Colour of India

Colour of India

Friday, April 16, 2010



When our great NATION celebrated the glorious centenary of Vande Mataram song, our supine Prime Minister Dr Mammohan Singh and Super Prime Minister Sonia Gandhi gave a death blow to our cultural and political nationalism by deliberately absenting themselves from the function organized by their own degenerate party to commemorate the centenary of Vande Mataram song in their party office in New Delhi on 7 September, 2006. I view their absence as a blatant act of national betrayal by the sinister forces of pseudo secularism, pan-Islamism and global evangelism. Long after all the petty Congress leaders of today are forgotten and dumped into the dung heap of history (Dr.Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, by no means excluded!), the deathless spirit of this glorious song will continue to move the minds and hearts of our countrymen and the song of Vande Mataram will continue to reverberate throughout the length and breadth of India for centuries to come.

The moving and swaying words of Swamy Vivekananda come to my mind in this context: 'True human feelings, passions and emotions are indeed the gastric juices of the soul'. According to our listless Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and his Fuhrer Sonia Gandhi, true feelings are the gastric juices of the Islam-embracing, Christianity coveting, and Hindu-hating Congress stomach!

The spirit of a nation is what that counts --- the radiant look in its eyes. A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honours, the men it remembers. The driving force of a nation lies in its spiritual purpose, made effective by free, tolerant but unremitting national will. Energy in a nation is like sap in a tree: it rises from people bottom up. Patriotism is a lively sense of responsibility. It just cannot begin and end with No.10, Janpath in New Delhi. Pseudo secular nationalism of Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi is a silly cock crowing on its own dung hill. Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

Every patriotic Indian, every nationalistic Indian, every cultural Indian would like to express his boundless and passionate love for his Motherland and the immortal song of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the moving words of another great poet:

HOW do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, -I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

[Elizabeth Browning (1806-1861) in her very famous love poem addressed to her poet-husband Robert Browning (1812-1889)]

LORD ACTON SAID THAT PATRIOTISM IS IN POLITICAL LIFE WHAT FAITH IS IN RELIGION. Rousseau said: 'Do you wish men to be virtuous? Then let us begin by making them love their country'. Lord Tennyson in a great poem wrote 'The song that nerves a nation's heart is in itself a deed'. The things that the Vande Mataram stands for were created by the glorious sacrifices of a great people for freedom. Everything it stands for was written by their lives. The Vande Mataram song is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history.

Pandit Vishnu                  Vishnu Pant Pagnis                       Pandit Omkarnath
   Digambar                                                                                         Thakur

(1872-1931)                          (1892-1943)                                    (1897-1967)

Keshavrao Bhole                    Dilip Kumar Roy                               Vasant Desai
                                                  (1897-1980)                                 (1912-1975)  
                           Pandit Ram Marathe          Dr.Lalmani Mishra
                                   (1924-1989)                   (1924-1979)

                      Mogubai Kurdikar  M.S.Subbalakshmi    Geeta Dutt
                         (1904-2001)         (1916-2004)      (1930-1972)

Several outstanding musicians of India like Pandit Visnu Digambar Paluskar, Pt Omkarnath Thakur, Vishnupant Pagnis, Keshavrao Bhole, Desh Das, Satyabhushan Gupta, Dilipkumar Roy, Bhavanicharan Das, Hemchandra Sen, Harendranath Dutt, G M Durrani, Vasant Desai, Moghubai Kurdikar, Geeta Dutt, D Vasanta and D Vimla and M S Subbulakshmi, have given recordings of Vande Mataram.

Timir Baran                                Pankaj Mullick                         Kamal Dasgupta
 (1904-19870                             (1905-1978)                                (1912-1974)

Upon the suggestion of Subhashchandra Bose, Timir Baran set the tune to Raga Durga in the style of a marching song. This gramophone record was used for the parades of the Azad Hind Sena between 1942 and 1945. The record was frequently broadcast from Singapore radio from 1943 to 1945. Sursagar Jagmohan, Matrusevak Dal of Kamal Dasgupta Pankaj Mullick, Aanadi Dastidar, Rajan Sarkar and others made similar recordings.

