How is it that a fallen people can restore its greatness and days of glory? How is it that a people once known for its grandeur of being and supernal achievements – from pure material riches to the highest of spiritual realisation and wisdom – can hope to revive from its present state of inertia and confusion?
The road to redemption does not lie in belittling our past, or in blindly imitating a vision and view of life that is alien to our temper and natural mode of being.
The question then that we can pose ourselves is: what is it that precisely describes our uniqueness and captures the essence of our Indian-ness? It is that we do not consider our nation, our land of abode as dead matter?
We consider it to be a living being; we consider Her to be “Ma” – our beloved Mother. And we, the people of that land are Her living children.
The great period of struggle that helped us throw away the yoke of foreign rule was inspired by this vision and experience of our nation. And dear to our hearts and lips was the war cry – Vande Mataram.
We offered ourselves completely and without reserve, to the service of our Mother – fought hand-in-hand and treated all of Her children as our brothers and sisters, felt one with every member of this great family. Whatever divisions there were, in the name of religion, caste, creed or dogma were erased and effaced from our minds and hearts, as soon as we became alive and conscious to this great vision.
And all of us collaborated – whether it was a Mangal Pandey, Bahadur Shah Zafar or Birsa Munda, Rani Lakshmibai, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bhagat Singh or Subramanya Bharathy – we, the children of India, came together from the far corners and fought as One Nation and One Family.
We forgot all differences and divisions, we gave up all our pettiness and narrow self interest and worked together to free our Mother from the shackles of servitude and bondage.
But alas, we have forgotten those days, forgotten the sacrifice and pain that our forefathers went through; we have forgotten our own identity and oneness which stands beyond all division and disunity. In our vain self conceit and ivory tower musings, we have abandoned the path that led us to win our political freedom – the path which could also have led us to our highest spiritual liberty. And what is the price that we paid and still continue to pay? We have become corrupt, narrow and indolent, we have steeped ourselves into all kinds of ignominious acts possible or imaginable.
We have lost ourselves! In this hour of crisis, when everything seems to fall apart, how is it that we can turn around and fight our own telling weaknesses and miseries? We can fight by invoking the presence of the Divine Mother who is not only present in the very stuff of the land but also in our hearts and minds; by imploring Her to free us of our weakness and make us great and mighty, not to please our egos, but to make Her great and mighty.
In the name of Bharatvarsha, in the name of the Mother whom we see in this sacred land, and in the name of Her children, let us all invoke Her in unison with words composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, set in tune by Rabindranath Tagore and stripped of its hidden significance by Sri Aurobindo:
Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.
Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands
When the sword flesh out in the seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Though who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foeman drove
Back from plain and Sea
And shook herself free.
Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Thou art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.
Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her
swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue O candid-fair
In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Lovliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free