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Genesis of

Jana Gana Mana

History of Vande Mataram  and Janagana Mana

Excerpted From "Story of a Song"  by Mr Shivaramu.

Vande Mataram
Sanaskrit Text
Tamil Version
Anandamath and Vande Mataram
Vande Mataram Composed
Jana Gana Mana
Genesis of Jana Gana Mana
Choosing the National Anthem
Acceptance of Jana Gana Mana
(Note : Jana Gana Mana.. India's Nationnal Anthem was written by Rabindra Nath Tagore)

W.B. Yeats was a great Irish poet. He was a friend of Tagore's, and a grea admirer of his works. He wrote a beautiful introduction to Tagore's Gitanjali.

Once an Indian disciple of Tagore met Yeats. In a letter to Lady Gregory in America, Yeats mentioned that he had told him that Sarojini Naidu's brother was unhappy that Tagore wrote a poem welcoming King George V. He also narrate to her an appetising story he had from the disciple warning her that it wa strictly off the record. It concerns the circumstances in which Janaganamana was composed:

"The National Congress people asked Tagore for a poem of welcome. He tried to write it, but could not. He got up very early in the morning an wrote a very beautiful poem, not one of his best, but still beautiful. When he came down, he said to one of us, 'Here is a poem which I have written. It is addressed to God, but give it to Congress people. It will please them. They will think it is addressed to the King.' All Tagore's own followers knew it meant God, but others did not." (The Indian Express, June 3, 1968)

The Calcutta Congress session began on December 26, 1911. The proceedings on the first day began with Vandemataram. The second day was entirely devoted to things connected with the welcoming of King George V, and this day the song Janaganamana was sung, and at the closing ceremony Rajbhuja Dutt Choudhary's

'Badshah Hamara' was sung. On the third day Saraladevi sang her own composition 'Namo Hindustan'.

The news papers reports had the following comments on Janaganamana:

"The Bengali poet Babu Rabindranath Tagore sang a song composed by him specially to welcome the Emperor." (Statesman, Dec.28, 1911)

"The proceedings began with the singing by Babu Rabindranath Tagore of a song specially composed by him in honour of the Emperor." (Englishman, Dec.28).

"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 unanomously." (Indian, Dec. 29, 1911)

In the eyes of many leaders of the day, loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the Emperor were identical. King George V had proclaimed on Dec.12 the annulment of the partition of Bengal. There was therefore nothing unnatural or extraordinary in a Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, composing or singing a song in praise of the Emperor out of gratitude. But differences of opinion were bound to arise when the question of its adoption as the national anthem came up. The choice of a national anthem should undoubtedly be one which can be a fountain of inspiration by the sanctity of its origin.

Rabindranath Tagore did not contradict newspaper reports which characterised Janaganamana as a song composed in honour of King George V. Gradually the tide of nationalism began to affect the old values. Loyalty to the country and loyalty to the King became irreconcilable. Honour, devotion and love of the country not only ceased to co-exist with honour, devotion and love of King Emperor, but mutually antagonistic.

Also the British government which was charging people with sedition for singing Vande Mataram extended high regard to Janaganamana. It was sung in Government schools, and in scout groups which fostered loyalty to the British throne. At the time British quit India, a fighter plane was presented by England to India, and on this occasion Janaganamana was sung. The British also praised the song.

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