Ananda Bazaar, Hindustan
Record (12") / AHR 1 (C.1938) / Chorus in Raga Durga.
Music byTimir Baran
Courtesy: Suresh Chandvankar

AS A PART OF BBC's 70TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS, THE BBC CONDUCTED AN ONLINE SURVEY OF WORLD'S 'TOP TEN' SONGS IN NOVEMBER 2002. The response it got from millions of Internet users from 155 countries was indeed tremendous and the final results were declared on 21 December, 2002.


The Irish National Anthem: ‘A Nation Once Again’ topped the list. The National Song of India Vande Mataram obtained the second position. Vande Mataram, in a version by A. R. Rahman, was second in top 10 songs. This version of Vande Mataram was released to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of India's independence. Although the popular voting was for a version of Vande Mataram in the tune set by A R Rahman, yet the fact cannot be denied that this song has been extremely popular in India for over 120 years. Several musicians and singers have recorded it on gramophone records from as early as 1905.

Suresh Chandvankar

The common patriotic people of India who love the Vande Mataram song owe a deep debt of gratitude to a remarkable individual by name SURESH CHANDVANKAR, Honorary Secretary, 'Society of Indian Record Collectors'. He is a scientist by profession and his hobby is collection of old and rare gramophone records. In a brilliant article on the internet titled Vande Mataram, A most popular and evergreen Indian song, he has traced various aspects of this evergreen, controversial and sacred song which Bengalis call Bande Mataram whereas Indians from all the other states call it Vande Mataram. Much of what I am saying in this article is based on the interesting facts narrated by him in this internet article.

Courtesy:Suresh Chandvankar

Given its growing popularity it is no surprise that early recording companies like BOSE RECORDS and the NICOLE RECORD COMPANY recorded it in the voice of Rabindranath Tagore((1861-1941) , Babu Surendranath Banerjee (1848-1925), Satyabhushan Gupta, R N Bose and others in the first decade of the 19th century.

                     Rabindranath           Surendranath   Rabindranath
                               Tagore                  Baneerjee                  Bose

Hemendra Mohan Bose released a version commercially on his label, H Bose Records, in 1907. The police destroyed the factory, and the existing stock of records. However a few copies of the disc survived in Belgium and Paris (where Pathe/H Bose records were pressed). Hence we can still listen to Bande Mataram in Rabindranath’s voice. Unfortunately, he recites the song in a rather shrill, high pitched and nasal voice, and in an extremely slow tempo. This is the oldest recording available on a gramophone record. It has now been released on CD and is available along with a book, Rabindranath Tagore: Facets of a Genius, published by All India Radio in 1999.

A National Anthem? or a National song? or a Cultural Song, call it what you will. This great song was created by 'AKSHAY NAVAMI' BANKIMCHANDRA CHATTERJEE (1838-94) on Sunday, 7th November 1875 at his residence in Kantalpada, in Naihati village, which is just a few miles away from Calcutta. The song is now 135 years old. It is probably the only Indian song that is still widely popular all over India, and musicians still want to sing it again and again, and keep composing new tunes for it.

In 2000, a book in Marathi, Vande Mataram: Ek Shodh by Mr Milind Sabnis, was published in Pune. This is a carefully researched monograph, which should be translated into all the Indian languages by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, if it is at all devoted to the cause of Indian culture and not that of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Afghanistan or Italy. A few audio/video albums featuring Bande Mataram have been released in recent years. The Society of Indian Record Collectors, a Mumbai-based organization, has traced about one hundred different versions of Vande Mataram recorded over the last hundred years. These versions vary from the voices of Rabindranath Tagore to that of A R Rahman. Based on available recordings, an attempt has been made by Suresh Chandvankar to note and record the musical aspects of this evergreen song.

