Jana Gana Mana (hymn)

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This article is about the original hymn composed by Rabindranath Tagore. For the national anthem of India, see Jana Gana Mana.

Jana Gana Mana (Bengali: জন গণ মন, Jôno Gôno Mono) is a five-stanza Brahmo hymn composed and scored in a highly Sanskritized Bengali by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1911. The first stanza of the song has been adopted as the National Anthem of India. Tagore translated "Jana Gana Mana", from Bengali to English and set it to music along with Margaret Cousins (an expert in European music and wife of Irish poet James Cousins) at Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh. [ The tune was composed by Ram singh, the Director of Music of the Azad Hind Fauz, which in 1942 adopted it the National Anthem] However that score is followed only when the song is sung in the original slow rendition style of singing. The National Anthem version of the song is sung in the traditional grandiose Martial Style of music.

Lyrics of all 5 stanzas[edit]

The English translation below has been adapted from an unverifiable source.[1]

Bengali Romanization English Translation

Jono gono mono odhinayoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Panjab Sindh Gujorata Moratha,
Drabido Uthkolo Bongo
Bindhdho Himacholo Jomuna Gongo,
Uchchholojolodhitorongo
Tobo shubho name jage,
Tobo shubho ashish mage
Gahe tobo joyo gatha
Jono gono mongolo dayoko joyohe,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Ohoroho tobo ahban procharito,
Shunithob udaro bani
Hindu Buddho Shikh Jeino Parshiko,
Musolman Krishtani
Purab poshchim ashe,
Tobo shinghashono pashe
Premohar hoy gãtha
Jono gono oik-ko bidhayoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Potono obhbhudhoyo bondhur pontha,
Jugo Jugo dhabito dathri
He chirosharothi, tobo rotho chakre,
Mukhuritho poth dinratri
Daruno Biplob majhe,
Tobo shongkhodhoni baje
Shonkoto dukkho tratha
Jono gono potho porichayoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Ghor timir ghono nibir nishithe,
Pirit murchhito deshe
Jagroto chilo tobo obicholo mongolo,
Notonoyo ne onimeshe
Duhshopne atangke,
Roksha korile ongke
Snehomoyi tumi mata
Jono Gono Duhkho Troyoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhatha
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Ratri probhatilo udilo robichhobi,
Purbo udoyo giri bhale
Gahe bihongom pun-no shomiron,
Nobo jibono rosh dhale
Tobo korunaruno rage,
Nidritho bharot jage
Tobo chorone not matha
Joyo Joyo Joyo He, Joyo Rajeshor
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Oh! the ruler of the minds of people, Victory be to You,
Dispenser of the destiny of India!
Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maharashtra,
Dravid (South India), Orissa, and Bengal,
The Vindhya, the Himalayas, the Yamuna, the Ganges,
And the oceans with foaming waves all around.
Wake up listening to Your auspicious name,
Ask for Your auspicious blessings,
And sing to Your glorious victory.
Oh! You who impart well being to the people,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

Your call is announced continuously,
We heed Your gracious call
The Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsees,
Muslims, and Christians,
The East and the West come together,
To the side of Your throne
And weave the garland of love.
Oh! You who bring in the unity of the people!
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

The way of life is somber as it moves through ups and downs,
But we, the pilgrims, have followed it through ages.
Oh! Eternal Charioteer, the wheels of your chariot
Echo day and night in the path
In the midst of fierce revolution,
Your conch shell sounds.
You save us from fear and misery.
Oh! You who guide the people through torturous path,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

During the bleakest of nights,
When the whole country was sick and in swoon
Wakeful remained Your incessant blessings,
Through Your lowered but winkless eyes
Through nightmares and fears,
You protected us on Your lap,
Oh Loving Mother!
Oh! You who have removed the misery of the people,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

The night is over, and the Sun has risen
over the hills of the eastern horizon.
The birds are singing, and a gentle auspicious breeze
Is pouring the elixir of new life.
By the halo of Your compassion,
India that was asleep is now waking
On your feet we now lay our heads
Oh! Victory, victory, victory to you, the Supreme King,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!


Apart from the above translation which follows the original very closely, Tagore's own interpretation of Jana Gana Mana in English is available as Wikisource link to The Morning Song of India. Wikisource..

