The Mother of the Vaishnav Nation in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath: Construction and Worship
Dr. Nakul Kundra is Assistant Professor of English at DAV University, Jalandhar, Punjab, India. He completed his PhD from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and has been teaching at DAV University for the last six years. India's experimental and avant-garde counterculture appeals to him the most for its potentiality as a research topic in the field of Indian Writing.
The first part of the article takes into account some prominent scholars’ opinions about the origin of the deification of one’s land of birth and briefly studies how this sanctification acts as an emotive metanarrative that arouses and strengthens the sentiment of nationalism in Anandamath, which is called a fable by Tagore (Anand 12). In the novel, collective faith in the godly Mother fosters psycho-spiritual unity and fraternity among the devotees/Children of the Mother, and these religious-minded Children from varying social strata form a Vaishnav nation. The second part of the article touches on the controversial journey of “Vande Mataram”, a song in praise of the Mother, since its publication in Anandamath. The phrase ‘Vande Mataram’, credited to the Children’s song in Anandamath, inspired many an Indian to join the freedom struggle in the twentieth century, though the idea of the collective consciousness of all Indians is missing in the song and its source novel.
Key Words: Vaishnav nation, goddess, Bengali nation
In Anandamath1, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee constructs an ethnic nation2 which is grounded in the metanarrative of the Mother. The Vaishnavs3 consider themselves to be the Children of the motherland, “the very essence of Vishnu’s earthly form” (Chatterjee 169), in the novel, and they have such a strong relationship with the divine Mother4 that her safety becomes the prime motive of their lives. The hermit nationalists “recognize no other mother” (145) and make a nation based on their ethnic understanding and common collective cause.
Carl Gustav Jung opines that the archetypal mother is a part of the collective unconscious of all human beings (81). The mother archetype like other archetypes can appear under an almost infinite variety of forms and facets. It is often associated with the things and places that stand for fertility and fruitfulness. It can be personified in a figurative sense also. The primordial image of the generative and sustaining mother figure is a source of emotional support and spiritual nourishment. Various Jungian students such as Erich Newmann have claimed that such mother imagery makes the basis of many mythologies and precedes the image of the paternal ‘father’. This archetypal mother recurs in different forms in literature, and the divine Mother in Anandamath is a characteristic example of this mother archetype.
In the Indian context, Bankim was not the first one to conceive and express the idea of one’s land of birth as the great Mother. Many scholars have attempted to trace the roots of the concept that probably dates back to the time period when The Ramayana was composed. Pradip Bhattacharya in his article “The Problem of Janani Janmabhumischa in Anand Math” throws light on the history of the glorification of and correlation between the land and the mother. He says that the occurrence of the Sanskrit Shloka- ‘Janani Janmabhumischa svargadapi gariyasi (One’s mother and birthland are greater than heaven itself)’ is usually attributed to The Ramayana5. But, he argues, none of our epics shows any evidence of the concept of motherland. This attribution of the saying to Rama is “anachronistic and apocryphal”, as any clear-cut and indubitable reference to the origin of the concept is not traceable. He leaves the argument open-ended: “Is it then a folk memory of an anonymously composed masterpiece of a Shloka born of patriotic fervor?” However, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya asserts that the saying ‘Janani Janmabhumischa svargadapi gariyasi’ “occurred in the version of Valmiki’s Ramayana current in Bengal” (78).
According to Amiya P. Sen, the personification of the native land as the Mother/the goddess lies buried in far older Hindu philosophical concepts and imagery. In classical Indian literature, comparisons “had been commonly drawn between the procreative woman and fertile, bountiful nature” (99). He adds, “There are even glimpses of a ‘Bharat Mata’ in Sanskrit texts going back to the fifth-sixth century C.E.” (99). He further writes that “Prior to Bankim, the reference to one’s place of birth as the Mother occurs in at least two poems of Madhusudan Dutt - Banga Bhumir Proti (An Ode to the Land of Bengal) and Birbahu Kavya (The Saga of Birbahu), published in 1862 and 1864, respectively” (100). Tanika Sarkar draws our attention to a play named Bharatmata of 1873. In this play, a dejected, pale and broken woman, who is stripped of all her possessions, is presented. This woman, symbolically the Motherland, weeps and dejectedly speaks her mind. Some white men abuse and kick her while her sons keep on sleeping. In the ending, a good sahib appears and “promises her that another Mother, the British Queen, would bring her woes to an end” (3965). Sarkar says, “What Anandamath does is to dramatize and transfigure the image of abjection into a lustrous, powerful deity” (3965).
