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Bande Mataram Versus Hijarat
Mother, I bow to thee!...
Jul 2017


Mother, I bow to thee!

Rich with thy hurrying streams,

Bright with thy orchard gleams,

Cool with thy winds of delight,

Dark fields waving, Mother of might,

Mother free.


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 swords flash out in

twice 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!

Thou who savest, arise and save!

To her I cry who ever her foemen drave

Back from plain and sea

And shook herself free.


Thou art wisdom, thou art law,

Thou our heart, our soul, our breath,

Thou the love divine, the awe

In our hearts that conquers death.

Thine the strength that nerves 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 gleams,

Dark of hue, O candid-fair n

In thy soul, with jewelled hair

And thy glorious smile divine,

Loveliest of all earthly lands,

Showering wealth from well-stored hands!

Mother, mother mine!

Mother sweet, I bow to thee,

Mother great and free!

                                                                                                                              -Translation by Shree Aurobindo

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-94) was one of the greatest name in Bengali literature. He is regarded as the creator of Hindu nationalism. Through his poem Bande Mataram composed around 1875 and published as part of his novel Anandmath (1882), made his most powerful contribution to the literature on Indian nationalism.

The song, Nehru recalled (1937-38) had first become popular during the agitation against the partition of Bengal, when it came to be regarded by the British as a symbol of sedition. From 1905 to 1920, the song had been sung at innumerable meetings at some of which Jinnah himself was present. Later, Jinnah had condemned the singing of the song by Muslims, (Road To Pakistan by B.R. Nanda.)

Muslim Objection: This was the song, which was inspiring to the Hindus; but was offensive to many Muslims, because some of the verses were taken to exalt Hinduism at the expense of Islam. In 1937 when the Congress formed its first governments in some of the Indian provinces, the poem was adopted as the national song. The Muslim League declared it positively anti-Islamic and idolatrous its inspiration and ideas. In order to remove all misunderstandings, the Congress Party ordered its governments to allow the singing of only first two stanzas. The possible objection on what may be called the religious aspect of it was thus removed.  However, the nationalist ulama could not say with good grace that India was their Mother. To confess that India was their Mother was contrary to the idea of hijarat. But as long as one believes in the philosophy of hijarat one cannot attach oneself to any particular part of the land.  The Muslims were told time and again (in the 1920’s) by the ulama that hijarat that is leaving the country for good for the sake of Islam was a religious obligation. The fatwa of hijarat was issued by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in 1920: After taking into account all the provisions of the Shariat, contemporary events, the interests of the Muslims, and the pros and cons of political issues, I feel fully satisfied that from the view point of the Shariah, the Muslims of India have no choice but to migrate from India. Those who would like to fulfill their Islamic obligation must quit India. Those who cannot migrate immediately should help the migrants as if they were themselves migrating from the country. The Shariah leaves us no other course than migration. (Muslim Politics in Modern India by Mushir U. Haq)

On the same issue, Professor Coupland wrote that after the trimph in 1937 election, the Congress Governments in the provinces regarded themselves as national in a full, exclusive and permanent sense. This was reflected in the hoisting of the Congress tricolor on government buildings and the Muslim League replied by hosting the Star and Cresent above it. The second was the opening of the proceedings in the legislatures by singing Bande Mataram, which the Congress had adopted as the national anthem. The song had been banned from time to time under the old regime. To sing it was a symbol of emancipation. But again it challenged the minorities since some of the verses can be taken to exalt Hinduism at the expense of Islam. Moslem members accordingly walked out. The song then by order of the Working Committee reduced it to its first two verses which contained nothing that could offend Moslem sentiments. But the Moslem members still walked out. Finally, the song was dropped, and so also was the flying of the tricolor on public buildings. The reaction to them had shown that the Congress monopoly of nationalism was at any rate disputed.(Constitutional Problem in India)

Views of Dr. Rajendra Prasad: The last edition of his book India Divided came out in 1947. This is what he has written about the Congress response to the Muslim League's objection to the song:

The Bandemataram song was regarded as one of the causes of conflict between the two major communities. It may be mentioned that the song was composed in the eighties of the last century and has remained popular since the early years of the present century not only in Bengal but even in other Provinces. It has been sung in Congress and other Assemblies almost regularly since then. Mr Jinnah himself was a prominent member of the Congress for at least fifteen years when it used to be sung there, and never found anything objectionable in it from the Muslim point of view. It was sung in innumerable gatherings in the days of the Khilafat agitation when Congress had the support of Muslims in its fight as never before or since, but it was never objected to in those days. Yet it was made one of the major grievances and causes of conflict after the Congress Ministries were established and is mentioned as the very first in the Pirpur Report. The Congress Working Committee, however, to meet all possible objections and to remove all possible misunderstanding directed that only the first two stanzas of it should be sung. The possible objection on what may be called the religious aspect of it was thus removed. It was said, however, that the Musalmans could not forget the background of the story in which the song occurs. It may he safely asserted that not one in a thousand outside Bengal knew anything about the story until it became necessary to requisition it as a justification for objecting to the song.  


Much of Muhammad’s prophetic career, from the time he began publicly preaching in about 613 until his death in 632, was consumed with warding off and eventually overcoming the opposition of his own tribe, the Quraysh. 

As Muhammad's situation worsened, he began to look to other towns in western Arabia for supporters. It was around 620 that Muhammad won over a few people from Yathrib, an oasis town about 250 miles (400 km) north of Mecca. For some years the population of Yathrib, which included two predominantly pagan tribes and a number of Jewish tribes, had been riven by intractable internal strife. Over the next two years more people of Yathrib agreed to observe the Prophet's message, until finally a large delegation of people from Yathrib agreed to follow his teachings and invited him to come to Yathrib as arbiter of their disputes and de facto ruler of the town. Muhammad gradually sent his beleaguered followers from Mecca to safety in Yathrib, following them himself and taking up residence in 622. Yathrib henceforth came to be known as Medina (from the Arabic madinat al-nabi, “the Prophet’s City”). The Prophet's move (the hijra, emigration) to Medina marked the beginning of a new chapter in his life and that of his followers. 

For several centuries Muslims in diverse circumstances had recognized the decline in their communities as a result of both internal (domestic) and external (foreign) threats and had initiated various revival and reform movements. A sense of community disintegration and the corruption of “true Islam” generated revivalist movements in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Wahhabi, Mahdi, Fulani, Padri, and others) that stretched across the Muslim world from Africa to Southeast Asia. Muslim responses to European colonialism and imperialism were conditioned both by the source of the threat and by Islamic tradition. They ranged from holy war to emigration and noncooperation to adaptation and cultural synthesis. Faced with Christian European dominance of the Muslim world, some Muslims concluded that the only proper responses were those of the Prophet Muhammad when he faced opposition and rejection: to fight jihad, struggle) in defense of Islam or to emigrate (hijra) as Muhammad and his early followers had done when they went from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E. Militant resistance in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, however, proved impotent in the face of the European's modern technology and army weapons. Although emigration was possible for some, it proved impractical for many. Some religious leaders counseled cultural isolation, withdrawal, and noncooperation, to resist the Western threat to their Islamic way of life. Others, ranging from secular to Islamic modernists, pursued a path of accommodation to harness the West's scientific and technological power to revitalize the community and to regain independence.  

(Source: The Oxford History of Islam, OUP, 1999)


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