Literature

SARASWATI VANDANA AND VANDE MATARAM

Sister Nivedita, the illustrious disciple of Swami Vivekananda and Guru of Mahakavi C. Subramania Bharati, founded her school at 16, Bose Para Lane in the Bagh Bazaar area of Calcutta, a hundred years ago, on the auspicious occasion of the Feast of Kali, on November 12, 1898. Today it is renowned as Sister Nivedita Girls’ School and is silently celebrating its centenary. Swami Vivekananda wanted Miss Margaret Noble who, inspired by his ideals, came from the distant Ireland and turned into Nivedita — the dedicated daughter of Mother India, not to work for Vedanta nor for the cause of his master, Sri Ramakrishna, but to work for the cause of the Motherland, for Her political emancipation by ‘forging a mighty weapon out of the bones of the Bengali youth’ and for Her cultural and social upliftment. The Nivedita Girls’ School that she started was brilliant example to nationalist institutions all over the country. She not only refused to take the aid of the Government, but even introduced  ‘Bande Mataram’ in the daily prayers of her school at a time when singing of the song in public was an offense. Her school was a meeting place of scientists, artists, journalists, nationalists and revolutionaries, prominent among them being Barindra Ghosh, younger brother of Sri Aurobindo, Bhupendranath Duttta, younger brother of Swami Vivekananda, Brahmabandhav Upadhyaya, the fiery editor of the revolutionary journal Sandhya, Abanindranath Tagore, the renowned artist, and Jagdish Chandra Bose, the renowned scientist. Brahmabandhav, though a brahmin who adopted Jesus Christ as his ishtha devata, started an institution called Saraswati Ayatana where teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads and Hindu scriptures along with worship of Goddesses Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati were imparted to children and festivals like Durga Pooja and Ganesh Chaturthi were celebrated. 

At the time of the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1906, Sister Nivedita organized a Swadeshi exhibition in which the Nivedita Girls’ School exhibited a ‘National Flag’. The flag chosen by Sister Nivedita for her country was nothing but the saffron Bhagawa Dwaj which is a symbol of our hoary culture, heritage and nationalism. And on the flag was portrayed in yellow colour the Vajrayudha, reminding the people that the great rishi Daheechi donated his back-bone to the Devas for making a weapon to fight the Asuras and it is now for the people to sacrifice their all at the altar of the Mother in the fight against British Imperialism. It was in the previous year that a Parsi  woman, Madam Bikhaiji Rustom Cama who was an Indian revolutionary in exile, hoisted a national flag with the slogan of Vande Mataram on it in Berlin.  Bharata Mata was the presiding deity in the heart of every patriotic Indian — Hindu, Musalman, Parsi or Christian — in those days. Vande Mataram was the battle cry of every revolutionary — Brahmabandhav, Ashfaqulla, Bhagat Singh  as well as Rajguru and Chandrasekhar Azad. Durga Pooja, Ganga Dashara and Gansh Chaturthi were all national festivals in which all people irrespective of caste, creed or community participated and raised slogans of Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai. Nivedita has spoken about the devotion of Muslim boatmen of Bengal who joined hands with Hindu brethren in floating lamps on Ganga at the time of Durga Pooja. 

But the Britishers were very cunning and they played the game of divide and rule to keep the Indians disunited and under subjugation. The foreign missionaries dumped into the country by the colonialists brainwashed the Christians to believe that the Kingdom of Christ will descend on earth only if the European rule was established in every nook and corner of the world. The Muslims in India were told that they were the rightful rulers of the land before the British came in and if at all India gains Independence, the right to rule should go back only to them. The Muslim League was nourished and nurtured by them to create a communal division in the country and they did succeed in their vile attempt. The Christians and Muslims started talking that India was never a nation before the British came in. Vande Mataram was dubbed as a slogan of idol worship and eulogization of the Motherland in Bankim Chandra’s song as Durga representing power, Lakshmi representing wealth and Saraswati representing wisdom was condemned as Hindu communalism. Unfortunately, the generation of uncompromising and fiery patriots like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lokamanya Tilak had disappeared from the national scene. The politicians who took over the leadership of the Congress were more westernized in their outlook and intent on grabbing power from the British than fostering the age old national ideals and protecting the unity and integrity of the country. They did not hesitate to agree to the partition of the country so that they could at least have a part of the country to rule. The paragon of Truth, Mahatma Gandhi, tried all methods to appease the Muslims and win their confidence, but they never accepted him as a leader and considered him only as a Hindu chauvinist. He even dropped the slogan of Vande mataram to please them and took to Allah O’ Akbar, but all these gimmicks proved futile. At last he had to swallow his own words that Pakistan could be created only over his dead body and concede the partition of the country. 