S. K. Bose says that the productive and plentiful earth is often linked to “the quality of Motherland in the ancient texts” (79). But Bankim, perhaps, has moved a step ahead by conceiving the idea of mother in the form of goddess Durga and “in terms of modern patriotic spirit” (79). Before the publication of Anandamath, it was perhaps Satyendra Nath Tagore, elder brother of Rabindra Nath Tagore, who adumbrated a similar idea in the song (1867) which begins as- “Children of India, sing together and in complete unison the glory that India is”. In this song, India is described as ‘Mother of Heroes’. Bose adds:
The rudiments of the composition might have been present in some other contemporary compositions as well. But all these were apparently in vague and general terms without the inspiring, exhilarating, quality of the tangible, perceptible, image-making of the Mother of Bankim’s conception. (79-80)
Julius Lipner says, “[T]he concept of ‘motherland’ may be fairly recent one, but that of ‘birthland’ is not. For instance, the expression occurs in the Harivamsa, an important and lengthy appendix to the other great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata (ca. 400 BCE-400 CE)” (242). According to S. C. Sengupta, the portrayal of the Mother in Bankim’s novel might have been inspired by the Delphic Priesthood6, a secret society that strove for the independence and unification of Italy in the early nineteenth century (55).
In the novel, Satyananda Thakur shows an enchanting figure in the lap of Vishnu to Mahendra and then leads him inside the Anandamath. There are three images of the Mother in the abbey. These images depict the Mother’s past, present and future. The Mother-as-she-was:
There he (Mahendra) saw a beautiful image of the Goddess as Bearer of the earth, perfectly formed and decorated with every ornament.
Satyananda says, “She who subdued the wild beasts such as the elephant and lion underfoot and set up her lotus throne in their dwelling place. She was happy and beautiful, adorned with every ornament, radiant as the risen sun and full of majesty. Prostrate yourself before her.” (Chatterjee 149-150)
“Yes Kali”, said the monk. “Blackened and shrouded in darkness. She has been robbed off everything; that is why she is naked. And because the whole land is burning-ground, she is garlanded with skulls. And she’s crushing her own gracious Lord7 underfoot. Alas, dear mother.”
The tears streamed down the monk’s face. Mahendra asked, “Why has she a club8 and begging-bowl in her hands?”
“We are her Children, and that’s all we could put in her hands as weapons”, said the monk. (150)
The Mother-as-she-will be:
Mahendra saw a golden ten-armed image of the Goddess in a large marble shrine glistening and smiling in the early morning rays.
