|Biographies of Great
Indians & Hindus
This novel, as already stated, appeared in installments. People used to read one
installment,--, in 'Vangadarshan' and wait impatiently for the next installment. We have
already read the beginning of Anandamatha. How interesting it is! How it
compels us to read on and find out what happens next! ! Read it again. How vivid and
absorbing is the description of the forest, isn't it? But read again, you will see there
is something more. In the darkness and total silence a human voice is heard. The entire
description is symbolic. The story of 'Anandamatha' depicts thestruggle for freedom that
took place in Bengal in the year 1773. That was the year of a terrible famine in Bengal.
The white men
who ruled were indifferent to the hardship of the people and the people feared their
masters. Life in Bengal was full of misery. But people did not have the courage to talk
about it openly. So there was darkness in Bengal and the silence of misery. In such an age
one noble man, Satyananda,yearns to end the sufferings of his Motherland. The country has
become a wilderness, darkness and silence rule; and a lonely voice asks, "is it
possible that my wish will be fulfilled?" It is- the voice of Satyananda, yearning to
bring freedom and happiness to his country.
How significant is the description!
The story of 'Anandamatha' begins with a description of the terrible famine in BengalAn a
village called Padachinha there is a wealthy man. He is Mahendra; his wife is Kalyani.
They have a child. The famine forces them to leave the village. They get lost in the
forest. Kalyani and the child are captured by famine--stricken people. Fortunately she
escapes with the child. Satyananda is the chief of a group of sanyasins called the
Santanas. Kalyani takes shelter with him. He sends Bhavananda, a sanyasin, to search for
Kalyani's husband. Bhavananda comes
upon Mahendla. Both of them are captured by soldiers of the British Company which
was ruling Bengal. They are bound with ropes and dumped into a bullock cart, which was
carrying boxes of money. Bhavananda and Mahendra manage to escape by cutting the ropes.
Later the sanyasins seize the money-laden boxes.
Mahendra is reunited with his wife. He joins the Santana group with her consent; he
wants to take part in the freedom struggle. In the meantime Kalyani is drowned, and
saved by Jeevananda, another sanyasin. He leaves her with his wife and his sister.
The famine grows worse. The village is nothing but a wilderness. Wild animals from the
forest roam about there and robbers prowl. Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India,
appoints one Captain Thomas is to suppress the Santanas-Thomas is defeated and killed. On
the side of the Santanas, after a heroic fight, Bhavananada breathes his last with the
song 'Vande Mataram' on his lips.
Victorious, Sathyananda returns to Anandamatha. There he is met by a great man who
prophesies, "The era of Muslim power is over. Put an end to this war; there have been
enough deaths. The British will be in power and right now it is not possible to conquer
them. They will- continue to rule as long as the Hindus are ignorant, degraded and
weak." So, Sathyananda is still angry and vexed, for he does not want the British to
That is the end of the novel.
The story sustains interest to the end. As he watches the joys and sorrows, the victories
and defeats of the characters, he is eager to find out what happens next. Besides, these
men and women are not gods and goddesses, but men and women like us. The Santanans, too,
are ordinary folk, sons of the soil, who have dedicated themselves to the service of their
'Anandamatha' is mainly a novel of patriotism. It is the story of people who live and die
for their country. Here even the sanyasins' play an admirable role in the struggle of
freedom. Shanthi, the wife of Jeevananda, is one such heroic sanyasini.
She dons men's clothes and when necessary wears moustaches and abeard. She boldly moves
about in the midst of the enemies. She even succeeds in deceiving officers of the British
army. She wins their confidence and sends information to Satyananda.
Bhavananda says to Mahendra: "We recognize no other Mother. Our Mother- land is our
Mother. We have no other- mother, no father, no wife, no children, no home and no family;
we have only this Sujala, Suphala, Malayajasheetala."
Anybody who wishes to become a Santana has to take an oath in the presence of the Mother.
Satyananda questions them and they reply. Even to this day this part of the novel purifies
the mind of the reader.
"Will you give up your homes till y Motherland is liberated?"
"Will you leave your- mother, fat brothers and sisters?"
"Your wife and children?"
"Wealth, comfort, everything?"
"Yes, we shall give up everything."
"You shall not retreat from the battlefield."
"We will not."
"Will you give up caste? All Santanas belong to a single caste. There is no
distinction of Brahmin and Sudra in this sacred task. Are you prepared?"
"We have no caste. We are all children of the same Mother."
"Be it so; you shall be initiated."
Even today if our country is to progress, there is no way other than this sort of the
Santana pledge, is there?
Though 'Anandamatha' is based on the history of our land not all of it is pure history. In
fact there was no institution by name 'Anandamatha'. Bankim Chandra made use of history,
but created a number of characters. And he gave a novel, which ennobles the reader. It
enables the reader to escape from the petty thoughts of selfishness. It gives
unforgettable pictures of men and women who live only for the country. And, in this novel,
Bankim Chandra has given us. The people of India, the sacred 'mantra' of Vande
Mataram' (Salutations to the Mother!).
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