Jana Gana Mana
|English: Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People|
National anthem of India
|Lyrics||Rabindranath Tagore, 1911|
|Music||Rabindranath Tagore, 1911|
|Adopted||24 January 1950|
Jana Gana Mana is the national anthem of India set to Raag Alhiya Bilawal. Written in Bengali, the first of five stanzas of the Brahmo hymn titled Bharot Bhagyo Bidhata are attributed to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The underlying message of Jana Gana Mana is pluralism.
It was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India on 24 January 1950. It was first sung on 27 December 1911 at the Calcutta (now, Kolkata) Session of the Indian National Congress. A formal rendition of the national anthem takes fifty-two seconds. A shortened version consisting of the first and last lines (and taking about 20 seconds to play) is also staged occasionally.
The poem is written in a literary register of the Bengali language called sadhu bhasa. The song has been written almost entirely using nouns that also can function as verbs. Most of the nouns of the song are in use in all major languages in India. Therefore, the original song is quite clearly understandable, and in fact, remains almost unchanged in several widely different Indian languages. Also as quasi-Sanskrit text, it is acceptable in many modern Indic languages, but the pronunciation varies considerably across India. This is primarily because most Indic languages are abugidas in that certain unmarked consonants are assumed to have an inherent vowel, but conventions for this inherent vowel differ among the languages of India. The transcription below reflects the Bengali pronunciation, in both the Bengali script and romanisation. The following are officially recognised versions of the national anthem by the Indian government, in some of the officially recognised languages.
|জন গণ মন (Bengali)||Bengali romanisation||जन गण मन (Hindi)|
জনগণমন-অধিনায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
Jana gaṅa mana-adhināẏyaka jaya hē Bhāratabhāgyavidhātā!
The music that is played with the anthem was composed by an Indian Gorkha freedom-
Jana Gana Mana was written on 11 December 1911 and sung on 27 December 1911 at the Indian National Congress, Calcutta and again in January 1912 at the annual event of the Adi Brahmo Samaj. Though the Bengali song had been written in 1911, it was largely unknown except to the readers of the Brahmo Samaj journal, Tattwabodhini Patrika, of which Tagore was the editor.
Code of conduct
The National Anthem of India is played or sung on various occasions. Instructions have been issued from time to time about the correct versions of the Anthem, the occasions on which these are to be played or sung, and about the need for paying respect to the anthem by observance of proper decorum on such occasions. The substance of these instructions has been embodied in the information sheet issued by the government of India for general information and guidance. The official duration of the National Anthem of India is 52 seconds.
Controversy shadowed Jana Gana Mana from the day of its first rendition on 27 December 1911 at the twenty-seventh session of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta. Emperor George V was scheduled to arrive in the city on 30 December and a section of the Anglo-Indian English press in Calcutta thought – and duly reported – that Tagore's hymn was a homage to the emperor.
The poet claims in a letter written in 1939: "I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me capable of such unbounded stupidity." In another letter to Pulin Behari Sen, Tagore later wrote, "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."
In Kerala, students belonging to the Jehovah's Witnesses religious denomination were expelled by school authorities for their refusal to sing the national anthem on religious grounds, although they stood up respectfully when the anthem was sung. The Kerala High Court concluded that there was nothing in it which could offend anyone's religious susceptibilities, and upheld their expulsion. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court and ruled that the High Court had misdirected itself because the question is not whether a particular religious belief or practice appeals to our reason or sentiment but whether the belief is genuinely and conscientiously held as part of the profession or practice of a religion. "Our personal views and reactions are irrelevant" The Supreme Court affirmed the principle that it is not for a secular judge to sit in judgment on the correctness of a religious belief.
Supreme Court observed in its ruling
"There is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor is it disrespectful to the National Anthem if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung does not join the singing. Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung. It will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing. Standing up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung but not singing oneself clearly does not either prevent the singing of the National Anthem or cause disturbance to an assembly engaged in such singing so as to constitute the offence mentioned in s. 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act".
