Vande Mataram would have been the National Anthem, but similar sentiments which are dampening the ‘centenary celebrations’ of the song today led to its designation as the National Song “honored equally with Jana Gana Mana” and having “equal status with it.”

Vande MataramBande Mataram was composed even before the Ananda Math was born. It happened in 1875 when, on a holiday, Bankim boarded a train to his native place, Kantalapada. The train passed into the outskirts of the city and glided through vast tracts of land, wrapped in enchanting green foliage, decked with multifarious flowers, nourished and nurtured by hurrying streams and beautiful lakes and unveiling the bewitching charm of nature in all its splendour. The poet’s heart was thrilled with the vision of his exquisite Mother-the Bharata Mata-and he burst into song.

The song was born. But it had to reach the masses. It took about seven years for Bankim to present it to the people in the ideal setting. In no other setting it would have been more appropriate than in the historic novel, Ananda Math. Bankim had drawn inspiration from the Sannyasi Rebellion (1763-1800).

In school we preferred singing the National Anthem over the Song, not because of some personal or religious reservations, but because Tagore’s composition was easier to our untuned vocal chords, than Bankim Chandra’s.

Many people think differently about this song. Some say that it is the patriotic duty of all Indians to proudly sing the song, whenever they are directed to; others feel that it goes against the principle of their religion. A few like me, say that you can’t beat a feeling into someone, nor does singing a song become the ultimate symbol or display of one’s love for the country one holds the citizenship of. We are not an authoritarian nation, we shouldn’t issue dictates. Religion before nation or nation before religion, the debate will go on.

At the Congress Session in 1896, Rabindranath Tagore sang ‘Bande Mataram’. Later in 1905, Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang ‘Vande Mataram’ in the Benares Congress Session.

And so many composers and singers have had their own renditions ever since. From Ranindranath Tagore to AR Rehman, this song had stirred the creative souls of many and therefore there are more versions of the song than dissenting ideological stances on the song.

This post isn’t about the ‘centenary celebrations,’ it is in celebration of a song (and its multifarious renderings) which has a distinct appeal about it. It is India’s true song of revolution and this post attempts to compile the various colours with which creative Indians (and others) have painted the lyric with (An informative article by Suresh Chandvankar, from the Society of Indian Record Collectors is available here). Whether September 7 is of historic importance or not, is insignificant.

Vande Mataram!
Sujalam, suphalam, malayaja shitalam,
Shasyashyamalam, Mataram!
Shubhrajyotsna pulakitayaminim,
Phullakusumita drumadala shobhinim,
Suhasinim sumadhura bhashinim,
Sukhadam varadam, Mataram!

English translation by Sri Aurobindo (Aurobindo Akroyd Ghose).

I bow to thee, Mother,
richly-watered, richly-fruited,
cool with the winds of the south,
dark with the crops of the harvests,
The Mother!
Her nights rejoicing in the glory of the moonlight,
her lands clothed beautifully with her trees in flowering bloom,
sweet of laughter, sweet of speech,
The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss.

[Click on the links to download / listen]

1. The official version
[MP3 1.06 MB 00:01:09 128kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

2. Rendition by Vishnupant Pagnis. From a 1928 HMV record. The music is set in raag saarang instead of the usual desh. Even the order of the stanzas are different.
[RM 671 KB 00:02:44]

3. Lata Mangeshkar sings in Anand Math (1952). Music by Hemant Kumar.
[MP3 1.26 MB 00:02:46 64kbps Stereo 22kHz]

4. MS Subbulakshmi, sings a Tamil version. Translated by Subramaniam Bharati.
[MP3 5.64 MB 00:06:09 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

5. By Mogubai Kurdikar. From a 1947 78rpm record. Music VD Ambhaikar.
[MP3 1.05 MB 00:01:09 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