Prostrating himself, the monk said, “And this is the Mother-as-she-will-be. Her ten arms reach out in ten directions, adorned with various powers in the form of the different weapons she holds, the enemy crushed at her feet, while the mighty lion who has taken refuge there is engaged in destroying the foe. Behold her whose arms are the directions”— here Satyananda’s voice broke down and he began to weep— “whose arms are the directions, who holds various weapons and crushes the enemy and roams on the lordly lion’s back, who has Lakshmi personifying good fortune on her right, and the goddess of speech who bestows wisdom and learning on her left, with Kartikeya signifying strength and Ganesh good success, in attendance! Come, let us prostrate our- selves before the Mother”. (150)
Then with folded hands and upturned faces both cried out in unison: “You who are blessed above all good things, the gracious one, who bring all things to fruition, our refuge— Trymbaka, Gauri, Narayani— salutations to you.”9 (150-151)
The female figure in the lap of Vishnu is a representation of the Mother. The Mother in the past is “Jagaddhatri, the goddess of agriculture, who cleared the forests and tamed wild beasts. Kali, the second goddess, denoted the lapse from production and civilization, she marked the time of reversion to the jungles” (Sarkar 3966). She sprang from Durga’s head and defeated Durga's enemy Mahishasura. The Mother in the form of Kali is naked and garlanded with skulls because the earth is impoverished under the chaotic rule and has become a cremation ground. The Mother-as-she-will be, the third image, is Durga. In Hinduism, Durga represents the empowering and protective nature of motherhood. Her ten arms are well-weaponed and spread in ten directions; they indicate her strong influence. With the lion as her steed, she is engaged in demolishing Asura or the demon representing the forces of evil. Lakshmi and Saraswati, her two daughters, represent wealth and learning respectively, and Ganesha and Kartikeya, her two sons, symbolize success and strength respectively. Thus, the image of Durga represents a happy and prosperous people. The images of the goddesses bestow divinity upon the land through its deification and the bond between the land and its inhabitants is the one between a mother and her children, and a goddess and her devotees. It is a befitting example of how a national culture is often “invented”10 (Hobsbawm and Ranger) and how a nation is, as Benedict Anderson put it, “imagined”.
The narrative of one’s birthland as the Mother is an emotive construct11, and such a metanarrative “can play an extremely important role vis-à-vis the establishment of a particular ideological position in a work of fiction” (Hawthorn 208). The Children in the novel have developed a psycho-spiritual connection with one another and the land through the discourse of the Vaishnav Bengali nationalism. When Bhabananda sings the song in praise of the Mother and refers to the land as his Mother, Mahendra casts doubt: “But that’s our land, not a mother!” (Chatterjee 145). Later on, Satyananda shows three images of the Mother to Mahendra, and these images arouse emotions in Mahendra. The religious colours given to the Mother— “on Vishnu’s lap sat an enchanting image” (149) – appeal to his traditional mindset, which is shaped or conditioned in a society in which religion, gods and goddesses are a ‘supernatural’ reality. In the novel, conditioning plays a significant role in the construction of nationalism through “a self-designating shared belief” (Grosby 10).
People of different castes and classes may hail from the same land, but the Children, who are essentially Vaishnav, believe that only they are the Children of the Mother embodied in the land. On the other hand, the land is just a physical or material entity for the Muslims in the novel. Besides, the Muslim king is cruel and oppressive. Bhabananda asks rhetorically, “[B]ut does our Muslim king protect us?” (147).Thus the Mother, the province of Bengal, is to be freed from the Muslims, who are non-conformists and against whom a collective consciousness among the Children is raised through the “cultural practice” of “worshipping” “at Vishnu’s lotus-feet” (Chatterjee 188). The novel is focused on the sentiment of nationalism which has taken birth out of the Children’s keen desire of making Bengal a Vaishnav nation by eradicating the Muslims and uniting all Vaishnav “brothers”.
…Jnanananda cried out in a loud voice, ‘For a long time we have been wanting to smash the nest of these weaver-birds, to raze the city of these Muslim foreigners, and throw it into the river- to burn the enclosure of these swine and purify Mother Earth again! Brothers, that day has come! (169)
The identification of “feeling of togetherness” or “collective self-consciousness”12 among the Children outlines the psycho-spiritual concept of the Vaishnav Bengali nation, which differentiates “us” from “them” (Grosby 10), i.e. the Vaishnavs from the Muslims of Bengal in the novel. Notably, religion and regime are interlinked to develop the theme of nationalism in the novel.
