnest.
http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/irin/genocide.html

Meanwhile the Indian govt. does its best to revise history.

Anonymous said...

Very good blog........even i was also new to background of Vande Matram. And really it is astonishing and deplorable to see how our national song, commanding the highest honour, renders itself to the polarised views of different political parties and communities.

Vande Mataram, the song of our freedom struggle is struggling to retain its existence. Extremists like Syed Imam Bukhari are out to label it anti-Islamic.

Vande Mataram, our national song authored by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, does not allude to any religious sentiments. Then why our politicians are taking national song as an ego?

If you like to read more about this controversial topic, I have to suggest a very good article written by Veeresha B.M.

Anonymous said...

The controversy becomes more complex in the light of Rabindranath Tagore's rejection of the song as one that would unite all communities in India. In his letter to Subhas Chandra Bose (1937) Rabindranath wrote, "The core of 'Vande Mataram' is a hymn to goddess Durga: this is so plain that there can be no debate about it. Of course Bankim does show Durga to be inseparably united with Bengal in the end, but no Mussulman [Muslim] can be expected patriotically to worship the ten-handed deity as 'Swadesh' [the nation]. This year many of the special [Durga] Puja numbers of our magazines have quoted verses from 'Vanda Mataram' - proof that the editors take the song to be a hymn to Durga. The novel Anandamath is a work of literature, and so the song is appropriate in it. But Parliament is a place of union for all religious groups, and there the song can not be appropriate. When Bengali Mussulmans show signs of stubborn fanaticism, we regard these as intolerable. When we too copy them and make unreasonable demands, it will be self-defeating." In a postscript to this same letter Rabindranath says: "Bengali Hindus have become agitated over this matter, but it does not concern only Hindus. Since there are strong feelings on both sides, a balanced judgement is essential. In pursuit of our political aims we want peace, unity and good will - we do not want the endless tug of war that comes from supporting the demands of one faction over the other." (Letter #314, Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore, edited by K. Datta and A. Robinson, Cambridge University Press ). In the last decade Vande Mataram has been used as a rallying cry by Hindu nationalists in India, who have challenged the status of the current national anthem by Rabindranath.

Source : Wikipedia.
If two great men had seen the flaw in the National song, who are we to question their decision and cry hoarse over it. In case you are wondering, I am a Hindu.

Anonymous said...

The controversy becomes more complex in the light of Rabindranath Tagore's rejection of the song as one that would unite all communities in India. In his letter to Subhas Chandra Bose (1937) Rabindranath wrote, "The core of 'Vande Mataram' is a hymn to goddess Durga: this is so plain that there can be no debate about it. Of course Bankim does show Durga to be inseparably united with Bengal in the end, but no Mussulman [Muslim] can be expected patriotically to worship the ten-handed deity as 'Swadesh' [the nation]. This year many of the special [Durga] Puja numbers of our magazines have quoted verses from 'Vanda Mataram' - proof that the editors take the song to be a hymn to Durga. The novel Anandamath is a work of literature, and so the song is appropriate in it. But Parliament is a place of union for all religious groups, and there the song can not be appropriate. When Bengali Mussulmans show signs of stubborn fanaticism, we regard these as intolerable. When we too copy them and make unreasonable demands, it will be self-defeating." In a postscript to this same letter Rabindranath says: "Bengali Hindus have become agitated over this matter, but it does not concern only Hindus. Since there are strong feelings on both sides, a balanced judgement is essential. In pursuit of our political aims we want peace, unity and good will - we do not want the endless tug of war that comes from supporting the demands of one faction over the other." (Letter #314, Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore, edited by K. Datta and A. Robinson, Cambridge University Press ). In the last decade Vande Mataram has been used as a rallying cry by Hindu nationalists in India, who have challenged the status of the current national anthem by Rabindranath.

Source : Wikipedia.
If two great men had seen the flaw in the National song, who are we to question their decision and cry hoarse over it. In case you are wondering, I am a Hindu.

Virtual-Kerala said...

The resistance to singing of Vande Mataram by Muslims was merely because of their ignorance about the meaning of the national song. 99 per cent of minorities, especially Muslims, do not know the exact meaning of the song. There is no harm in singing this song which praises our motherland. If anyone has any objections against praising our motherland and cannot recite the song, they should leave this country first...
My appeal to the politicians, Please dont misuse the great song for 3rd rate political existance.
VANDEMATARAM

mujeerkhan said...