6. The Rashtriya Swamsevak Sang (RSS) version.
[MP3 3.84 MB 00:03:20 192kbps Stereo 44kHz]

7. All India Radio’s (AIR) signature tune followed by Vande Mataram (Vividh Bharati).
[RM 209 KB 00:01:47] Link updated

8. Kannada version. Lata Mangeshkar and SP Balasubrahmanyam
[RM 651 KB 00:04:17]

9. SP Balasubrahmanyam again (2003).
[MP3 3.07 MB 00:03:21 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

10. AR Rehman’s Vande Mataram (Revival) from the album Maa Tujhe Salaam celebrating 50 years of India’s Independence.
[MP3 5.27 MB 00:07:39 96kbps Stereo 44kHz]

11. AR Rehman’s heartfelt salute to the motherland. The title track the album Vande MataramMaa Tujhe Salaam.
[MP3 5.66 MB 00:06:11 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

12. That wonderful video from BharatBala Productions. Conceived and directed by Bharatbala and Kanika Myer. Music Ranjit Barot. Vocals Lata Mangeshkar.
[SWF 00:04:53]

13. Some more from Lata’s vocal chords. Music Ranjit Barot.
[MP3 2.46 MB 00:05:
26 64kbps Mono 16kHz

14. Yet more Lata.
[MP3 1.33 MB 00:02:55 64kbps Mono 16kHz]

15. A slowish chorus.
[MP3 969 KB 00:02:04 64kbps Mono 16kHz]

16. Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota’s patriotic pitch.
[MP3 1.35 MB 00:02:57 64kbps Mono 16kHz]

17. A videshi version. A woman, David Mills, sings about love and nature opposite the chorus of children.
[MP3 2.89 MB 00:03:09 128kbps Stereo 44kHz] [Lyrics]

18. An unrecognised version (If you know more about this, please let me know).
[MP3 2.49 MB 00:02:43 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

19. Another unidentified version (Information needed).
[MP3 4.41 MB 00:0 kbps Stereo 44kHz]

20.Instrumental Vande Mataram. Performed by Sachin PK.
[RM 151 KB 00:01:00]

21. Another instrumental. By Ranjan Sharma. Instruments used santoor, sarod, tabla, pakhawaj and tanpura.
[MP3 1.69 MB 00:01:50 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

22. One more instrumental.
[MP3 300 KB 00:00:38 64kbps Mono 16kHz]

23. Seattle 2005. Vocals Anitha Kamath. Acoustic guitar Jay Swaminathan. Lead guitar Prasanna Veeraswamy. Bass Samuel Devasahayam. Keyboard, sax Sanjib Saha. Keyboard, sitar Prasanna Ganapule. Percussion Aashish Shanbhag, Shriram Nanjundaiah. Drums Vivek Venkatachalam.
[MP3 4.32 MB 00:04:43 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

24. From Nirmal Bhakti’s Pure Devotion.
[MP3 3.69 MB 00:04:02 128kbps Stereo 44kHz]

25. Rajan P Parrikar’s rendition. Raag desh.
[RM 261 KB 00:01:03]

26. Recent filmi takes. From Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001). Music Sandesh Shandilya. Vocals Usha Uthup.
[RM 282 KB 00:01:49]

27. And the latest. Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006). Music Shantanu Moitra. Lyrics Swanand Kirkire. Vocals Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, Pranab Biswas.
[MP3 3.69 MB 00:04:01 128kbps Stereo 44kHz] [Lyrics]


28. Pandit Omkarnath Thakur. Sung in raag kafi (1938-39) Thanks Yadbhavishya for the link.
[RA 1.06 MB 00:04:29]

29. From the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) website.
[RAM 92 KB 00:00:59]

30 Aao Bachchon Tumhe Dikhaye from the movie Jagriti (1954). Music Hemant Kumar. Lyrics Pradeep
[MP3 248 KB 00:04:16 8kbps Mono 16 kHz]

Image courtesy: Sony Music India

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