Jana Gana Mana – From Morning Song to India’s National Anthem

 By Somali K Chakrabarti

Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
Thou Dispenser of India's destiny.
Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
Dispenser of India's destiny,
Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind,
Gujarat & Maratha, of Dravida, Orissa and Bengal,
It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
mingles in the music of Jamuna and Ganges,
and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.
They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise,
Thou dispenser of India's destiny,
Victory, Victory, Victory to thee.

English translation of India’s National Anthem “Jana Gana Mana” by Rabindranath Tagore

In the year 1911, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote a hymn in in Sanskritised Bengali “Jana Gana Mana” that was to be sung for the first time at the 26th annual session of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta.

 

The Morning Song of India

James H Cousins, an Irish poet and the principal of Besant Theosophical College at Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh had heard of the song. He invited Rabindranath Tagore to spend a few days at the college. At his behest, Tagore sang Jana Gana Mana in Bengali before a gathering of students.

Impressed by Tagore’s poetic take on diverse regions and communities within the country united in a prayer to a universal God, they selected it as their prayer song. Tagore, along with Margaret Cousins (an expert in European music and wife of James H Cousins) wrote the English translation of the song and set down its notation. The song became the Morning Song of India and soon started spreading beyond the borders.

The poem by Rabindranath Tagore was translated into Hindi by Abid Ali; the translation “Sukh Chain Kee Barkha Barse, Bharat Bagiya Hai Jaga“, being slightly different than the present day version.

In 1943, Capt Ram Singh of the INA (Indian National Army) composed a tune for the song based on Abid Ali’s Hindi translation of the poem by Rabindranath Tagore. The powerful tune of the song composed by Captain Ram Singh, known as Qaumi Tarana, inspired thousands of INA soldiers and millions of Indian citizens in their freedom struggle against the British.

After India attained independence in 15th Aug, 1947, the next day the song was played at Red Fort when Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the Tricolour on the ramparts of the Red Fort and addressed the nation. The same year it was played and greatly appreciated at an orchestral arrangement in the United Nations at New York.

 

India’s National Anthem

Later, on January 24, 1950, two days before India became Republic, “Jana Gana Mana” was adopted as the National Anthem of India.

National Anthem

The anthem with its inclusive ethos incorporating different geographical parts of India represented the spirit of the Republic day that marked the integration of over 500 princely states to form a united nation.

Unfortunately controversies had erupted that the hymn was addressed to the British king, George V, who was to visit India the same year. The rumors settled after Tagore, in a letter to the Emperor, affirmed that the mentor and creator of Bharat (India) mentioned in the song is to describe not King George V, but God himself.

‘How the British King could be addressed by anyone as the ‘Eternal Charioteer’ who drives ‘man’s history along the road rugged with rises and falls of Nation’s is beyond one’s understanding’, writes Krishna Kriplani in her biography of Rabindranath Tagore.

The beauty of the anthem lies in the fact that the song remains unchanged in several Indian languages though there are some variations in the pronunciation. The song has been written almost entirely using nouns, most of which are in use in all major languages in India.

A formal rendition of National Anthem takes about 52 seconds. The underlying theme of unity in diversity renders an eternal appeal to our National Anthem.

 

Other Prominent Patriotic Songs

The other two historic songs that played an important part in India’s freedom struggle were Vande Mataram written in Bengali and Sanskrit by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1875 and Sare Jahan se Accha, written in Urdu in 1904 by poet Muhammad Iqbal.

Vande Mataram was recognised as the National Song. Rabindranath Tagore had composed the music for Vande Mataram and the English rendering of the song was done by Sri Aurobindo. Vande Mataram was sung at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress.

These songs representing the love and pride for the country have been sung numerous times since they were first written.

National flag of India

References:

India’s National Anthem, Are we still singing for the Empire? by Pradip Kumar Datta

Jana Gana Mana :wikipedia

 

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Readers Comments (20)

  1. Even today, leaving school after so many years, I still get goose bumps when the national anthem plays. They are really powerful words. I love our national anthem.

    Reply
  2. Perfect post for the day!
    Very informative well researched post.

    Reply
  3. Very comprehensively informative Somali …both are eternal songs that command respect and patriotism whenever played .

    Reply
  4. The best post for celebrating this auspicious day.

    Reply
  5. Interesting and informative post on a apt day. Wish everyone a great Republic Day. Long live the Republic.

    Reply
  6. Bhudeb Chakrabarti Kolkata 26 January 2015
    The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had in 1946 said about Jana Gana Mana , “The song has found a place in our national life ” .Jana Gana Mana fired patriotism in every Indian during the Freedom Struggle .It will inspire the present and future generations of our great country .This is a very appropriate and educative Blog very nicely written on our 66th Republic Day .

    Reply
  7. Reblogged this on The World Past Me and commented:
    Happy Republic Day.

    Reply
  8. Very informative! I didn’t knew this much about India’s National Anthem. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  9. Great post Somali, so well researched. Didn’t know that the tune was composed by Capt. Ram Singh.

    The controversy is still very much alive as there are always some people who try to demean everything 🙁

    Reply
  10. Very informative. Must be known to very few.

    Reply
  11. Really very informative post about the national anthem. I did not know so much facts about it

    Reply
  12. Very informative post regarding our national anthem… 🙂

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the informative post regarding the history of our National Anthem and Song 🙂

    Reply
  14. धीरेंद्र गौड़ April 12, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

    अनुसंधान प्रशंसनीय व लेख अच्छा है। आशा है ऐसा निष्पक्ष कार्य अन्य शीर्षकों पर भी किया जाएगा ।
    राष्ट्रगान ” वंदे मातरम् ” ही होना चाहिये । सहमत हैं ?

    Reply

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