The desire of making Bengal a state of the Bengali Vaishnav nation conforms to the view that “nations are not just unified by culture; they are unified by a sense of purpose: controlling the territory that the members of the group believe to be theirs” (Barrington 713). After winning the battle, Satyananda says, “So proclaim santan13 rule in Barendrabhumi, collect taxes from our subjects and assemble an army to conquer the city. When people hear that Hindus are ruling, many soldiers will gather under the santan’s banner” (Chatterjee 212). And “[e]veryone said that the Muslims had been defeated and the land was the Hindus’ once more! Let all cry “Hari” freely now!” (214). The Bengali Muslims also make a claim to the nation-state of Bengal; although the northern Bengal is not now under the Muslim control, yet none of the Muslims admits it (219). Thus, the claim on a nation-state is not only physical but also psychological. This reminds us of Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines and Saadat Hasan Manto’s “Toba Tek Singh”.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee always used writing for social purpose and his Anandamath is its characteristic example. The novel is “no ordinary novel; it is a novel with a purpose” (Bose 76). The image of the Mother in the novel puts across the message of “the deliverance of the Motherland” (76). Thus, the Mother with her divine attributes is not only a creation but also a construction by the author. Tagore has beautifully differentiated ‘construction’ from ‘creation’ in the following words: “Construction is for a purpose, it expresses our wants; but creation is for itself, it expresses our very being. We make a vessel because water has to be fetched. It must answer the question why. But when we take infinite trouble to give it a beautiful form, no reason has to be assigned” (471). The Mother as a construction exemplifies ‘art for society’s sake’.
The phrase ‘Vande Mataram’ (‘Hail the Mother’/ ‘Mother, I bow to thee!’ ), attributed to the Children’s song in Anandamath, acted as a clarion call to Indians to join the freedom struggle in the twentieth century; it is said that “Bankim’s contribution to Indian nationalism was not so much by way of a virulent anti-British/anti-colonial sentiment as by making fellow Bengalis and generally, all Indians, more self-conscious as a people” (Sen 93-4). However, in the novel, Bankim’s focus is not on a pan-India identity15 but the Vaishnav nation in Bengal16; the song “Vande Mataram” originally carried provincial17 sentiments. Sri Aurobindo described the song as ‘the national anthem of Bengal’ and Henry Cotton, an ex-member of the Bengal Civil Service, pointed out that the song was essentially a hymn to Bengal as the mother (Das 222-3). “…[T]he opening lines of Bande Mataram describe the green cornfields of Bengal and not the sandy and mountainous regions of Rajasthan or that it refers to seven crores of Bengalis rather than to thirty or forty crores of Indians” (Sengupta 35).
“Vande Mataram” is an invocation to the Mother, a personification of the motherland, who gives “joy and gifts in plenty” (Chatterjee 145). The Mother is blessed with the beauties and bounties of nature- “Rich in waters”, “Rich in fruit”, “Cooled by the southern airs”, “Verdant with the harvest fair”, “With nights that thrill in the light of the moon” and “Radiant with foliage and flowers in bloom” (145-6). She has all the gifts which are necessary for a people to be happy and prosperous. Bankim pays homage to the land as the Mother and glorifies not only her feminine attributes of beauty and productivity but also her defensive strength. He says that the Mother’s power lies in her “Seventy million” Children with “sharpened swords” (145). The Mother and the Children are identified with each other; the Mother is the “wisdom”, “law”, “heart”, “soul”, “breath” and “strength” of her Children (145). She is allegorically represented as Durga and Lakshmi; she symbolizes virulent strength, beauty and prosperity. The mixed Bengali and Sanskrit diction of “Vande Mataram” makes the song enchanting and enthralling. The rhythmic quality of the composition leaves an everlasting impression on the mind; its intense music soothes as well as inspires.
In Anandamath, the song acts as an effective tool of arousing the sentiment of nationalism among the Children; its lyrical aspect makes it more appealing and emotional. The Children have been psychologically conditioned to place their faith in the “self-designating shared belief” (Grosby 10); they feel a sense of unity through the idea of the “collective” Mother. It is a befitting example of how a nation is “imagined” (Anderson) on the basis of “ethnicity” (Smith). In the novel, as it has already been stated, Bankim’s idea of the Mother is confined to the province of Bengal, as the Mother’s strength lies with “Seventy Millions” (Sapta Koti), the approximate population of the then Bengal (Malkani 44); it further enfolds only the Vaishnavs if its meaning is not symbolically deciphered.
