Truth about Vande Mataram: Anand Math wanted Indians to accept British rule
The Sangh Parivar’s diktats on patriotism have received flak from several quarters, with many pointing out that the RSS’s own contribution to India’s freedom was negligible.
It is now being argued that the Sangh’s understand of Vande Mataram is incomplete. Prominent author, dramatist and political commentator Shamsul Islam has suggested that secular forces must ask the BJP to make reading of Anand Math compulsory in schools and colleges. He believes that this book, of which Vande Matram is a part, can be the biggest tool to expose the false claims of the RSS and its affiliates. He also contends that by targeting the Muslims in India, the forces of Hindutva want to present them as 'Neo Shudras', whose status is lower than Dalits.
Islam raised these points at the 'Ajmer Singh Aulakh Memorial Lecture' organised by the People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) in Ludhiana on Sunday. He elaborated on his argument during a conversation with this reporter.
Was Anand Math nationalist?
“The book Anand Math which is referred to as the symbol of Indian nationalism by the RSS and its affiliates, ends with a call for not fighting the British but to accept their rule. There is a dialogue between the militant Sadhus who have overthrown the regime of Mir Jafar and have dealt all sorts of blows to the Muslims and a physician who comes from heaven asking these militant Sadhus to accompany him to the Himalayas. When these Sadhus tell him that their job is half done as they now must defeat the British, this physician tells them that their objective has been achieved and there is no need to fight the British and instead it is time to go to the Himalayas. Now tell me who is anti-national when such a book is propagated as a symbol of Indian nationalism?” Islam says.
He also traced the history of the objections to the singing of Vande Matram, pointing out that not just Muslims, but other communities like Buddhists and Jains have opposed it in the past. He disclosed that the song was seen as a provincial anthem whose first two paragraphs talked about a prosperous land while the remaining four promoted superstition in the form of seven crore people carrying 14 crore swords in the name of Goddess Durga.
“This seven crore was the estimated population of Bengal at that time. The title of the song however became a slogan for those who opposed the division of Bengal in 1905. Over the next 20 years the country saw the rise of communal forces and there was opposition to the singing of the entire song. The Congress had constituted a committee comprising Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who came out with a solution that the first two stanzas of the song would be sung while the latter four would be dropped. They (Sangh Parivar) have always tried to pit it against the national anthem Jana Gana Mana. This is the larger game of the Hindutva politicians,” he said.
Punishment for Muslims
On the issue of the targeting of Muslims, Islam says that it is a punishment being meted out to them by the Brahminical Hindutva forces for having accepted Islam to create equality. “They want to place them as neo-Shudras before the Dalits. They do not believe in the Indian Constitution but Manusmriti,” he told Catch.
He also underlined that the RSS and its affiliates have always tried to pit the saffron flag against the national tricolour while being against the latter right from the beginning. He claims that the RSS mouthpiece Organizer had published an article on August 14, 1947 saying that the tricolour is a 'bad omen' and that Hindus would never accept it.
He also argues that the saffron flag was never a flag of Hindus. “It was the colour of the Peshwas and latter the Ghadari Babas (Ghadarites) of Punjab. But would they claim that they inherited it from the Ghadarites? No,” he says.
Referring to the entire narrative of the RSS and the BJP on their participation in the freedom struggle, he said, “The RSS is the biggest gurukul of telling lies. The term 'doublespeak' is an understatement for the RSS. Their ideologues MS Golwalkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay became whole-timers in 1937 and Lal Krishna Advani joined in 1942. I always challenge them did they ever carry the tricolour during the Quit India movement? Did they give any memorandum to the then government on Jallianwala Bagh massacre? Did they ever stand by Bhagat Singh? Did they ever take up the issue of cow slaughter with the British? Did they participate in any agitation?”
Islam pointed that despite their being opposed to the Quit India movement, several Communists died during them movement for having picked up the tricolour in the face of the British rule.
In his lecture Islam also took on the Congress for allowing the country to reach a state in which it is facing a fascist threat.
At the same time, Islam said that while the Congress and the other regimes in the past at least maintained some pretence of being democratic and wedded to the Constitution, the present regime under Narendra Modi has taken off that mask.
He also said that there is a dual justice system prevailing in the country where those from Upper Castes and the ruling dispensation responsible for perpetrating heinous crimes are given escape routes but the punishment is swift for those from Dalit or minority communities.
Islam further urged Madarsas to adhere to the diktats of the government on unfurling the national tricolur on Independence Day and singing the National Anthem and use the occasion to expose the RSS.
“You must do it to show how the RSS betrayed the national freedom struggle. They are trying to cover the sun by using you as the shields. They must be exposed,” he said.