Sare Jahan se Accha

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"Sare Jahan se Accha"
Language Urdu
Published 16 August 1904 (1904-08-16)
Genre Patriotic song
Songwriter(s) Muhammad Iqbal

"Sare Jahan se Accha" (Urdu: سارے جہاں سے اچھا‎, Hindi: सारे जहां से अच्छा; Sāre Jahāṉ se Acchā), formally known as "Tarānah-i-Hindi" (Urdu: ترانۂ ہندی‎, Hindi: तराना-ए-हिंदी ; "Anthem of the People of India"), is an Urdu language patriotic song written for children by poet Muhammad Iqbal in the ghazal style of Urdu poetry.[a] The poem was published in the weekly journal Ittehad on 16 August 1904.[1] Publicly recited by Iqbal the following year at Government College, Lahore, British India (now in Pakistan) it quickly became an anthem of opposition to the British Raj. The song, an ode to Hindustan—the land comprising present-day Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, was later published in 1924 in the Urdu book Bang-i-Dara.[2]

The song has remained popular, especially in India. An abridged version is sung and played frequently as a patriotic song and as a marching song of the Indian Armed Forces. A satirical version of the same from a 1958 Hindi movie also remains popular.[3]

Its popular fast tempo tune was composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar in 1945 based on raga Mishra Pilu,[4] and it was set as a marching tune by Professor Antsher Lobo.[citation needed]


Iqbal was a lecturer at the Government College, Lahore at that time, and was invited by a student Lala Har Dayal to preside over a function. Instead of delivering a speech, Iqbal sang "Saare Jahan Se Achcha". The song, in addition to embodying yearning and attachment to the land of Hindustan, expressed "cultural memory" and had an elegiac quality. In 1905, the 27-year-old Iqbal viewed the future society of the subcontinent as both a pluralistic and composite Hindu-Muslim culture. Later that year he left for Europe for a three-year sojourn that was to transform him into an Islamic philosopher and a visionary of a future Islamic society.[2]

Iqbal's transformation and Tarana-e-Milli[edit]

In 1910, Iqbal wrote another song for children, "Tarana-e-Milli" (Anthem of the Religious Community), which was composed in the same metre and rhyme scheme as "Saare Jahan Se Achcha", but which renounced much of the sentiment of the earlier song.[5] The sixth stanza of "Saare Jahan Se Achcha" (1904), which is often quoted as proof of Iqbal's secular outlook:

Maẕhab nahīṉ sikhātā āpas meṉ bair rakhnā
Hindī haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai Hindūstāṉ hamārā

Religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves
We are of Hind, our homeland is Hindustan.

contrasted significantly with the first stanza of Tarana-e-Milli (1910) reads:[5]

Cīn o-ʿArab hamārā, Hindūstāṉ hamārā
Muslim haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai sārā jahāṉ hamārā

Central Asia[6] and Arabia are ours, Hindustan is ours
We are Muslims, the whole world is our homeland.[5]

Iqbal's world view had now changed; it had become both global and Islamic. Instead of singing of Hindustan, "our homeland," the new song proclaimed that "our homeland is the whole world."[7] Two decades later, in his presidential address to the Muslim League annual conference in Allahabad in 1930, he supported a separate nation-state in the Muslim majority areas of the sub-continent, an idea that inspired the creation of Pakistan.[8]

Popularity in India and in popular culture[edit]

  • Saare Jahan Se Achcha has remained popular in India for nearly a century. Mahatma Gandhi is said to have sung it over a hundred times when he was imprisoned at Yerawada Jail in Pune in the 1930s.[9]
  • In the 1930s and 1940s, it was sung to a slower tune. In 1945, while working in Mumbai with IPTA (Indian Peoples Theater Association), the sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar was asked to compose the music for the K.A. Abbas movie Dharti ka Laal and the Chetan Anand movie Neecha Nagar. During this time, Ravi Shankar was asked to compose music for the song Saare jahan se accha. In an interview in 2009 with Shekhar Gupta, Ravi Shankar recounts that he felt that the existing tune was too slow and sad. To give it a more inspiring impact, he set it to a stronger tune which is today the popular tune of this song, which they then tried out as a group song.[10] It was later recorded by the singer Lata Mangeshkar to a 3rd altogether different tune. Stanzas (1), (3), (4), and (6) of the song became an unofficial national song in India,[1] and the Ravi Shankar version was adopted as the official quick march of the Indian Armed Forces.[11]
  • Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut, employed the first line of the song in 1984 to describe to then prime minister Indira Gandhi how India appeared from outer space.[12]
  • In his inaugural speech, the former prime minister of India Manmohan Singh quoted this poem at his first press conference after becoming the Prime Minister.[9]
  • The song is popular in India in schools, and as a marching song for the Indian armed forces, played during public events and parades.[2] It is played by the Armed forces Massed Bands each year for the Indian Independence day, republic day and at the culmination of Beating the Retreat).[13]
  • A parody of the song was written by the Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi for the 1958 Hindi film Phir Subah Hogi and sung by Mukesh. With the title "Cheeno arab hamara", the song drew the irony between the reality of life for the common and poor people, with the idealized context drawn in the original song.[3]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ "'Taranah-e Hindi' (1904) was explicitly written as a patriotic song for children; Iqbal also composed a number of others meant for children, but this one has always been the most popular. This little ghazal, composed by the man widely considered to be the philosophical father of Pakistan, is now extremely popular—but only in India."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Pritchett, Frances. 2000. "Tarana-e-Hindi and Taranah-e-Milli: A Study in Contrasts." Columbia University Department of South Asian Studies.
  2. ^ a b c "Saare Jahan Se Accha: Facts about the song and its creator". India Today. 21 April 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Imam, Sharjeel (6 July 2016). "Sare Jahan Se Acha: The Idea of India in Early 20th Century Urdu Poetry". The Wire. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  4. ^ Jha, Subhash (14 December 2012). "Pandit Ravi Shankar composed 'Sare jahan se...': Gulzar". Times of India. Retrieved 5 June 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c Iqbal: Tarana-e-Milli, 1910. Columbia University, Department of South Asian Studies.
  6. ^ Although "Chin" refers to China in modern Urdu, in Iqbal's day it referred to Central Asia, coextensive with historical Turkestan. See also, Iqbal: Tarana-e-Milli, 1910. Columbia University, Department of South Asian Studies.
  7. ^ Pritchett, Frances. 2000. Tarana-e-Hindi and Tarana-e-Milli: A Close Comparison. Columbia University Department of South Asian Studies.
  8. ^ A look at Iqbal; The Sunday Tribune – May 28, 2006
  9. ^ a b Times of India: Saare Jahan Se..., it's 100 now
  10. ^ Gupta, Shekhar (5 December 2009). "Walk the talk - Interview with Pandit Ravi Shankar". NDTV. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Indian Military Marches.
  12. ^ India Empowered to Me Is: Saare Jahan Se Achcha, the home of world citizens
  13. ^ "Indian tunes to set mood at 'Beating Retreat' today". The Tribune. 29 January 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018. 

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