“Vande Mataram” was originally written to fill up a blank page of Bangadarshan around 1875, but “a cold and adverse observation of the proofreader so annoyed” (Das 214) Bankim that he refrained from publishing it at that time and incorporated it into Anandamath after some years. It is notable that neither Anandamath nor “Vande Mataram” gained currency during the life-time of Bankim, who once disappointedly said, “Of what use is my writing Anandamath or even your attempting to understand its underlying message…I see no future for a self-seeking and greatly disunited people such as Bengali. Instead of the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’ (‘I bow to thee Mother’), let us cry ‘Vande Udaram’ (‘Glory to the Belly’)” (qtd. in Sen 105-6). Although the song attracted the attention of several writers and critics, yet it failed to receive extraordinary appreciation during the life-time of Bankim.
It inspired a picture of Mother India by Harishchandra Haldar which was printed in 1885 in a journal called Balak. In 1886 Hemchandra Banerji wrote a poem, ‘Rakhi Bandhan’, wherein he included the first two stanzas of Vandemataram. Hemchandra hailed it as the song of the people of India. (Das 215)
However, the song became popular suddenly around 1905.
The song was sung at the Congress sessions twice, first by Rabindranath Tagore in 1896 and subsequently by his niece Sarala Debi Chaudhurani in 1905. In October 1905, a society named ‘Vandemataram Samprasay’ was founded in Calcutta. It organized several processions in which the song was sung by hundreds of young men (217). Its branches in Dacca and Navadwip helped the song spread far and wide. “All of a sudden the word ‘Vandemataram’ became prestigious and captivating; it was chosen as title of books and newspapers and organizations. In September 1905 appeared Vandemataram, a collection of patriotic songs, and in August 1906 the famous English daily Vandemataram, under the editorship of Aurobindo” (217). In 1908, when Vinayak Damodar Sarkar (1883-1966), the first Indian revolutionary to give a nationalist interpretation of the armed revolt of 1857, and Hardayal, a Delhi born revolutionary, organized the golden jubilee celebration of the 1857 revolt in London, they printed the phrase ‘Vandemataram’ on the invitation cards and the function was inaugurated with the song “Vande Mataram” (218). During Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement, there was an upsurge in the popularity of the song (220). The slogan ‘Vandemataram’ became a rallying cry during the freedom struggle of India. Many people were enthusiastically ready to sacrifice their lives in the name of ‘Vandemataram’.
On the whole, the Muslims in India are antagonistic towards “Vande Mataram”, as Anandamath in which the song appeared is said to carry an anti-Muslim spirit and the references to the goddesses in the song are against Islam’s doctrine of monotheism.
Urging the Muslims not to use ‘Vandemataram’ as a slogan, a handout called ‘Lal Istahar’ (The Red Pamphlet) was issued during a riot in East Bengal in 1906-7 (220). The following opinion was expressed in a Bengali journal named Islam Darshan in 1920: “‘The only and supreme Allah’s kalima Allah-o-Akbar when combined with the Hindus’ anthem to mother India, Vande Mataram’ was found objectionable- it was ‘pushing the Muslims towards idolatry (kaufr)’” (qtd. in S. Bhattacharya 28). In the Calcutta riots of 1921, ‘Vandemataram’ was used as a slogan by the Hindus, probably for the first time, against the Muslim rioters and from this time onwards ‘Vandemataram’ began to be used as the war-cry of the Hindu fanatics (Das 220). Chiefly due to the Muslim resistance to the song, the working committee of the Indian National Congress selected a sub-committee including Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Narendra Dev to survey all the current national songs and “to seek the advice of Tagore in finally selecting a song as the national anthem” (221).
