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Vande Mataram

When Bankim Chandra wrote this song sometime in 1876, he was just giving vent to his emotions. He did not envisage it would become the National Song of India or it would be a locus of controversy. But, the song stirred an upheaval - of emotion, of patriotism and became the war cry for the freedom struggle. The phrase "Vande Mātaram" has come to be ingrained in the psyche of all people who proudly proclaim themselves as "Indian".

Written in a pure form of Bangla that draws its strength from its Sanskrit roots, it was a spontaneous expression of Bankim's devotion to his motherland. He worships our motherland as the supreme deity, as the epitome of courage, valor, knowledge, prosperity - all attributes as an aspect of feminine divinity. As we read the poem, our conscience instinctively begins to sing it; along with Bankim we prostrate before the Mother - who is not just the bestower of Knowledge, but Vidyā herself; not just the nourisher of the life-force, but Prāṇā herself.

The Song in Devanagari (From Hindu Jagruti)

वन्दे मातरम्
सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतलाम्
शस्यशामलां मातरम् । वन्दे मातरम् ।

शुभ्रज्योत्स्नापुलकितयामिनीं
फुल्लकुसुमितद्रुमदलशोभिनीं
सुहासिनीं सुमधुर भाषिणीं
सुखदां वरदां मातरम् ।। १ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।

कोटि-कोटि-कण्ठ-कल-कल-निनाद-कराले
कोटि-कोटि-भुजैर्धृत-खरकरवाले,
अबला केन मा एत बले ।

बहुबलधारिणीं नमामि तारिणीं
रिपुदलवारिणीं मातरम् ।। २ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।

तुमि विद्या, तुमि धर्म
तुमि हृदि, तुमि मर्म
त्वं हि प्राणा: शरीरे
बाहुते तुमि मा शक्ति,
हृदये तुमि मा भक्ति,
तोमारई प्रतिमा गडि
मन्दिरे-मन्दिरे मातरम् ।। ३ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।

त्वं हि दुर्गा दशप्रहरणधारिणी
कमला कमलदलविहारिणी
वाणी विद्यादायिनी, नमामि त्वाम्
नमामि कमलां अमलां अतुलां
सुजलां सुफलां मातरम् ।। ४ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।

श्यामलां सरलां सुस्मितां भूषितां
धरणीं भरणीं मातरम् ।। ५ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।।

---

(Thanks to Vaidika Vignana for this version in romanized Samskrt transliterated according IAST standard)

vandemātaraṃ
sujalāṃ suphalāṃ malayaja śītalāṃ
sasya śyāmalāṃ mātaraṃ ||vande||

śubhrajyotsnā pulakitayāminīṃ
pullakusumita drumadala śobhinīṃ
suhāsinīṃ sumadhura bhāṣiṇīṃ
sukhadāṃ varadāṃ mātaraṃ || vande ||

koṭikoṭi kaṇṭha kalakala ninādakarāle
koṭi koṭi bhujair dhṛta kara karavāle
abalā keyano mā eto bale
bahubala dhāriṇīṃ namāmi tāriṇīṃ
ripudalavāriṇīṃ mātarām || vande ||

tumi vidyā tumi dharma tumi hṛdi tumi marma
tvaṃ hi prāṇāḥ śarīre
bāhute tumi mā śakti hṛdaye tumi mā bhakti
to mārayi pratimā gaḍi mandire mandire || vande ||

tvaṃ hi durgā daśa praharaṇa dhāriṇī
kamalā kamaladaḷa vihāriṇī
vāṇī vidyādāyinī
namāmi tvāṃ
namāmi kamalām amalām atulāṃ
sujalāṃ suphalāṃ mātaram || vande ||

śyāmalāṃ saralāṃ susmitāṃ bhūṣitāṃ
dharaṇīṃ bharaṇīṃ mātaraṃ

---

Can a song of such force and emotion be translated without losing its soul? And who can do it?

Maharshi Aurobindo has performed this daunting task, and done it twice!

His translation of Vande Mataram into Prose, which appeared in the Karmayogin issue on 20 November, 1909.

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!

Terrible with the clamorous shouts of seventy million throats,
and the sharpness of swords raised in twice seventy million hands,
who sayeth to thee, Mother, that thou are weak?
Holder of multitudinous strength,
I bow to her who saves,
to her who drives from her the armies of her foremen,
The Mother!

Thou art knowledge, thou art conduct,
thou art heart, thou art soul,
for thou art the life in our body.
In the arm, thou art might, O Mother,
in the heart, O Mother, thou art love and faith,
it is thy image we raise in every temple.

For thou art Durga holding her ten weapons of war,
Kamala at play in the lotuses
And speech, the goddess, giver of all lore,
to thee I bow!
I bow to thee, goddess of wealth
pure and peerless,
richly-watered, richly-fruited,
The Mother!

I bow to thee, Mother,
dark-hued, candid,
sweetly smiling, jeweled and adorned,
the holder of wealth, the lady of plenty,
The Mother!


---

The more ambitious task of creating a poem from The Poem, was also performed by Sri Aurobindo.

Mother, I Bow to Thee !

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands,
When the sword flesh out in the seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Though who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foe man drove
Back from plain and Sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Though art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue O candid-fair.

In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!


(Translations from Wikisource)

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