Vande Mataram

98 Comments

So I get an email which asks me my opinion on the “Vande Mataram” controversy.

Simple. Making it mandatory to sing “Vande Mataram” is a gross infringement on individual freedom. No government has the authority to force a word out of my larynx. Or block me from reading a blog. Or prevent me from reading a book (like say for instance “Satanic Verses”) . End of story.

Of course, the futility of this whole “Vande Mataram” debate overwhelms me. At a time when there is no shortage of issues and challenges facing us, we stop, turn our asses to all our problems and start obsessing about the lyrics of a song written more than a hundred years ago— why we are all obliged to sing it, why a few of us should not sing it, whether the author was communal, whether singing the first two paragraphs of a five paragraph song is a good compromise and whether patriotism is defined by the songs on our playlist.

And the debate saddens me too. Because for the generation that won us our independence ‘Vande Mataram’ was not just a song. It was emotion set to tune. They walked to the gallows with “Vande Mataram” on their lips. Strangers in chains, both Hindus and Muslims, bound only by a shared dream of a Shashyashyamalang future, joined voices in singing “Vande Mataram’, keeping their sanity through the dark nights of torture and isolation.

To them, ‘Vande Mataram’ was a symbol— a vision of an independent, prosperous motherland. And it was this symbolism that elevated the song above all kinds of literal analysis.

Even in those days, people were well aware about the controversial origins of the song, the context in which it is sung in Anandamath and the dedication to Goddess Durga which comes after the second paragraph. As Rabindranath Tagore said in 1937

The core of ‘Vande Mataram’ is a hymn to goddess Durga: this is so plain that there can be no debate about it. Of course Bankim does show Durga to be inseparably united with Bengal in the end, but no Mussulman [Muslim] can be expected patriotically to worship the ten-handed deity as ‘Swadesh’ [the nation]. This year many of the special [Durga] Puja numbers of our magazines have quoted verses from ‘Vanda Mataram’ – proof that the editors take the song to be a hymn to Durga. The novel Anandamath is a work of literature, and so the song is appropriate in it. But Parliament is a place of union for all religious groups, and there the song can not be appropriate. When Bengali Mussulmans show signs of stubborn fanaticism, we regard these as intolerable. When we too copy them and make unreasonable demands, it will be self-defeating.

And yet , it made no difference for the freedom-fighters on the streets and in the jails. Irrespective of their religion—-‘Vande Mataram’ was their anthem, their very own.

Much has changed since then. That very symbol of patriotic pride has been misappropriated for sectarian gains. For the BJP/Hindu revivalists, “Vande Mataram”‘s Durga-imagery is a vindication of its identification of nationalism with “Hindutva”. For the proponents of a pan-Islamic identity (like the Imam Bukhari) who are dead set on showing to the world that Islam is under attack in India (despite the fact that Muslims enjoy rights and privileges in India they would struggle to have in other non-Muslim countries—paradoxically rights which Muslim countries deny to their own minorities), “Vande Mataram”‘s allusion to a non-Allah superior being is proof positive of a sinister Hindu conspiracy to humiliate and oppress their community.

Thus with the help of politically expedient literalism, both of these extreme influences have helped each other in transforming an unifying concept into a divisive one, a protest against authority into an instrument of it , a cry of the soul into a mere concatenation of words.

Herein lies the cruel twist of irony.

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98 thoughts on “Vande Mataram

  1. Hi Arnab,
    Moved from thoughts. But i want to clear one thing and that is ” No one can be labelled “Deshdrohi” if he doesnt sing Vande Mataram. One song can not be meter of patriotism.
    I dont have any inhabitance in singing Vande Matrarm but if I dont sing you cant tell that i am against my country.
    I alos love my country and I am doing much better work for my conuntry witout singing Vande Mataram.
    I am not going to come back and see comments on my Comment. Bcoz I know that a lot of people is not going to like it. And I wont be able to Read what they write.
    I loved the way you have countered this Topic.
    I know I am not a good writer. But Just wanted to show my emotions as a Muslim.

    Thanks,
    Ezaz

  2. We are living in times when it should be correct, indeed preferred, to ‘shoot the messenger’. My gripe is with the media that abuses its reach to make issues out of non-issues, revelling in the resulting pathetic mediocrity that drowns everything.

    A silent majority is never allowed to focus on things that it deems important, primarily because we are issue-hopping in the media-circus let loose on us.

    It doesn’t have to be like this.

  3. Arnabda,

    I liked the way you have written about the topic. What one doesn’t realise is that the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’ was the adrenaline required for all the unknown strangers who were united to combat the British Rule.

    But now just because of a lot of hoopla the media made abt it, that it has come unnecessarily and unwantedly into limelight…

    It is a good song and a good piece of literature and whether i sing it or not does not deem me to be less patriotic than others(i do agree with Ejaaz on that).

    But I guess most of us believe it is by our acts and beliefs that we are patriotic and not by demonstrations.

    I still believe is that what matters is the thought and not whether it was written in pro Hindu light or pro Muslim light. And we should not allow others to sway us because of their fanatically thoughts on this.

    Regards.

  4. I dont think that the sentiment on this issue can be expressed any better. It would have been okay with me if ‘VandeMantram’ was debated like it was done by our forefathers half century ago, but we have stooped to the lowest possible level of debate and it is really very very sad.

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vande_Mataram#Text_of_Vande_Mataram

    A translation of the first two paragraphs of Vande Mataram:-

    Mother, I bow to thee!
    Rich with thy hurrying streams,
    bright with orchard gleams,
    Cool with thy winds of delight,
    Green 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.

  6. Yet another well written post Arnab. This is such a non-issue blown out of proportion by the media and of course by the likes of Imam Bukhari. If you look at Vande Mataram in context of Anandamath, then yes, it is definitely an ode to Bharat Mata which is another image of Durga. But if you look at the song independantly, it is very much an ode to the nation much like Sare Jahaan Se Accha in essence.

    And yes, no one should be “forced” to sing it against their wishes. Patriotism cannot and should not be measured by the willingness of an individual to sing a song!

  7. My view – We should not force anyone (hindu as well as muslim) to sing this song.
    Who is the culprit who started this whole episode: Imam Bukhari(who handed over a readymade issue to BJP) who started all this fuss.
    What annoys me is no muslim(organization) has come forward to reject bukhari as their representative.

  8. @Right – Did any muslim organization appoint Bukhari as their representative ? And the real culprit is the Congress govt, who keeps digging dead issues from the graves. 1st it was reservation, now VandeMatram.

  9. At a time when there is no shortage of issues and challenges facing us

    What?! you mean to say, you expect the politicians to actually work on a real problem?

    These days, the politicians are more worried about keeping their vote banks intact rather than the development of the country.

  10. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB:I totally agree with you. Nobody should be forced to do or not do certain things. Forcing to sing Vandemataram definitely falls under that category. There are no two questions about it.
    But if I consider any topic which relates to freedom, I get so confused. There are books that are banned, movies not allowed to be shown because some body or some community will feel offended. But what about the paintings of Sarswati in nude by M.F. Hussain? We are told that is ‘art’. If so then why the ruckus about some cartoons about a prophet? Isn’t that ‘art’? If the nude picture of Saraswati is not offensive then why the cartoons be offensive? I personally have no problem with nude picture of Saraswati as a form of ‘art’ but my doubts are about the prevalent double standards in our society. Politicians and vested people tout them for their own gains and we the general public are so apathetic and also so immersed in our own world that we tend to ignore them and thus give them the free reign.
    I also think that not singing Vandematarm should not be construed as lack of patriotism. I support Ezaz’s opinion. But then, why is anybody supposed to sing the national anthem, pay obeisance to the national flag (that is the case with all the countries of the world)? In my mind not singing the national anthem or not paying obeisance to the national flag is not a sign of lack of patriotism – they way it is touted all over the world. Patriotism is like all other emotions which can’t be forced onto anybody. Either one feels it or he doesn’t – it is as simple as that. Few particular actions or non-actions can’t be indicative of one’s patriotism.

  11. I studied in 10 different schools in my life, half of them catholic, and each of them had “Vande Mataram” as one of the “national songs” in the “school diary” that was given out to us.

    Funnily enough I dont recall either Muslim kids tearing out the “Vande Mataram” page from their books because it didn’t jell with their religion. Nor do I see that Muslim parents force a school and say that Vande Mataram should not be part of their school diary as it doesnt apply to Islam.

    Above is just one example highlighting the hypocrisy of the issue. When you put religion before state, any argument is a good argument – either for or against.

    I am in midst of writing my own take on it … will post it sometime tonite.

    Suyog

  12. True we are a Democracy and no one can be or should be forced to do some thing they don’t want to.Also I don’t see how the government will win this debate if it lets it remain a issue.By allowing a certain section of society do what they want to do or rather not to do, I think lets the issue rest in peace.

  13. most of you guys are in USA. Can you imagine that you go to a public function and refuse to take part when American National song is played. America is free country so why should we sing American Anthem before we sing Indian Amthem. Isn’t this the same issue.

  14. One suggestion to you. I too have written on this but there after I saw the movie lage raho munnabhai which has plenty og Vande matram. Its a very nice movie and you will like it.

