Anandamath By Bankim Chandra Chatterjee is a Bengali fiction, published in 1882. Set in the background of the Sannyasi Rebellion in the late 18th century, it is considered one of the most important novels in the history of Bengali and Indian literature. Its importance is heightened by the fact that it became synonymous with the struggle for Indian independence from the British Empire. The novel was banned by the British. The ban was lifted later by the Government of India after independence.

The national song of India, Vande Mataram, was first published in this novel.

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आनन्दमठ 

लेखक : बंकिमचन्द चट्टोपाध्याय

बंकिमचन्द चट्टोपाध्याय का उपन्यास आनन्दमठ

Bankimcand’s novel Aanandmath

Plot summary

The book is set in the years during the famine in Bengal in 1770 CE.[3] It starts with introduction to a couple, Mahendra and Kalyani, who are stuck at their village Padachinha without food and water in the times of famine. They decide to leave their village and move to the next closest city where there is a better chance of survival. During the course of events, the couple gets separated and Kalyani has to run through the forest with her infant to avoid getting caught by robbers. After a long chase, she loses consciousness at the bank of a river. A Hindu monk, Satyananda, takes her to his ashram and he and other monks take care of her and her baby until she reunites with her husband.

The husband, Mahendra, at this point is more inclined towards joining the brotherhood of the monks and serving the Mother Nation. Kalyani wants to help him in attaining his dreams by trying to kill herself, thereby relieving him of worldly duties. At this point, Satyananda joins her but before he can help her, he is arrested by the British soldiers, because other monks were fuelling revolt against the British rule. While being dragged away he spots another monk who is not wearing his distinctive robes and sings,

“In mild breeze, by the bank of the river,

In the forest, resides a respectable lady.”

The other monk deciphers the song, rescues Kalyani and the baby, taking them to a rebel monk hideout. Concurrently, Kalyani’s husband, Mahendra, is also given shelter by the monks, and they are reunited. The leader of the rebels shows Mahendra the three faces of Bharat-Mata (Mother India) as three goddess idols being worshipped in three consecutive rooms:

What Mother Was – An idol of Goddess Jagaddhatri

What Mother Has Become – An idol of Goddess Kali

What Mother Will Be – An idol of Goddess Durga

Gradually, the rebel influence grows and their ranks swell. Emboldened, they shift their headquarters to a small brick fort. The British attack the fort with a large force. The rebels blockade the bridge over the nearby river, but they lack any artillery or military training. In the fighting, the British make a tactical retreat over the bridge. The Sannyasis’ undisciplined army, lacking military experience, chases the British into the trap. Once the bridge is full of rebels, British artillery opens fire, inflicting severe casualties.

However, some rebels manage to capture some of the cannons, and turn the fire back on to the British lines. The British are forced to fall back, the rebels winning their first battle. The story ends with Mahendra and Kalyani building a home again, with Mahendra continuing to support the rebels.

The song Vande Mataram is sung in this novel. Vande Mataram means “I bow to thee, Mother”. It inspired freedom fighters in the 20th century and its first two stanzas became the national song of India after independence.

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