Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, serving as Deputy Magistrate, composed Vande Mataram first and placed it in his great novel Anand Math which was published serially from 1882 in his periodical Banga Darshan. Once, manager of his printing press approached him to get his writing to fill the space left blank in Banga Darshan. Seeing Vande Mataram written on a piece of paper on Bankim’s table he asked, Bankim to correct it so that it could fill the space. Bankim stared at his manager and told, “You want me to correct it, if you live for twenty five years more you will see what sensation it will create.” Bankim also told his eldest daughter about tremendous uproar Vande Mataram would create in future. Bankim survived until 1892 and five editions of Anand Math were published during the period.
Rabindra Nath Tagore himself sang Vande Mataram in 1896 session of Indian National Congress. After singing the song, Tagore exclaimed and said that he experienced a sort of ecstasy and sensation while singing it. Sarla Devi Chaudhurani sang Vande Mataram in Congress session in 1890. Vande Mataram is a mantra.
Mantra to be effective, it needs Tantra and Yantra as per Tantra Vidya authored by Sir John Woodroffe, ex-chief justice of Kolkata High Court. Thus Surendra Nath Banerjee declared Swadeshi was Vande Mataram in action. While commenting on Vande Mataram, Shri Aurobindo said that he was exceedingly pleased to know that the song had become so popular in all parts of Bharat and that it was being so repeatedly sung. He said that he would make this national anthem the subject of his speech. The song, he said, was not only a national anthem to be looked on as the European nations look upon their own, but one replete with mighty power, being a sacred mantra, revealed to us by the author of Ananda Math, who might be called an inspired Rishi. He described the manner in which the mantra had been revealed to Bankim Chandra, probably by a Sannyasi under whose teaching he was. He said that the mantra was not an invention, but a revivification of the old mantra which had become extinct, so to speak, by the treachery of one Navakishan. The mantra of Bankim Chandra was not appreciated in his own day, and he predicted that there would come a time when the whole of India would resound with the singing of the song, and the word of the prophet was miraculously fulfilled. The meaning of the song was not understood then because there was no patriotism except such as consisted in making Bharat the shadow of England and other countries which dazzled the sight of the sons of this our Motherland with their glory and opulence. The so-called patriots of that time might have been the well-wishers of India but not men who loved her. One who loved his mother never looked to her defects, never disregarded her as an ignorant, superstitious, degraded and decrepit woman. The speaker then unfolded the meaning of the song. As with the individual, so with the nation, there were three bodies or kosas, the sthula, suksma and karana sariras. In this way the speaker went on clearing up the hidden meaning of the song. The manner in which he treated of love and devotion was exceedingly touching and the audience sat before him like dumb statues, not knowing where they were or whether they were listening to a prophet revealing to them the higher mysteries of life. He then concluded with a most pathetic appeal to true patriotism and exhorted the audience to love the Motherland and sacrifice everything to bring about her salvation.
The Future of the Movement
When a great people rises from the dust, what mantra is Sanjivani Mantra or what power is the resurrecting force of its resurgence? In Bharat there are two great mantras, the mantra of Vande Mataram which is the public and universal cry of awakened love of Motherland, and there is another more secret and mystic which is not yet revealed. The mantra of Vande Mataram is a mantra once before given to the world by the Sannyasins of the Vindhya hills. It was lost by the treachery of our own countrymen because the nation was not then ripe for resurgence and a premature awakening would have brought about a speedy downfall. But when in the great earthquake of 1897 there was a voice heard by the Sannyasins, and they were conscious of the decree of God that India should rise again, the mantra was again revealed to the world. It was echoed in the hearts of the people, and when the cry had ripened in silence in a few great hearts, the whole nation became conscious of the revelation.
On August 7, 1905 Vande Mataram became a war cry when people marched in streets in Kolkata shouting Vande Mataram. Vande Mataram is not a political song depending on our likes and dislikes since it is a Mantra.
Saroj Kumar Mitra (The writer is All India Co-convener, SJM)