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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bhārat Mātā (Mother India) - the ‘National Personification of India’

Bhārat Mātā (Mother India) is the ‘National Personification of India’ as a mother goddess. She is an amalgam of all the goddesses of Indian culture and more significantly of Goddess Durga.  The image of ‘Bhārat Mātā’ formed with the Indian Independence Movement of the late 19th century. A play by Kiran Chandra Bannerjee, “Bhārat Mātā” was first performed in 1873  
Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s 1882 novel Ananda Math (Abode of Bliss) introduced the hymn "Bande Mataram" (Hail to Mother) which since 1905 became the song of the emerging freedom movement in India. During the turbulent days of anti-partition movement in Bengal the slogan “Bande Mataram” became the war cry of national resurgence. The amazing transformation of ‘Bande Mataram’ from an innocent song into a revolutionary slogan was the work of the youth in Bengal in 1905-06. In his novel Ananda Math, Bankim Chandra wrote about Sanyasis who left their hearths and homes and dedicated their lives to the cause of their motherland. The characters in his novel personified the motherland as the Mother Goddess and worshipped her as such. They knew no other deity excepting the motherland and no other religion excepting the religion of patriotism.    

 Abanindranath Tagore portrayed Bhārat Mātā as a four-armed Hindu goddess wearing saffron-coloured robes, holding the Vedas, sheaves of rice, a mala (prayer beads), and a white cloth.
The image of Bharat Mata 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 Bharat Mata 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 motherland to her children.
 Today, Bharat Mata is usually depicted as a lady, clad in a saree holding a flag either the National flag or the traditional Saffron flag.
The images of Bharat Mata are omnipresent in our surroundings in myriad of forms of.       We can find them in prints, posters, calendars and plethora of other printed forms as well as in forms of idols. 

Privately printed patriotic stationery depicting images of Bharat Mata.

 Images of Bharat Mata were shown holding the Flag of India’s struggle of independence while national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi were shown providing nation with homespun fabric – Khadi and national heroes like, Shivaji Maharaj and  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were shown receiving blessings and or weapons to fight from Bharat Mata. These prints were a call to support for an independent India

 M.F. Husain's sketch for The Times of India's special issue for the fiftieth year of Indian Independence (1947-1997).
Bharat Mata statue at Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

Images of Bharat Mata in popular arts