Bharat Mata (Bhārat Mātā, Mother India in English) is a national personification of India (Bharat[1]) as a mother goddess. Bharat Mata is commonly depicted dressed in a red or saffron-coloured sari and holding a national flag; she sometimes stands on a lotus and is accompanied by a lion.[2]

Bharat Mata
Other namesMother India
AffiliationBhudevi, Hindu goddesses Durga and Kali
SymbolsRed or saffron-colored sari, national flag, lotus, lion
TemplesFew temples in India, first inaugurated in Varanasi in 1936 by Mahatma Gandhi
An Illustration of Bharat Mata

The word Bharat Mata dates to late 19th century Bengal in modern literature. She reached a wide audience in the popular Bengali language-novel Anandamath (1882) in a form inseparable from the Hindu goddesses Durga and Kali. After the controversial division of Bengal province in 1905, she was given wider notice during the boycott of British-made goods organized by Sir Surendranath Bannerjee.[3] In numerous protest meetings, she appeared in the rallying cry Vande Mataram (I bow to the mother).

Bharat Mata was painted as a four-armed goddess by Abanindranath Tagore in 1904 in the style associated with the Bengal School of Art but can be largely attributed to Hinduism pauranik vedic descriptions of carioys Goddess power which are manifestations of one supreme goddess and this painting is displayed in the Victoria Memorial Museum in Kolkata. By the late-19th century, maps of India produced by the British Raj, and based on the Great Trigonometrical Survey, had become widely available. With the background of a map, Bharat Mata appeared on the cover of the poet Subramania Bharati's Tamil language-magazine Vijaya in 1909. In the decades following, she appeared throughout India in popular art—in magazines, posters, and calendars—becoming a symbol of Indian nationalism.

There are a handful of Bharat Mata temples in India. The first such was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in Varanasi in 1936. The temple has a large relief map of India sculpted in marble on its floor but originally lacked a murti or cult image statue. A wall displays a poem written for the inauguration by the nationalist Hindi language-poet Maithili Sharan Gupt and proclaiming the temple to be open to all castes and religions. Most visitors to the temple are foreign tourists.[4] Indian Muslims have opposed chanting her name because human forms cannot be deified in Islam.

History edit

Cover of a 1909 issue of the Tamil magazine Vijaya showing "Bharat Mata" (Mother India) with her diverse progeny and the rallying cry "Vande Mataram".

The image of Bharat Mata formed with the Indian independence movement of the late 19th century. A play by Kiran Chandra Banerjee, Bharat Mata, was first performed in 1873. The play, set during the 1770 Bengal famine, depicts a woman and her husband who go to the forest and encounter rebels. A priest takes them to a temple where they are shown Bharat Mata. Thus they are inspired and lead a rebellion which results in the defeat of the British.[5] The Manushi magazine story traces origin to a satirical work Unabimsa Purana or The Nineteenth Purana by Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay which was first published anonymously in 1866.[6] Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in 1882 wrote a novel Anandamath and introduced the hymn "Vande Mātaram",[7][8] which soon became the song of the emerging freedom movement in India. As the British Raj created cartographic shape of India through the Geological Survey of India, the Indian nationalist developed it into an icon of nationalism.[9]

In the 1920s, it became a more political image, sometimes including images of Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh. The Tiranga flag was also started being included during this period. In 1930s, the image entered in religious practice. The Bharat Mata temple was built in Varanasi in 1936 by Shiv Prashad Gupt and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. This temple does not have any statuary but only a marble relief of the map of India.[6] Bipin Chandra Pal elaborated its meaning in idealizing and idealist terms, along with Hindu philosophical traditions and devotional practices. It represented an archaic spiritual essence, a transcendental idea of Universe as well as expressing Universal Hinduism and nationhood.[10]

Abanindranath Tagore portrayed Bharat Mata as a four-armed Hindu goddess wearing saffron-colored robes, holding the manuscripts, sheaves of rice, a mala, and a white cloth.[11] The image of Bharatmata was an icon to create nationalist feeling in Indians during the freedom struggle. Sister Nivedita, an admirer of the painting, opined that the picture was refined and imaginative, with Bharatmata standing on green earth and blue sky behind her; feet with four lotuses, four arms meaning divine power; white halo and sincere eyes; and gifts Shiksha-Diksha-Anna-Bastra of the motherland to her children.[12]

The relief map of India as Bharat Mata, carved out of marble at Bharat Mata Mandir, Varanasi

Indian Independence activist Subramania Bharati saw Bharat Mata as the land of Ganga. He identified Bharat Mata as Mahadevi.[13] He also says that he has got the Darśana of Bharat Mata during his visit with his guru Sister Nivedita.[citation needed]

Significance edit

A Bharathamatha statue at Kanyakumari, or Cape Comorin, the southern-most coast of India

In the book Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India, Kalyani Devaki Menon argues that "the vision of India as Bharat Mata has profound implications for the politics of Hindu nationalism" and that the depiction of India as a Hindu goddess implies that it is not just the patriotic but also the religious duty of all Hindus to participate in the nationalist struggle to defend the nation.[14] This association has caused controversy with devout Muslims, whose belief in the oneness of God keeps them from assigning divinity to any god other than Allah.[15][16][17][18]