    As for the song, some participant in NDTV summed it up best when he aaid ” I haver sang Vande Mataram ever in my life. Does that make me unpatriotic?”. It is all a lot of cheap symbolism.

  15. Great Bong thanks a lot for this article, silent majority feels excatly like you but now I little am confused, hows the bloody villian …
    Media or politicans ?
    BJP or Congress ?
    Shahi Imam or RSS ?
    NRI or NNRI (Non-NRI) ?
    Rakhi Sawant or Mikka ?
    Karan Johar or people who watch his movies ?
    Cynicism or Indifference ?

  16. Like any literary work or work of art, a song is only to be interpreted keeping in mind its context, of which the period/society it dates back to is the most important. Vande Mataram turned out to be more than a song during the days it was conceived. More so, Bankim wrote the song not pretending as though he were commissioned to pen down an all-secular national hymn – it was part of a novel, where it fits perfectly. So all this junk about bashing the song or author as being communal can be forgotten.

    Instead, just a digressing thought here. Broadly on the national anthem/national song issue. Often there’s debate on Jana Gana Mana and lots of hue and cry on Rabindranath Thakur’s intentions on writing the song, wherein the accusers leave alone the words per se (the words of course speak of all-encompassing harmony which all love and therefore have nothing to object against) and rather delve into the context of hidden intentions of the author in eulogising a particular British monarch. For Vande Mataram, these critics would rather forget the context, and worry more about the words, that too of the paragraphs to the end, not usually sung, where the name of a deity of a particular community appears. Which brings us to apprehend, and rightly so, that there can’t possibly be a national song for India that’d satisfy all and sundry.

    What’d be the language of such a song? Hindi is ruled out. BIG BIG DEBATE it would spark so let’s drop the idea. So are the other 17(?) languages acknowledged by the constitution. [Note: Jana Gana Mana was a very unique one by Tagore though not really in Sanskrit, and at least the ‘tatsama’ words are accessible to the speakers of major languages – oh wait! maybe not some of the minorities, but anyway who’d listen to their complaints]. Which brings us back to Sanskrit. Which is on its death bed, ever so sadly. Which means, one has to pick an appropriate song from the existing Sanskrit literature available to us. Which has to be accessible to most, can have no racial/communal context to it, must preferably be fitting to a marching tune, and must in some way foster national feelings.

    Propose such a song guys, those of you who do not like the present ones around. And let’s stop the joke and get back to work after that. Amen.

  17. A wonderfully written post. Vande Mataram was not merely a song sung during our freedom struggle. Singing it was synonymous to the freedom struggle. Looking at it as a mere group of words after all these years is not only grossly stupid, it is an insult to our freedom fighters. Forcing somebody to sing the song goes against all the values that song represents.
    However, ascribing religion to a piece of literature is not new. The Bangladeshis have been trying to say for quite some time now that Tagore is “our” (India’s) poet while Nazrul is “theirs”. They also made changes in Nazrul’s poems, like they replaced the word “mahashmashan” by “gorosthan” in a well known poem (whose name I have forgotten at the moment). But how can they deny the fact that Nazrul wrote such beautiful devotional songs for Kali / Krishna which can hardly be matched by any hindu poet? The people who spread these ideas, be it Bukhari or RSS or their Bangladeshi counterparts will never have the intellectual capacity to rise above religion and evaluate a piece of prose or poetry for what it is.
    Not that they want to do it, really. Oh no! Then they will run out of issues.

  18. 1) BJP is no more…RIP

    2) “(despite the fact that Muslims enjoy rights and privileges in India they would struggle to have in other non-Muslim countries—paradoxically rights which Muslim countries deny to their own minorities)”…well there are lots of rights that Muslim countries do not give muslims either….

    3) GB the concept of freedom for our generation is that of Absolute freedom (self censorship) but the current socitey (a reflection of our last state of mind, not the current) is some where in between and thus the double standards…

    4) The trivialisation of the whole non – issue and its subsequent coverage on tv is the sad part….

  19. After Vinod Mehta’s analysis of the issue in Outlook (http://www.outlookindia.com/diary.asp?fodname=20060911), this was another refreshing view of the controversy. I tend to agree with Mehta when he says that Muslim leadership has played into the hands of the BJP by stressing on the un-Islamic nature of the song. As he puts it: ” An enlightened and sagacious leadership would have issued a one-line statement saying they’d abide by the advice of the government. Since the government had publicly announced that the singing was optional, the matter would have ended there.” Instead we have this whole brouhaha, more resentment on both sides and an unnecessary pointing out of our so-called differences.

  20. Well this really happened in my previous company…
    The CEO along with 3 of the 5 directors being Muslims, the number of Muslim employees was much higher than what it usually is in Indian companies (this is a truth, but I won’t name the company). In a certain cubicle of four , incidentally there were 3 Muslim guys and the 4th guy was a devout Hindu from Orissa. After he survived a major accident, he brought and kept a small icon of Kali Maa beside his computer on his desk. Upon seeing this all his 3 cubicle-mates decided not to sit in that cubicle and worse, all Muslims in the company came together in their support(of course, there were few among them who were liberal rational-minded and just avoided the whole incident not to get involved in it in any way) and they complained to the CEO as well. They all are highly educated, well-qualified adults living in a democratic country. The issue was resolved and the poor Oriya guy was allowed to keep the icon there. His 3 cubicle-mates were shifted to another cubicle.
    There are quite a few weird people in our country, or in the world for that matter…who have always had, still have, and will forever have problems with whatever people belonging to other religions do – whether or not it is a religious issue doesn’t make any difference to them.
    Hopeless !!! Nothing doing.
    I really wonder if they would have created such huge fuss at all, had Vande Mataram been written by Kaji Najrul Islam (who was no less patriotic than any Indian) and not by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

  21. This is what I always say about this controversy:
    I don’t give a damn! They made me sing biblical hymns at school every friday morning at chapel and that didn’t make me a christian. I danced to ‘dum-maro-dum.. hare Krishna hare Ram’ in college and that didn’t make me a hindu. These things are highly irrelevant. By just saying something doesn’t imply I really mean it.

    At the same time I refuse to sing a song to show my patriotism much the same way as I refuse to show more than necessary enthusiasm and joy when India beats Pakistan in a cricket match. A citizen of a democracy (if we still exist in one!) need not have to jump up every time a so called national sentiment is expressed with tears in his eyes. If I feel patriotic, I’l go donate some blood, watch Gandhi (the movie) or probably even blog about it. But you can’t make me sing a song when I don’t wan’t to.

    From a muslim’s POV: Yes. The song does contain something that goes against the fundamental tenets of Islam and maybe just another reason why it shouldn’t be forced down on all Indians. But then religion is something very personal that shouldn’t be brought into such arguments. I would still use the argument of my freedom of expression being trampled over here to argue my case rather than bring in religion into it. Makes for a more meaningful debate and wins me more supporters :). Something all muslims at this point of time can really do with.

  22. Fantastic post – goes without saying but neither can I go without saying it.
    In cases like these(the reservation issue among others) it is difficult for us to separate our emotions from the politics of the situation- and hence these are exactly the kind of issues that will be exploited by the political class for their gains.
    The BJP probably uses this to rally their bases and the congress probably allows it to display their exemplary “secular” policy.

    But taking the issue one step further -the question I would like to pose is if(BIG IF) we can come to a consensus on what constitutes patriotic behaviour, is it incumbent on us to be patriotic? And if so whats does that tell us about the “freedom” we “enjoy”?

    “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
    — Mahatma Gandhi

  23. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: Why is my comment put on moderation for so long? I don’t know whether there is any tech problem – so I am resending it with the timing. I am assuming that there is a tech problem as I have not written anything which is offensive from anybody’s pov!!!!

    anon
    Sep 6th, 2006 at 8:39 pm
    YOURFAN writes:
    @GB:I totally agree with you. Nobody should be forced to do or not do certain things. Forcing to sing Vandemataram definitely falls under that category. There are no two questions about it.
    But if I consider any topic which relates to freedom, I get so confused. There are books that are banned, movies not allowed to be shown because some body or some community will feel offended. But what about the paintings of Sarswati in nude by M.F. Hussain? We are told that is ‘art’. If so then why the ruckus about some cartoons about a prophet? Isn’t that ‘art’? If the nude picture of Saraswati is not offensive then why the cartoons be offensive? I personally have no problem with nude picture of Saraswati as a form of ‘art’ but my doubts are about the prevalent double standards in our society. Politicians and vested people tout them for their own gains and we the general public are so apathetic and also so immersed in our own world that we tend to ignore them and thus give them the free reign.
    I also think that not singing Vandematarm should not be construed as lack of patriotism. I support Ezaz’s opinion. But then, why is anybody supposed to sing the national anthem, pay obeisance to the national flag (that is the case with all the countries of the world)? In my mind not singing the national anthem or not paying obeisance to the national flag is not a sign of lack of patriotism – they way it is touted all over the world. Patriotism is like all other emotions which can’t be forced onto anybody. Either one feels it or he doesn’t – it is as simple as that. Few particular actions or non-actions can’t be indicative of one’s patriotism.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  24. A translation of the first two paragraphs of Vande Mataram:-

    Mother, I bow to thee!
    Rich with thy hurrying streams,
    bright with orchard gleams,
    Cool with thy winds of delight,
    Green 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.
    ==============

    @GreatBong,

    Where does it give the impression that its a prayer to Goddess Durga !???