Lyrics in Bengali script[edit]

জনগণমন-অধিনায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
পঞ্জাব সিন্ধু গুজরাট মরাঠা দ্রাবিড় উৎকল বঙ্গ
বিন্ধ্য হিমাচল যমুনা গঙ্গা উচ্ছলজলধিতরঙ্গ
তব শুভ নামে জাগে, তব শুভ আশিষ মাগে,
গাহে তব জয়গাথা।
জনগণমঙ্গলদায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে।।

অহরহ তব আহ্বান প্রচারিত, শুনি তব উদার বাণী
হিন্দু বৌদ্ধ শিখ জৈন পারসিক মুসলমান খৃস্টানী
পূরব পশ্চিম আসে তব সিংহাসন-পাশে
প্রেমহার হয় গাঁথা।
জনগণ-ঐক্য-বিধায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে।।

পতন-অভ্যুদয়-বন্ধুর পন্থা, যুগ যুগ ধাবিত যাত্রী।
হে চিরসারথি, তব রথচক্রে মুখরিত পথ দিনরাত্রি।
দারুণ বিপ্লব-মাঝে তব শঙ্খধ্বনি বাজে
সঙ্কটদুঃখত্রাতা।
জনগণপথপরিচায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে।।

ঘোরতিমিরঘন নিবিড় নিশীথে পীড়িত মূর্ছিত দেশে
জাগ্রত ছিল তব অবিচল মঙ্গল নতনয়নে অনিমেষে।
দুঃস্বপ্নে আতঙ্কে রক্ষা করিলে অঙ্কে
স্নেহময়ী তুমি মাতা।
জনগণদুঃখত্রায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে।।

রাত্রি প্রভাতিল, উদিল রবিচ্ছবি পূর্ব-উদয়গিরিভালে –
গাহে বিহঙ্গম, পূণ্য সমীরণ নবজীবনরস ঢালে।
তব করুণারুণরাগে নিদ্রিত ভারত জাগে
তব চরণে নত মাথা।
জয় জয় জয় হে জয় রাজেশ্বর ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে।।

Controversies[edit]

Historical significance[edit]

The poem was composed in December 1911, coinciding with the visit of King George V at the time of the Coronation Durbar of George V, and "Bharat Bhagya vidhata" and "Adhinayaka" was believed to be in praise of King George V as per the British newspapers. The composition was first sung during a convention of the then loyalist Indian National Congress in Calcutta on 26 Dec 1911.[2] It was sung on the second day of the convention, and the agenda of that day devoted itself to a loyal welcome of George V on his visit to India. The event was reported thus in the British Indian press:

"The Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore sang a song composed by him specially to welcome the Emperor." (Statesman, Dec. 28, 1911)
"The proceedings began with the singing by Rabindranath Tagore of a song specially composed by him in honour of the Emperor." (Englishman, Dec. 28, 1911)


"When the proceedings of the Indian National Congress began on Wednesday 27th December 1911, a Bengali song in welcome of the Emperor was sung. A resolution welcoming the Emperor and Empress was also adopted unanimously." (Indian, Dec. 29, 1911)

Counter arguments

Many historians aver that the newspaper reports cited above were misguided. The confusion arose in British Indian press since a different song, "Badshah Humara" written in Hindi by Rambhuj Chaudhary,[3] was sung on the same occasion in praise of the monarch. The nationalist Indian press stated this difference of events clearly:-

"The proceedings of the Congress party session started with a prayer in Bengali to praise God (song of benediction). This was followed by a resolution expressing loyalty to King George V. Then another song was sung welcoming King George V." (Amrita Bazar Patrika, Dec.28,1911)

"The annual session of Congress began by singing a song composed by the great Bengali poet Ravindranath Tagore. Then a resolution expressing loyalty to King George V was passed. A song paying a heartfelt homage to King George V was then sung by a group of boys and girls." (The Bengalee, Dec. 28, 1911)

Even the report of the annual session of the Indian National Congress of December 1911 stated this difference:

"On the first day of 28th annual session of the Congress, proceedings started after singing Vande Mataram. On the second day the work began after singing a patriotic song by Babu Ravindranath Tagore. Messages from well wishers were then read and a resolution was passed expressing loyalty to King George V. Afterwards the song composed for welcoming King George V and Queen Mary was sung."

On 10 November 1937 Tagore wrote a letter to Mr Pulin Bihari Sen about the controversy. That letter in Bengali can be found in Tagore's biography Ravindrajivani, volume II page 339 by Prabhatkumar Mukherjee.

"A certain high official in His Majesty's service, who was also my friend, had requested that I write a song of felicitation towards the Emperor. The request simply amazed me. It caused a great stir in my heart. In response to that great mental turmoil, I pronounced the victory in Jana Gana Mana of that Bhagya Vidhata [ed. God of Destiny] of India who has from age after age held steadfast the reins of India's chariot through rise and fall, through the straight path and the curved. That Lord of Destiny, that Reader of the Collective Mind of India, that Perennial Guide, could never be George V, George VI, or any other George. Even my official friend understood this about the song. After all, even if his admiration for the crown was excessive, he was not lacking in simple common sense."

Again in his letter of 19 March 1939 Tagore writes,

"I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me capable of such unbounded stupidity as to sing in praise of George the Fourth or George the Fifth as the Eternal Charioteer leading the pilgrims on their journey through countless ages of the timeless history of mankind." (Purvasa, Phalgun, 1354, p738.)

