Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Vande Mataram

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Jadunath Bhattacharya

Originally published

24 January 1950

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Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Anandamath (1882)

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

Jaya hay vande mataram poem by bankim chandra chattopadhyay

Vande Mataram (Devanagari: वन्दे मातरम्, Bengali: বন্দে মাতরম্, Vande Mātaram) is a poem composed by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1870s, which he included in his 1881 novel Anandamath. The first two verses of the song were adopted as the national song of India in 1937.


An Ode to Durga as the Mother goddess, it was written in Sanskrit and Bengali. The title 'Vande Mataram' literally means "I praise thee, Mother" or "I bow to thee, Mother". The "mother goddess" in later verses of the song has been interpreted as Mother Bengal and Mother India, though the text does not mention this explicitly.

It played a vital role in the Indian independence movement, first sung in a political context by Rabindranath Tagore at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. It became a popular marching song for political activism and Indian freedom movement in 1905. Spiritual Indian nationalist and philosopher Sri Aurobindo referred it as "National Anthem of Bengal". The song and the novel containing it was banned by the British government, but workers and general public defied the ban, many went to colonial prisons repeatedly for singing it, and the ban was overturned by the Indians after they gained independence from the colonial rule.

In 1950 (after India's independence), the song's first two verses of the song were declared the "national song" of the Republic of India, distinct from the national anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana. The first two verses of the song are an abstract reference to mother and motherland, they do not mention any Hindu deity by name, unlike later verses that do explicitly mention goddesses such as Durga. There is no time limit or circumstantial specification for the rendition of this song [unlike the national anthem Jana Gana Mana that specifies 52 seconds].

Vande mataram by bankim chandra chatterjee


The root of the Sanskrit word Vande is Vand, which appears in Rigveda and other Vedic texts. According to Monier Monier-Williams, depending on the context, vand means "to praise, celebrate, laud, extol, to show honour, do homage, salute respectfully", or "deferentially, venerate, worship, adore", or "to offer anything respectfully to". The word Mātaram has Indo-European roots in mātár- (Sanskrit), méter (Greek), mâter (Latin) which mean "mother".


The two verses of Vande Mataram adopted as the "National song" read as follows:

The original lyrics

Here are. the rest of the original lyrics from which the National Song of India came (continuing from the last section):

Translation into English

The first translation of Bankim Chandra Chatterji's novel Anandamath, including the poem Vande Mataram, into English was by Nares Chandra Sen-Gupta, with the fifth edition published in 1906 titled "The Abbey of Bliss".

Here is the translation in prose of the above two stanzas rendered by Aurobindo Ghose. This has also been adopted by the Government of India's national portal. The original Vande Mataram consists of six stanzas and the translation in prose for the complete poem by Shri Aurobindo appeared in Karmayogin, 20 November 1909.

Apart from the above prose translation, Sri Aurobindo also translated Vande Mataram into a verse form known as Mother, I bow to thee!. Sri Aurobindo commented thus on his English translation of the poem:

It is difficult to translate the National Song of India into verse in another language owing to its unique union of sweetness, simple directness and high poetic force.

Translation into other languages

Vande Mataram has inspired many Indian poets and has been translated into numerous Indian languages, such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Assamese, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi and others.


Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was one of the earliest graduates of the newly established Calcutta University. After his BA, he joined the British Indian government as a civil servant, becoming a District Magistrate and later a District Collector. Chattopadhyay was very interested in recent events in Indian and Bengali history, particularly the Revolt of 1857 and the previous century's Sanyasi Rebellion. Around the same time, the administration was trying to promote "God Save the Queen" as the anthem for Indian subjects, which Indian nationalists disliked. It is generally believed that the concept of Vande Mataram came to Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay when he was still a government official, around 1876. He wrote Vande Mataram at Chinsurah, there is a white colour house of Adhya Family near river Hooghly (near Mallik Ghat).

Chattopadhyay wrote the poem in a spontaneous session using words from Sanskrit and Bengali. The poem was published in Chattopadhyay's book Anandamatha (pronounced Anondomôţh in Bengali) in 1882, which is set in the events of the Sannyasi Rebellion. Jadunath Bhattacharya was asked to set a tune for this poem just after it was written.

Indian independence movement

"Vande Mataram" was the whole nation's thought and motto for independence [from British rule] during the Indian independence movement. Large rallies, fermenting initially in Bengal, in the major metropolis of Calcutta, would work themselves up into a patriotic fervour by shouting the slogan "Vande Mataram", or "I praise the Mother(land)!" The British, fearful of the potential danger of an incited Indian populace, banned the book and made the recital of the song a crime. The British colonial government imprisoned many independence activists for disobeying the order, but workers and general public repeatedly violated the ban many times by gathering together before British officials and singing it. Rabindranath Tagore sang Vande Mataram in 1896 at the Calcutta Congress Session held at Beadon Square. Dakhina Charan Sen sang it five years later in 1901 at another session of the Congress at Calcutta. Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the song in the Benares Congress Session in 1905. Lala Lajpat Rai started a journal called Vande Mataram from Lahore. Hiralal Sen made India's first political film in 1905 which ended with the chant. Matangini Hazra's last words as she was shot to death by the Crown police were Vande Mataram.

In 1907, Bhikaiji Cama (1861–1936) created the first version of India's national flag (the Tiranga) in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1907. It had Vande Mataram written on it in the middle band.

A book titled Kranti Geetanjali published by Arya Printing Press (Lahore) and Bharatiya Press (Dehradun) in 1929 contains first two stanzas of this lyric on page 11 as Matra Vandana and a ghazal (Vande Mataram) composed by Bismil was also given on its back, i.e. page 12. The book written by the famous martyr of Kakori Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil was proscribed by the then British government of India.

