Nothing Indian about ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, says historian Irrfan Habib at JNU

Professor Irfan Habib was speaking at a lecture commemorating late historian Bipin Chandra at the Jawahar lal University in Delhi. Habib said that there is no evidence linking the slogan to either ancient or medieval India.

Published: March 29, 2016 11:06 AM IST

By India.com News Desk

Nothing Indian about 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', says historian Irrfan Habib at JNU

New Delhi, March 29: Against the backdrop of the ongoing row over the slogan of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, celebrated historian Irrfan Habib has said that the concept is a foreign import, having its roots in the European culture, and there is no evidence linking it to either ancient or medieval India. The veteran historian made the controversial statement while delivering a lecture in the memory of late historian Bipin Chandra at the Jawahar lal University in Delhi.

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The statement comes at a time when the RSS and its affiliates have upheld the slogan as the reigning slogan of nationalism in India. According to a report in The Hindu, Professor Habib said, “Bharat Mata has nothing to do with India’s ancient or medieval past. It is a European import. Notions of motherland and fatherland were talked about in Europe”. Speaking to Hindu, he elaborated on the statement saying, “Bharat is mentioned in ancient India. It was first used in an inscription of King Kharavela in Prakrit.” Also Read: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat: Can’t force anyone to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’

“But representation of the country in human form as a mother or father was unknown in ancient India or medieval India. This was an idea that emerged in Europe with the rise of nationalism, and it was found in Britain, Russia, etc”, he added. He also said that the phrase of ‘Madar-e-Watan’ meaning Motherland in Urdu, has also been borrowed from European culture. Habib had ruffled the Right Wing’s feathers a  few weeks ago, when he had compared the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) with the Islamic State (IS).

A roe had erupted earlier this month, when AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had said that he would never chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, as a challenge to the RSS.

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Published Date: March 29, 2016 11:06 AM IST