Vande Mataram

By Jai Sehgal

HOUSTON: Vande Mataram was written and publicized by Indian poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1881 and was adopted as the national song of India on January 24, 1950, after having its first two verses adopted by the Congress Working Committee in 1937. The root word, Vande, comes from the Sanskit word Vand, which means to worship, or salute respectfully. The second root word, Mataram, means mother. Originally written as a tribute to the Goddess of War and Mother Goddess Durga, it was later interpreted as a tribute to Bharat Mata, or Mother India.

This song played an important role in the Indian independence movement and is often regarded by many as a “marching song” and symbol of activism. Today, this song represents the years of struggles endured by millions of Indians to achieve independence, and the pride all Indians take in being a part of their motherland. There are quite a few unique things about this song, one being that there are no parameters on how long it is to be sang, or how what rendition it is to be sang in. The second is that many believe that there is no accurate translation of this song into another language, as the beauty of this song is comprehensible in Hindi and Sanskrit alone. The song lyrics specifically focus a lot on the natural aspects of Mother India, as many lines refer to its innumerable landmarks of natural beauty.

These lines are followed by many praises of mother, including descriptions of its strength, courage, and pure awe. This is all reflected in the discussion that people have about the song being originally about Durga Ma, but somehow also adapted to praise the nation of India as a whole, because of the parallels the two draws in terms of achievements and bravery. The 3rd paragraph onwards start to complement the specific aspects of Durga and India, for example their beauty and divinity. The fourth paragraph refers specifically to Durga and Lakshmi, their power, and influence on nature. The song ends again with the phrase Vande Mataram, which is a call to praise mother India. The significance of this song is that it was not originally written as a patriotic or political song, but rather a religious and pious sound for devotees and others. However, what many people do not know is that this song was adapted to the characteristics of India, which is why there are many mentions of Goddesses. Thus, the national song of India is often overlooked by many, but holds an interesting story to its origin, and application in the modern day; it is a symbol of pride and honor for Indians everywhere, and must be revitalized again everywhere.

Submitted as a part of Last Year’s Vande Mataram Outloud Contest sponsored by Swami Dayanand Education Foundation

Jai Sehgal is a 12th Grade student.