Surprisingly, even after the independence, the Muslim and Christian appeasement policy of the political leaders continued. They always feared the wrath of the Hindus who were betrayed by them and therefore made every effort to suppress the Hindu national feelings by dividing the Hindu society into linguistic and caste groups so that they could hold on to power with some sections of the Hindus behind them and the support of Muslim and Christian minorities who were pampered by them. They never hesitated to sacrifice time and again the rights and interests of the majority community to keep the minorities in good humour. As a part of this nefarious game they imposed the so called ideal of ‘Secularism’ on the nation. The minority communities did take advantage of the power-craziness of these politicians and went on extracting the maximum benefits at the cost of the majority community. Whenever the majority community people strove to stand united and fight for their legitimate rights, they were dubbed as communalists and fanatics. Teaching of anything associated with Hindu religion and culture was ‘communalism’. Even the singing of the Vande Mataram song, spontaneously adopted by the people as the national song during the days of struggle for freedom, became communal and the portions eulogizing Mother India as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati were promptly removed to please the minorities. 

Today the Hindus are waking up. The emergence of a political party which is truly national in its outlook and which represents the cultural ethos of the country which have come down through centuries as the biggest party in the parliament is proof of this fact. However, this party has yet to gain the absolute majority to enable it function effectively and independently. A big section of the Hindu society is still too illiterate, ignorant and downtrodden to free themselves from the delusory charm of  the cunning, opportunistic, materialistic and casteist propaganda of the power-mongering politicians. Immediately after the Independence, the politics of the country drifted from the hands of national level leaders to regional satraps and leaders of linguistic, communal and caste groups. The educated elite were driven out of politics and the uneducated and half-educated demagogues, screen play writers, stage and cine actors with no moral and spiritual values in life took over the political leadership. Man-making and nation-building education was replaced by materialistic and self-centred educational ideals. Today, the scene has still worsened. The politics of the country is mainly dominated by Mafia dons, black marketers, criminals and traitors who have no hesitation to barter away the country for their selfish gains. People who have never entered into the compound of a school, except perhaps in the dead of the night to brew illicit liquor, have today, thanks to the corruption and criminalisation of politics, become legislators, parliamentarians and even ministers. Therefore, even the biggest party in the parliament which enjoys the support of the patriotic and national minded people of the country has to depend on the mercy of the allies some of whom are led by people who have no principles, policies, ideals or goals except clinging to power by hook or crook and who are corrupt to the core. Though these parties could never have dreamt of finding berth in the union cabinet but for their alliance with the biggest national party, they are under constant fear that if the biggest party, by virtue of its ideals, principles, policies and efficient performance gains the confidence of the people they will lose their hold. Therefore they constantly pose threats of withdrawal of support and, joining hands with the opposition, try to tarnish the image of the biggest party under some pretext or other. 

The recent uproar against the singing of Saraswati Vandana in the conference of Education Ministers of the country, the opposition to the singing of Vande Mataram, and opposition to the teaching of Sanskrit and the message of Vedas and the Upanishads in schools are to be looked at from this angle. No one objected to the singing of Saraswati Vandana in the first Conference of Education Ministers when the paragon of so called secularism, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad was the Union Education Minister. No one objected when Saraswati Vandana was sung in a function attended by President K.R. Narayanan and the then Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral. But if the Saraswati Vandana  is sung in the Education Ministers’ conference attended by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Education Minister Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi who belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party which upholds the national and cultural ideals of the country, it is all communal and fundamentalist!  

The BJP Government of Uttar Pradesh is to be heartily congratulated for its bold decision to make singing of Saraswati Vandana and Vande Matasrm compulsory in all schools in the State. They are not doing anything other than what Sister Nivedita and Brahmabandhav did hundred years ago and what great men like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo envisaged. This fire of patriotism and nationalism that is being kindled in Uttar Pradesh which is the biggest State in the country will soon spread all over the country and engulf the whole of the country and it is bound to reduce to ashes all parochial, narrow, communal, fanatic and fundamentalist forces which have all these years holding this country to ransom. The crying need of the hour is courage and wisdom on the part of the leadership of the biggest party in the country to boldly stick to its principles, even at the cost of power, with a firm conviction that dharma will ultimately win. 

Vande Mataram! 

Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan

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