    It seems much more of a poem describing a country, rather than what those secularist crackpots keep cooking up, for a few measly minority votes. No wonder I hate seculars much more than the right-wing guys.

  25. The rest of the transalation by Aurobindo goes:

    Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands
    When swords flash out in 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 saves, arise and save!
    To her I cry who ever her foe drove
    Back from plain and sea
    And shook herself free.

    Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
    Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
    Though art 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 gleems,
    Dark of hue O candid-fair

    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!

    The Durga theme is pretty clear I guess. Yes the NATIONAL Song status itself is for the first two stanzas only. But still the argument is whether its really essential to have such a big hue and cry over what is a middle class issue. A hungry school child who hasnt eaten well all its life- there are such children in India or has the mighty IT revolution cleared that up too- isnt too bothered to sing of Sasya Shyamala and all the millions of child laborers in sweatshops and their equivalents wouldnt give a damn for the shubra jyotsna motherland? so what gives?

  26. I agree with most that nothing should be forced, but what’s the harms in respecting our national symbols,by defying to do so what are we trying to prove?
    which country allows its people the choice of respecting or non respecting its national symbols?

  27. Hitler and the Nazis didnt like the SWASTIKA being dishonored. Respecting things is diffrent from making asses of ourselves. Being sincerely respectful is different from going overboard with superficial symbols- as diffrent as the saas-bahu TV sagas are diffterent from Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies.The Vande Mataram brouhaha is simply a middle class thing exagerrated by our lovely media.

  28. @anon
    “In my mind not singing the national anthem or not paying obeisance to the national flag is not a sign of lack of patriotism – they way it is touted all over the world.”

    FYI: The concept of nationalism in India is completely different than in the rest of the world. The Americans and British wear their national flag on their underwears – will Indians even dare to think of it?
    So why compare standards of other countries to ours? Our way of ‘feeling’ the adrenaline rush is singing a song – and so be it. While I agree that freedom is important, but siding with Bukhari is only going to further divide the country into Hindus and Muslims.

    I have posted a few thoughts on my own blog – so am refraining from commenting anything else here.

  29. Not sing the Natnl Anthem- does it really matter. All the Beurocrats and Politicians would be the biggets patriots- and in any case Dr Johnson did call patriotism the last refuge of the scoundrel.

  30. @Ezaz: Agree with you. But why wont you come back to read other comments? Firstly as of now, there is noone who has not “liked” it. Secondly, even if people don’t, isn’t it worthwhile reading what they have to say—no matter how wrong it may feel to you? Won’t the world be boring if everyone liked what we said !

    @Ajay Das: Well when you have governments passing circulars making singing of Vande Mataram mandatory, the press will pick it up…won’t they? I think its the circulars and the Imam who are the movers behind the controversy. Add to it the SGPC who have now jumped onto the competitive intolerance bandwagon.

    @Tina: True. Vande Mataram as a song is meant for the country. The characters in Anandamath do make that fact clear. Yes there is a reference to Durga and Lakshmi but they are not meant literally, but figuratively. Its something a generation of non-Hindus understood without even questioning. Alas with people like the Imam such is no longer possible.

    @Sanjay: Indeed it is.

    @Nautilus: True. No force on anything.

    @Right: Well the Imam by virtue of his position has made himself the representative of the Muslim community. There indeed is no other voice that carries as much weight as his. Which is a tragedy.

    @Anonymous: 🙂

    @Ashish: And such issues are godsends…it substitutes activity for achievement.

    @Yourfan: Sorry it got stuck in moderation.

    As to your point, that was exactly why I mentioned “Satanic Verses”. The irony is that many who want to play this as a “freedom of expression” issue will change their tune when it comes to “banning books” that go against their religious beliefs. As to double standards…yes sure they are. Havent I often been branded a right-winger for pointing such double-standards for two years through this blog?

    @Suyog: Because fundamentally noone considers it offensive by themselves . They do so only after being told by people like the Imam and Mann that it is.

    @EducatedAndUnemployed: It’s a good vote-catching exercise though.

    @Anonymous: Actually I can choose not to sing the US national anthem. I am however not an US citizen. Even an US citizen can choose not to. An US citizen is free to burn the flag.

    @Hiren: Will see.

    @Sam: Maybe all of them are the villains…certainly both Rakhi and Mika.

    @BangoNari: As far as I know, Bankim wrote the song three years before he wrote Anandamath. It was a stand-alone song that was fitted into the story.

    As to the rest of your comment, excellent points raised.

    @Joy Forever: Valid point about Nazrul—one of the most secular figures of the last century.

    @Varsha: Hmm

    @Gourav: I doubt if the BJP is RIP. I still think they have a lot of influence in Indian politics and may be back before long.

    @Marauder’s Map: I have often wondered whether the Imam and the Sangh Parivar collude on these issues—cause they end up reinforcing stereotypes in a manner that’s so predictable that it seema to follow a script. And now the Sikhs have jumped onto the bandwagon too….of course what kind of a religion is it if its followers cannot be offended.

    @Sameer: Everyone is in a mad rush to be offended and be “under attack”.

    @dEbOLiN: Very interesting anecdote. Especially since we always hear the other side of the story.

    @Ali: Agree.

    @///slash\: That’s a big question and I wish I knew the answer to that. Alas I don’t. I am just a humble blogger.

    @PK: We can’t even say “Talk to the hand” as that would involve the Congress Party.

    @Dodo: So he is.

    @Shadows: As pointed out subsequently, the Durga reference comes in the next paragraphs.

    @Gaby: As I said before, such “emotional” symbolic issues are raked up precisely because politicians need to take our attention away from the real problems.

    @Anon: Well “respect” is a loaded word. And the GOI cannot really or should not really impose a concept of “respect”. Not their job.

    @Nikhil: Which goes to show how subjective is the concept of “respect’–underwear in one country and in India, Sachin cannot even have it on his helmet.

    @Anonymous: Their choice. However if the reason is that they do not believe in the concept of India, then perhaps a line has been crossed. The reason the Imam has given for not singing Vande Mataram is evidently not that.

  31. ^^^^^^^
    |||||

    Nice link, thanks. I only hope those girls would be able to keep their heads on their shoulders in the coming months and years.

  32. At a time when there are a lot more problems to tackle, a beautiful song is being made center of some stupid political/religious controversy. Agreed, that asking everyone to sing it tramples upon the collective rights of a bunch of people. Perhaps, the national song is not as important as the national anthem. The problem is that even the national anthem is mired in controversy as to who is was originally meant for.

    Ultimately, my question is what song should an Indian sing? Are all Indians divided in that too? Is it asking too much of someone to sing a song? Why is it that religion and issues like that always play the larger part when it comes to issues of national anthems and songs. Is it time for India to have separate anthems and songs for each religion within India? Is that the only way everyone will be happy?

    I remember when I was in (a convent) school we had a school anthem which in hindsight was totally based on Mother Mary and Jesus. But the funny thing is not a single kid- Hindu, Muslim, Jew or Sikh thought anything of it. Singing the song gave us all a sense of belonging to one school. That is precisely what a national song/anthem is meant for – belonging to a nation.

  33. “Ultimately, my question is what song should an Indian sing?”

    “Dayal baba kola khaba” would be a good choice. 😀

  34. Government does a hundred things wrong, however media chooses to only highlight, indeed actively incite, ones which suit its TRP. Actually, a lot of news is ‘made’ these days by the media.

    As far as Bukhari is concerned, he has for long been losing relevance, even for the politicians. Media will go to any length (getting soundbites from any functionary from Devband, Lucknow or whatever sect) to make things scandulous (and I mean electronic media here, because they are the ones setting the news agenda these days).

    Media will eventually lose the credibility and be treated with equal suspicion as politicians and other power brokers, but while that hasn’t happened it is quite potent in influencing public, and in my view it is abusing this influence to the max possible.

    I wish the day comes soon when everyone suspects a Rajat Sharma or a Barkha Dutt at the same level that he/she does a Amar Singh or a Dayanidhi Maran.

  35. Very Happy to read the comments of Fellow Bloggers…
    Lots of Educated and understanding peoples around here 🙂
    I would like ot add one more thing here and that is
    ” Irrespctive of our Religion, We should Respect our Country”

    Thanks,
    Ezaz

  36. All this noble talk of “liberal”,”secular” values goes in hiding when a Satanic Verses is banned or a Da Vinci Code is not allowed to screen. The grand statements are reserved for one set of people.
    Sentiments of one kaum is in a perpetual state of “hurt” while the sentiments of the other kaum is, well, non-existent.

  37. Any person on the US land must obey the law of the US government which has very clear guidelines regarding paying respect to the flag and National Anthem. The detail of law can be seen at the following website. This website is supported by US government.

    http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html

    It clearly says that you are not allowed to wear National flag as underwear. However there are many people who wear flag as underwear. We do not know if anyone has been punished for breaking this law. Similarly why there is question of display/nondisplay patriotism comes when Indian government pases some law regarding National Anthem or National Song.

