The song Vande Mataram, composed in Sanskrit by Bankimchandra Chatterji, was incorporated in his famous novel Ananda Math (1882). It has an equal status with the National Anthem.
Later the song was set to tune by Rabindranath Tagore and sung for the first time before the gathering at the 12th annual session of the Indian National Congress held in 1896 in Calcutta. It was declared as the National Song in 1937 through a resolution. The English translation of the stanza was rendered by Sri Aurobindo.
An ode to the Motherland, it was written in Bengali script in the novel Anandmath. The title ‘Bande Mataram’ means “I praise thee, Mother” or “I praise to thee, Mother”. The “mother goddess” in later verses of the song has been interpreted as the motherland of the people – Banga Mata (Mother Bengal) and Bharat Mata (Mother India), though the text does not mention this explicitly.
Chattopadhyay wrote the poem in a spontaneous session using words from Sanskrit and Bengali. The poem was published in Chattopadhyay’s book Anandamath (pronounced Anondomôţh in Bengali) in 1882, which is set in the events of the Sannyasi Rebellion. Jadunath Bhattacharya was asked to set a tune for this poem just after it was written.
Lala Lajpat Rai started a journal called Vande Mataram from Lahore. Hiralal Sen made India’s first political film in 1905 which ended with the chant. Matangini Hazra’s last words as she was shot to death by the Crown police were Vande Mataram. Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the song in the Benares Congress Session in 1905.