The latest addition to the phenomenon of worshiping god as mother was in the late nineteenth century with the growing spirit of nationalism among the masses in India the idea of desamata or mother nation sprang forward into existence . it earliest roots can, however be traced back to the vedic era when our planet earth was compared to mother. Phrases comparing earth with a feminine force is quite common for that era but idea of the nation as a female principle is not that old .
This was perhaps because in a vast multicultural country like India each region differed from the other and identified itself as one particular nation . however it would be incorrect to say that there was absolutely no unity among different regions in India, common beliefs, practices, gods, scriptures maintained a definite national character which was properly projected in the colonial era .
The belief of earth as mother which was nourished in the minds of people for ages found its final shape in the personification of mother India. The most popular praise sung to her was composed by the renowned Bengali writer vankim chandra chatterjee in the famous novel anandamath. It is the vande matram. It speaks of a sujala suphala (plentiful) green country which has the most beautiful moonlit nights abound with choicest flowers. She is ever smiling and has pleasing mannerisms. She herself is the durga of ten arms. It to her that we bow down. In such a description we can see the way in which the prevalent shakta bhakti thought has merged into nationalistic ideals.
In this very book there is an interesting comparison between the past present and future of India . the past is shown as Devi jagadhhatri, sitting on a lion .she is bedecked with every possible jewels and holds weapons in her arms . she is the queen of all nations — rajrajeshwari. The present (those days) is compared to terrifying kali. She has been robbed of her jewels and stand naked. She is in ignorance and tramples her own god (shiva) under her feet. She resides in the crematorium like condition of colonial india under british subjugation. In the future she would become the durga . she would be at the top of all the nations once more. she has the complexion of molten gold. She has laxmi (wealth ) saraswati (knowledge and excellence), ganesh ( aupiciousness ) and kartik( strentgh ) at her disposal. She tramples all evil (mahishasur) at her feet. The king of beasts is her vahana.
Numerous authors poets and politicians also contributed to the growth of this concept of mother india. Some songs of rabindranath tagore stand out in particular–
you have come out of the heart of bangladesh(colonial state of bengal) in the form of a loving mother .
i keep on staring at your inexpressible beauty .
the doors have opened to a golden temple .
your right hand shines with a dreadfull scimitar,
but your left hand in raised in gesture of fearlessness (abhaya mudra) ,
your eyes are brimming with love and compassion ,
and yet your forehead is shining with anger .
o mother , what a form i behold before me !!
This expression of durga as mother india enabled the nationalist leaders to stick to their noble cause and ideals. Somwhere in 1930’s mahatma gandhi founded the bharatmata temple in varanasi. Even today this thought remains strong in the country. Quite unknowingly a predominantly shakta philosophy has found its way into and secured a firm foundation in the nationalist sentiments of modern India.