  38. @Anonymous: What you have linked to is “flag etiquette”. It is not LAW which is precisely why none has ever been punished for violating it. As an example, writing in all Caps is against net-etiquette but it’s NOT AGAINST THE LAW. (which is why I do it without the fear of the police).

  39. “For the proponents of a pan-Islamic identity (like the Imam Bukhari) who are dead set on showing to the world that Islam is under attack in India (despite the fact that Muslims enjoy rights and privileges in India they would struggle to have in other non-Muslim countries—paradoxically rights which Muslim countries deny to their own minorities), “Vande Mataram”’s allusion to a non-Allah superior being is proof positive of a sinister Hindu conspiracy to humiliate and oppress their community.”

    Beautiful Arnab. You forgot a third type….media people and some bloggers who take every opportunity to earn ‘secular’ brownie points by attacking the RSS, BJP etc for this issue of a non-issue but strangely remian quiet when it comes to stuff like SIMI etc (you know who they are dont you 🙂 )

    The fact is it is a beautiful song . But wheather you sing it or not , it will always be a song of national importance for its role in the freedom struggle of India. If a congregation is therefore singing Vande Mataram, then keep your mouths shut if you wish, but saying that it should not be sung as its communal is pure bullshit. Therefore I see no harm if all schools in India remember this song on Sep 7 and sing it, but wards who dont wanna sing should not be forced. But Im sure that there will be many many muslim boys who will look at the patriotic and not the religious side and sing it with as much conviction as any Hindu boy. Of course I am very surprised that this issue was not brought up earlier and debated in our ‘great’ parliament. I thought some politician would show commendable alacrity and proactiveness in jumping before the speaker and saying “Hey this hurts our muslim brothers ….no vande mataram. ” Muslim oiling and votebank and all that. To the people who like to ‘question’ Bankim’s communal side, the question should be asked…was the song more communal before or now that you delibeartely dissect it and add a communal color to it? Bankim was after all a Hindu and he shouldnt have been expected to use words like Allah and Jesus in the song. But more than the god refrences, intelligent people of any religion should understand what the leitmotif of the song and what it symbolises. If you dont wanna sing..dont sing..who cares..but dont try to ban or abolish or debase the song or its historical importance.

    Of course, in many many cities, small towns and villages of India, the muslim prayers are aired with loud mikes. But dare not ask that to be muted….of course you can always debate in Parliament if some Hindu prayers aired on miked offended any minorities within earshot. In many many english medium schools in India …say Bosco Boys, C Boys, St. James etc of Calcutta, all students have to sing a daily prayer to the christian god with terms like ” O god”, “bless thy soul ” , “Forgive father for thy sins” and permutations/combinations of various other phrases. That is very insulting not only to non-Christians but even more so for an athiest/agnostic. But its school, and you have to sing it…otherwise there is always the principal’s cane. Of course as I understand, singing a Christian song aint an insult to the Muslim ward when hes forced to sing, but Vande Mataram definitely is even if no one ever held a gun at the head of a muslim person asking him to sing it.

    The imam or whoever knows that there will be one party or the other in the center who will make such useless noises which in turn will help him to stoke up communal fires. The right wing will anyway be branded as trying to shove Vande Mataram down the throats of people irrespective of if their original intention was to defend a great song / vested interests of a saffron color. Important issues take a beating and retreat to the backburner as the pages on which this great patriotic song was printed are deliberately tainted with layers of a communal color.

    @YOURFAN: fantastic points about the hussin pics. But when a Shiv Sena person says something like showing Propthet Mohammed in a compromisng pose (ref: Maximum city ), it ceases to be art and just like the danish cartoon is blasphemy. Talk about double standards.

  40. ezaz (shouldn’t it be ejaz?):

    when someone is the first off the blocks to register his comment, his spelling mistake sticks out like a sore thumb. i believe the word you are meaning to say is “inhibition” not “inhabitance”.

    – s.b.

  41. “Sonia skips Cong function for Vande” – TOI
    Now what makes her stay away from singing the song which was sung by her great(?) family, by virtue of being the bahu of which she and her children are enjoying extra-ordinay status in India’s political spectrum ! Apart from the fanatic maulvis no-one else should have any objection to this song. Whatever similarity Vande Mataram had with a Hindu hymn has been done away with by adopting just the 1st 2 stanzas only as the national song, way back in 1950.I also don’t agree that the singing of this song should be optional… this only gives space for more debates ( we being the “Argumentative Indians” ). The two words ” Vande Mataram ” were used passionately by the people who fought for India’s freedom, and it should be seen in that light only.The whole song is too difficult to remember anyway, but singing it once in 100 years is not too much!
    And if we allow this debate to continue, we will soon see another debate, that is on the national anthem – A maulvi announced repeatedly on a live TV program ( 5th Sep’06,RKB Show on SAHARA,Mumbai) that he will not sing the national anthem also,despite being reminded by the anchor that it might be a criminal offense to say so ! In Sonia Raj it seems the Maulvi is right – It is OK to insult the national song , the national anthem or the national flag also , and get away with it, if you can claim to represent a particular community.
    Let me make it clear here that not only some muslims, but some Hindus also would like to object to singing the song mandatorily. But guys, please leave aside your desire to fight the institution at every step… Whatever debate had to be done was done already in Parliament before adopting the song. Its meaningless and wastage of time to open it up again ! Since it has been adopted as the national song by the country, accept it and show your respect by singing it.

  42. It is worthy to mention it is muslim named A R Rahman who took “Vande Matharam” to this generation by rightly mixing the song with music.
    Why didn’t these people oppose then?

  43. Pingback: Yet another post on Vande Mataram « Sparks team blogs

  44. @Ajay

    “I wish the day comes soon when everyone suspects a Rajat Sharma or a Barkha Dutt at the same level that he/she does a Amar Singh or a Dayanidhi Maran.”

    Agree. As far as I am concerned, that day came long back. I have absolutely no trust in these media guys.

  45. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: You have written “Haven’t I often been branded a right-winger for pointing such double-standards for two years through this blog”. Yes you have. The irony of all this is that educated people start believing in ‘camps’ and not on each separate issues and thus their views are swayed by the dictates of ‘camps’. In the process the concept of fairness and uniform standard for all go out of the windows of our brains!!

    @Yourfan2: Although I differ from your political views (expressed in previous posts in GB’s blog) yet I agree with your observation of “Muslim oiling and vote bank and all that”. What dEbOLiN has written about the oriya guy (the non tolerance of very educated people who happens to be Muslims) proves that. You are also correct when you pointed out “the muslim prayers are aired with loud mikes. But dare not ask that to be muted”. But if any other communities indulge in any religious activity then the law authorities are on their back with regard to the timings for usage of mike. How about police regulating the construction of Durga Puja pandals in Cal? I am all for it – there should be regulations so that the vehicles and people can move around without much problem. But why whole roads are allowed to be blocked for Muslim congregation on some special days? Isn’t that double standard for “Muslim oiling and vote bank”?
    I am not in favor of bashing any community. All I really care for is uniform standard for all. In my opinion all the politicians of this era are crooked people who thrive on double standards. And we the ordinary people are so apathetic that we allow them to do whatever suits them. In other words we get what we deserve.

  46. And despite it being on the front pages, in the guest columns, a part of every editorial and also in the back pages, there are still people who go, “What controversy?” Is that how these things grow and spread, because there aren’t enough people to squash such rubbish?

    Or is that how such stupid affairs die down at all, because not enough people are paying it attention? I can’t decide, really.

    I had no idea what the song meant, but I’ve always loved the tune. Now every time I hum it, I feel all weird.

  47. I dont think people should be forced to sing Vande Matram . If you force people to say something then it dilutes the true importance for the song Vande Matram. If someone feels it from the heart thats when you would sing that song and which would be the greatest tribute to that song. Also if someone does not sing that song , dont label him as traitor because then there would be no difference between a democratic nation and Talibanistic Afghanistan where people were forced to do stuff against their will. I hope our country’s leadership matures and treat fellow contrymen/countrywomen as adults rather than kids in kindergarten.

  48. I say – make it compulsory for everyone specially muslims!

    Ok – I am ready for the brickbats for this one- and I am really working as the devil’s advocate – but what I want to say is this….isnt this pure reverse discrimination?

    We wont have uniform civil code since its against our religion.

    We will have our own madrasas (which teach a LOT of things) since it is our religion.We will protest if someone tells us that we should be cosmopolitan in our education process.

    We will not sing vande mataram since its against our religion.

    BUT….
    We will invade your country and rule it for 1000 years, loot it and take away pots of money.
    We will request for reservations since we are a minority.
    We will cry foul and burn buses in India since someone made a cartoon on the prophet in some village in europe.
    We will halt traffic at everylane in calcutta since the US bombed Iraq.
    We will take out our moharram processions and make a mockery of traffic in every indian city.
    We will hang beef at every meat shop we own since we are entitled to it..but a hint of pork and we will burn your shop down.

