Vande Mataram

This song was written by Bengali nationalist writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay into the novel "Ananda Math" in 1882. The English translation written alongside below is Shree Aurobindo's and is as original and inspirational as a translation can be.

I had heard my mother sing this song many, many times even before I read Ananda Math as a boy. The inspiring tune that I knew then was set by Rabindranath Thakur and when I later heard the Bollywood version I was disappointed. However, the latter is the version that is best known to most Indians; more the pity.

I have heard it said that this is a Sanskrit song. No. Bankim Chandra wrote it in unabashed Bengali, a language which is quite sanskritised in its pure form. So, those who have a smattering of Sanskrit will comprehend a lot of the following. But, no, it does not say Tumhi or something in Hindi; it is Tumi - simple Bengali for "you." Don't try to understand "Abalaa Keno Maa Eto Bale" except in Bengali...

I have seen some modern versions with koti koti kantha (crores and crores of voices), instead of saptakoti kantha (a mere seven crores). However, the latter is true to the original writing. Then the population was a mere seventy million; perhaps now it should be corrected to satokoti (hundred crores -- a billion!).

The first two stanzas of the following original poem are considered India's National Song.

        বন্দে মাতরম্ ৷
সুজলাং সুফলাং মলয়জশীতলাম্
    শস্যশ্যামলাং মাতরম্ !
vande maataram.
sujalaam suphalaam malayajasheetalaam
shasyashyaamalaam maataram !
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,
Mother free.
    সুহাসিনীং সুমধুরভাষিণীম্
    সুখদাং বরদাং মাতরম্ ৷৷
shubhra jyotsnaa pulakita yaamineem
phullakusumita drumadalashobhineem,
suhaasineem sumadhurabhaashineem
sukhadaam varadaam maataram.
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.
    অবলা কেন মা এত বলে !
বহুবলধারিণীং নমামি তরিণীং
    রিপুদলবারিণীং মাতরম্ ৷
saptakoteekantha kala-kala ninaadkaraale
dwisaptakotibhujai dhrit kharkarbaale,
abalaa keno maa eto bale!
bahubaladhaarineem namaami taarineem
ripudalabaarineem maataram.
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
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.
তুমি বিদ্যা তুমি ধর্ম্ম
তুমি হৃদি তুমি মর্ম্ম
ত্বং হি প্রাণাঃ শরীরে ৷
বাহুতে তুমি মা শক্তি,
হৃদয়ে তুমি মা ভক্তি,
তোমারই প্রতিমা গড়ি মন্দিরে মন্দিরে ৷
tumi vidyaa tumi dharma
tumi hridi tumi marma
tvam hi praanaah shareere.
baahute tumi maa shakti,
hridaye tumi maa bhakti,
tomaari pratimaa gadi mandire mandire.
Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Though art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nervs the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.
ত্বং হি দুর্গা দশপ্রহরণধারিণী
কমলা কমল-দলবিহারিণী
বাণী বিদ্যাদায়িণী নমামি ত্বাং
নমামি কমলাম্ অমলাং অতুলাম্,
    সুজলাং সুফলাং মতরম্
        বন্দে মাতরম্
tvam hi durgaa dashapraharanadhaarinee
kamalaa kamala dalabihaarinee
vaanee vidyaadaayinee namaami tvaam
namaami kamalaam amalaam atulaam,
sujalaam sufalaam maataram
vande maataram
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 gleems,
Dark of hue O candid-fair
শ্যামলাং সরলাং সুস্মিতাং ভূষিতাম্
    ধরণীং ভরণীম্ মাতরম্ ৷
shyamalam saralam susmitam bhushitam
dharaneem bharaneem maataram.
In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!

In case you have a font problem and cannot read Bengali characters