The Bharat Mata: Serenity personified

“The Motherland is our only mother. Our Motherland is higher than heaven. Mother India is our mother. We have no other mother. We have no father, no brother, no sister, no wife, no children, no home, no hearth – all we have is the Mother:”

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Anandamath
The Bharat Mata visualized by Abanindranath Tagore in 1905,specified as Bengali renaissance, is now in collections at the Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata. The curator and secretory of VMH, Mr. Sengupta described this painting as an attempt of humanization of “Bharat Mata” where the mother is seeking liberation through her sons.

Abanindranath, the father of Indian modern art, illustrated a woman in saffron garb like a Sadhvi, carrying a book, sheaves of paddy, a piece of white cloth, and a rosary in her four hands. All the things she is bearing speculate Indian motherhood and culture expressing clothing, learning, food, and spirituality. Contrasting Indian spirituality and European materialism. And four hands represent Hindu deity and woman power though she is ventilating serene visage.

Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India decided to divide Bengal into communal lines in 1905 by using their famous policy, “Divide and Conquer”. They came up with the brazen economic justification that East Bengal (Muslim majority) was a poor region than West Bengal (Hindu majority). Thus, it needed certain attentiveness. In the wake of the Swadeshi movement started to bloom.

Primarily, Tagore wanted to honor Bengali women as a symbol of women empowerment and call it Bongo Mata. Later he titled it, Bharat Mata, to engender Indian nationalism.

Sister Nivedita, a disciple of Vivekananda praised it in her journal: “It is the first great masterpiece in a new style. I would reprint- it, if I could, by tens of thousands, and scatter it broadcast over the land, till there was not a peasant’s cottage, or a craftsman’s hut, between Kedar Nath and Cape Comorin, that had not this presentment of Bharat-Mata somewhere on its walls. Over and over again, as one looks into its qualities, one is struck by the purity and delicacy of the personality portrayed.

Doubtless, she and other nationalists did it in four years, spread the idea of Bharat Mata and national movement, influenced undivided each citizen.

Afore the notion of Bharat Mata was mentioned in certain works, anonymous work Unabimsapurana (1866), play Bharat Mata (1873) by KC Bandyopadhyay, and Anandamath (1882) of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya. Anandamath is inspired by Faqir and Sanyasi rebellion in the 18th century against the East India Company. The song ‘Vande Mataram’ from this novel portrays the image of Bharat Mata, now India’s national song.

Isn’t it ironic that the concept of Bharat Mata was to unify Hindu and Muslims against the British but today it is misused as political agenda?

Tagore used his signature watercolor ‘wash’ technique, learned from a Japanese painter Yokoyama Taikan. Its two-dimensionality imitates pan-Asian influence and castaway of western realism borrowed from the Japanese painter Okakura Kakuzo. He used Ajanta, Pahari, and Mughal miniatures to reflect traditional Indian artistry. It articulated national sentiment; the movement became the Bengal school of Art.

“When, O Master, when shall we see our Mother India in this garb again — so radiant and so cheerful?’ 
Only when all the children of the Motherland shall call her Mother in all sincerity.” 
                                     ― Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Anandamath

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Written By: Anisha Singhania

Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma

Sources for the article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharat_Mata_(painting)

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1790874

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anandamath

https://thecultural.me/abanindranath-tagores-bharat-mata-and-its-role-in-fostering-indian-identity-200413

About The Author(s)

Chemistry major with self-proclaimed good taste in Books and Music.

Anisha Singhania
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