Bharat Mata

Bhārat Mātā (Sanskrit: भारताम्बा, romanizedBhāratāmbā; ‘अम्बा’ ambā means ‘mother’, also known as Mother India in English) is the national personification of India as a mother goddess.[1] She is usually depicted as a woman clad in a saffron sari holding the Indian national flag, and sometimes accompanied by a lion.[2]

An Illustration of Bharat Mata

Introduction and meaningEdit

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 concept of bhārat mātā as the personification of the Indian subcontinent came into existence starting in the late 19th century, especially after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British. Bhārat Mātā as a concept was first perceived to be an image of the land of India prominently by Bankimchandra Chatterjee in his book Anand Math in 1880 and by Abanindranath Tagore through a 1905 painting.[3]

Historic perspectiveEdit

The image of Bhāratmātā formed with the Indian independence movement of the late 19th century. A play by Kiran Chandra Bannerjee, Bhārat Mātā, 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.[4] 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.[5] Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1882 wrote a novel Anandamath and introduced the hymn "Vande Mātaram",[6][7] 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. In 1920s, it became 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 Benaras 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.[5]

Bharat Mata statue at Kanyakumari (India)

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.[8]

Abanindranath Tagore portrayed Bhārat Mātā as a four-armed Hindu goddess wearing saffron-colored robes, holding the manuscripts, sheaves of rice, a mala, and a white cloth.[9] 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.[10]

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 Adi Parashakti.[11] He also says that he has got the Darśana of Bharat Mata during his visit with his guru Sister Nivedita.[citation needed]


Bharat Mata statue in Shaurya Smarak Bhopal

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.[12] 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.[13][14][15][16] However, Muslims of Muslim majority Bangladesh, specially the Bangladeshi nationalists, revere a similar personification of Bangladesh as Bangamata (the "Mother Bangladesh"), though it is not as a goddess but an abstract reference to the motherland.[17][18][19][failed verification]

The saffron clad goddess Bharat Mata, a painting by Abanindranath Tagore

The motto Bharat Mata ki Jai’ ("Victory for Mother India") is used by the Indian Army.[20] 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,[21] 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 or "राष्ट्र सेवकोत्तम" ("Nation's main servants").[22]

Bhārat Mātā templesEdit


The Bharat Mata Temple is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus in Varanasi.[23] The temple houses a marble idol of Bharat Mata along with a marble relief map of India.[23][24]

The Temple, a gift from the nationalists Shiv Prasad Gupta and Durga Prasad Khatri, was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.[23] 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."[25]

Bharat Mata at Jatiya Shaktipeeth, Kolkata


The temple was founded by Swami Satyamitranand Giri on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar. It has 8 storeys and is 180 feet tall.[26] It was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi in 1983.[26] Floors are dedicated to mythological legends, religious deities, freedom fighters and leaders.[26]


The temple is located in Michael Nagar on Jessore Road, barely 2 km away from the Kolkata Airport. Here, Bharat Mata (the Mother Land) is portrayed through the image of "Jagattarini Durga". This was inaugurated on October 19, 2015 (Mahashashti Day of Durga Puja that year)[27] by Shri 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", the hymn to the Mother Land.


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.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "History lesson: How 'Bharat Mata' became the code word for a theocratic Hindu state".
  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. ^ "Far from being eternal, Bharat Mata is only a little more than 100 years old".
  4. ^ "Far from being eternal, Bharat Mata is only a little more than 100 years old".
  5. ^ a b Roche, Elizabeth (17 March 2016). "The origins of Bharat Mata". Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  6. ^ "A Mother's worship: Why some Muslims find it difficult to say 'Bharat Mata ki jai'". November 2017.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Producing India, Manu Goswami, Orient Blackswan, 2004, ISBN 978-81-7824-107-4
  9. ^ Specters of Mother India: the global restructuring of an empire, Mrinalini Sinha, Zubaan, 2006, ISBN 978-81-89884-00-0
  10. ^ The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Duke University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8223-4610-4
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-03-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ What’s wrong in saying Bharat Mata Ki Jai: Congress, Indian Express.
  14. ^ "Patriotism in India: Oh mother: A nationalist slogan sends sectarian sparks". The Economist. 9 April 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  15. ^ The Sound of Dog-Whistling: 'Vande Mataram' itself is not communal., DailyO, 2019.
  16. ^ "Thinking Allowed: Feeling seditious or patriotic?". Deccan Chronicle (Opinion). 21 March 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  17. ^ Dasgupta, Tapati (1993). Social Thought of Rabindranath Tagore: A Historical Analysis. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 9788170173021.
  18. ^ Paranjape, Makarand (2014). Science, Spirituality and the Modernization of India. Anthem Press. ISBN 9781843317760.
  19. ^ "Symbols of Water and Woman on Selected Examples of Modern Bengali Literature in the Context of Mythological Tradition". Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  20. ^ Vinay Kumar (2 October 2012). "It is Jai Hind for Army personnel". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  21. ^ "TNI Doctrine". Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Arti Lambang Polri (Meaning of the national police symbol)". Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  23. ^ a b c IMPORTANT TEMPLES OF VARANASI Archived 2012-11-05 at the Wayback Machine, Archived 2011-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Bharat Mata Temple - Bharat Mata Temple Varanasi - Bharat Mata Mandir". Archived from the original on 2011-02-11.
  25. ^ Eck, Diana L (27 March 2012), India: A Sacred Geography, Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony, pp. 100–, ISBN 978-0-385-53191-7
  26. ^ a b c Bharat Mata Temple,
  27. ^ Bharat Mata Mandir
  28. ^ Bharat Mata's third temple will be built in Kurukshetra, 5 acres of land will be near Jyotisar

External linksEdit