    What exactly are muslims doing to prove that they are patriotic? Fine, we live in a democracy but how about the word equality? Rings a bell – obviously not! A community that has been systematically pampered for its votes, muslims today seem to be living out a dream. We will do what we feel is right- object to that – then u are against minorities and you are crushing my democratic rights! FUCK THIS!
    Every indian has taken its country for granted and muslims lead this!!! Intolerance to others is common! and for everything else they keep crying that they are fucked around with??? bullshit!
    I am not a BJP/RSS/Congress sada topi. I am just a simple indian and I am pissed with this! for everything you have an imam that passes a fatwa but no one says a word. But have a hindu leader say something abt any muslim terrrorist and he is anti minorities.
    Is no one aware of the CDs of speeches of Mulla Mazhood Azhar that were freely available in every muslim basti. Remember the name katial? he was the same man who was killed while returning from his honeymoon when IC 814 was hijacked.
    When was the last time there was a non-muslim that was arrested for any of the bomb blasts in India? Akshardham, Parliament, IC 814, Mumbai blasts 1, Mumbai Blasts 2, Mumbai Blasts 3, sankatmochan in Varanasi, attack at the US office in Calcutta, amarnath yatris are attacked – when does one see a non muslim name?
    Is singing vande mataram against ur democratic rights? Bullshit. We should all be made to sing the national anthem and other nationalistic songs to instill that this country has made us who we are! It doesnt matter if u are a muslim – u will bloodywell sing the song! If u feel that this is against ur religion then what abt other things? Seems like we have the holiest of muslims in india? How abt haj subsidies? amarnath yatris are slaughtered but no one heard of subsidies to them!
    I am fed up of this pampering of minorities and still seeing them cry and wail at everything. If you love ur country then stand up and sing the fking song!simple.

    Dont show me a religion card. this is 2006 and not 1506!

  49. Wow! That was quite a rant Sophocles…but it actually sort of stopped me in my tracks ’cause I was going to raise some of the same issues – although not quite so virulently, I may add.

    But in for a penny, I guess….so here’s my point:

    If you (i.e people with the same viewpoint as Ezaz) have objections to vande mataram on rational, moral or ethical grounds and refuse to sing it, for sure I will respect your freedom not to sing it.

    But if your decision not to sing it is dictated to by an imam who thinks he is Allah’s appointed judge on earth and you think you are gaining brownie points in Jannat by doing so – we-e-e-ll, I still may respect your decision, but I sure as hell won’t respect you!!!

  50. Nice post. Had a similar but shorter one on my blog – the point is fairly clear – noone should be forced to sing VM – but noone has the right to intimidate people who wish to sing the song.

  51. @ sophocles:
    That was fantastic. Agree with whatever you said.. But in this political ” Khichtan” Why to kill the simple muslim human beings like me. I am not against any religion and I respect every religion as mine. I dont think that if I would sing Vande Matram than allah will send me to hell. give me a break. My fellow muslims do a lot of things that are Haraam in my religion like drinking and all that stuff. and they still think that singing Vande Mataram is against Islam. ( May allah give them good place in Nark 🙂
    I am not saying that singing vande mataram is going to take me to hell. but i am not a single individual alive amnt I ? if others think that they dont want to sing then why bother them. Let them leave their on lives. If You want to sing then sing, To hell with the others. They sing or not that is not going to make any difference.

    @Nisha:
    I am not saying that i am against song. ANd to hell with the Imam. He is not THE ONE.
    And allah has not appointed anybody as his counceller. They are just more educated in the islamic way. And their Fatwas doesnt matter to the general people.
    If you think that everything that happens is conveyed by them then you need to change your thoughts.

    @some body :
    To hell with the spellings as far as you get my point 🙂
    We are not here to correct our english. We are here to correct our system.
    So Keep an eny on the subject than body 🙂

    Thanks,
    Ezaz
    ” Thouhts expressed here are solely mine and no one has anything to do with it.”

  52. @Sophocles: To begin with, let me just say you have some nerve in choosing that name Sophocles. The old man must be turning in his grave, or wherever else he is.

    Are you for even real?

    You say: “We will invade your country and rule it for 1000 years, loot it and take away pots of money.”

    And…just who is this directed at? The Indian Muslim? Where in your opinion did the Indian Muslim take your “pots of money”? As far as I know, the Indian Muslims are still here, in India. But if you’re talking about what happened centuries ago, let me just tell you that, unfortunately, that is what invading armies do…loot and plunder. If you have the time and the inclination, I wish you would check what the great Indian army did while “liberating” Bangladesh. Don’t you dare hold the Indian Muslims responsible for what happened centuries ago.

    You say: “We will request for reservations since we are a minority.”
    Are the Muslims the only ones asking for reservations? What about the SCs and STs and OBCs? Ever heard of reservations for them?

    You say: “We will cry foul and burn buses in India since someone made a cartoon on the prophet in some village in europe.”
    Not that I agree with their reaction to the Danish cartoons but if Hindus can be out on the street baying for M F Hussain’s blood because of his painting of goddess Saraswati, I see no reason why you should have a problem with Muslims reacting to cartoons depicting the Prophet.

    You say: “We will halt traffic at everylane in calcutta since the US bombed Iraq.”
    What’s wrong with that? Are you glad that the US attacked and invaded Iraq on completely made-up charges? Where in hell are those WMDs and all the other hellish weapons that Mr Bush was talking about? Who created the Taliban and Saddam Hussain? Who has been quietly funding them for years, as long as they served they American cause?

    You say: “We will take out our moharram processions and make a mockery of traffic in every indian city.”
    Have you ever lived in India, pal? If you have, you’ll have to stupid or blind, or both, to make such a comment. Are you trying to say that Muslims are the only ones who hold up traffic for religious processions? Do you even know what you’re talking about?

    You say: “We will hang beef at every meat shop we own since we are entitled to it..but a hint of pork and we will burn your shop down.
    I’m a vegetarian now but from my meat-eating days, I cannot recall a single shop where beef had been displayed the way you describe. But, I could be wrong about this. Either way, are you familiar with the Vedas? It might shock you to learn that beef was seen as something to be had on special occasions, many of them religious occasions. This aversion to beef is only a modern reaction and has no basis in history or the Hindu religion. Besides, if you’re so bothered about cattle, I’d like to ask you what you have done for improving their lot? Are you aware of how many cows are left to wander the streets and fend for themselves once their milking days are over? Have you seen the pitiable condition of these highly revered animals and how they are treated by Hindus all over the country?

    I’m getting a bit tired of your silly rant so I’l just cut this short…by coming straight to your main (?) objection – that Muslims have refused to sing Vande Matram. If you think that singing one stupid song is a mark of patriotism, I’m afraid I have to say you don’t even understand what the word means. And, quite obviously, you haven’t the vaguest idea what the term ‘democracy’ means.

    Finally, before you jump to conclusions and assume that I’m a Muslim and, being hurt by your comments feel obliged to defend my people, I’m not. I belong to the majority community. And, I also refuse to sing Vande Matram. And, let me tell you, I’m far more patriotic than you’ll ever be.

  53. Arnab, we’re back to the same old “Rabid Hindu” vs “Pseudo-secular-liberal” to-and-fro. I’m sure you love it, because you keep returning to themes that provoke these discussions.

    I refuse to sing Vande Mataram – simply because my vocal chords make poor BCC’s soul curse me to hell. That’s the biggest reason why I dislike the idea of Vande Mataram as a national song – it’s too difficult to sing.

    So refusing to massacre the song could be termed unpatriotic, could it?

    Sorry for being flippant, but I’m afraid its stupidity on the part of the Congress to rake up an issue which will give the rabid elements among both religions a cause to make irresponsible statements and rake up controversy. Before this controversy got raked up, I’ve heard friends, both Hindu and Muslim and even Sikh singing this song, even enjoying singing the song because they liked the music, the lilt and the imagery. Now singing it or refusing to has become an case of making a point. Couldn’t the song have been spared that?

    I enjoy Sufi music, Buddhist chants, the Gurbani and Christian carols and hymns, as much as I like Shyama sangeet because the music is awesome. I enjoy it if I’m left alone to enjoy them without worrying about whether someone from my religion composed it or not. But I’m sure I’d hate to sing if I was forced to do so (I certainly hated to be forced to sing hymns in school – and used to conver them to obscene equivalents at assembly, to the consternation of more law-abiding classmates).

    If the GOI hadn’t tried to make singing the song compulsory, more non-Hindus would have happily sung the song. Those who didn’t then won’t sing even now.

  54. @AF,

    You need to get your fundas correct. I am so sorry to say that people like you are responsible for what this country is going through today; be it the emergence of Mayawatis or terrorrists that go and bomb our country.

    You say: “Not that I agree with their reaction to the Danish cartoons but if Hindus can be out on the street baying for M F Hussain’s blood because of his painting of goddess Saraswati, I see no reason why you should have a problem with Muslims reacting to cartoons depicting the Prophet.” MF Hussain nicely took the shield for painting saraawati nude of artistic expression. why do Muslims ban satanic verses then? Is it not artistic expression?

