Chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai

Dr. Jaipal Singh
Bookmark and Share

The recent remarks of the All India Majlise-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi that he won’t raise the slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, even if someone puts a knife to his throat, became the raging controversy in the Indian mainstream political and social circles. A veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher went on another extreme when he tweeted that chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” should be the only definition of nationalism for those living in India, all others are escape routes.

In the same context, the famous lyricist and parliamentarian Javed Akhtar earned laurels nationwide for lashing out at Owasi in his farewell speech in Rajya Sabha, when he said, “He (Owasi) said he will not say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ as the Constitution does not require him to say so. The Constitution even does not ask him to wear sherwani (dress) and topi (cap)... I don’t care to know whether saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is my duty or not, it is my right”.

If we rationally consider these statements, the ones uttered by Mr Owasi and Mr Kher represent orthodox and extreme views while that of Mr Akhtar appears liberal and rational.

The controversy reminds the days of August 2011 when Anna Hazare was leading the campaign of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement and he was on fast-unto-death at New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. Many Muslims were noticed chanting slogans of Vande Matram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai and later too during the electoral campaigns of Arvind Kejrawal, convenor Aam Admi Party. Obviously, many Muslims did not have reservations about the slogan but because they look at the BJP and RSS with suspicion, hence such a call from them generates negative response.

Origin of Bharat Mata dates back to the later part of nineteenth century and the inspiration behind this conception was the famous Bengali writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838-1894). In his novel Anandamath, he wrote the song Vande Matram wherein the land of birth has been personified as Bharat Mata and in a particular stanza symbolized her with the Goddess Durga. He perhaps did it with a view to generate patriotic feelings among Indians to rise against the British rule. The Muslims, however, believe that to sing the song would tantamount to worshipping the deity Bharat Mata, while Islam prohibits idol worship, hence they are against it.

It is true that the majority Muslims look at the BJP and RSS with suspicion. The reasons are many and quite obvious. Firstly, BJP does not pursue appeasement policy unlike Congress and some regional parties. Then BJP’s stand on Article 370 of Constitution, accusations of love-jihad, opposition of beef consumption, talks of withdrawing the minority status to Aligarh Muslim University etc are some of the issues which Muslims feel, are against their interests.

If the likes of Owasi and their vehement opposition to a slogan represent one extreme, the tweet of the Anupam Kher, however well-intentioned, setting new definition of nationalism for Indians represents another extreme. Such a moral policing would perhaps neither be of any help in generating patriotic or nationalist sentiments in this land of diversities nor in any way strengthen our democracy.

While rationalists and liberals in both communities would agree that there is no need of going in semantics of the slogans ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, ‘Vande Matram’ or ‘Jai Hind’ in the modern times, at they essentially convey the same abstract meaning i.e. our love, respect and allegiance to the land of our birth. Semantics are not so important because it is our love and sentiments for the nation that really matters. Liberals like Javed Akhtar and many others understand this point but those who do not realize should also not be forced to do it with coercion or violence.

Since ancient ages, the Indian culture has imbibed and spread the spirit of tolerance encouraging open debate and dissent. In the modern India, the Constitution of India only further strengthened this spirit in embracing freedom of speech and expression, right to worship and equality.

There is no doubt that people like Owasi need to have serious introspection to realize that they are doing disservice to their country for petty political gains when they resort to fanning such unwarranted controversies often with communal overtones. At the same time, other people should also not try to force words to mouth of others that smack of extreme vigilantism. Politicians, clerics, celebrities and media need to play more responsibly because common folk look at them for guidance and following. Extreme and odd views and utterances are best ignored and downplayed rather than given undue attention through name-calling, legal action or violent means.

Traditionally, Indian civilisation and culture has enough maturity and strength to mock rather than hound odd-ball dissidents. Jingoism may be one extreme shade of the patriotism, but it has many other shades in the land of diversity like ours. Needless to emphasize that the well written Constitution in India exists as the guiding force, with an independent and capable judiciary for supervision and interpretation, when unreasonable and unruly try to fiddle with or supress voice of the reason.

