Vande Mataram and Rise of Religiosity
By Mubasshir Mushtaq
Jamiat Ulema has breathed a fresh leash of life into a decaying body called Sangh Parivar. The legitimate and illegitimate babies of the Sangh Parivar, who were on a deathbed, have suddenly discovered the art of resurrection and are on a revival path – thanks to Jamiat’s endorsement of an old fatwa of Darul Uloom Deoband against singing of the controversial song Vande Mataram. It’s akin to activating the dying cells of BJP! One doesn’t intend to question the validity of fatwa since it has already been settled by Darul Uloom. The subsequent endorsement by Jamiat and its timing are questionable since the matter has been decided by Supreme Court and it’s not mandatory. Also the issue of Vande Mataram was not at all being discussed!
Before we discuss the historical significance of Vande Mataram; three important issues must be made clear. First, the song is completely Un-Islamic. One may not agree with the second issue but many Muslims believe that Jamiat has always been the stooge of Congress. And thirdly the sound health of ‘Hindutva forces’ is a pre-requisite condition for the so-called secular parties to entice Muslim community on emotional issues, so that it may forget its legitimate demands and throw them into oblivion. The strengthening of Hindutva forces means that Muslims will be likely to go with the so-called ‘secular’ parties. This creates a conducive environment and greater prospects for secular parties to capture Muslim votes through false slogan of ‘secularism’.
One may recall that a few years ago, it was Arjun Singh, the then HRD Minister, who declared that the centenary of Vande Mataram would be celebrated with its singing in all institutions. Muslims reacted aggressively giving an opportunity to Hindutva forces to spew venom against the community. Arjun Singh later withdrew the circular and emerged a secular figure in the eyes of the Muslims! The purpose, perhaps, was served: to divert community’s attention from its main problems!
The unholy nexus between ‘Hindutva forces’ and the ‘fictitious secularism’ is the most effective instrument since independence to deceive Muslims.
Indian Muslims must understand the fact that Vande Mataram is more than a hundred year old-trap.
The controversial song Vande Mataram occurs in Bankimchandra Chatterjee’s novel Anand Math which was published in 1882. The song was originally written in 1876. Bhavananda, the hero of the novel plans an armed struggle against Muslims of Bengal. While reciting the song, he meets Mahendra. When Mahendra asks the meaning the song, Bhavananda replies, “Our religion is gone, our caste is gone, our honour is gone. Can the Hindus preserve their Hinduism unless these drunken Nereys (a term of contempt for Muslims) are driven away?” When Mahendra is not convinced, he is taken to temple and shown four-armed Vishu, with two decapitated and bloody heads in front. The priest tells Mahendra, “She is the Mother. We are her children Say ‘Bande Mataram’. The same procedure is repeated at the temple of Kali and Durga. Others have been portrayed as saying, “Will the day come when we shall break mosques and build temples on their sites”? The land of Bengal has been identified with a Hindu deity. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Vande Mataram is a religious homage rather than national tribute to ‘Mother India.’
Nirad C. Chaudhuri describes the times in which the song was written. “The historical romances of Bankim Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim. We were eager readers of these romances and we readily absorbed their spirit.”
Congress Working Committee which met on October 26, 1937 decided that the first two stanzas out of five will be sung (The last three stanzas have got religious connotation and therefore considered controversial). The first two stanzas began to be sung in some provinces and gradually it became associated with India’s freedom struggle. Commenting on this noted jurist and writer A.G. Noorani wrote in 1999, “’National’ songs do not need political surgery; the songs which do, do not win national acceptance.”
A.G. Noorani has termed Vande Mataram as “unconstitutional” citing Article 28 (1) and (3) of the Constitution which read:
(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of state funds.
(3) No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.
Should a particular religion play any role in a secular democracy like India? The question is obviously rhetorical. The deadly mixture of majority religion with India’s democratic framework has acquired frightening proportions.
Why do public servants break coconuts inaugurating new buildings? Why are religious mantras recited in the presence of bearers of public office? Why do judges invoke goddess Saraswati inaugurating a new court building? What has goddess Saraswati’s picture got to do with Indian judiciary? All this has happened recently at the inauguration of new court building in Malegaon in the presence of Chief Justice of Bombay High Court.
All this injures the spirit of world’s longest Constitution whose preamble contains words “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.” It is the duty of judiciary and law enforcement agencies to check potent mixture of religion and public life.
Since singing Vande Mataram is not compulsory, Supreme Court must take suo moto cognizance of Bal Thackeray’s utterance that those who refuse to sing it, their tongues must be chopped off. Thackeray’s statement amounts to contempt of court. KG Balakrishanan, Chief Justice of India, must intervene to reassure that India does not believe and practice jungle law.