Colour of India

Colour of India

Monday, May 3, 2010

Paintings of Vande Mataram done in 1923 

A public meeting was organized on 10 September 2006 by the Rajaji Centre for Public Affairs in Royapettah, Chennai to commemorate the centenary of the singing of the Vande Mataram song at a Special Session of the Indian National Congress at Benaras on 7 September 1905. I had the privilege of addressing this meeting.

Immediately after the meeting, my esteemed friend Dr Parthasarathy, son of Shri Shri Acharya (Mandayam Srinivasachariar), gave me a book titled Bandemataram Album published in Cawnpore (Kanpur) in 1923 by Shiva Narayan Mishra Vaidya of Prakash Pustakalaya. This book contains rare and beautiful paintings by K.TEJENDRA KUMAR MITRA illustrating some of the gloriously symbolic Sanskrit words in the Vande Mataram song. I view it as a great privilege to present some of the pages from this rare book with the text and the paintings on the immortal VANDE MATARAM song.

Shri Aurtobindo Ghosh (1872-1950)

This extremely rare and out of print book contains the full English Translation of Bandemataram song by Shri. Aurobindo. I am presenting below the text of immortal Vande Mataram song in SANSKRIT, immediately followed by the English translation of that text by Shri.Aurobindo. 

सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतलाम्

सस्य श्यामलां मातरंम् .

शुभ्र ज्योत्सनाम् पुलिकत यािमनीम्

फुल्ल कुसुिमत द्रुमदलशोभिनीम्,

सुहासिनीं सुमधुर भाषिणीम् .

सुखदां वरदां मातरम् ॥

सप्त कोटि कण्ठ कलकल निनाद कराले

द्विसप्त कोटि भुजैर्ध्रत खरकरवाले

के बोले मा तुमी अबले

बहुबल धारिणीम् नमामि तारिणीम्

रिपुदलवारिणीम् मातरम् ॥

तुमि विद्या तुमि धर्म, तुमि ह्रदि तुमि मर्म

त्वं हि प्राणाः शरीरे

बाहुते तुमि मा शक्ति,

हृदये तुमि मा भक्ति,

तोमारै प्रतिमा गडि मन्दिरे-मन्दिरे ॥

त्वं हि दुर्गा दशप्रहरणधारिणी

कमला कमलदल विहारिणी

वाणी विद्यादायिनी, नमामि त्वाम्

नमामि कमलां अमलां अतुलाम्

सुजलां सुफलां मातरम् ॥

श्यामलां सरलां सुस्मितां भूषिताम्

धरणीं भरणीं मातरम् ॥


Mother, I salute thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Green fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands
When swords flash out in seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Thou who saves, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foe drove
Back from plain and sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Though art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her
swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,

Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleems,
Dark of hue O candid-fair

In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!

Cover page of the book of 1923.

First page of Vande Mataram
Published in CAWNPORE in 1923

A truly magnificent tribute was paid by Shri.Aurobindo to Shri.Bankim Chandra Chaterjee in the following words: "When posterity comes to crown with her praises for the Makers of India, she will place her most splendid laurel not on the sweating temples of a place-hunting politician, not on the narrow forehead of a noisy social reformer, but on the serene brow of that gracious Bengali Shri.Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who never clamoured for place or power, but did his work in silence for love of his work, even as nature does, and just because he had no aim but to give out the best that was in him, was able to CREATE A LANGUAGE, A LITERATURE AND A NATION".

 This is the front cover page of a nationalistic journal called Vijaya
which was shifted from Chennai to Pondicherry in 1909. This cover page appeared in the August 1909 Issue of this Journal.


Mandayam Srinivasachariar and his brother S Thirumalachariar were pillars of support to Mahakavi Bharathi during his exile in Pondicherry from 1908 to 1918. A Tamil Journal called 'Vijaya' was started by S Thirumalachariar on Triplicane High Road Madras in 1907 and later shifted to Pondicherry in 1909. The Cover page of August 1909 issue of VIJAYA from Pondicherry carried the picture of Bharath Mata with the sacred words of Vande Mataram. This issue of Vijaya has been presented above.

I am presenting below the marvellous paintings done by SHRI.TEJENDRA KUMAR MITRA to illustrate the lines of Vande Mataram in the Bande Mataram Album published in Cawnpore in 1923.

वन्दे मातरम्
Bande Mataram
Hail Mother, I bow to thee!

Nature supplies thee with all thy wants,
With Sweet Water.