More By  :  Dr. Jaipal Singh

  • Views: 1735
  • Comments: 5

Comments on this Blog

Comment It is a fact that many countries in the world address their homeland as Fatherland with deep respect and love . It is very common in Europe. Some view as mother who is the embodiment of love- Russia, India etc. And many countries don't attach gender identification. But all would get upset when someone doesn't show respect! I don't understand why many Muslim citizens of India view chanting " Long live Mother India" as an insult to one's faith. They simply don't understand this behaviour is viewed with suspicion and leads to conflict!

29-Jun-2017 19:39 PM

Comment I agree with you, Kundu Ji. I would like to only further add that when we don't allow the sound logic and rationale to discuss and prevail that give rise to many misconceived notions and beliefs giving cause to mutual suspicion and conflict. Afterall there is one universe for the mankind and entire life for that matter, whatever name and rituals we follow, there can't be separate God for different communities. Since ancient times, Hindu religion, many call it a way of life instead, has accepted debate and dissent, and consequent tolerance, the reason why it accommodated variety in faith and worship with the same ultimate goal. Even idol worship has been logically and rationally well explained with the concept of Sadhna, Shadhak, Shadhya and Shadhan.

12-Apr-2016 03:58 AM

Comment Right Sir. I understand Mohammad, who it is said got the Quran from Allah, said those who respect other religions actually make his religion proud. How will the people who are against idol worship react to this utturance of Mohammad? Why people do not understand that idol worship is nothing but a method of concentration? Lord Krisna in the Gita said whichever god one may supplicate to, they are actually supplicating to me. Is it not a concept of one God? Muhammad, I understand, distinguished between a believer and a non-believer. I understand he did it to instill fear in the heart of an ordinary man, so that he does good and only good. Nawaaz five times a day was only to hammer in the mind of the people not to forget Allah (and that way only do good). Tell me which believer in God is not a musalman? I am a Hindu and by definition of Allah I am a musalman because I believe. If I stop before an idol and pray I am actually praying to the One God, Ek Ohm of the Sikh! Am I not. Actually politics and religion are a deadly mix. People are advised to keep away from this concoction for their own good.

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
10-Apr-2016 13:53 PM

Comment Thank you, Kundu Ji, I think we are on the same page, Last two paragraphs of my blog are suffice to vindicate. I have tried to address the issue in a holistic manner in my recent article 'Bharat Mata - A Raging Controversy'. Notwithstanding above, the slogan largely represent nationalist sentiments and is more of an emotional issue than a religious one despite attempts by some to do so. Whether we symbolize it with mother or father, is a matter of choice but chanting slogan does not mean that one is actually treating them as living being or doing idol worship as is being interpreted by some religious and political leaders. It is unfortunate that some people are resorting to divisive tactics for personal gain and in the process causing greater damage to their country of birth. Religion is like opium and has often been played by fanatics in any contemporary society for spreading hatred and division among communities.

09-Apr-2016 04:38 AM

Comment Thank you Jaipalji asking for sanity in our polity. While the concept of Bhaarat Maataa is beautiful, the jingoism in favour and against utturances of Bharat Mata ki jai is a complete non-issue. One can call one's Nation as mother; but there are instances where one's country is referred as fatherland rather than motherland. What if I do not call my nation either? I am a citizen of this country; but both my parents lost their motherland or fatherland whatever one may choose to call to mean the same thing. Tell me whether the same politicians who are for or against chanting of Bhaarat Maataa ki jai will force a person to chant the slogan if he does not get two square meals every day or who is forced to commit suicide because crops have failed due of drought? I think we have far more important things to do than sloganeering to prove citizenship of the country of our birth. Zealots, make our country a true Bhaarat Maataa absolving your jingoism, that is my appeal to you. Do you hear?

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
06-Apr-2016 15:29 PM

Name *
Email ID
 (will not be published)
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.