Monday April 22, 2019

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee: Remembering the voice who gave India ‘Vande Mataram’

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Bankim_Chandra_ChattopadhyayBy Meghna

During an age where the masses were physically and mentally colonized by the imperial British forces, rose an author whose writings inspired a multitude of Indians to shun the cloaks of westernization and adopt their own native culture and wear it with pride.

The author was none other than Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, most widely known for his book Anand Math.

This day, in 1838, witnessed the birth of this great writer in the heartland of Bengal. He sought neither fame nor power, but was content with being a voice which could inspire millions. He successfully created a language and literature which brought an evident change in the mindsets of the rapidly westernizing Indian society.

Even as a child, Chatterjee was a prodigy; he mastered the Bengali alphabets in one single sitting!

As he grew older, he was greatly influenced by the acts and movements which were stirring up the Indian society back then. He was 19 year-old when the Sepoy Mutiny (1857), which is also frequently dubbed as the “first war of Indian independence”, broke out. He was greatly disappointed by its failure.

credits: Amar Chitra Katha; columbia.edu
credits: Amar Chitra Katha; columbia.edu

What astonished him even more was how the Indians who spoke English, were better respected than those who were fluent in their mother tongues. It was not just the British government officials’ indifference towards the ones who were fluent in the native languages which shocked him, but, it was the bias towards them by the Indian community, that made his heart ache.

credits: citatecelebre.edu
credits: citatecelebre.edu

Though he began his career as an author with an English novel titled Rammohan’s wife, he soon realized that he should write in his mother tongue and implore people to reflect upon the blasphemy of what they were practicing, through his writings. And then, he went on to compose a wide variety of phenomenal books. Most well-known ones included the novel Durgesnandini, a story which revolves around a Rajput hero and a Bengali heroine, Kapalkundala a story which vividly describes a love story influenced by the gruesome tantric rites and Bisabraksa which talks of the problem of widow re-marriage, among several others.

It is said that the Indians who were nurtured on Shakespeare, Milton and Shelley by the British missionary education system, began to read the works of Kalidas, Bhavabhuti, Chandidas and Vidyapula, Puranas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita because of his writings.

He believed that art, spirituality and nationalism were essential components of Indian culture. This is why one finds the threads of nationalism inextricably wound up with tenets of religion and art. Anand Math is probably one of the finest examples of this.

One of the most beloved patriotic songs, Vande Mataram, was his priceless contribution. Every Indian, no matter where he is on the planet earth, would witness his heart swelling up with pride and patriotism as soon as he hears the tune of this beautiful melody, which is also India’s national song. Such was the power in the expression of the evergreen Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

The entire Indian subcontinent and all Indians across the globe remember him fondly today, which marks his 177th birthday.

Next Story

First Hindu Temple Lays Foundation Stone in Abu Dhabi

The temple will be built in phases with all the pink stones and marble being transported from Rajasthan to the UAE capital, the Khaleej Times said

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abu dhabi, hindu temple
The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Indian community. Wikimedia

The historic foundation stone-laying ceremony of the first traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi was performed on Saturday in the presence of officials from India and the United Arab Emirates as well as thousands of members of the community.

The ceremony was presided over by Mahant Swami Maharaj — the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha — the organisation building the temple, along with other priests. Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri attended the event in the presence of over 2,500 Indians from the UAE and across the world, according to Gulf News.

Suri and BAPS Hindu Mandir committee head and community leader B.R. Shetty were among those who laid foundation stones. Some 50 priests from India were part of the ceremony, the Khaleej Times reported.

Crown Prince, abu dhabi, hindu temple
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Wikimedia

UAE’s Minister of Climate Change Thani Al Zoyoudi and Ahmad Bilhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Sciences, were among the attendees.  The temple will be built in phases with all the pink stones and marble being transported from Rajasthan to the UAE capital, the Khaleej Times said.

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The stones of the temple will be hand-carved by artisans in India and then transported to Abu Dhabi. Once completed, this will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East.

The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Indian community. (IANS)