Friday, May 10, 2013

Islam & Vande Mataram!

The dispute over “Vande Mataram”, a national song, is not new in India with Muslim denying it singing on the pretext that it is anti-Islamic and Hindu radicals forcing it with a slogan, “ Ees Desh me rahana hoga to Vande Mataram kahana hoga!” Both are wrong in their perceptions and actions.

Vande Mataram is a song that had inspired millions of revolutionaries and freedom fighters during the freedom movement. In the song India is conceived as benevolent Goddess Durga, a mother worshiped by her children! (citizens.) What objection Islam has on the song is it is anti-Islamic because female deity of any form is a Satan and hence cannot be worshiped or prayed as Quran denies the existence of any female deity. It is one and only one almighty Allah who deserves human praises leaving no place for any other God or Goddess.

Many have tried to find supportive references from Quran those may help to convince Muslim’s to accept the Song. Some have tried to make convenient interpretations that the song is not addressed to any female deity but Mother India and there is nothing wrong in praising mother!

I think there is no need to find any reference in Quran or reinterpret the song. Song conveys the clear meaning that was intended by the author Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and so the Quran too is quite clear in its instructions.

India is a sovereign State and has adopted “Vande Mataram” as a national song. In the speech before Constituent Assembly Dr. Rajendra Prasad had stated:

"The composition consisting of words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India subject to such alterations as the Government may authorise as occasion arises and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honored equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy members. (24-1-1950)

Though song portrays mother India in the form of Durga in next stanza that is not part of the national song, the motive of writing the song was to inspire Indian nationals against oppressors. The song has no religious sentience but conveys age-old cultural ethos of the Indian society. Had it been the case Indian Christians, Buddhists and Jains too would have opposed to the national song, but this is not so far a case. Except for Sikh, at one instance, no other religion has opposed to this national song. In any case, this is not the hymn in praise of Goddess Durga. The position of 'Sarasvati Vandana' is quite opposite since it certainly is a hymn in praise of Vedic  Goddess Sarasvati to which opposition can be justified.

Looking at the nation in motherly form and comparing her with Goddess Durga is but natural as Durga is considered as the savior of the Good and destroyer of the evil. Even if considered the entire song, it does not suggest anywhere that Mother India be worshiped in idol form; instead, it is a poetic expression, quite natural for a poet who carries thousand of year’s cultural tradition in his genes. And also it should be but natural for the citizens those have shared same history and culture over a millennium to respect motherland wholeheartedly. Religion has nothing to do with this. Spreading religious sentiment is not at all purpose of this National Song!

And most importantly Constituent Assembly has chosen only first two stanzas of the entire poem as a national Song that doesn’t mention Goddess Durga, but describes wonderful forms and abundance of beauties of the mother India.

Another objection from Muslim community is the song is a prayer. “Vande” means to bow…not salutation! Bowing in praise before anything else is against tenets of Islam. They have no objection on saluting but bowing in praise. I think this is a grave misunderstanding of the Muslim community, especially religious leaders. “Vande”, a Sanskrit word, is misinterpreted in this particular respect! In the context of the song, Vande doesn’t mean to bow before anybody…indeed it is salutation. While singing this song also in practice people salutes national flag in respect…they don’t bow…rather it is not expected at all! And since “Vande” means salutation, there cannot be anything against Quran if sung by any Muslim!

Hinduists have been more responsible in triggering opposition to the national song. In their opinion, the song indeed is a Hindu song. I do not think Hinduist factions show their over enthusiasm for enforcing the song out of patriotism. To them Hindutva and patriotism are one and the same, thus the national song is none but Hindu song. This makes the thing more complicated or may be the main reason Muslims opposing it so stubbornly!

However, let us not forget that Constitution wouldn’t have chosen this song if it had any religious touch. It wouldn’t fit for secularism that has been a highly revered core principle of Indian Constitution.

Forcing national song from the religious point of view cannot be acceptable to any citizen, no matter which religion he/she belongs to. Same time no one should oppose to the national song based on biased viewpoint and misinterpretations those are forwarded to create the divide. Also, the stanza’s those are selected as the national song does not mention Durga.

Still “Vande Mataram” has become controversial unnecessarily since a long time. Various Fatva’s have been issued to restrict singing Vande Mataram by Muslim’s.

Hinduists should learn to make their case beyond religion. Secularism doesn’t demand such fanatic stances from either religion. Robust with Hindu nationalism, they have invited unnecessary divide on the issue to which Muslim's would naturally oppose. Deliberately forcing national song on Muslim community have created this dissent. May be this was their ultimate intention to disturb Muslim mindset. However, Muslims too should understand that reciting Vande Mataram is not at all blasphemy. It is not anti-Quran. Paying respect to mother nation with due salutation is not prohibited by Quran. 

And most importantly, since Constitution has selected the song as National Song, there cannot be opposition to it as Constitution is supreme over religions or castes of the Indians. Creating any sort of controversy over the national song is anti-national, anti-constitutional and thus supporting to the separatists. No religion or its tenets are supreme over the Nation!

-Sanjay Sonawani


  1. No religion or its tenets are supreme over the Nation!

  2. I am not Indian so don't know anything about the song---Just wanted to correct the idea that Islam opposes "female Diety"---In Islam God has no gender---he is nether male nor female nor both male and female---therefore it would have also opposed a male diety---simply because a gendered diety goes against the concept of God.

    1. Dear Mr. Vitthal are you ok to sign some of the Islamic songs which mean I accept Allah is my only God if this will be added in our national song ?, Nations are made by humans but the universe is made by GOD, so nothing should be supreme over religion & GOD whether it is for you or for me.....Think about it...