Throughout history, music has been the common factor to bring people together. It has the ability to excite people and place within them a feeling of unity. Songs written during times of oppression are especially powerful because they call for action and political change. The stage for this type of change was set in India in 1857, when natives were ready to break free of British rule. Music proved that it could inspire to people to gather together and played a significant role in achieving Indian independence. It helped the natives realize that they had a collective identity, and give the British a fight that would eventually win them their freedom. One of the most important songs that helped achieve Indian independence was Vande Mataram. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote this song in 1876 in the face of oppression by the British as a way of trying to unite the natives. He wanted to instill in his fellow Indians a strong sense of their culture, and give them a way to attain their sovereignty. Chatterjee’s lyrics told the natives what it would take for them to reach their dream of having political autonomy. By using a strong prognosis, Vande Mataram (Mother, I Bow to Thee) guided the Indians on how to take their independence from the British and form a strong sense of patriotism.
Bankim Chatterjee’s Vande Mataram is a statement that is trying to tell the people of India what needs to be done in order to gain freedom. It preaches to form solidarity in a nation that has never been united before by calling for the many subgroups of India to join together under one Indian nation. It tried to change the way Indians viewed their country. “Harnessing disparate elements into an appeal to all-India and all-Hindu sentiment runs counter to the political and linguistic divisions of much of the preceding centuries” (Robb 2002:180). He proposed in his song that the method to achieve freedom, and change India in a political sense, was for the Indians to change in a social sense as well, by aligning together under their common heritage.
Chatterjee knew that in order to for independence to be won, the natives all needed to believe in their cause and their country. He tried to provoke a feeling of nationalism by preaching that India belonged to all of the natives, that it was “our soul, our breath.” Vande Mataram is about “the ideal of freedom and the magic of number…combined with images of strength and solidarity…and also with appeals to landscape, ritual and tradition…and the personification of India as Mother” (Robb 2002:180). It says that the problem first and foremost was simply to get the Indians to embrace their cause. Chatterjee recognized that there was no patriotism in India, and through his lyrics he wished to bring about a feeling of pride and honor from within the natives. This was to be done by repeating the power and influence that grouping together under the name of India would bring. He wrote that the British would not be able to contend with the seventy million voices in India “with many strengths who are mighty and stored.” Focusing on the prognosis proved to be effective, because the Indians did find it in themselves to gather together under the name of India. By embedding the importance of devotion to the mother country in his lyrics, Chatterjee successfully sparked Indian unity.
Vande Mataram also has motivation for action in its lyrics, although it is not as prominent as the prognosis. Bankim Chatterjee describes the majesty of being an Indian and uses this description as the main reason to fight the British. He tries to motivate the natives to see the reason to join together by stating how beautiful the culture of India is and what this beauty means to him. The portrayal of India in his lyrics evokes an emotional response from the audience because it repeats how fantastic the sight of India is, and attempts to make the British oppression a personal attack on the mother country. Chatterjee illustrates “glory of moonlit dreams...branches and lordly streams” and “cool winds of delight.” He uses descriptive words and phrases to encourage the natives to realize what they must defend. The artist tries to depict the British rule as an individual attack on each and every native of India. Vande Mataram reaches to the souls within each native of India, and tries to bring about change by making the fight personal.
The diagnosis, in comparison to the prognosis and motivation, is fairly weak. Chatterjee states the problems with Indian society that were caused by British rule. He says that the reason for immediate native unity was the British racism being felt both socially and politically. It is a very minute part of the song, as Chatterjee did not feel that stating the problems with society over and over was necessary. Prior the introduction of this song, the Indians knew that the British rule needed to come to an end. They all realized that their fellow countrymen hated the oppressive British, which is why Chatterjee’s lyrics do not focus imperatively on the diagnosis. What little problems he does mention are quite powerful, however. He states that the British view the natives as weak and powerless, and that the Westerners do not feel threatened by the Indians. He used these problems as inspiration for Indian unity, and as reason for action and change in Indian society.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Vande Mataram proposes solutions to the oppressive British rule that was present in India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He says that unity, above all, was the most important thing that needed to be accomplished by the Indians. The prognosis within the lyrics states that the natives needed to embrace their heritage and recognize the fact that India was their country, and nobody else’s. Also present in the song was a motivation, and a weaker diagnosis. These two elements state that the Indians need to put an end to the racism of the British by making their oppression personal. The motivation and diagnosis both relate back to the prognosis, and its’ proposal of the importance of togetherness and honor in India the country. The song calls for both political and social change by adopting a new view of India; a view that puts pride in the hearts of the natives. Vande Mataram hopes to make the Indians more patriotic by repeating the importance of unity, and how it is the only way they can achieve their freedom.