National Anthem of India: Origin and Meaning.

History and meaning of Indian National Anthem

Lady holding Indian Flag

India is globally renowned as a country that prides itself on its ancient roots and neverending potential. A prime example of our country embracing its past is embodied within our National Anthem – Jana Gana Mana. We, as citizens of the nation, ensure to pay our respects to our motherland by reciting the above-stated anthem with a pure heart. However, only a select few are acquainted with the meaning that is dwelling within the same. To truly appreciate the beauty that resides within our nation, it is crucial that recognize the intention behind our national anthem. To ensure the same, the following article will walk you through the origin and meaning of the national anthem of India. 

Origin of the Anthem. 

The national anthem of India was written by Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet and the author of the Nobel Prize Winning book titled as ‘Gitanjali’. Jana Mana Gana is one of his reputed contributions to the world of literature and music.

However, before Jana Gana Mana was officially recognized as the national anthem of India, it had to gain the approval of the masses. Although the soothing lyrics connected with millions of Indians, Subash Chandra Bose decreed that the anthem should be given an official Hindi translation. Thus, with the aid of Mumtaz Hussain, a renowned writer at the Azad Hind Radio, Jana Gana Mana was translated and was renamed as Subh Sukh Chain. The Hindi translation of Jana Gana Mana was widely popularized and was sung at almost every occasion. Despite its popularity, Jana Gana Mana was officially deemed as the national anthem of India on 24th January 1950.

Initially, the to-be national anthem of India was published in February of 1905 within the pages of Tatwabodhini Patrika – a publication of the Brahmo Samaj where Rabindranath Tagore worked as the editor. Jana Gana Mana was first recited on 27th December 1911, in Calcutta. After being penned down by the Bengali musician, the anthem’s first official recital was executed by Rabindranath Tagore’s niece named Sarala Devi Chowdhurani. Ever since its first recital, Jana Gana Mana has transformed itself into an anthem of pride and respect for the citizens of India. 

Lyrical Meaning.

The national anthem of India has a total of 4 stanzas with each describing the glory of the nation and its distinctive characteristics. 

Stanza 1: “Jana-gana-mana-adhinayaka jaya he Bharata-bhagya-vidhata”

Translation: “Oh! Lord of Destinies, you are the ruler of the minds and hearts of the Indian nation. Victory shall be yours.” 

Meaning: The first stanza is dedicated to the Lord of Destinies and refers to how the entity rules the minds and hearts of the residents within the nation. The stanza appeases the Lord of Destinies to grace the nation with his generous plans. 

Stanza 2: “Punjab-Sindha-Gujrat-Maratha Dravida-Utkala-Banga, Vindhaya-Himachal Yamuna-Ganga Uchchala Jaladhi Taranga”

Translation: “Punjab, Sindha, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Bengal are all honoured to have you in their presence. Even the great Yamuna and Ganga are delighted by your arrival and are flowing with the utmost happiness.” 

Meaning: The second stanza takes the reader on a virtual tour of the nation by mentioning the most significant regions of the country. Along with the mention of the greater lands, the anthem also describes how the rivers of Yamuna and Ganga are filled with joy upon the arrival of the almighty and are flowing to honour his presence. It is worth noting that only the regions that were under British rule were mentioned within the anthem. 

Stanza 3: “Tava Subha Name Jage, Tava Subha Asisa Mage, Gahe Tava Java-Gatha” 

Translation: “Every region of the nation is awake through your name. The rivers, the lands, and the mountains sing praises about your victory to seek your blessings.”

Meaning: Continuining from the previous stanza, the previously-mentioned regions and lands of India recite the tales of the victories of the almighty. They do so in perfect harmony in order to receive the blessings of the divine. 

Stanza 4: “Jana-Gana-Mangala-Dayaka Jaya he Bharata Bhagya-Vidhata, Jaya he, Jaya he, Jaya he, Jaya, Jaya, Jaya, Jaya he.”

Translation: “Oh! Lord of Destinies, bless the residents of the nations with happiness and good fortune. Bless us as we sing the praises of your victories.” 

Meaning:  This stanza is meant to persuade the Lord of Destinies to bestow the residents of the nation with good fortune and happiness. As a praise to our motherland, this stanza pays tribute to the innumerable victories that our nation has witnessed. 

Things to Note. 

There is a common controversy behind our national anthem which states that the same was written with the sole intention of glorifying King George V’s visit to India. However, contrary to the belief, our national anthem was forged by Rabindranath Tagore as a dedication and tribute to the Almighty. The author had revealed the same to eliminate the misconception about the anthem in a letter that he wrote before his death.

Today, Jana Gana Mana stands as the embodiment of pride and patriotism for the citizens of India. The same is recited with the utmost respect on every patriotic occasion and events

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