Tagore was aware that the references to the goddess Durga in the song could offend monotheists. So, only the first two stanzas were acceptable to him. Tagore could not sympathize with the sentiments in the latter stanzas. Thus, he was in favour of singing the first two stanzas of “Vande Mataram”. He wrote:
To me the spirit of tenderness and devotion expressed in its (the song’s) first portion, the emphasis it gave to the beautiful and beneficial aspects of our motherland made special appeal so much so that I found no difficulty in dissociating from the rest of the poem, and from those portions of the book of which it is a part. (qtd. 221)
Apparently with a view to setting the controversy at rest, the committee, after much deliberations on the issue, recommended “the singing of the first two stanzas only of the Vande Mataram song” in 1937 (Bose 88). It is said that the song was given considerable importance because it was associated with and used by freedom fighters, such as Bismil, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and Ashfaqullah Khan, and not because of its incidental association with Anandamath. In 1938, Mohammad Ali Jinnah demanded that the song must be given up by the Congress. He wrote to Nehru: “Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru cannot be unaware that Muslims all over have refused to accept the Vande Mataram or any expurgated edition of the anti-Muslim song as a binding National Anthem” (qtd. in S. Bhattacharya 39).
At the same time, many monotheists were of the opinion that the song was neither idolatrous nor anti-Muslim. Mr. Rezaul Karim, a veteran writer and Congress leader of Bengal, strongly refuted the allegation that Bankim despised the Muslims and that “Vande Mataram” itself was idolatrous (Bose 88). According to him, the song did not signify what was known in Arabic as Ebadat or the worship of God but the worship of the motherland. Islam, in his views, did not bar conceiving one’s motherland as the Mother, the image which had already been portrayed by several Arabic and Persian poets (88). Besides, Ramananda Chatterjee, a Brahmo by faith, was a monotheist and against idolatry. He also found the song to be “neither idolatrous nor anti-Muslim” (S. Bhattacharya 38). However, there is no denying that the Muslim League persistently opposed the song till the division of India into India and Pakistan.
Ray suggests that the goddess imagery in the song is symbolic of certain qualities-‘pursuit of creative energy, wealth and prosperity, knowledge and enlightenment, devotion and dedication, and so on’- Bankim wanted his countrymen to inculcate. Bankim’s idea of ‘Anushilan Dharma’ also carries the spirit of humanism. On the other side, Irfan Ahmed criticizes the anti-Muslim spirit of Anandamath and finds fault with the spirit of nationalism in it. He says, “A nationalism which deliberately stigmatizes Muslims as ‘swine’ and ‘the other’ can by no means be an inclusive nationalism uniting under its fold the diverse communities that inhabit this country” (30).
In 2006, Maulana Mahmood Madani (the general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, an important Islamic organization in India) said, “No Muslim can sing ‘Vande Mataram’ if he considers himself to be a true believer.” Then in 2009, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind issued a fatwa against the singing of Vande Mataram in Deoband. In July 2017, the Madras High Court ordered that the “Vande Mataram” song must be played and sung once a week in all educational institutions and once a month in all other institutions, including workplaces like factories and offices in Tamil Nadu. The high court’s ruling raised protests from many circles. In July 2019, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea seeking a direction to the Centre to treat “Vande Mataram” on a par with “Jana Gana Mana”, the national anthem of India.
1 For the present study, I have chosen the Oxford edition of Anandamath, translated by Julius J. Lipner. All subsequent references from this source will include the writer’s surname and page number.
2 Nation is a tightly knit large group of people who are psychologically united with one another through some homogeneity of their culture. “In Bankim’s conception, Santan resistance has some mass appeal, for, in one of the several encounters with the Yavanas, they are shown to have the support of no less than ten thousand men” (Sen 60). Another similar example of this is the fair: “Usually more than a lakh of people gathered at the fair. However, since this was now the Vaishnav’s domain, surely they would attend with great show” (Chatterjee 219). In the battlefield, “twenty five thousand santans like the torrent of an ocean” fought. (225)
3 Vaishnavs worship the Hindu god Vishnu in his various forms and incarnations.
4 Against the European rationalism.
5 “After conquering Lanka, Rama was supposed to have been asked by his half-brother, Laksmana, to stay on and rule the island. Rama answered: ‘I would not want to, Laksmana, even if Lanka were made of gold. One’s mother and birthland are greater than heaven itself’” (Lipner 241).