Bankimchandra Chatterjee was among the first batch of graduates from Calcutta University. In his youth, he had witnessed the unsuccessful mutiny of 1857. Around 1870, the British rulers were trying hard to force their anthem, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, on Indians. This made a deep impact on Bankimchandra's sensitive mind, and he wrote Bande Mataram in one sitting, in a mood that must be called divine, and transcendental. He wrote the song as a prayer in which the nation 'BHARAT' was described as 'THE MOTHER'. The song was later included in his novel Anandmath, which was published serially in his magazine Bangdarshan during 1880-1882. When he was bitterly criticized for composing this song by some of his contemporaries, like a prophet, he declared in 1882: 'I may not live to see its popularity, but this song will be sung by every Indian like a Ved Mantra.’ And that is what that exactly happened after the partition of Bengal in 1905. It became a very popular slogan overnight. It crossed the boundaries of Bengal and spread all over the country like a flame.

When Independence was round the corner in 1947, several composers, musicians and singers from Bengal and Maharashtra were confident that this would become the Anthem of independent India. Hence they set a number of tunes for the song. In 1947, it was Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, India's iron man who invited Pt.Omkarnath Thakur to sing Vande Mataram on Akashwani (All India Radio), on the dawn of Independence. And thereby, on the 15th of August 1947, at 6:30 a.m. the country could hear the deep voice of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, reciting the unabridged, full version of India's march song ---Vande Mataram-- in full form. In the studio Thakur sang it in the standing position.

Amongst the great and enthusiastic pioneers long before Independence were Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar and Mr V D Ambhaikar. Even before our independence, Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar had cut a gramophone record around 1935. His radio broadcast was interrupted soon after he began to sing the banned song at the end of one of his programme. He then boycotted all radio programmes. He popularized his tunes through gramophone records and by singing it in his music concerts. After Independence, he was invited to sing on All India Radio and he began his concert by singing Vande Mataram. In 1948, when he learnt that Pandit Nehru was against the music of the song and not the contents, he volunteered to prepare tunes for the Vande Mataram song. He prepared several alternative versions of the song recited solo, in chorus, as a marching song, with and without accompaniment. These recordings were played to members of the Constitution Committee.

On 17th January 1950, in a press conference, Master Krishnarao demonstrated his different versions of Vande Matram song. Many of the members of Parliament applauded it. However on 24th January 1950 the committee for constitution, in a totally one sided verdict declared (by Dr. Rajendra Prasad) Jana Gana Mana as the official National Anthem and Vande Mataram to enjoy the status of ('equal' to National Anthem) a 'National Song.'

At a meeting of the Constitution Committee held on 24th January 1950, President Dr Rajendra Prasad announced that Jana Gana Mana would be the NATIONAL ANTHEM of independent India and Vande Mataram would be the NATIONAL SONG with same status as the Anthem. With this decision, all efforts at providing new tunes ended and the recordings made up to that time have now become important documents and part of our cultural heritage.

                                  Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar

The spirited and heroic attempts of Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar to make Vande Mataram our national anthem after our Independence were frustrated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had indivisible contempt for Hindu feelings and sentiments. Nehru forgot that the might of the Government of India can never succeed in confiscating the VANDE MATARAM thoughts, feelings and emotions of millions of people in India.

I am presenting below an authentic list of some of the most important gramophone records of the Vande Mataram Song drawn up by Suresh Chandvankar

Senola Records / QS 711 (C.1935) / Chorus from Film ‘Bande Mataram’ (Bengali). Tune - Sukerti Sen.Megaphone Record Company / J.N.G. 5224 (C.1935) / Bhabani Charan Dass - in two parts –

Courtesy: Suresh Chandvankar

Hindustan Record / H 570 (C.1940) / Prova Roy, Jay Dass, Vijaya Devi, Dhiren Gupta, Haripada Chatterjee. - specially trained by Dr Rabindranath Tagore. Musical Direction by Sj. Haripada Chatterjee.
Courtesy: Suresh Chandvankar

H.M.V. N 27893 (C.1950) / Jagonmoy Mitra, Beehu Dutta, Roma Devi, Supriti Ghosh. Tune and Music Direction - Timir Baran.
Courtesy: Suresh Chandvankar

H.M.V. N 14421 (C.1950) / Dilip Kumar Roy, and M.S.Subbulaxmi
Personal Collection of Shri.V.Sundaram I.A.S. and Smt.Padma Sundaram

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