Vande Mataram: Why Indian Muslims Are Intolerant?

I read today this passage in Sunday Times of India.

An antique collector has a currency note of Indonesia. Ganesh the widely worshipped Hindu deity shares space with the former Indonesian president, KI Hadjar Dewantara, in the country’s national currency, the rupiah. Dated 1998, and valued at 20,000 rupiah (Rs 102), As per the collector, “There are many more such notes with Lord Ganesha issued in this Islamic country every year.”

I am not surprised at all, as I have been to Jakarta to visit a Mitshubishi car manufacturing plant. En route to the factory, I was just looking at the signboards on the roadside. Quite a significant numbers of them were with Sanskrit names. Muslims there never protest about that.

And then I read another news item. The government has asked all the schools to make their students sing the national song- ‘Vande Mataram’ as part of its centenary celebrations on September 7. Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has asked Muslims to keep their children away from schools on September 7 to avoid any controversy with regard to singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ in educational institutions on that day.

Some Muslim leaders and clerics say it was ”against the tenets of the Shariat”. All-India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) is opposed to making singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ mandatory in schools, colleges and madrassas; and supports the advice by Darul-Uloom of Deoband to Muslims. Why are the friends of the community so rigid about it? Why can’t they learn from Indonesia? Are the Indonesians lesser Muslims?

‘Vande Mataram’- the song was composed in 1875 by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and adopted as the national song at the Benaras session of the All India Congress Committee on September 7, 1905. Until 1930s there was no objection in using the song or ‘Vande Mataram’ as slogan. It integrated wholly with the people and agitators of the freedom movement. And then a controversy broke out. Some minority leaders felt it glorified Hindu deities, idol worship and had a regional bias. However, on October 28, 1937 a committee comprising Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad and Subhas Chandra Bose observed that the first two stanzas had no religious allusions. It is these two stanzas that is basically the national song.

Naturally a question comes to our mind. What is more important for any good citizen of the country- nation or religion? We were taught in our school days, ‘Janani Janambhumisch Swaragdapi Gariyashi’. Why should Indians be preached any ideologies that divide them? What is wrong if as a Hindu I sing the prayer in praise of Allah or Christ? I really get so much of pleasure and satisfaction too, when I see Yamuna bowing her head whenever she sees any religious place, be it a mandir, mosque, gurudwaara, or church. Why can’t all religions preach this and also that the nation is above everything? We are Indians. It is the duty of every Indian to sing our national song with our heads high.

Read some more if you are interested on the topic:
Song sung blue by Barkha Dutt
Losing the song for the words by Abhishek Singhvi
The Lessons of Vande Mataram by Vir Sanghvi
Song sung blue by Asif Jalal
How bhadralok was he? by By Indrajit Hazra
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