Moreover, Tagore was hailed as a patriot who wrote other songs too apart from "Jana Gana Mana" lionizing the Indian independence movement.He renounced his knighthood in protest against the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. The Knighthood i.e. the title of 'Sir' was conferred on him by the same King George V after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature for "Gitanjali" from the government of Sweden. Two of Tagore's more politically charged compositions, "Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo" ("Where the Mind is Without Fear" :Gitanjali Poem#35) and "Ekla Chalo Re" ("If They Answer Not to Thy Call, Walk Alone"), gained mass appeal, with the latter favoured by Gandhi and Netaji.

Literary interpretations[edit]

The proponents of the controversy stress the usage of the following words and phrases to claim that Jana Gana Mana was written for the King and the Queen of England-

Stanza 1: (Indian) People wake up remembering your good name and ask for your blessings and they sing your glories.
Stanza 2: Around your 'throne' people of all religions come and give their love and anxiously wait to hear your kind words.
Stanza 3: Praise to the 'King' for being 'the charioteer'.
Stanza 4: Drowned in deep ignorance, and suffering, poverty-striken, this unconscious country waits for the wink of our eye and your mother's (Earth's) true protection.
Stanza 5: In your compassionate plans, the sleeping Bharat (India) will wake up. We bow down to your feet O Queen(Earth), and victory come to Rajeshwara(the lord of the lords).

Counter arguments

The supporters of the nationalist message of Jana Gana Mana claim that "King","Throne" and "chariot" refer to the Almighty who will lead India to freedom. "Ma" on the other hand is more likely to refer to "The Motherland" i.e. India, than King George V's mother- The Queen. In Amar Sonar Bangla, the national anthem of Bangladesh, Tagore has used the word "ma" and "mata" numerous times to refer to the motherland. In his deeply mystic book "Gitanjali" (an offering of songs to the God) Tagore has used the same metaphor of God as "King":-

Poem #50:[4]  "I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream and I wondered who was this King of all Kings!"
Poem #51:[5]  "The King has come- but where are lights, where are wreaths? Where is the throne to seat him?..... Open the doors, let the conch-shells be sounded!"
Poem #35:[6]  "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

The following phrases ignored by the proponents of the King George V controversy strengthen credibility of Jana Gana Mana's patriotic message:-

Stanza 1:"Jana gana mangaldayako" The saving of all people waits in thy hand. The saving referred to here, could be from British imperialism.
Stanza 2: The call of the Lord (not the King or Queen)is announced in every Indian home continuously in their prayers. He brings "Oikyo" i.e. unity of the people to gain freedom.
Stanza 3: "Jugo Dhabito Jaatri" (Pilgrims of the ages) are those who follow the path leading to God, not to some King or Queen of British Empire. Similarly "Biplabo" i.e. fierce revolution is our freedom struggle and "Shankhodhwoni"(conch-shell sound) in mythology announced the start of a "battle", here- nationalist struggle against the Empire. This is a path of sacrifice and only God can protect from fear and misery (Sankato Dukho).
Stanza 4: Through nightmares and fears, our mother i.e. motherbhumi protected us in her lap, not the Queen.
Stanza 5"Nidrito Bharato Jaagey" (Sleeping India awakens). This phrase has been used at least once by every nationalist poet to awaken the masses for revolution against British Imperialism. The "Supreme King" makes a mockery of King George V in the sense that the protector of India is a king above all mortal kings.

Regional aspects[edit]

Another controversy is that only those provinces that were under British rule, i.e. Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravid (South India), Orissa and Bengal, were mentioned. None of the princely states – Kashmir, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Mysore or Kerala – or the states in North-East India, which are integral parts of India now, were mentioned. Neither the Indian Ocean nor the Arabian Sea was included, since they were directly under Portuguese rule at that time. But opponents of this proposition claim that Tagore mentioned only the borders states of India to include complete India. Whether the princely states would form a part of a liberated Indian republic was a matter of debate even till Indian Independence. 'Dravida' includes the people from the south (though Dravida specifically means Tamil and even then, the same consideration is not given for the south since there are many distinct people whereas in the north each of the distinct people are named) and 'Jolodhi' (Stanza 1) is Sanskrit for "seas and oceans". Even North-East which was under British rule or holy rivers apart from Ganges and Yamuna are not mentioned to keep the song in its rhythm. India has 28 states, 7 union territories.

In 2005, there were calls to delete the word "Sindh" and substitute it with the word Kashmir. The argument was that Sindh was no longer a part of India, having become part of Pakistan as a result of the Partition of 1947. Opponents of this proposal hold that the word "Sindh" refers to the Indus and to Sindhi culture, and that Sindhi people are an integral part of India's cultural fabric. The Supreme Court of India declined to change the national anthem and the wording remains unchanged.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Dutta, K; Robinson, A (1995), Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-14030-4 
  • Sekhar Mittra; Sitansu (2001), Bengal's Renaissance, Academic Publishers, Kolkata, ISBN 81-87504-18-8 

External links[edit]