6 “The Delphic Priest, the patriotic priest, the priest militant, spoke thus: ‘My mother has the sea for her mantle, high mountains for her sceptre,’ and when asked who his mother was, replied: ‘The lady with the dark tresses, whose gifts are beauty, wisdom, and formerly, strength; whose dowry is a flourishing garden, full of fragrant flowers, where bloom the olive and the vine, and who now groans, stabbed to the heart’. (The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries by C. W. Heckethorn, London, 1897, Vol. II. P. 188)” (Sengupta 55).
7 “The god Shiva, in familiar iconic form. But this can also be translated, ‘well-being’” (Lipner 150).
8 “Probably in the shape of a skull” (Lipner 150).
9 “The Goddess, as Shakti or inherent power of the Godhead; here she transcends sectarian divisions” (Lipner 151).
10 The Mother ‘invented’ by Chatterjee was inspired by the writer’s socio-cultural contexts. The first mother in Bankim’s sequence is Jagaddhatri and “the annual worship of Jagaddhatri had been introduced in Bengal as late as the 18th century by the leading conservative Hindu King Krishanchandra Raya of Krishnagore” (Sarkar 3966). Besides, the manifestations of Durga and Kali, the concrete images of the Mother, have roots in the Shiv-Shakti model of Hinduism. Indian Philosophy consists of three organic models of man-woman relationship: 1. The Brahma- Maya Model 2. The Purusha-Prakriti Model 3. The Shiva-Shakti Model. The Shiva-Shakti Model of Shakta philosophy refers to a form of life where woman’s position is strong and pronounced (Agrawal 50). The central thesis is that the world is produced by the female element. Shiva is also considered as the form of Shakti. Here woman is considered the mother of everything. She is neither inert nor like an animal but living and intelligent. She is not an object of enjoyment but like a man, she is an enjoyer, an agent (51). She is not an obstruction to liberation, but an aid in liberating the self.
11 “The child’s body is made of flesh and blood of the mother, likewise grains, water, air, and vegetation produced in the motherland create the bodies of its inhabitants. Therefore, it is natural for the inhabitants to deem their country as the motherland” (Chaubey 50).
12 Grosby opines that the mind of the individual develops within various socio-cultural contexts, such as family and educational institutions. One attains an understanding of ‘self’ amid such contexts. For example, a child learns its native language and participates in ‘the same evolving tradition’. When such traditions “that make up part of one’s self-conception are shared by other individuals as part of their self-conception, one is then both related to those other individuals, and aware of the relation. The relation itself, for example living in the same geographical area or speaking a common language, is what is meant by the term ‘collective consciousness’” (9).
13 ‘Santan’ means ‘The Children’ in Hindi.
14 ‘Bande Mataram’ according to Bengali script.
15 It is indirectly shown that India was not a nation at that time as the English employed “the highly trained, well-equipped and very powerful Indian and foreign Company troops” (Chatterjee 190) against the Children of Bengal. In the novel, the idea of collective consciousness is confined to only Bengali Vaishnavs.
16 The territory of the then-Bengal included modern West Bengal, Bangladesh and parts of Assam, Odissa, Bihar and Jharkhand.
17 It doesn’t mean that Bankim was essentially provincial in his outlook. S.K. Bose tells us that Bankim had a “keen all-India awareness” (102). “Consciousness of India as a whole burns bright many of his works. The essay ‘Bharat Kalanka’ (Vividha Prabandha I) may be said to represent the gist of his thinking on the matter. Herein he attributes the country’s downfall to the absence of the ideas of nationalism and political independence in India…In another essay, Bangadarshaner Patra Suchana, he stresses the urgency of uniting mind and effort among the great variety of races and language groups constituting India…In a letter written to S. C. Mukherji in 1872 he says: ‘There is no hope for India until the Bengali and the Punjabi understand and influence each other and can bring their joint influence to bear upon the Englishman’… Historical studies being the most effective means of stirring up national consciousness, Bankim regrets the lack of a correct history of India, that is, Indian history from the Indian point of view, as much as he regrets the lack of a true history of Bengal…In Dharmatattwa (Chapter 24) the preceptor warns that India must not imitate the aggressive patriotism of the west but balance patriotism with universalism...” (102-3).
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