    You say: “Are the Muslims the only ones asking for reservations? What about the SCs and STs and OBCs? Ever heard of reservations for them?” How about Uniform civil code then? why r they opposing that? Cry for equality there.

    You say: “What’s wrong with that? Are you glad that the US attacked and invaded Iraq on completely made-up charges? Where in hell are those WMDs and all the other hellish weapons that Mr Bush was talking about? Who created the Taliban and Saddam Hussain? Who has been quietly funding them for years, as long as they served they American cause?” yeah, I am glad that Indian muslims are so globally aware, but sadly they r not aware of their own country’s interests and conditions. Did we see even a single Imam issuing fatwa against those who masterminded bombay blasts? Rather Mr Shahi Imam loudly pronounces that I am with with Osama Bin Laden, and no body utters a word against him. because he represents minority, he can do/say anything? is this not sedition?

    And lastly

    You say: If you think that singing one “stupid” song is a mark of patriotism,…

    Mr AF, if you think that your country’s national song is stupid, then you not fit to be living in this country. You call urself patriot when you don’t realize that while humming the lines of this song so many poeple have sacrificed their lives/ families, and everthing on this country. But people of your ilk (pseudo secularists) will never understand this. Tomorrow you might even trample over your national flag, for which hundreads of brave soldiers laid their lives in Kargil. Conveniently forget those sacrifices Mr AF, may be our neighbouring country will give you red carpet welcome.

  55. @Sanjay: Yes a very powerful picture and a kick in the nuts for those who deserve it. The overwhelming singing of Vande Mataram in Muslim and Sikh schools today is a resounding slap from the silent majority on the face of again those who deserve it.

    @Nataraj: I don’t think they mind today too…it’s a relief to see that people still “get” it.

    @Anonymous: Porer gaacher paane keno mitmitiayai chao

    @Ajay Das: Has the Imam really lost his relevance now-a-days?

    @Ezaz: Of course.

    @Kaunteya: At least in this case, there wasnt much hurt to begin with. But yes the hypocrisy is very well there.

    @Anoymous: Agree with what Rohan had to say to you. And while singing Vande Mataram is not a law federally, the circulars passed by AP and Jharkhand were basically asking the schools to make everyone sing Vande Mataram. Again whether anyone would be arrested for refusing to do so, I think not.

    @yourfan2: Yes we know who they are… of course. Now as to your point about Christian missionary schools, it is indeed an issue. Because Christian missionaries have their mission to convert people to Christianity. In that context, they make children recite Christian prayers. Unlike them, the government isn’t out to convert Muslims…no matter what people would like to believe. The reason I mention this is the question of intent.

    @Somebody: Come on now. As long as we understand what the man has to say, why carp on spelling?

    @Rick: I wont be amazed if the Imam has something against Jana Gana Mana too.

    @Ram: True.

    @An Ideal Boy: I hope he has objections to singing Vande Mataram.

    @Yourfan: Agree.

    @Sue: They flare up and die as the next big thing (bomb blasts) come and we are back to Bajrang Dal or LET?

    @Guru: The GOI does work as the moral/ethical police regulating what we read and what we sing. And many people support that.

    @Sophocles: While there is no doubt that Muslims and minorities in general are appeased in that they are given privileges denied to the majority, one should not blame the whole community for terrorism. Its just not logical. There are a few people…actually more than a few people who are working against the nation. But there are Hindus too in that…Samajwadi Party is the party of terrorists. And they are all Hindus.

    I do not agree with the logic—the Muslims get a lot and hence are obligated to sing Vande Mataram. No. One sings it if one believes in it. And as the TOI report said, a lot of Muslims evidently do.

    @Nisha: I agree with what you said.

    @Unknown Indian: Agree with you too.

    @AF: I just wanted to say a few things to you.

    1)”I wish you would check what the great Indian army did while “liberating” Bangladesh”

    What did they do? Tell us. And show us proof too.

    2) “Not that I agree with their reaction to the Danish cartoons but if Hindus can be out on the street baying for M F Hussain’s blood because of his painting of goddess Saraswati,”

    Heh. If you think the Hindu reaction to MF Hussain and the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons are even comparable, then there is really not much to say.

    @Sayon: Evidently you love it too and that’s why you are here with your comments…isn’t it? You had the choice to go elsewhere and yet here you are. And maybe the cause of Vande Mataram is served better if you don’t sing it. Agree with you on that. 🙂

  56. @Agree_with_Sophocles:

    “Mr AF, if you think that your country’s national song is stupid, then you not fit to be living in this country.”

    Sorry, my dear sir – our country is much greater than a song, even one which symbolises the freedom movement. When will we wake up to realise that?

    I consider a person patriotic if he/she does something for the good of the country – even if it is something mundane like earning a living, or helping an old man cross the road, or even paying income tax. What good does tunelessly singing Vande Mataram do?

    It’s a great song, and even one who does not equate India with Durga may admire the beauty of its imagery (as did a very good friend of mine who happens to be a Muslim). But once again, how does singing Vande Mataram make you a good Indian?

    If you kill a dozen people in a communal riot, I’ll call you a traitor and a murderer, even if you sing Vande Mataram a dozen times a day. I’ll call you worse if you sing it badly.

    I remember the freedom struggle and the many who gave their lives for it. I remember the martyrs of the Kargil war. I also am aware of many nameless people who do their tiny little bit to make this country proud. It’s just that I don’t have to sing Vande Mataram to do all that.

    And please, do get a bit of wool out of your head – exactly how does our believing the way we do help the emergence of Mayavati or terrorism? I have the disturbing feeling that it is your ilk, those who want everyone to think and live like you do, who make the backward people of the country feel alienated and turn to rabid leaders from their caste/class/religion and/or take to the gun.

  57. …Samajwadi Party is the party of terrorists….
    You bet greatbong.

    I have issues not with the muslims of the nation. The real problem is the secular fundamentalist, 90% of them being Hindus. They are the real problem.

    And just as we are on the topic.. there was news that Sonia did not venture out to sing Vande Mataram. Was it the fear of the Mullahs or the fear of tough sanskrit words, is still a mystery 🙂

    Hahaha.. last heard Arjun Singh got a mouthful from her for raking this up in the first place. The day would have passed without anyone noticing her if only Singh wouldn’t have tried another of his stunts.

  58. @AF
    You say ..
    “Either way, are you familiar with the Vedas? It might shock you to learn that beef was seen as something to be had on special occasions, many of them religious occasions. This aversion to beef is only a modern reaction and has no basis in history or the Hindu religion.”

    Please let me know which/ what whoes veda are you talking about. I don’t like this “abusing my own religion and feeling good about it” thing.

  59. Sadhu, Arnab. Your freedom-fighter grandfather’s legacy must be upholded.

    Hyper-nationalism could be useful for nation-buliding in small nation-states (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan) or uniform populations (Han China), but is most likely to actually backfire in large and heterogeneous India. So we must always wear caution.

    The VB issue reminds me of the story of ‘Shibboleth’, allow me to re-produce it from the Wiki entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibboleth):

    The term originates from the Hebrew word שבולת, which literally means “ear of grain” or “torrent of water”. It derives from a story in the Hebrew Bible, in which pronunciation of this word was used to distinguish members of a group (like the Ephraimites) whose dialect lacked a ‘sh’ sound (as in shoe) from members of a group (like the Gileadites) whose dialect did include such a sound.

    In the Book of Judges, chapter 12, after the inhabitants of Gilead inflicted a military defeat upon the tribe of Ephraim (around 1370–1070 BC), some Ephraimites crossed secretly into Gilead’s territory in an attempt to escape retribution. In order to identify and kill these disguised refugees, the Gileadites put each refugee to a simple test:

    “The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth’.” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.” (Judges 12:5-6, NIV)

    In cryptography, we call it an “authentication protocol” – sing VB and prove your loyalty!

    (Having said that, VB happens to be my personal favourite song; I fondly remember the training I had received to render the lovely tune and sublime words with the passion and reverence they deserve.)

    So long.

  60. Excuse me greatbong for the long post:

    @ An Ideal Boy:

    Actually the idea of this ritual of eating beef during Vedic ages was propagated by Ramsharan Sharma when he was the chief editor of NCERT history. And R.S. Sharma was one of those biggest leftist secularists. Later Aroon Shourie has questioned this fact/hypothesis many times. But I personally think R.S. Sharma was more accurate.

    Left to me , although I am a veggie by choice but think that picking up these issues of beef/pork we trivialize the import of the matter in hand.

    @ AF

    I think you are either intellectually chanllenged to pose any argument or you yourself appreciate the vacuous nature of your logic.

    1. “I wish you would check what the great Indian army did while “liberating” Bangladesh. Don’t you dare hold the Indian Muslims responsible for what happened centuries ago.”.. An argument for the sake of arguing, without slightest notice given to the veracity. Why should I believe you?

    2. “Are the Muslims the only ones asking for reservations? What about the SCs and STs and OBCs? Ever heard of reservations for them?”…Do two wrongs make a right? You can not absolve yourself from the punishment for a crime that you did just because else has committed that too. Your valid points on “why reservation should be provided to muslims” are welcome.

