Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sectarian opposition to ‘Vande Mataram’!

The pseudo-seculars in India, their support for anti-Hindu forces and their opposition to Hindu nationalism

By Chinmay Bajekal,

The pseudo-seculars in India have on several occasions displayed their hypocrisy through their support for anti-Hindu forces and their opposition to so-called Hindu nationalism (which in reality is Bharatiya-oriented nationalism). One such astounding example is the controversy made out of Vande mataram.

They accuse the Vande mataram of being a religious song, a song which supports sectarianism, and a song which is an expression of Hindu nationalism and not Indian nationalism.

Is Vande mataram dedicated to a deity?

First we need to get it clear that the song is not dedicated to any Hindu deity. It is a purely nationalist song. It is a song that depicts our Motherland as a ‘divine mother’ who nourishes us and sustains our lives from the time we are born till death. If we ask a person why he worships God, or why he feels grateful to him, the simple answer would be “God made this world”. Similarly in our lives we see that the food we consume, minerals we abstract from the earth and the homes that we build on it, make us as indebted to our Motherland as much we are to God.

It is in this perspective that Vande mataram upholds Mother-India as an object of supreme reverence.

Its significance

India is predominantly a religious country, where religious sentiments run high. Vande mataram here moulds the religious fervour of an Indian into patriotism. It makes an Indian realize that his duties and responsibilities towards his nation have to be carried out with as much steadfast enthusiasm and devotion as he performs his daily prayers or offerings to God.

This exhibits the truly secular nature of Vande mataram. At a time when there is a clash between religious extremists and secular nationalists, here is a song that harmonizes the two extreme sides.

Is it Sectarian?

Vande mataram cannot be regarded as a sectarian song. It does not have sectarianism anywhere in it. Sectarianism is when a path is considered to be the only valid one, or when other paths are denounced. Here none of it happens. Vande mataram simply is an expression of gratitude by a broad minded thinker towards his Motherland which has sustained the lives of countless people throughout history.

Its opposition by sectarians

Singing Vande mataram could never make anyone a sectarian. But refusing to sing it due to the fact that we believe our vision of God alone is right and if we cannot relate to another vision would make us perfect sectarians.

Is it Hindu nationalist?

Before we decide whether the song is an expression of Hindu nationalism or Indian nationalism, it is important to know what makes a clear distinction between the two.

Is Hindu an entity separate from India? Or does India really have an existence or identity separate from Hinduism?

Some argue that Hinduism is not Indianism. But the problem is that in our modern history we have failed to realize that Indianism was labeled as Hinduism by the British. That which we know by the name of Hinduism is indeed Indianism.

In the words of Annie bezant, “Make no mistake, without Hinduism, India has no future. Hinduism is the soil into which India’s roots are stuck and torn out of that she will inevitably wither, as a tree torn out from its place.”

In history we see that several ancient civilizations like the Greek, Egyptian and Persian have perished only because their native cultures were replaced by that of others. Thus it would not be improper to conclude that the way of life and culture of a country constitutes the ‘soul’ of a Nation, whereas the land and people are only its necessary physical attributes.

India’s Hindu culture thus is its soul and very existence. Therefore Vande mataram which is alleged to be a Hindu nationalist song cannot be separated from Indian nationalism. Vande mataram is the same song which was on the lips of our great freedom fighters while they accepted martyrdom. This song which has inspired several patriots in our country in the past to give the supreme sacrifice cannot be insulted by branding it as communalism.

An insult to Vande mataram is an insult to India and her countless heroes.


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At 3/01/2005 09:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Chinmay,

I fully agree.. This is a song that inspires every Indian at all times. If you listen to A.R.Rahman who re composed this with so much of emotion- he himself a moslem- if you dont get goosebumps while listening to it the person should never call himself an indian.

I am a Indian christian and my forefathers were for centuries and i oppose religious fundamentalism of any kind - be it christian , moslem or Hindu. We are first indians and everything else second, third or 4th. Religion should not be allowed to play a role beyond something personal between oneself and his god.. Be it a Christian,Moslem or Hindu God. It is not right for any community to impose its will on someone else.

Thank you..



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