On 30th November 2016, Supreme Court of India orders National Anthem must be played before movies in theaters.
This 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 27 December 1911. 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)
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, 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, p. 738.)
Moreover, Tagore was hailed as a patriot who wrote other songs too apart from "Jana Gana Mana" lionising 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.
Another controversy is that only those provinces that were under British rule, i.e. Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravid (South India), Odisha and Bengal, were mentioned. None of the princely states – Kashmir, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Mysore or Kerala – or the states in Northeast India, which are now claimed by India as integral parts, were mentioned. 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 29 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.
On 17 December 2013, MLA of Assam, Phani bhushan Choudhury cited article of 'The Times of India' published on 26 January 1950, stating that in the originally the word 'Kamarup' was included in the song, but was later changed to 'Sindhu' and claimed that Kamarup should be re-included. To this, the then minister Rockybul Hussain replied that the state government would initiate steps in this regard after response from the newspaper. The debate was further joined by the then minister Ardhendu Dey, mentioning 'Sanchayita' (edited by Tagore himself) etc. where he said Kamrup was not mentioned.
On 7 July 2015, Rajasthan Governor, Kalyan Singh has called for replacing the word Adhinayaka with the word Mangal, basing his argument on the myth Tagore himself busted back in 1939 itself.
- Vande Mataram, a poem by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee adopted as the national song of India
- Subh Sukh Chain, national anthem (Qaumi Tarana) of the Provisional Government of Free India
- Mani, Charulatha (22 November 2013). "Catchy and classical". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
- http://www.ibnlive.com/news/movies/bharat-bhagya-bidhata-from-rajkahini-is-a-tagore-song-and-not-an-extended-version-of-the-national-anthem-1108614.html IBNliveNews -'Bharat Bhagya Bidhata' from 'Rajkahini' is a Tagore song and not an extended version of the national anthem
- Nussbaum, Martha (2012). "Rabindranath Tagore: Subversive Songs for a Transcultural "Religion of Humanity"". Acta Musicologica. International Musicological Society. 84 (2): 147–159. JSTOR 23343884.
"Jana gana mana" is highly pluralistic, deliberately including all Indians
- Vajpeyi, Ananya (2010-01-01). "A Song Unto Itself: How Rabindranath Tagore, Ram Gopal Varma and the Supreme Court of India Hear the National Anthem". History Faculty Publication Series. Retrieved 2016-10-04.
In January 1950, two days before the promulgation of the Indian Constitution, it was formally adopted by the Constituent Assembly, under the stewardship of President Rajendra Prasad, as free India’s national anthem.
- National Anthem – National Symbols – Know India. Nation Portal of Government of India.
- Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi (2011). Rabindranath Tagore : an interpretation. New Delhi: Viking, Penguin Books India. p. 206. ISBN 978-0670084555.
Incidentally a myth regarding this song needs to be refuted and laid to rest. It is on record that the song was written on 11 December 1911. On December 12, 1911 the Delhi Durbar met to honour King Emperor George V. Obviously a poem written on 11 December could not be intended for an event the following day. The song was actually sung at the twenty-seventh session of the Indian National Congress, Calcutta on 28 December 1911 as the opening song at the beginning of the day’s proceedings. Thereafter it was also sung at the foundation day anniversary of Adi Brahma Samaj in February 1912 and included in their collection of psalms, Brahma Sangit.
- "BBC News – Indian anthem Jana Gana Mana turns 100". Bbc.co.uk. 27 December 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
- "Controversy Surrounding The Indian National Anthem". Rare India Fact. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- "To sing or not to sing Vande Mataram". Indian Express. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- "Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors V. State of Kerala & Ors  INSC 167". indiankanoon.org. 11 August 1986. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- Supreme Court orders National Anthem must be played before movies in theaters
- "Tagore and Jana Gana Mana". Monish R. Chatterjee.
- "India: Are we still singing for the Empire?". Pradip Kumar Datta.
- State to seek newspaper clarification on report. STAFF Reporter. Assam Tribune, 17-12-2013