There is no doubt that Vande Mataram unanimously echoed the sacred
feelings of millions of Bharatiyas in its text. For years, it
remained the fundamental inspiration of all Indian fraternities,
struggling for Indian social, economical and political freedom.
This freedom movement was led by various schools of thought. From
the non-violence of Gandhiji to the armed resistance of Bhagatsingh
and Subhashchandra Bose. Vande Mataram, however, remained a common
chord connecting these outward different ways. All the leaders
have praised the song and it's immortal writer Bankimchandra.
In 1905 wrote Gandhiji, "Today millions of people
gathered for a common cause, do sing Vande Mataram. I gather that
it has attained popularity worth becoming our national anthem.
To me it seems rather a pious, devotional and emotional song.
Unlike many other anthems, it doesn’t boisterously talk about
negativities of any other nation state. So high we rank it that
we will soon publish it, in Gujarati and Devanagari." In
the year 1936, he further thinks aloud, in his article without
any change in opinion. Thus he writes, "many of the meaningful
adjectives, the poet has used for our motherland, are appropriate.
Now to bring these adjectives to reality, the responsibility lies
on us. " Maybe Gandhiji further was not very happy,
the way Muslim league was arrogant. And he must have been in two
minds, to pacify these arrogant demands. This is evident from
an article he wrote in 'Harijan' on 1st of July, 1939.
Personally Gandhiji does not seem to be an anti-Vande Mataram
leader. Only the chain of events during the years 1946-1947 must
have upset him. Only eight days after achieving independence,
on 22nd August, 1947 he said, "Vande Mataram rather
than a religious appeal, seems more of a political slogan tone.
When the opinion about controversy was put forth, Shri Rabindranath
Tagore, had explicitly mentioned it, that both Hindu and Muslim
communities had adopted its full version during the partition
of Bengal. Thereafte,r since Gandhiji was assassinated, there
was nobody remaining whose word Pandit Nehru would agree to.
Pandit Nehru was brought up in a lifestyle, totally different
from that of Gandhiji. He himself had experienced in his early
days of leadership, what a tremendous impact this song had created
on the freedom movement. In 1938 he wrote, "For more than
30 years now, the song is related directly to the Indian nationalism.
Such 'songs of people' are not tailor made neither can they be
imposed on the minds of people. They attain the heights by themselves."
Precisely that is the reason why he could never utter a single
word against the content of the song, even when he was vehemently
opposing it. He spoke about it's non-suitability as a march song,
the difficulties in getting the composition played by band troops
of other nations etc.
However he never took a public consensus on this issue, but tried
to get a sanction for 'Jana-Gana-Mana', by ways, which apparently
seem to be democratic enough. In this context it will be appropriate
to narrate the original text of his speech which he made before
the parliament, on 25th August 1948. The text reads
like this. All these objections have been dealt within the head
the 'music and composers of Vande
Mataram'. Earlier Pandit Nehru had remarked that decision of the
constitutional assembly would be final in this regard. However,
the issue was never even discussed, nor a voting was conducted
on it. Instead on 24th January 1950, at 11 in the night,
it was suddenly declared by Dr. Rajendra Prasad in the official
statement. It said that the song constituted by the words 'Jana-Gan-Mana'
and it's composition will be the official anthem of India. The
right to change any of the words of it will be reserved with government.
However, acknowledging the role of the 'Vande Mataram', it will
be treated equivalent to that of the anthem and will be honored
in the same fashion. It will be the national song. I hope
this will satisfy our 'committee members.'
Once Jana-Gana-Mana was declared as the national anthem, it will
be appropriate to take the view of its writer, Rabindranath Tagore.
He was accused of writing and composing this song to welcome George-V
during his visit in 1911. It was not the case. The 'savior' which
the song speaks of can't be mortal individual, but is the divine,
eternal power itself which can save the country from evil. One
fact although is clear-this song has not played any role, in any
way in the freedom struggle. Very often, Rabindranatah Tagore
had clarified that it was never written with the motive of presenting
in any of the Congress conventions, nor to welcome any British
Yet another influential leader, although from a different stream-
the advocate of the armed resistance has praised Vande Mataram,
in his early days. That was Swatantryavira Savarkar who inspired
many revolutionaries from Anant Kanhere to Madanlal Dhingra. While
he was pursuing his college education in 1906, his article named
Vande Mataram was published. Although in the name 'Vande Mataram'
the article essentially speaks of the ancient glorious tradition
of India-the sons of the soil and their greatness and about the
progress India could achieve in
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the fields of eternal wisdom and material sciences both. Shri
Aurobindo Ghosh was one more name to be influenced by the song.
