Amid the ongoing debate over chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai, the RSS has reiterated that ‘Vande Mataram’ denotes the “cultural identity” of India, and said that only those who consider this land their bhogbhumi (land of consumption), refuse to say “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
RSS number two, Sarkaryavah Bhaiyyaji Joshi, said at the Deendayal Upadhyay Research Institute in Mumbai on Friday that while “citizenship can be acquired through law, only that person is a national who holds the feeling of mother and son with the country”.
Joshi’s remarks were tweeted by the Sangh’s official handle on Saturday. “All those who consider this land as their mother say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, jo is bhumi ko bhogbhumi maante hain, ve hi Bharat Mata Ki Jai kehne se inkaar karte hain,” it quoted Joshi as having said.
Joshi’s comment comes days after a statement issued by the RSS farmers’ wing quoted Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat as saying that nobody should be “forced” to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai, and that the Sangh should strive to create an India that would prompt people to raise the slogan on their own.
Bhagwat had, on separate occasions earlier, said the RSS wanted the “whole world to chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, and that the younger generation “needed to be taught to hail Mother India”. India’s largest Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband has, on the other hand, issued a fatwa asking Muslims to refrain from saying “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” because it was against the basic tenets of Islam.
Joshi said that while the Tricolor was India’s “state flag”, the “saffron flag is the symbol of our ancient culture”. The Constituent Assembly had “adopted the Tiranga as our state flag, and it was subsequently retained as that of the Republic of India”, Joshi said. “It is mandatory that every citizen of India should respect this symbol. The saffron flag has been revered by the people of Bharat since time immemorial as a symbol of our ancient culture. We revere both the Tiranga, which is our state flag, and the saffron flag, which is the symbol of our ancient culture.”
Similarly, Joshi said, while Jana Gana Mana describes the idea of Rajya, Vande Mataram denotes India’s cultural identity and our devotion to it. “All of us should equally respect and adore both the National Anthem and the National Song,” he said.
Joshi, however, added that while “Jana Gana Mana is today our national anthem (and) it has to be respected”, it is “the national anthem as decided by the Constitution”. But “if one considers the true meaning, then Vande Mataram is the national anthem.”
“The sentiments expressed in Vande Mataram denote the nation’s character and style. This is the difference between the two songs,” Joshi said. “Both deserve respect.”
Joshi expounded the RSS’s view of the “Rajya (state) and Rashtra (nation)”, and criticised the British for creating confusion. “Country is a geographical unit, its boundaries can increase or decrease. A state is a political unit to provide necessary facilities and protection that can change with time. A nation is a cultural way of living that has itself evolved in thousands of years and which never undergoes a change,” Joshi said.
Amid criticism on Saturday of the RSS’s apparent stance on symbols of the Indian state, the Sangh’s All India Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidya clarified on Twitter: “Nowhere Shri Bhaiyyaji has asked for any change in national anthem or flag. It is mandatory that every citizen of Bharat should respect Tiranga.”