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National anthem of India: a brief on 'Jana Gana Mana'

First published: August 14, 2012, 3:18 PM IST | Updated: August 14, 2012
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National anthem of India: a brief on 'Jana Gana Mana'
"Jana Mana Gana" was originally written in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore.

"Jana Gana Mana" is the national anthem of India. Originally written in Bengali, it is the first of five stanzas of a poem written and later set to notations by Rabindranath Tagore. It was first sung in the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress on December 27, 1911. It was officially adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the Indian national anthem on January 24, 1950.

Though written in Bengali, the language used was sadhu Bengali or tatsama Bengali which was heavily sanskritised. Many of the words exist with the same meaning in different Indian languages and thus, all Indian people understand the words and meaning of the national anthem. A formal rendition of the same takes 52 seconds. A shortened version consisting of the first and last lines takes bout 20 seconds to play.

The words:

Jana gana mana adhinayaka jaya he
Bharata bhagya vidhata
Punjab Sindhu Gujarata Maratha
Dravida Utkala Banga
Vindhya Himachala Yamuna Ganga
Uchhala jaladhi taranga
Tava subha name jage
Tava subha ashisha mage
Gahe tava jaya gatha
Jana gana mangala dayaka jaya he
Bharata bhagya vidhata
Jaya he, jaya he, jaya he
Jaya jaya jaya, jaya he.

Some people said Tagore had penned the words to welcome King George V who arrived in India the day the song was first sung i.e. December 27, 1911.

Tagore's own statement however refutes the belief that the song was written in praise of George V: In a letter to Pulin Behari Sen, Tagore later wrote, "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 [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. 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."

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