He was the one to translate the content of Vande Mataram
in English. It was first published in 'Karmayogin'. Whether or
not, Vande Mataram is constitutional anthem, all the respect as
anthem can claim, it has received from India's great leaders.
Jawaharlal Nehru on The National Anthem: "Having a tune
for the national anthem to be played by the orchestras and bands
became an urgent question to us immediately after August 15, 1947.
It was important from the point of view of our defence services
and foreign embassies and delegations. It was obvious that
'God save the King' was not suitable for our army bands after
the change-over to independence. We were constantly being
asked about the tune to be played and could not give an answer
because the ultimate decision could be made only by the Constituent
"The tune of Janaganamana had been slightly varied and was
adopted as the national anthem by the Indian National Army in
South East Asia. It had subsequently attained a degree of popularity
in India also. The matter came to a head on the occasion
of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1947 in New York.
Our delegation was asked for our national anthem to be played
on a particular occasion. The delegation possessed a record
of Jana Gana Mana and they gave this to the orchestra to practice.
When they played it before a large gathering, it was greatly appreciated
and representatives of many nations asked to the musical score
of this new tune, which struck them as distinctive and dignified.
This orchestral rendering of Jana Gana Mana was recorded and sent
to India. Our defence services bands began to play this
tune and foreign embassies and delegations used it whenever required.
Various countries sent us messages of appreciation and congratulations
on this tune, which experts considered as being superior to the
other national anthems they had heard. Expert musicians, bands
and orchestra at home and abroad played it, sometimes, with slight
variation of tune, with result that All India Radio was able to
collect a number of renderings."
"Apart from the general appreciation with which this tune
was received, there was at the time not much choice for us, as
there was no proper musical rendering of any other national song,
which we could send abroad. At that stage, I wrote to all
the provincial Governors and asked their views about adopting
Jana Gana Mana or the other songs as the national anthem.
I asked them to consult their Premier before replying. I made
it perfectly clear to them that the final decision rested with
the Constituent Assembly, but owing to the urgent need of sending
some directions to foreign embassies and the defence services,
a provisional decision became essential. Every one of these
Governors, except one (the Governor of the Central Provinces)
signified his approval of Jana Gana Mana. Thereupon the
Cabinet considered the matter and came to the decision that provisionally
Jana Gana Mana should be used till such time as Constituent Assembly
came to a final decision."
"Instructions were issued accordingly to the Provincial Governors.
It was very clear that the wording of Jana Gana Mana was not wholly
appropriate and some changes would be necessary. What was
important was the tune to be played by bands and orchestras, and
not the wording. Subsequently the new Premier of West Bengal informed
that he and his Government preferred Vande Mataram.That is the
position at present. It is unfortunate that some kind of
argument has arisen between Vande Mataram and Jana Gana Mana.
Vande Mataram is obviously and indisputably the premier national
song of Bharat (India) with great historical tradition, it was
intimately connected with our struggle for freedom. That
position it is bound to regain and no other song can displace
it. It represents the passion and poignancy of that struggle
but perhaps not so much the culmination of it."
Mahatma Gandhi on Vandemataram “...No matter what
its source was and how and when it was composed, it had become
a most powerful battle cry among Hindus and Mussalmans of Bengal
during the partion days. It was anti-imperialist cry.
As a lad, when I knew nothing of Ananda Math or even Bankim, its
immortal author, Vande Mataram had gripped me, and when I first
heard it, sung it, it had enthralled me. I associated the
purest national spirit with it. It never occurred to me
that it was a Hindu song or meant only for Hindus. Unfortunately,
now we have fallen on evil days. All that was pure gold
before has become base metal today. In such times, it is
wisdom not to market pure gold and let it be sold as base metal.
I would not risk a single quarrel over singing Vande Mataram at
a mixed gathering. It will never suffer from disuse.
It is enthroned in the hearts of millions. It will never
suffer from patriotism of millions in and outside Bengal.
Its chosen stanzas are Bengal’s gift among may others to the whole
nation.” -Harijan, July1, 1939.