The motto Bharat Mata ki Jai ("Victory for Mother India") is used by the Indian Army.[19] In contemporary colloquial usage, however, the expression is analogous to "Long live Mother India" or "Salute to Mother India." (See also Jai Hind.) Muslim-majority Indonesia's several dozen national armed units also use Hindu-origin Sanskrit language mottoes, including the National Armed Forces,[20] Army, Navy, for example the Indonesian Air Force's motto Swabhuana Paksa ("Wings of The Motherland") and the Indonesian National Police's motto Rastra Sewakottama ("Nation's main servants").[21]

Temples edit

Varanasi edit

The Bharat Mata Temple is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus in Varanasi.[22] The temple houses a marble idol of Bharat Mata along with a marble relief map of India.[22][23]

The Temple, a gift from the nationalists Shiv Prasad Gupta and Durga Prasad Khatri, was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.[22] Mahatma Gandhi said, "I hope this temple, which will serve as a cosmopolitan platform for people of all religions, castes, and creeds including Harijans, will go a great way in promoting religious unity, peace, and love in the country."[24]

Bharat Mata at Jatiya Shaktipeeth, Kolkata

Haridwar edit

The temple was founded by Swami Satyamitranand on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar. It has 8 storeys and is 180 feet tall.[25] It was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi in 1983.[25] Floors are dedicated to mythological legends, religious deities, freedom fighters and leaders.[25]

Kolkata edit

The temple is located in Michael Nagar on Jessore Road, barely 2 km away from the Kolkata Airport. Here, Bharat Mata is portrayed through the image of "Jagattarini Durga". This was inaugurated on October 19, 2015 (Mahashashti Day of Durga Puja that year)[26] by Keshari Nath Tripathi, the Governor of West Bengal. The initiative to build the temple, which has been named Jatiya Shaktipeeth, was taken by the Spiritual Society of India in order to mark the 140th anniversary of "Vande Mataram".

Kurukshetra edit

In July 2019, the Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, granted 5 acre land near Mahabharta-era Jyotisar tirth to the "Bharat Mata Trust" of "Juna Akhara" to construct the next temple of Bharat Mata.[27]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ McGregor, R. S. (1993). "bhārat". Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Visualizing space in Banaras: images, maps, and the practice of representation, Martin Gaenszle, Jörg Gengnagel, illustrated, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-447-05187-3
  3. ^ "History lesson: How 'Bharat Mata' became the code word for a theocratic Hindu state".
  4. ^ Singh, Ramendra (April 3, 2016), "A day in the life of Bharat Mata Mandir, Varanasi: Idol chatter", Indian Express, retrieved October 17, 2021
  5. ^ "Far from being eternal, Bharat Mata is only a little more than 100 years old".
  6. ^ a b Roche, Elizabeth (17 March 2016). "The origins of Bharat Mata". Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  7. ^ "A Mother's worship: Why some Muslims find it difficult to say 'Bharat Mata ki jai'". November 2017.
  8. ^ Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions. Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, India. ISBN 81-208-0379-5. pp. 181-182.
  9. ^ "Far from being eternal, Bharat Mata is only a little more than 100 years old".
  10. ^ Producing India, Manu Goswami, Orient Blackswan, 2004, ISBN 978-81-7824-107-4
  11. ^ Specters of Mother India: the global restructuring of an empire, Mrinalini Sinha, Zubaan, 2006, ISBN 978-81-89884-00-0
  12. ^ The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Duke University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8223-4610-4
  13. ^ "Hindu Vivek Kendra". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  14. ^ Kalyani Devaki Menon, Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India: The Ethnography of Political Violence, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8122-4196-9, p. 89f.
  15. ^ What's wrong in saying Bharat Mata Ki Jai: Congress, Indian Express.
  16. ^ "Patriotism in India: Oh mother: A nationalist slogan sends sectarian sparks". The Economist. 9 April 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  17. ^ The Sound of Dog-Whistling: 'Vande Mataram' itself is not communal., DailyO, 2019.
  18. ^ "Thinking Allowed: Feeling seditious or patriotic?". Deccan Chronicle (Opinion). 21 March 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  19. ^ Vinay Kumar (2 October 2012). "It is Jai Hind for Army personnel". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  20. ^ "TNI Doctrine". Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Arti Lambang Polri (Meaning of the national police symbol)". Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  22. ^ a b c IMPORTANT TEMPLES OF VARANASI Archived 2012-11-05 at the Wayback Machine, Archived 2011-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Bharat Mata Temple - Bharat Mata Temple Varanasi - Bharat Mata Mandir". Archived from the original on 2011-02-11.
  24. ^ Eck, Diana L (27 March 2012), India: A Sacred Geography, Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony, pp. 100–, ISBN 978-0-385-53191-7
  25. ^ a b c Bharat Mata Temple,
  26. ^ "Bharat Mata Mandir". Archived from the original on 2019-12-29. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
  27. ^ Bharat Mata's third temple will be built in Kurukshetra, 5 acres of land will be near Jyotisar

External links edit