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Green fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands
When swords flash out in seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Thou who saves, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foe drove
Back from plain and sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Though art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her
swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleems,
Dark of hue O candid-fair

In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!



The lines clearly says of durga and laxshmi! so no muslim will sing vande mataram...u silly hindu extremist do you know some facts like mahatma gandhi, nehru were against this song and always used to sing sare jahan se acha..n oops that song was written by a muslim and will not be sung by extremist!

Anonymous said...

Here are the logical flaws in current discussion:
1) mujeerkhan: There is no demand to sing what you have written. Only the first two stanzas were accepted by Congress in 1905. Other stanzas were discarded for being non-secularist.

2) I have read the novel. It is about sanyaasi andolan, and has terse statements about Muslims. It is definitely not "Muslims are our brothers"-message-giving piece.
But it is not "most fierce anti-Muslim novel" too. The idea of novel is "Muslims are ruling us, they are selling our 'mother' to the Raj." Novel ends with a patriotic fight hard won from British, but concludes that they are better and sanyaasis abandoning the future of revolt. What this means (and is written clearly) is the "system in which Muslim rulers are the middle men between British and poor -mother-" "will be changed as British are better".

What needs to be seen here is that novel was published in a time when it could NOT have been tersely against Britishers. Showing patriotic people killing British could NOT have been shown with it being a-good-thing.

To summarize, the novel is indeed patriotic (it has always been). Saying otherwise is, in my humble opinion, the most ignorant statement. It's audience was meant to be Hindu, and it was written to awaken the Hindu-nationalism sentiments. It might not be patriotic to Muslims. That does not make it any less patriotic. (Come on, the whole novel is full of "Bharat is our mother")

3) As said above, it has nothing to do with Muslism dominance - population wise. It is against "foreign invasion" and due to censorship of British, replaces them with Muslim "nawabs" (who are portrayed as people in better position due to being the middle-men). It is first and foremost a novel against British, for Hindus. I would rather say, it has NOTHING to do with Muslim. In 1882 when the novel was written, Muslim condition - population wise - was as terrible ALL over India as Hindus. They were already marginalized, while Bengal was prone to repetitive famines throughout 1870-1900s. It makes no sense to write a novel against a marginalized community, until you want to hint to someone else. Calling it pro-British is very naive. A thoughtful reading, and imagine this in 1882 when feelings against British were high, will tell you the same. Except, well, that it was not meant for Muslim. In that way you are right when you say that Hindi revivalism was high.

It is, since you are wrong, quite understandable that "the novel was written by a Bengali and set in Bengal, the state where both communities shared the same language and culture--much more than many other states, comes as a shock" to you :)

4) There is one issue with the first two stanzas of Vande Matram, the one issue that has been raised every time, and the one that is the only logical one: that "bowing" to any one else other than Khuda is against Islam. I for one find it extremely acceptable. People should be free to sing what they want, what matters is the thought. No one should need a proof of "Indian-ness". Unfortunately, many people don't think this way. All other issues, including "remaining stanzas" to "Mahatma Gandhi opposed it so would I" are scarecrows, no one needs to fight them.

5) Saare Jahaan Se Achchaa has got only one problem: Iqbal left India and went to Pakistan. Still I had it in my school anthem.

6) Rabindranath Tagore has his opinion. There were many more people who had different opinion. In the end, it is for you to decide.

I personally, as a Hindu, Vande Matram, the whole of it, very very patriotic, something that gives you blood-rush (when listened to good music :), the old movie one, and the new AR Rehman one. Lata's suck, sorry).

Anonymous said...

dear anon.

Iqbal went to Pakistan! He was born in undivided India and died in undivided India in the 30s. The partition came much later.

Anonymous said...

Leave the country when you are against the National Anthem. We don't need betrayers like you in the country. Our country will do much better if worms like you are out :) So help yourself by helping us clean your garbage.

indscribe said...

Anon: Leave the country? Who? First have the guts to write a comment with your real name.

Secondly, most of you are living outside India, having no interest in India, but spread hate on internet.