Indians are very sentimental about the soil, be it the farm, the state or the nation. Many songs have been written comparing the land with mother. From “जननी जन्मभूमीश्च, स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी” to “वंदे मातरम” to “Mother India”. This sentiment, in the past, has probably helped the country to unite and fight with intruders from time to time. An analogue to “Mother India” was made again by people’s sentiments as “Father of India” and it was to an extent rightly credited to Mahatma Gandhi.

Now, here are certain questions that arise if we analyse these phrases objectively keeping aside everything that was taught to us by our mother, father, teacher, preacher and I wish to pose these to the reader:

  1. What is Constitutional basis of “Father of India”? If no, then why it is used in official communication by Government of India?
  2. Does calling Mahatma Gandhi as “Father of nation” makes him immune to any criticism?
  3. How can be “Father of India” a real person that existed and “Bharat Mata” a hypothetical person as a symbol?
  4. What is constitutional basis to “Bharat Mata”?
  5. How came a standard picture of “Bharat Mata” was adopted by everyone depicting her similar to a Hindu goddess? I mean is she a mother or a goddess?
  6. Why don’t we show “Bharat Mata” in a human form like a peasant/farmer lady, fisherman’s wife, an adivasi lady or in a Burqa or Salwar Kameez? And if some artist takes a liberty to show her in a human form, we throw him out of the country, again why?
  7. Why are we taking symbolism so seriously that the ones who are not comfortable with it are immediately named traitors?
  8. While we are ready to label someone as a traitor who does not accept such symbolism, how is that we don’t dare to do so with the people who celebrate Gandhi’s (real person) murder in the vicinity of capital?
  9. If some faith does not allow one to worship any hypothetical/real person other than their idea of God, will they be called traitor?
  10. If some rational human being rises above symbolism and denies both the ideas of “Bharat Mata” or “Father of the Nation” and continues to work/live for the betterment of the country, will such rationality be termed as anti-national?

India as a nation cannot be represented in totality by any symbol or by any religion, language, culture or belief system because of its history, geography and social fabric. It is criminal to force any symbols onto the citizens of this country. Political parties or religious bodies will continue to idolize and demonize non-official symbols and that will stir the country within forever for they will be too narrow to be accepted by the entire nation. However, it is for we citizens to realize and reject symbolism that divides the country instead of integrating.

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4 Comments on "The Curious Case of ‘Bharat Mata’ and ‘Father of the Nation’"

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Vishal Guleria
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Very true and powerful article.

Vishal Guleria
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You have written a very powerful article.

Prabodh sharma
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भारत माता और राष्ट्रपिता दोनों अलग अलग शब्द है जिनका अर्थ बहुत अलग अलग है। भारत माता किसी व्यक्ति विशेष का प्रतिक नहीं है। वो केवल एक भावना है जो सच्चा देश प्रेमी होगा उसे ही महसूस होगी बड़े शर्म की बात है तेरे अंदर भारत माता की भावना नहीं है… और राष्ट्रपिता जिसे बोलते है वो एक इंसान है और कोई भी इंसान हमारे देश का पिता नहीं हो सकता। जो भी इंसान इस देश में रहता है वो इस देश का सपूत है।

MALLIKARJUNA SHARMA
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The author means Father of the Nation by which epithet Gandhi is called popularly. He doesn’t mean Rashtrapati which is used for President of India.

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