Mahatama Gandhi supported adoption and the singing of the Vande Mataram song. In January 1946, in a speech in Gauhati (Assam), he urged that "Jai Hind should not replace Vande-mataram". He reminded everyone present that Vande-mataram was being sung since the inception of the Congress. He supported the "Jai Hind" greeting, but remanded that this greeting should not be to the exclusion of Vande Mataram. Gandhi was concerned that those who discarded Vande Mataram given the tradition of sacrifice behind it, one day would discard “Jai Hind” also.

Adoption as "national song"

Parts of the Vande Mataram was chosen as the "national song" in 1937 by the Indian National Congress as it pursued independence of India from the British colonial rule, after a committee consisting of Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subbash Bose, Acharya Deva and Rabrindanath Tagore recommended the adoption. The entire song was not selected by Hindu leaders in order to respect the sentiments of non-Hindus, and the gathering agreed that anyone should be free to sing an alternate "unobjectionable song" at a national gathering if they do not want to sing Vande Mataram because they find it "objectionable" for a personal reason. According to the gathered leaders, including the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, though the first two stanzas began with an unexceptionable evocation of the beauty of the motherland, in later stanzas there are references to the Hindu goddess Durga. The Muslim League and Muhammad Ali Jinnah opposed the song. Thereafter, with the support of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Indian National Congress decided to adopt only the first two stanzas as the national song to be sung at public gatherings, and other verses that included references to Durga and Lakshmi were expunged.

Rajendra Prasad, who was presiding the Constituent Assembly on 24 January 1950, made the following statement which was also adopted as the final decision on the issue:

...The composition consisting of words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations as the Government may authorise as occasion arises, and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. (Applause) I hope this will satisfy members.

Constituent Assembly of India, Vol. XII, 24-1-1950


Many Imams and Muslim organisations in India have declared fatwas against singing Vande Mataram. According to Asia News, the Islamic clerics "banned their followers from committing a sacrilege against Allah, the one god", by singing a song that describes "India as a god to adore".

In contrast, All India Sunni Ulema Board on 6 September 2006 issued a fatwa that the Muslims can sing the first two verses of the Vande Mataram song, but singing the entire song is against the tenets of Islam (Shirk). The Board president Moulana Mufti Syed Shah Badruddin Qadri Aljeelani said that the first two lines are okay because "if you bow at the feet of your mother with respect, it is not shirk but only respect." Shia scholar and All India Muslim Personal Law Board vice-president Maulana Kalbe Sadiq stated on 5 September 2006 that scholars need to examine the term vande. He asked, "Does it mean salutation or worship?"

In 2013, a Muslim leader from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the member of the Indian Parliament, Shafiqur Rahman Burq, walked out of the Lok Sabha while the first two verses of the Vande Mataram song was being played in its parliament. He stated that he prefers to be absent when the song is played because of his religious beliefs. Another Muslim leader, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, from the Bharatiya Janata Party questioned Burq's behavior as dishonoring the parliamentary norms of India, stating "every session of Parliament, starts with the national anthem and ends with the rendition of the national song Vande Mataram. This has been the practice since Independence". Naqvi stated that the song symbolizes the nation, those who "hate Vande Mataram not only have no right to be a part of Parliament but also have no right to live in this country."


According to a statement in 2004 by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Sikhs should not sing Vande Mataram. In 2006, the SGPC called singing of 'Vande Mataram' against Sikh tenets. and it sought the right to sing a Sikh song sarbat da bhala.


Fr. Cyprian Kullu from Jharkhand stated in an interview with AsiaNews: "The song is a part of our history and national festivity and religion should not be dragged into such mundane things. The Vande Mataram is simply a national song without any connotation that could violate the tenets of any religion."

2006 controversy

On 22 August 2006, there was a row in the Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament over whether singing of Vande Mataram in schools should be made mandatory. The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition and Opposition members debated the Government's stance that singing the national song Vande Mataram on 7 September 2006, to mark the 125th year celebration of its creation should be voluntary. This led to the House's being adjourned twice. Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh noted that it was not binding on citizens to sing the song. Arjun Singh had earlier asked all state governments to ensure that the first two stanzas of the song were sung in all schools on that day. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Deputy Leader V. K. Malhotra wanted the Government to clarify whether singing the national song on 7 September in schools was mandatory or not. On 28 August, targeting the BJP, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said that in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the BJP was the Prime Minister, the BJP supported a similar circular issued by the Uttar Pradesh government to make the recitation compulsory. But Vajpayee had then clarified that it was not necessary to make it compulsory.

On 7 September 2006, the nation celebrated the national song. Television channels showed school children singing the song at the notified time. Some Muslim groups had discouraged parents from sending their wards to school because of the issue, after the BJP had repeatedly insisted that the national song must be sung. However, many Muslims did participate in the celebrations. Kerala school was forced to drop Vande Mataram on 15 August 2014 as it would hurt religious sentiments.

Performances and interpretations

The poem has been set to a large number of tunes. The oldest surviving audio recordings date to 1907, and there have been more than a hundred different versions recorded throughout the 20th century. Many of these versions have employed traditional South Asian classical ragas. Versions of the song have been visualised on celluloid in a number of films, including Leader, Amar Asha, and Anand Math. It is widely believed that the tune set for All India Radio station version was composed by Ravi Shankar. In 1997, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Independence of India, a musical album composed by A. R. Rahman, titled Vande Mataram, was released. The version of the song played in it has become its popular interpretation in recent years. In 2002, BBC World Service conducted an international poll to choose ten most famous songs of all time. Around 7000 songs were selected from all over the world. Vande Mataram, from the movie Anand Math, was ranked second. All India Radio's version, as well as A.R. Rahman's version, are in Desh raga.


Vande Mataram Wikipedia