After we gave our nation an anthropomorphic form, India became Bharat Mata, Mother India, and ever since, we have been referring to her as such with great reverence, like the veneration one uses toward one’s parents.
Each of us has an impression of who she is. To some, she is forlorn, dirty, old, and poor. To me, she is noble, and her children are full of affection. I am proud to be her child.
The mother has often been the subject of the written word, movies, paintings, photographs, and songs. Moreover, many foreigners have spent a great deal of their lives knowing her and educating the world about her – mostly through their lectures and writings. She appreciates them all; were she to itemize their names, there would be too many to list.
Proudly, she has bestowed many things upon us and others. Her wisest children gave us the Sanskrt language and scriptures and beliefs. She influenced acculturation in Southeast Asia. On page 485 of his book, The Wonder That Was India, British Indologist late A. L. Basham states succinctly:
Sadly, she was treated brutally for over 400 years; first by Muslims during the Mughal Empire from 1526 until around 1757 (though Mughal dynasty ended in 1857) and then by Britishers during the British Raj from 1757 until 1947. Her scars at the hands of intruders are still visible.
India has conferred many blessings on the world at large; notably rice, cotton, the sugarcane, many spices, the domestic fowl, the game of chess, and, most important of all, the decimal system of numerical notation, the invention of an unknown Indian mathematician early in the Christian era.
Today, she is battling hunger and homelessness and ignorance and illiteracy and illness and poverty. Her children are fighting to divide her once again (now in Kashmir) and separate. She is asking them to end her misery and division.
On August 15, 2012, as we celebrate the 65th anniversary of our independence day, it is worth remembering Nehru’s address to the nation on the first day of independence. It echoed the pains of our mother’s past and asked us to serve her:
Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons us now ....The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.
The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.