National Song “Vandemataram” is more important than National Anthem “Jana-Gana-Mana”

The poem ‘Vande Mataram’ is written by Sh. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. It literally means ‘I praise thee Mother’ but the translation by Sh. Aurobindo  is rendered as ‘I bow to thee Mother’.  It played a vital role in the Indian independence movement, the first sung in a political context by Sh. Tagore at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress.  English translation of first two versus by Sh. Arvindo is thus: “Mother, I bow to thee, Rich with thy hurrying streams, bright with orchard gleams, Cool with thy winds of delight, Dark 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 the 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 savest, arise and save ! ”. Sh. Chatterjee was very interested in the Revolt of 1857 and Sanyasi Rebellion. Around the same time, the administration was trying to promote “God Save the Queen” as the ‘National Anthem of India’, which Indian nationalists disliked. He wrote the poem ‘Vande Mataram’ spontaneously using Sanskrit  and Bengali words. It was published in book ‘Anandamatha’   in 1882, which is set in the events of the Sannyasi Rebellion. Sh. Jadunath Bhattacharya set the tune for this poem.

‘Vande Mataram’ was the whole nation’s thought and motto for independence from British during independence movement. Large rallies, fermenting initially in the major cities, work themselves up into a patriotic fervour by shouting the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’. The British, fearful of the potential danger of incited Indian populace, at one point of time banned the utterance of ‘Vande Mataram’ at public places and imprisoned many  independence activists  for disobeying the proscription. Sh. Rabindranath Tagore sang the ‘Vande Mataram’ in 1896 and Sh. Dakhina Charan Sen in 1901 at the Calcutta Congress Session. Poet Smt. Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the ‘Vande Mataram’ in Benares Congress Session in 1905.  Sh. Lala Lajpat Rai  started a journal called ‘Vande Mataram’ from Lahore.  Sh. Hiralal Sen made India’s first political film in 1905, which ended with chant ‘Vande Mataram’.  Smt. Matangini Hazra’s last words as the Police shot her to death was  ‘Vande Mataram’. The first version of ‘National Flag’ created by Bhikaiji Cama in 1907,  had ‘Vande Mataram’ written in its middle band. The book titled ‘Kranti Geetanjali’ published by Arya Printing Press (Lahore) and Bharatiya Press (Dehradun) in 1929 contains first two stanzas of ‘Vande Mataram’  on Page 11 as the ‘Matra Vandana’. The Ghazal ‘Vande Mataram’ composed by Sh. Ram Prasad Bismil is also written on its back, i.e. on Page 12. The book written by the famous  martyr  of  Kakori  Pandit  Ram Prasad Bismil was proscribed by the then British Government.

On 24.01.1950, Constituent Assembly adopted the poem ‘Jana Gana Mana’, as the ‘National Anthem’ and ‘Vande Mataram’, as the ‘National Song’.  Dr. Rajendra Prasad said: “There is one matter which has been pending for discussion, namely the question of the National Anthem. At one time, it was thought that the matter might be brought up before the House and a decision taken by the House by way of a resolution. But it has been felt that, instead of taking a formal decision by means of resolution, it is better if I make a statement with regard to the national anthem. Accordingly, I make this statement.

Composition consisting of the words and music known as ‘Jana Gana Mana’ is the ‘National Anthem of India’, subject to such alternations in the words, as the Government may authorize as occasions arises; and the song ‘Vande Mataram’, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy the members.”

Underlying message of the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ is  pluralism. It was the first sung on 27.12.1911 at  Calcutta  Congress Session. It is written in a literary register of the Bengali language called Sadhu Bhasa, entirely using nouns that also can function as verbs. Most of the nouns are in use in all major languages. Music was composed by Sh. Ram Singh Thakuri, who is also the composer of number of famous patriotic songs, including ‘Qadam Qadam Badhaye Ja’.

India is a Union of States and not an association or confederation of States. There is only one nationality i.e. Indian, one National Anthem i.e. ‘Jana Gana Mana’, one National Song i.e. ‘Vande Mataram’ and one National Flag i.e. ‘Tiranga’ and it is duty of every Indian to respect them. ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ have to be equally respected. There is no reason why it should evoke any other sentiment as the both are decided by the Constitution makers. The sentiments expressed in ‘Jana Gana Mana’ have been expressed keeping the State in view. However, the sentiments expressed in ‘Vande Mataram’ denote the nation’s character and style and deserve similar respect. Sometimes National Anthem/Song is sung in such circumstances, which are not permissible and can never be countenanced in law. It is the duty of every Indian to show respect when the National Anthem / Song is played or recited or sung. National Anthem / Song should not be utilized by the person involved with it either directly or indirectly and have any commercial benefit or any other benefit. There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem / Song and it should not be included as a part of any variety show because when the National Anthem / Song is sung or played, it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. In order to keep the country united, it is duty of the Government to frame a National Policy to promote and propagate National Anthem, National Song and National Flag.

Ashwini Upadhyay
Advocate and BJP Leader

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