And with luscious fruits

शस्यश्यामलां मातरम्
Malayaja Sheetalam
Shashya Shyamalam Mataram

Thou art soothed by balmy breeze
Ever verdant with green herbage

शुभ्र ज्योत्स्ना पुलकित यामिनीम्
Shubra-jyostna-pulakita yamineem
Thy nights ever resplendent with silver moons

फुल्ल कुसुमित द्रुमदलशोभिनीम्

Bedecked thou art in flowery plants


Ever cheerful, ever bright

सुमधुर भाषिणीम्
सुखदां वरदां मातरम्

Full of promise and of hope;
Mother, thou bestoweth sweet pleasure
and happiness divine

सप्तकोटि कण्ठ कलकल निनाद कराले

द्विसप्त कोटि भुजैर्ध्रत खरकरवाले


Thy cause championed thy thirty crores of souls,
Twice thirty crores of arms to defend thee

के बोले मा तुमी अबलेके बोले मा तुमी अबले
बहुबल धारिणीम्
Bahubala dharineem

Who says mother thou art feeble?
Thou commandest immense strength

नमामि तारिणीम्
Namami tarineem

Our salvation lies in thee;
(Hail mother I bow to thee!)

रिपुदलवारिणीम् मातरम्
Ripudalavarineem Mataram

Thou hast power to ward off foes,
Mother I bow to thee
श्यामलां सरलां सुस्मितां भूषिताम्

धरणीं भरणीं मातरम्
Shyamalam saralam Susmitam Bhushitam
Dharaneem Bharaneem Mataram

Ever happy and ever simple
Ever bright and ever beautiful
Thou our support, our nourishment,
I bow to thee.

To quote the brilliant words of my esteemed friend (late) A.Ranganthan; “Vande Mataram was composed even before the “Ananda Math” was written. However, it became part of the Ananda Math. Here it is necessary to stress the similarities between the Indian National Movement and the Irish Nationalist Movement. Just as the Irish Nationalist Movement inspired by great poets like W.B.Yeats had its beginnings in the Gaelic Revival, so was Shri.Aurobindo’s English translation of Vande Mataram triggered off by Bankim Chandra’s song. As Shri Aurobindo put it, ‘it was Bankim Chandra’s “Ananda Math” that gave us the reviving mantra of ‘Vande Mataram’—a glorious mantra which is creating a new India.” And Shri.Aurobindo developed this point in his own characteristically eloquent stream: “For what is a nation? What is our mother country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty ‘Shakti’ composed of all the ‘Shakties’ of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani, Mahisha, Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of Gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani-Bharathi is the living unity of the Shakties of 300 million people”…..For Vande Mataram expresses the aims and power of the Indian Nation as the Marseillaise embodied the ideal of awakened France or as the aspirations of Ireland are expressed in the song of Ethana Carberry.”

Vande Mataram is something more than the defense of the Motherland. It is a song of struggle for liberty and preservation of our cultural heritage. I am presenting below a beautiful painting of BHARATA-MATA done by Shri.Abanindranath Tagore (Bengali: অবণীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) (August 7, 1871 - December 5, 1951), who was the principal artist of the Bengal school and the first major exponent of swadeshi values in Indian art. Shri.Abanindranath Tagore believed that Western art was "materialistic" in character, and that India needed to return to its own traditions in order to recover spiritual values. Shri.Abanindranath Tagore’s famous painting of BHARAT-MATA was done during the stormy days of the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal in 1905 following the Partition of Bengal brought about by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India. This beautiful painting of BHARAT-MATA was inspired by the sublime National Song of Vande Mataram composed by Shri.Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

Paintining of Bharat-Mata by Shri.Abanindranath Tagore

Shri.Abanindranath Tagore was also a noted writer. He was popularly known as 'Aban Thakur'. He was nephew of the poet Shri. Rabindranath Tagore Shri.Abanindranath Tagore’s students included Nandalal Bose, Kalipada Ghoshal, Surendranath Ganguly, Asit Kumar Haldar, Sarada Ukil, Kshitindranath Majumdar, Samarendranath Gupta, Mukul Dey, K. Venkatappa, Jamini Roy,and Ranada Ukil.

When Sister Nivedita (1867-1911) happened to see the above painting of BHARAT-MATA done by Shri.Abanindranath Tagore in 1905, she was enraptured by it and went into flights of divine ecstasy. She paid the following tribute to Shri. Abanindranath Tagore:

"We have here a picture which bids fair to prove the beginning of a New Age in Indian Art. Using all the added means of expression which the modern period has bestowed upon him, the artist has here given expression nevertheless to a purely Indian idea, in Indian form. The curving line of lotuses and the white radiance of the halo are beautiful additions to the Asiatically-conceived figure with its four arms, as the symbol of the divine multiplication of power. This is the first masterpiece, in which an Indian artist has actually succeeded in disengaging, as it where, the spirit of the Motherland—giver of Faith and Learning, of Clothing and Food,--and portrying HER, as SHE appears to the eyes of HER children. What he sees in HER is here made clear to all of us. Spirit of the Motherland, giver of all good, yet eternally virgin.….The misty lotuses and the white light set HER apart from the common world, as much as the four arms, and HER infinite love. And yet in every detail, of “Shanka” bracelet, and close-veiling garment, of bare feet, and open, sincere expression, is SHE not after all, our very own, heart of our heart, at once MOTHER and DAUGHTER of the INDIAN LAND, even as to the RISHIS OF OLD was USHABALA, IN HER Indian girlhood, daughter of the DAWN?”

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