    3.”but if Hindus can be out on the street baying for M F Hussain’s blood because of his painting of goddess Saraswati, I see no reason why you should have a problem with Muslims reacting to cartoons depicting the Prophet.” Please refer to the point2. And why doing it in India when the cartoon was drawn in Denmark?

    4. “You say: “We will halt traffic at everylane in calcutta since the US bombed Iraq.”
    What’s wrong with that?”..what purpose it served to deter US from doing so apart from making the commuters lives hell in India ( who I think got little to do with Bush govt) and pumping adrenalins in the veins of already a reasonable number of charged up youths. And I am afraid how these youths discharge themselves? Do they get to go all the way to USA or these high charges are dissipitated in the activities confined within Indian borders?

    5. Your other points are full with same fallacy: they do it because hindus do it.

    You conveniently avoided the last part of Sophocles’ rant. These were more pertinent issues and you did not have any answer for them. You opportunistically chose only the parts where you can draw analogies with the behaviors of some equally ridiculous lampoons. but the really pressing issues like terrorism, duality in treatment etc. have been overlooked.

  61. The politician would be absolutely jobless, if not for such issues. Unfortunately the members of the Saffron Brigade are fount most wanting when it comes to remembering the lyrics..:-). Besides, its no point singing the song or doing anything for that matter if one does not believe in its purpose.

  62. Like someone said before, most people seem to be in ‘camps’. Why can’t we do things one issue at a time and avoid biases ?

    I do not believe Muslims folow the Mullahs blindly, or think as a ‘block’ just as Hindus don’t.

    I do not think Islam or any religion lends itself to terrorism, as is often the strong undercurrent of many messages. I do agree that living and political conditions in some of the places where Islam is the practised religion do have more ingredients. This is also true of large tracts of tribal India, and Sri Lanka, where Islam is not the primary religion, so let’s not pre-emptively establish correlationhip.

    Does everyone see the LTTE as a terrorist org ? Hezbollah ? LeT, Al Qaida, yes, are more “focused” on terror creation than “aiding” a political movement, really. Not that murders by any of these becomes more tolerable, just as Gandhi did not ever condone the killings of Brits at the hands of our freedom fighters, who were aiding a political cause for sure. (Am not debating whether the man was right or not – just pointing out he disagreed with the means, while seeking the same ends)

    The uniform civil code is a no-brainer – irrespective of who suggests it. How can a country, esp a democracy, have different laws for different ppl ? Similarly for property ownership and other restrictions imposed arbitrarily by various states. We have to at least *behave* like one country.

    True democracy, esp in the context of Indian tradition, must accept a divergence of views (of course with human constraints). Trying to enforce languages, songs and other “symbols” always ends up creating issues and resentment where none existed.

    India, building upon its long, varied and open culture, must strive to bigger than all these other examples we bring in – just feels like we want to be like the “lesser experienced”. We can surely create true democracy and freedom, you have the right to create anything, like/dislike anything, but not act to harm anyone else you disagree with. Whether MF Hussain or th

  63. (oops – accidentally ht “submit” before I wrapped the last one up)

    … Whether MF Hussain or the Danish cartoonists were right or wrong should be beyond the scope of the state, its more important that

    a) people be allowed to voice their dis/agreement and have opinions
    b) people not be allowed to stop the expression itself, and cause harm to anyone/anything for this.

    Majority rule != mob rule. And if only the majority opinion counted, sati would still be alive and well.

    India is not always right and all our neighbours always wrong. Cannot be, logically. We have committed what we’d consider wrongs in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pak. So while we must deal and negotiate to our advantage, a holier-than-thou attitude is not on, except during doing the deals – by the MEA. Thats called posturing.

    All religions have their hardliners, and militants. No point pointing to those to argue about more broad-based issues. So the Sainiks attacked Hussain, but they do not represent me. And maybe the Mullahs wanted the Danish dudes hanged – why should I readily assume every Muslim wanted that ? Its a little strange to believe that “we’re all decent individuals, and think for ourselves”, but “they” are basically what their hardliners depict. So bringing in examples of what some random Sainiks/ABVP cadre might have done to try and say “Hindus thiknk like this” or use the Imam’s words to ascribe motives and intent to the entire Muslim community, is going to harden stances and create problems, not solve them. Give individuals their due, and show their intelligence some respect.

  64. Nice post
    first of all it is all politics
    Well all of u r forgeting it was the good old Arjun singh with due authorisation straight form the centre (sonia) who made the singing mandatory that too in govt schools and institutions and parliament as it was constitutionally provided , but never enforced .
    why is the congress enforcing it compulsorily in Assam?
    and did they sing it ? Sonia didnt as per news and abt Arjun i dont have a clue…
    she is still christian in the mind but projects herself as hindu.

    so tell me which party is the radical one here ?

    it is ok for me and u adults to think and choose but
    is it not good fr school children to sing it instead of being forced to commemorate the political leaders and get hospitalised due to sunstroke or to read the regular congress commi approved bulshit filled in the textbooks ?
    i still remember with horror the govinda govinda govind govinda how softly the river is flowing poem by sarojini naidu that i had to mug in school
    as i am now forced to listin in horror all the songs of himesh reshmiya etc and marathi tamasha songs played way too loud for appeasing ganpati during the current ganesh chaturti by the neighbourhood hoodlem gang in the name of god…who also indulge in electricity teft keep lights on all nite, gamble and of course drink (which i hate even though i am hindu), as i have to listin to the walla o akbar (sung by an amature mulla at top of his decibal pitch)5 times from a mosque in the hood built by none other than haji mastan(the mentor of dawood)who purposely face the loudspeaker towards the hindu areas bang next to the police station. It wd be better for me to goto morocco where they sing it without mics and 100 times better.

    I will not be a useful idiot in the cause of pan islamic caliphat, like scores of our overdemocratic citizens or like our news media like ndtv times and ibn .

    Sad thing is why are we really fighting abt singing vande mataram ?
    is it that difficult to sing and what is the big deal ?anyways it is the thought that counts
    i think shania nc in the live chat with arnub on times now just nailed it, she made Arnub and that taliban mp from god knows which muslim ghetto just shut up with her to the point contention.
    She is a child of a hindu muslim parentage and wow she should be bjps spokesman according to me not the lot of birdbrains.
    Well sometimes democracy has to be protected from itself – if it has to florish.
    after 9/11 bush ranted god and gesus half a dozen times on a radio briefing
    but it wasnt telecast worldwide
    whatever people say u cant separate state policy and religion
    we still dont have secularism with non implimentation of uniform civil code
    and articles 370 giving kashmir a very special status and the horrid lives pundits have to lead in camps for the last 20 years.

    Else these islamists will blend in and breed till they reach critical mass and then start balkanising the nation , we have got to learn from history.
    As it is the Minorities have been Exempted from being Secular , thanks to vote bank politics of the first family.
    how many secular muslims will dare to challange their religious leaders when they could be austracised from their communities at a snap of a finger ?
    how many muslim girls are allowed to marry hindus and hindu girls marrying muslims allowed to keep their hindu religion?
    take shabana azmi how many times has she talked against the mullah alliance?
    Why are the deobandis allowed to flourish here when even indonasia strictly controls their mullahs?why does achutanandan(cpim) and dmk bend over backwards to waste 55000 on ayurvedic masages for abdul naser madni.

    enough of ranting but what i want to say is- this is not some egalitarian society or super hero movie where mithunda can say ohy and kill 25 goons with one bullet
    we must face the real world

  65. I SUPPORT EVERYTHING I SAID

    This is a rejoinder to what I had written and all the replies. Arnab – Sorry of I am taking too much space on ur site…

    OK. Now the questions/statements “am I even for real”, “Have you ever lived in India, pal?” “if Hindus can be out on the street baying for M F Hussain’s blood because of his painting of goddess Saraswati, I see no reason why you should have a problem with Muslims reacting to cartoons depicting the Prophet. ” well…

    I am very real! I stay in Calcutta – have studied here (Bosco,Xaviers’) and have spent the lat 32 years in this city. – so dont question my integrity as an Indian please. I stay in tollygunge – a place with tons of mosques – i would like to invite u here the next time we have moharram – or to ekbalpur, park circus, metibruz and lots of other such places – and then tell me about traffic on a day like this…its a joke. The cops bend over backwards to ensure that nobody even raises a whimper. The common man has to walk for kilometers before he can get to a cab or a bus. How abt places like patna, kanpur, allahabad, hyderabad, secunderabad- go and see what moharram does to a city and what the governement does to ensure it success- its the worst abuse to secular india. and please tell me u r joking when u say that other communities create the same chaos during their festivals? taking weapons, openly displaying swords and knives, slashing themselves, bleeding themselves – yes I can see all other religions doing the same..Hmmmm..let me see janmashtami, christmas, pngal, navroz, durga puja….

    About people stopping traffic over bush’s invasion of iraq – I think someone must be stupid to feel that you can f**k your own city’s traffic just becoz someone invaded someother country…where were these very people when the parliament, the akshardharm and the sankatmochan temple were attcaked – so the point is – we will f**k a city if a muslim country is invaded but will not care a rats ass if something happens to hindus in our own country.

