In 1937, during a meeting in Kolkata, members of the Congress Working Committee decided to cut short Vande Mataram to the first stanza to avoid offending the Muslims present. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's poem was first sung at the party's annual convention in 1896 by Rabindranath Tagore. But some Muslims found the poem's other cultural impulses to be Hindu.

When the Congress committee decided to truncate the poem to only its first few lines, the Hindustani musician Pandit Omkarnath Thakur (1897-1967) refused to sing at the Congress's annual sessions. But he made it a practice to sing the full Vande Mataram at the end of his concerts.

However, on August 15, 1947, Thakur accepted an invitation from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to broadcast the tune over All India Radio at 6.30 am on the condition that he be allowed to perform the complete poem. With due respect, he rendered it standing before the microphone in the AIR Bombay studio. It was relayed simultaneously by stations across the country. Here is that ten-minute-long version.

Omkarnath Thakur wasn't the only musician to perform Vande Mataram that day. Heerabai Barodekar sang it on AIR Delhi in raga Tilak Kamod, but that recording is not available so far.

Between 1925 and 1940, many musicians set this poem to music to exhibit their mastery of classical music and without worrying whether ordinary citizen would be able to sing their melodies. Here are some examples.

Bengali musician and poet Dilipkumar Roy (1897-1980) sang in in the Dhrupad Dhamar style.

In Maharashtra, several singers essayed their own versions of the poem. Vishnupant Pagnis (1892-1943), actor singer – most famous for his role of Tukaram in Prabhat Film Co.’s Sant Tukaram (1936) – cut a gramophone disc of the poem in 1928. Sung in the loud, clear voice of a bhajan singer, he changed the order of the stanzas in the original text. He sang it in Sarang, a late afternoon raga.

Another music director of Prabhat Films, Keshavrao Bhole (1896-1967) recorded the poem on the Odeon label in 1935. His tune is in Raga Deshkar, the early morning melody, with showers of taans that exhibit his mastery and technique.

In the 1920s, Savlaramboa Shejval used to lead school children in Mumbai's Crawford Market area in a morning prayer march, or prabhat pheri. He would sing patriotic songs to them, including Vande Mataram. Around 1928, he cut a disc on Viel-O-Phone label in Kalingda, the late night raga. It sounds like the Maharashtrian powada folk form, but creates a very sad mood.

Part 1 of this series can be read here.