Bande Mataram

  • In the 1870s, about 35 km North of Calcutta, on the banks of the Hoogly where the Malik Ghat is, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, deputy collector of Jessore under the British government, sat in an ivory-hued house and wrote Bande Mataram (I pray/bow down to thee, Mother).
  • This poetic identification with Bengal, written in Bengali and Sanskrit, was inspired by the Sanyasi Rebellion of the late 18th century and the rebellion of 1857 — both against the East India Company. While the former took place in Murshidabad and Baikunthpur forests of Jalpaiguri, the Mutiny was in Meerut.
  • First published in his magazine Bangadarshan to fill up a blank page, the poem eventually ended up becoming one of the significant highlights of the Bengal Renaissance and also found itself in Chattopadhyay’s seminal book Anand Math — written after three famines ravaged Bengal.
  • The story was that of the Fakir Sanyasi Rebellion and described a group of monks that fought the British.
  • A sweet sounding, hymn-like melody from the Malhar family, the ascent of the composition first found a taker in Rabindranath Tagore, who sang it in the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress, thus turning it into a rallying cry for the days leading up to Independence. Lata Mangeshkar sang it in the 1952 film Anandmath and singer Hemant Kumar’s debut composition became earmarked as one of the finest pieces of compositions in Indian cinema, reaching people via radio and 72 RPMs.


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