Jana Gana Mana.
Most know this as the Indian National Anthem. Enough reason for Indians to mindlessly hum it and for Pakistanis to neither hear it, nor understand it. One loves and another hates it; both because of where they are born into.
To understand this sans labeling, we need to lapse and realize that it comes from a time when there was neither the India we know today nor the concept of Pakistan. It comes as the unified voice of people who were no longer masters of their destinies back then. People whose land & liberty was usurped by those who trampled their dignity shamelessly.
To me, this comes from a soul who understood life, land and the Creator far better than the founding fathers of Pakistan and India. The man who comprehended an ideology beyond what the enslaved minds of United Indians and their partitioning leaders could digest. The man sought by Gandhi for advisory. The man who refused to be part of politics and chose Awakening as his purpose of life. The man who gave up bestowal of knighthood from the British Empire. The undisputed, non-religious teacher of Hindus & Muslims alike. A man born ahead of his life and times. His idea of sovereignty under Adi Dharma governs the Indian Constitution today, and this poetry of his forms the Anthem; not of a country bordered by men, but of life that stretches from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the peaks of Himalayas.
The writer’s ability to sense the sentiment, pen it and let it echo throughout the land came from his deep rooted connection with the Consciousness that he shared with the sands and souls of United India. It stands the test of time to date because of its consonance with nature itself.
I know I will be giving the man a voice. While his works are profoundly known, his soul is less fathomed. But that, I shall in other writings. For now, quoting an excerpt from his letters on this poetry:
“…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…” (referring to the then King of Britain)
As I read these words and hear their renditions, it takes me back in time. I sense his angst, his connection, his energy and his undaunted intent. Hazy visions of moments when he would have inked it. Another morning when he would be reciting it post composition to his students under the shade of trees and amidst winds of change…
Originally written in highly Sanskritised (Tatsama) Bengali in 1911, here’s its English translation by the writer himself:
Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
Dispenser of India’s destiny.
Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh,
Gujarat and Maratha,
Of the Dravida, Odisha and Bengal;
It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
Mingles in the music of Yamuna and Ganga
Is chanted by the waves of the Indian Ocean.
They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.
The saving of all people waits in thy hand,
Thou dispenser of India’s destiny.
Victory, victory, victory to thee.
The Man, The Soul, The Consciousness – Rabindranath Tagore
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