    U want to see where beef is sold? – open ur eyes for god’s sake. Ok. OPen invitation – come to calcutta the next time we have eid – and see the number of cows that are slaughtered and their carcass’ hung for sale. Open Challenge- take a piece of pork and eat it in a muslim area. and then we will talk about religious tolerance.

    I stand by everystatment that I have made. I feel that mislims thrive on the fact that they are a minority and they take full advantage of the same. They are a pampered lot not only in India but nearly every country in the world.

    Remember Azharuddin playing the religioncard when he was about to be banned? How about azaans blaring from every mosque but ban on firecrackers? or limits on decibel levels? Whatta one sided f**king joke!

    Every sign of patriotism is created to remind you of the country you belong to. To respect it, to honour it. These are signs that are meant to create an emotion in you. They represent the very identity you carry – of being an Indian.If you look at all these and simply say that hey- i dont need to do anything to prove my love for the nation and I dont need to sing a song – well you are not only lazy but also someone who is hiding behind the veil of myrights/democracy/independance and trying to justify yourself! The very independance you speak of was achieved by people who were inspired by the very same song.

    I remember a scene in Roja – where they are going to burn the Indian flag and arvind swamy actually tries to stop them and prevents them. The question is not whether would u do it – the quesion is whether you would do it if no one is watching?

    And, if u feel that the national song is stupid, you are more shallow than the people you are defending.

    Arnab, I have never pointed a barb at u till date since I find u a fairly balance man..but “Samajwadi Party is the party of terrorists”. now this is contradictory to what u are trying to say….more so because its support base comprises mostly of muslims – so much so that mulayam is known as mulla mulayam! a muslim vote bank that is pampered in UP beyond comprehension and you call them a party of terrorists?? hey, why am I complaining?

  66. @Sophocles: I had stopped replying on this thread because I had nothing new to say. However about the SP thing let me make clear what I said—-I called it party of terrorists and not party “for” terrorists. The distinction is that while the former (i.e. “for) would be a vindication of your views, the “of” means that only party functionaries were being referred to. You see SP supports SIMI *not* because it would be an universally popular vote-catcher among Muslims but most probably because the people who bankroll SIMI may have slipped in something under the table.

  67. But I wonder where does it stop?

    Surely no one should be forced to anything – burn that flag, break up that national emblem, not sing that national song. As many have pointed out, the official two stanzas do not refer to Durga or any religion. And no one is being asked to pray for Durga portrait when singing the song. The song is in reference to Bharat, the country, as adopted by the country.

    If it was such a non-issue why were Sonia and Manmohan not even present during a government function where the national song was sung few days ago (and they were supposed to have attended)?

    The opposition to singing the song is purely based on religion – not free speech, not for freedom not to act – but purely based on religion (and don’t confuse the issues). Surely, in this case, religion trumped the state.

    Yes, no one has to display patriotism by singing a song. But I wonder when does religion not trump the state? And stop the slippery slope?

  68. My question is what should come first for a person:: Religon ( which gives you emotional bliss,believe in One,motivates you to do something for humanity) OR Country (which gives you freedom).
    Making mandatory a National Song (may be it vandematram,Jaan Gaan..or anything else) to be sung in Primary and Secondary school is a good idea. It is very essential to mould the childerens of India to be proud of where they live. Current curriculam of Primary or seconday are not well equipped of doing this.

  69. I remember this incidence from school; is not directly related to the current controversy but might be appropriate.

    When I was in Std. 10 in St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, Kolkata and freshly /out/ of Che Guevara’s influence, I refused to mumble the “Your kingdom come …” prayer that our class teacher Fr. R, SJ used to start the class with. I went up to him one day beyond class hours and told him I could not say the prayer as I did not believe in any kingdom of god, but would stand up when it was sung. The Father was startled but agreed and I respect him for that.

  70. Great bong

    I am a longtime reader of this blog but pained to see your comment about “Vande Mataram” .

    You believe singing it is a gross infringement on your individual freedom. You should know it is not a Mithun’s song but a national song. Everytime this kind of situation happens we will find some hindus supporting anti nationalism by acting liberal and intellectual. Keep it up and in few years you have to sing other countries national song. Actually I am wrong as you already migrated to another country.

    Really sorry to read this particular blog.
    Paul

  71. @Paul: Again I would ask you to actually read the blog again. Or perhaps that’s the last thing you did or want to. I said if some people believe it’s an infringement on their freedom, then let them. I did not say it was mine. And the point of the post was that Vande Mataram should be a song far above literalism . But again I hardly expect you to understand the point I am trying to make as I am a NRI (which technically I am not actually) and have already been tagged as “unpatriotic”.

  72. Greatbong

    Thanks for the reply.

    In the blog this is your quote
    “Making it mandatory to sing “Vande Mataram” is a gross infringement on individual freedom.” It is not somebody else wrote. It is your quote.

    I prove my point where we are hurt.
    Paul

  73. Yes I did say that. What’s your point? How does it prove it ? Duh? “Forcing” anyone to sing a song is an infringement on rights. Absolutely. But where did I say that I object to singing it? Duh again. That’s your point which is why you mentioned I will soon be singing someone else’s national song.

    Incidentally noone in US can make me sing their song…I hope you understand that. So why should we make anyone in India who thinks the song is against his religion sing it either?

    And where did the cheap ‘NRI’ shots come in to the picture? Am really sorry too at your comment.

  74. Greatbong,

    Let me start with saying that I totally agree with all that your post stands for.
    However, may I have a clarification of your view regarding this

    ‘So why should we make anyone in India who thinks the song is against his religion sing it either?’

    As far as my opinion goes,
    1)I am against forcing it on somebody and completely for individual freedom.
    2)I also agree that the song is not the only mark of nationalism/patriotism.
    3) But refusing to sing it citing religion disturbs me. I believe no religion(Hinduism, Islam, Christanity etc) should be,morally for now, allowed to trump nationalism. Legally, I dont know if anything should even be done about this and if yes, what.
    4)At the same time, I still dont think that forcing the song because the reason given was ‘religion’ is such a good idea.

    It’s just that I wouldnt be able to support such people and I will be alarmed by this trend, if any such trend should get established.

    To summarise, no forcing ppl should happen- the reason being that its against basic individual freedom and not because some religions dont like it.

    I hope I have managed to make myself clear.
    Waiting for your view.

    Nilesh

  75. Well I agree with what you said with respect to nationalism over religion. However the govt has no role in imposing that through a circular. Again I dont wish to go on debating this as I have moved on to other posts and I don’t have much new to say…however Paul’s ‘misinterpretation’ of what I had said made me have to comment again.

  76. Well as I was the original sender of the email asking you to write about the Vande Mataram controversy I think it is time I had a say too.I think the issue is not about an individuals religious freedom.I think it is about a self styled representative of a religion not only refusing to sing but asking his co religionists not to sing the song. I think it shows pan islamism as being above nationalism.

  77. i just wish instead of ALL-OF-US-SUPER-PATRIOTIC-INDIANS tunelessly warbling VM,

    all of us simple indians had just ONE UNIFORM CIVIL CODE.

    no rat of a politician is BRAVE-AND-PATRIOTIC enough to take up this issue.

  78. Hey All: Have you considered what wonders the culest dood Himessbhai Ressamiyya could do with this song? The possibilities could be endless, like, “Vande Maaaaaaaaaaa – aaaa, Sujhlaaajaaa, ek baar Suflaajaaaa, Malayaajaaaa, Sheetalaajaa, Satyaajaa Shaamalaaajaa…. “Hey, flame me on the Himesh thread! Hint, hint…:-)

  79. i just wanted to raise a question that what will happen if you all except vande matram. in my opinion there is a bigger thing in this world beyond religion-country and its symbols.it is given in every holy book that religion comes after nation and it is the duty of every gouge to obey the rules of nation and its symbols.

  80. i really like the song its so rhythmic and very pleasant to here to give a strength of enurishment to me.
    Well I agree with what you said with respect to nationalism over religion.Well as I was the original sender of the email asking you to write about the Vande Mataram controversy

  81. really like the song its so rhythmic and very pleasant to here to give a strength of enurishment to me.

    Well I agree with what you said with respect to nationalism over religion.Well as I was the original sender of the email asking you to write about the Vande Mataram controversy

  82. Do all these MFs song supporters know the song by heart? or they support it (just like those muzzies opposing it) just cause they want to?

    I want to ask the idiots like sohpo.. , did you know the full song before the controvery broke out? Hell then why didn’t you raise the issue few years ago?

    As for the muzzies opposing it- when you @$$holes can mumble any reshamiya shit without prompting, WTF are you opposing the NATIONAL song?

  83. For me the “vande mataram” debate rings eerily similar to the removal of school prayer, nativity scenes and “Merry Christmas” in USA.

    I was seeing a NDTV program where a Imam was saying that worshipping a female figure, or equating land to “Mother” is blasphemous according to koran, hence the protest.

    So, All the muslim freedom fighters who chanted the song were not devout enough compared to the current crop, I guess. What a load of BS.

    Okay, So anyone who is offended by it can stay silent, but that’s where their rights end and my rights to sing it begins.

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