National Anthem of India

National Anthem Of India – Introduction

The patriotic fervor of the nation is very well captured in the National Anthem of India. ‘Jana-gana-mana’, composed by Rabindranath Tagore, was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 24th January, 1950, as the National Anthem of India. The Anthem was originally composed in Bengali, but later its Hindi version was adopted. It was first sung on 27th December, 1911, at the Calcutta session of Indian National Congress after abandoning ‘God Save the King’.

The ‘Jana Gana Mana’ Controversy

After request from the members of the Indian National Congress, that Tagore should make an appeasement gesture towards the British monarchy, Tagore wrote the ‘Jana-gana-mana’ in protest, rather than an appeasement.

In a letter to his friend Pulin Behari Sen, Tagore expressed, “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 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.” Later, it was progressively adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India.

Directly relevant to this controversial issue was the excerpt from Pandit Nehru as follows –

“It is unfortunate that some kind of argument has arisen between VM and Jana. VM is obviously and undisputedly the premier national song of India, with a great historical tradition and intimately connected with our struggle for freedom. That position it is bound to retain and no other song can displace it. It represents the passion and poignancy of that struggle but perhaps not so much the culmination of it. In regard to the national anthem tune, it was felt that the tune was more important than the words, and this tune should be such as to represent the Indian musical genius as well as to some extent the Western, so that it might easily be adapted to orchestra and band music, and to playing abroad. The real significance of the national anthem is perhaps more abroad than in the home country. Past experience has shown that Janagana tune has been greatly appreciated and admired abroad…VM with all its very great attraction and historical background, was not easily suitable for orchestras in foreign countries.. It seemed therefore that while VM should continue to be the national song par excellence in India, the national anthem tune should be that of Janaganamana, and the wording of Janagana be altered suitably to fit in with existing circumstances.” (Glorious Thoughts of Nehru, p.139)

The above mentioned justification of Pandit Nehru for the adoption of ‘Jana-gana-mana’ as the National Anthem of India gave a rude shock to the nation. Majority of the people were favoring ‘Vande mataram’ rather.

“When the objection was raised to the adoption of VM as the national anthem on the ground that it was full of idolatry, Aurobindo said Durga to whom it paid homage was none other than Bharata Mata symbolising Knowledge, Power, Greatness and Glory.” (Resurgent India, p.191)

A final decision for the adoption of ‘Jana-gana-mana’ as the National Anthem was taken as a meeting presided over by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

The following statement of Dr. Rajendra Prasad may be pertinently quoted in this regard:

“The composition consisting of words and music known as Janaganamana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations as the Government may authorise as occasion arises, and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honored equally with Janaganamana and shall have equal status with it. (Applause) I hope this will satisfy members.” (Constituent Assembly of India, Vil.XII, 24-1-1950)

100 years of ‘Jana Gana Mana’

Over the past hundred years, the National Anthem of India has aptly defined the glory of this majestic nation. Embedded into this song is the deep philosophy and hospitality, along with the multitudinous diversity of India. The National Anthem has been appropriately summarized as follows:

“Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people, dispenser of India’s destiny.”

It has been sung thousands of times by the people of India, at various assemblies and gatherings, to show respect and honor to the glorious history, culture and diversity of this nation.

Norms of singing ‘Jana Gana Mana’

The singing of the National Anthem has been limited to 52 seconds and the abridged version, consisting of the first and last lines have been limited to 20 seconds. It is also sung at the end of school and college assemblies, public meetings, Independence Day, Republic Day and also displayed in theaters and cultural programs. In order to maintain dignity, both the singer/s and the audience should stand up during the singing of the National Anthem.

Lyrics of ‘Jana Gana Mana’

English:  Jana gana mana adhi naayaka jaya hai!
Bhaarat bhaagya vidhaata
Punjab Sindh Gujarat Maraatha,
Dravid Utkala Bangaa.
Vindhya Himachala Yamuna Ganga,
Uchhala jaladhi taranga.
Tava shubh naame jaage,
Tava shubh aashish maage,
Gahe tava jaya-gaatha.

Jana-gana-mangaladayaka jaya hai!
Bharat bhagya vidhata.
Jaya hai! Jaya hai! Jaya hai!
Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya hai!


जन गण मन अधिनायक जय हे
भारत भाग्यविधाता
पंजाब सिन्धु गुजरात मराठा
द्राविड़ उत्कल बंगा
विन्ध्य हिमाचल यमुना गंगा
उच्छल जलधि तरंगा
तव शुभ नामे जागे
तव शुभ आशीष मांगे
गाहे तव जयगाथा

जन गण मंगलदायक जय हे
भारत भाग्यविधाता
जय हे, जय हे, जय हे
जय जय जय जय हे!

Original English Translation:

“Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
dispenser of India’s destiny.
The name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujarat and Maratha,
of the Dravid and Orissa and Bengal;
It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
mingles in the music of the Yamuna and Ganga
and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.
They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.
The salvation of all people is in thy hand,
thou dispenser of India’s destiny.
Victory, victory, victory to thee.

Published On: 19-02-2014

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