The third and supreme service of Bankim to his nation was that he gave us the vision of our Mother... It was thirty-two years ago that Bankim wrote his great song and few listened; but in a sudden moment of awakening from long delusions the people of Bengal looked around for the truth, and in a fated moment somebody sang 'Bande Mataram'. The mantra had been given, and in a single day a whole people had been converted to the religion of patriotism”
– Sri Aurobindo, Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Bande Mataram, April 16th, 1907
The demand for Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, fight to save Sabarimala tradition in Kerala, or outrage over discontinuing the tradition of singing Vande Mataram in Madhya Pradesh Secretariat look different issues having emotive appeal for some sections of the society. If you are looking from the narrow lenses of electoral politics, then the picture looks even more obscure and divisive. If we wear the right lenses, then the scene is more clear and integrated. Vande Mataram is not independent of Sri Ram Janmabhoomi and Sabarimala, as all of them together form the Soul of the nation.
Sri Ram Janmabhoomi was never an issue pertaining to just a temple. It was certainly not a Hindu-Muslim issue. The aggression of Babar was on this nation and all sections of the society, irrespective of caste or religion, suffered during that barbaric invasion. The deliberate demolition of the temple in Ayodhya was not just a religious act or plundering wealth, as many eminent historians make us believe as the common practice followed by the then rulers, it was meant to attack the soul of this nation symbolised by Sri Ram, the epitome of the ideal human life on earth. Reconstruction of the temple is not to hurt the Muslims but for eradicating the symbols of barbaric colonialism and resurrecting the ethos of this Rashtra on indigenous values. The tactical and intentional delay through various legal tools is not just frustrating and insulting but also encouraging the mindset that stands for Babar’s barbarism.
The agitation for Saving the Sabarimala Tradition has always been about the concept of unique deity, and diverse traditions of Bharat which cannot be interpreted in the light of the Semitic concept of Gender Equality and Jurisprudence. The Sabarimala temple tradition is a symbol of diversity and indigenous rights of devotees. By forcing the entry of Maoists, who neither believe in the tradition nor the devotees, by portraying them as transgender is not a symbol of a renaissance but is an act of fraudulent revolution against the indigenous faith as we witnessed in the former Soviet Union. This hollow victory of implementing a ‘secular law’ falls flat when it comes to forcing the judgements either in the civil or criminal cases involving the Church in Kerala. The intent is clearly to hurt the tradition of celebrating diversity while realising inherent unity. This core principle that has nurtured this civilisation is under threat in Sabarimala.
The ultimate expression of the Soul of this Nation is ‘Vande Mataram’ which has been not just a political but a national and spiritual Mantra to the people. Though this ‘religion of patriotism’ is the modern expression, the concept of Motherland and reverence to this sacred geography symbolised as the mother is a civilisational value of Bharat since time immemorial. None of the Muslims who sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle did find anything anti-Islamic in this national slogan and song. It was the Muslim League leaders who raised this issue since 1909, and by the time Congress under pressure from fundamentalists accepted the deletion of last three stanzas of the great patriotic song, it sowed the seeds of Partition. If some people are objecting to the first two stanzas as well, then they are looking for the withering away of this nation.
The political parties and powers have changed, but this cradle of civilisation must survive. The call for Ram Mandir, saving Sabarimala tradition and singing Vande Mataram is for this soul of this Nation.