by Bankim Chandra Chatterji
Book Report Submitted by
Vivek Sharma (97365; Gr 1)
Matram, the mantra, that was destined to inspire
Bankim Chatterjee gave us what Sri Aurobindo has described as the religion of patriotism. Vande Mataram was banned, as was Anandmath. Yet the worship of Mother India or Bharat Mata once instituted was here to stay. Across the Indian political spectrum, regardless of ideological differences, the idea of the sacredness of the Motherland was widely accepted.
Bankim's work is a political drama, a discourse through dialogue, a proposal through paradigm. An epic, a legend, a saga, a history. The romance of Anand Math lies in its emphatic, passionate nature. While the novel was written, a whole nation waited to be born. We read Anand Math knowing the aftermath, hundred years back the novel would have inspired entirely different moods and reactions. (See addendum).
English translation of Anand Math (the Abbey of
Bliss), done by Basanta Koomar
Anandmath begins at an apocalyptic
moment. There is a famine in
Mohendra is separated from his wife and daughter. Mahatma Satya, the master of Anand Math rescues Kalyani and Sukumari from a group of robbers. Anand Math is located in deep forest. Bhavan, on Mahatma's behest, brings Mahendra to the forest. Here Bhavan bursts into the famous song 'Vande Mataram':
Thou with sweet springs flowing,
Thou fair springs bestowing,
Cool with zephyrs blowing,
Green with corn-crops growing,
(Translation by anonmous)
Mahendra, astonished to hear such a song, and wondering what mother stands for remarks, "This refers to a country, and not to a mortal mother." Bhavan then says that Mother India is their Mother, and all other relationships for them are non-existant. Hearing these words, Mahendra too joins the song. He learns that the "Children" (sanyasis of Anand Math) are organising a revolt against the British to free the "Mother India". Later, Mahatma of Anandmath Satya, first shows Mahendra a gigantic, imposing, resplendent image of ancient
Mahendra refuses to take the vow of utter devotion to Mother India, which meant renouncing his wife and child. His wife refusing to be a weakening factor in her husband's discharge of duties poisons herself. Before Mahendra could cremate his wife, he and Mahatma are arrested by the British. Jiban, Mahatma's right hand man, finds Sukumari and entrusts her to the loving care of his sister. In the process, he meets his wife Shanti, who he had vowed not to see before his duty is done and to the atonement of both sins. Bhavan saves the life of Kalyani and becomes entranced by her beauty. Mahendra thinks that is wife is dead, and eventually gets initiated into the order of sanyasis. Children rescue Mahatma and Mahendra from the jail, but are defeated by British forces in a pitched battle, where appears and swords of sanyasis lose to cannons and guns of British.
Shanti, Jiban's wife, was a woman with a difference. She dressed like boys throughout her childhood, and had travelled far and wide with a group of sanyasis. She was both mentally and physically strong and possessed charming features. She too enters the order, dressed as man to be christened Navin. But soon after Mahatma finds out her real identity. She convinces him with her physical strength and demeanour that she would not hamper her husband on his discharge of duties. Mahendra is sent to Padachina, entrusted with the task of building a fort there. Mahatma planned that the fort to act as treasury and factory for manufacturing arms. Shanti is allowed to stay in Anand Math. Her new role both surprises and pleases Jiban, and she keeps him away and alert of his duties.
The famine ends, but in absence of living population, dense forests replace the erstwhile villages. Children are able to entice many hundred followers into their order. The Children slowly start to gain strength, and defeat British forces in many minor clashes, looting their arms and treasuries. Bhavan falls in love with Kalyani, and is willing to break all his vows to make her his wife. Kalyani shoes him away and he realises that death was his only his atonement.
The British, under the command of Captain Thomas, attack the children. After a hard-pitched battle, the Children humble the British. The British were about to win, when seventeen cannons from Padachina arrive well in time at the battlefield turning the tide in favor of the Children. Bhavan dies in this battle. Kalyani, Sukumari and Mahendra, and Jiban and Shanti all happily reunite at the fort of Padachina. The British, once humbled, now relaunched a strategic offensive against the Children under the command of Major Edwards. The British are again defeated, Jiban fights like a superhero, fighting alone, when his compatriots desert him, succumbs to multiple injuries and is lost in heaps of dead in battlefield. Shanti finds him, a mysterious Mahatma heals him and disappears. Jiban role in Service of Mother ends with this sacrifice. A revived Jiban and Shanti walk away hand in hand. Singing Vande Mataram, they soon disappear out of sight.
had hence become the national anthem during the struggle for freedom. The fact
that Rabindranath Tagore's
Jana Gana Mana replaced it after independence, as a
concession to Muslim susceptibilities, highlights the nature of the freedom
movement. Anadmath has inspired both the nationalists
and the fundamentalists. Bankim synthesized the Western secular concept of
nationalism with the tradition and needs of Hindus even if he was thinking in
a deification of the country as we know was to inspire many millions of Indians
throughout the freedom struggle. Aurobindo himself considered to be a prophet of Indian
nationalism, during his revolutionary phase wanted a Bharat
Mata Mandir to be established in every
Analysing the causes of
Your Hindu blood has gone cold, it is no less cold than ice
Sons of brave Shivaji are your hands bereft of power
Awake! Arise! you are born of lionesses; You have to wear the Saffron Headband,
Swear by the son of Kaushaliya and resolve to build the temple there,
He who comes as Ravana will die an untimely death,
The temple will now be built there where Shri Ram was born !
According to Bhavan's book, Vande Mataram by Moni Bagchee, (pg . 66), ``Bankin Chandra composed the song in an inspired moment, Rabindranath sang it by setting a tune to it and it was left to the genius of Aurobindo to interpret the deeper meaning of the song out of which India received the philosophy of new Nationalism.'' Shri Aurobindo's birthday was also on 15th of August.
Translation by Shri Aurobindo Ghose
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,
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 sword flesh out in the 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!
Though who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foeman 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 nervs 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,
Lovilest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!