What is the meaning of Vande Mataram and why it is controversial?

The phrase ‘Vande Mataram’ was widely used during India’s freedom struggle against the British. It is believed to be an expression of a person’s love for India or Mother India. But the phrase has been used in a controversial context since last couple of years after few Muslim religious ‘leaders’ claimed that it is un-Islamic to utter the phrase.

Firstly, let us find out the exact meaning of the phrase ‘Vande Mataram.’ The word ‘Vande’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Vandan,’ which means ‘salutation.’ ‘Mataram,’ in Sanskrit, means ‘to the mother.’ So, ‘Vande Mataram’ actually means ‘salutations to the mother.’

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Interestingly, it doesn’t specify which mother in particular. Hence, it can be used for your own mother or any female Goddess. Similarly, it is used to offer salutations to India by those who consider it as ‘Bharat Mata’ or mother India. But its actual meaning remains as ‘salutations to the mother.’

Now, coming to the controversy surrounding ‘Vande Matara,’ it seems to me that there shouldn’t be a controversy in the first place. ‘Salutation’ refers to as ‘Salaam’ in Arabic. Muslims use the word ‘Salaam’ to greet anyone. It simply means giving respect to someone.

Similarly, ‘Vandan’ also means giving respect to someone. So, if you can offer respect to your family and friends, why not the country?

At the same time, I personally feel it is wrong and insulting to force someone to utter ‘Vande Mataram’ just to prove his or her nationalism or love for the country.

By: Keyur Seta